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ATM Fraud: How to care and use your card wisely

To protect your card from external harm, there are few tips you must acknowledge and start getting familiar with.

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The Cashless Policy, as we know it in Nigeria, was officially introduced and became fully operational in 2014 – with the aim to encourage electronic banking and to reduce physical cash in circulation – which would in turn decrease cases of cash-related crimes. One way of implementing this policy is through the use of ATM cards.

It is true that the advancement of technology has generally made our lives easier and more convenient. But, the adage “whatever has advantages, also has disadvantages” is not left out in the case of electronic banking. With the development of ATM machines and electronic cards for mobile banking, there are some risks and exposures associated therewith.

Some of these could devastatingly leave you broke in the blink of an eye; whereby, you find out the money you have worked so hard to accumulate has vanished with the stroke of some keys.

The Cashless Policy was met with e-banking fraud. There were reports of banks and individuals losing a lot of money to fraudsters, despite the regular checks put in place by financial bodies to curtail the loss of an individual’s hard-earned money.

The onus, therefore, falls on all responsible individuals to guard and protect their assets – Yes, your ATM card is an asset.

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It is important to know how to handle your cards and make sure you’re not only using it correctly but smartly.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM) means a machine that dispenses cash and also performs specific banking services at the user’s convenience.

It is a dedicated payment system and the ATM card is issued by banks and other financial institutions for ease of financial transactions. It usually comes in the form of debit cards, which means you must have monetary assets with the said bank, to be able to use the card for transactions.

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In order to handle your card wisely, you must be intentional about the money that comes into and goes out of your pocket. You cannot leave anything to chance. Have a plan for your money and stick to it.

To protect your card from external harm, there are few tips you must acknowledge and start getting familiar with.

  • Protect your pin: You must not give out your Personal Identification Number. As the name connotes, it’s your very own personal form of identification, which grants you electronic access to your money. If for any reason your PIN gets exposed, you must immediately reset it. Furthermore, do not write it down on a piece of paper or if you must, do not leave it exposed or in your wallet
  • Always report suspected cases of fraudulent activities: When you’re in the know about your finances, any discrepancy will immediately come to your notice. Some people do not recover from cases of fraud, because they didn’t discover it on time. Remember that the earlier you report a problem, the sooner it gets resolved. On this note, you must always be familiar with all bank transactions and statements. If you notice at any time that your card is missing – especially when you’ve been out with it, and you suspect it’s been stolen, report it immediately and block that card.
  • Be cautious of the ATMs you use: Always use one that is associated with banks. Avoid any machine that may be situated in suspicious locations. In as much as it grants ease as a means of solving our problems, compulsive use of your ATM card should be avoided. Even with the extra charges attached to card transactions these days, you really would be doing yourself a favor by being careful of where you insert your card in your bid to avoid bank ATM charges.
  • Do not be careless with your phone: Try as much as possible to avoid being careless with your phone or any other device that may contain your bank information. Always create security profiles for your gadgets. It doesn’t take much for someone to access your details and wipe your bank account clean. Make sure that your phone is protected by a password or pin and whenever possible, delete traces of money transactions from your gallery or messages, after you must have successfully backed them up of course. Just remember that your card information could be contained on your phone and leaves you to exposure if mishandled, so handle with care.
  • Do not use public wireless connections for financial transactions: In fact, you should always be wary of all public wireless access. It is a fast and unsecured way for a third party to gain access to your private information. You could as well leave that information on a billboard for the whole world to access. Be sure to use password-protected wireless connections, it makes it more difficult for hackers to access your details.

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Try to change your pin every few months. Keep it simple and short, only using codes you can remember.

Conclusively, while it is very convenient to use debit cards or ATM cards for financial transactions, you wouldn’t find it funny to learn that someone has emptied your account on the spot. Hence, it is important that you take precautionary measures to always keep your card safe.

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Personal Finance

How to get out of debt: A step-by-step guide

Follow these few simple practices and you may well be on your way to living a debt-free life.

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The crowding out effects of rising States' debt: Why Nigerians should worry, How to Get Out Of Debt: A Step-by-Step Guide

Having to run or hide from someone just because you owe them some money is not a very fun exercise. But what if you didn’t have to do it, what if you lived debt free? Hold your gasps; it’s not so shocking. It is very attainable, and if you can follow the few simple practices we’re about to examine, you can be well on your way to FREEDOM.

Here, we’ve outlined necessary steps to help you live debt-free;

READ: How to make more money solving problems

Gather your data: These include records and information that contain your bills and expenses, income and source(s) of income, credit score etc. the goal here is to get you acquainted with yourself. You have to know yourself well enough to understand your spending pattern and identify critical areas to adjust or habits to do away with.

Understand your debt: Make a list of all your debts, all that you currently owe, and how much interest rates are charged on them. Remember to include the minimum required payment for each debt. This would help you understand the type of debt(s) you owe. Understanding your debt will help you know how it happened and give you a clearer perspective on how to clear it. If you have more than one type of debt, it can be challenging to keep track, and you may find yourself always paying money and not even knowing if you are a step closer to clearing your debts. But you cannot begin to pay off your debt until you understand what the figures in your records represent.

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READ: Football: Manchester United net debt rises by 133% to £474.1million

Create a budget and debt pay-off plan: Creating a budget should have come as a first step. However, that would be more effective in the situation that debt doesn’t exist, because one of the reasons for budgeting is to make sure that you DON’T fall into debt. Having gathered your data and coming to terms with what the records are; the next thing to do is to create a plan. There are different tools you can utilize to help you. A simple keyword search would give you an idea of what to do. The budget plan doesn’t have to be complicated, create a list that you would be able to understand and stick to the program.

(READ MORE: How declining interest rates, others drive a shift in Nigeria’s investment sector)

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Lower your interest rates: The reason why people fall into debt and find it challenging to pay is due to the interest rate charged on their actual amount borrowed. You see; because you are required to pay interest rates on that money, it drags out the length of time you could payback. Negotiate your interest rates lower. Even when you may have already borrowed and started paying it off, if you find it challenging to complete payment, you should consider asking for lower interest rates. Depending on who your lender is, and how persuasive you are, you may find yourself having less to worry about.

READ: Afreximbank posts $217m net income in 9M 2020

Pay more than you have to pay: Another reason you could remain indebted to someone is when you stick to just paying the monthly required amount. Because of the interest charged on most loans, you only concentrate on paying that specific amount for that particular month. That keeps you in debt because instead of bringing you closer to clearing your debt, you are only dragging it out. Regardless of the interest rate, if you can pay more than the expected amount, you should go on to do so. It is something that you can discuss with your lender. It serves both of you because the faster you clear your debt, the quicker he gets his money back.

Earn More Money: To settle your debt, you have to go out of your way to ensure that your income supersedes your expenses. One way you could earn more money is by starting a ‘side hustle’ or taking a part-time job. In this modern age, there are more opportunities than ever, for anyone to diversify their streams of income. And most of these gigs are conveniently remote; you can run them from the comfort of your home. Of course, any human would be elated at the prospect of earning money, and when you are in debt, you just have to go out of your way to do everything possible to clear.

Curb Your Excesses: If you are in debt and you are finding it difficult to clear, evaluating your lifestyle habits could help put things into perspective. You have to be honest with yourself. If you want to pay off your debt faster, you’ll need to cut your expenses as much as possible. One tool you can create and use is a bare-bones budget. This is a strategy you can use to make your expenses as low as it can go and live a minimalist lifestyle. Live only on bare necessities and do away with frugality.

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No matter the type of debt, you can always clear it. Never believe that it is impossible. Always remember to have a plan. You really cannot afford to leave your life to chance. Be intentional about every aspect of your life, especially with your finances.

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Personal Finance

9 Brilliant ideas to pay off debt fast in 2021

While debt repayment can be excruciating, this article will give you nine (9) brilliant ideas you can use to pay them off.

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How to avoid debt despite economic challenges

The coronavirus pandemic has left the world’s economy in shambles. Banks, private and government-owned, have recorded an increase in loan requests. Loads of employees have become unemployed. Entrepreneurs who took loans to support their businesses were affected by the lockdown measures. Even global conglomerates took a hit, and stock prices dropped.

Debt does more than just reducing your spending power. Constantly defaulting on your debt repayment agreement, could buy you time in jail. Debts could give you anxiety-related health conditions. Regardless of the amount you possess, debt could ruin any financial statement without proper management.

In the post-pandemic period, there had been more people in debt, compared to the previous year. Don’t let the anxiety stall your debt repayment process.

While debt repayment can be excruciating, this article will give you nine (9) brilliant ideas you can use to pay them off.

  • Stop payment using your bank cards
    One of the villains of debt repayment in this technological era is the e-banking system. Mobile transactions, Debit and Credit Cards, they cause more financial crises, especially for people with poor management skills. When trying to fasten loan repayment, try to go traditional with your banking. It helps to avoid unnecessary spending.
    (READ MORE: Growing concern for Nigeria’s ballooning debt profile)
  • Pay off the smaller debts first
    Paying the smaller debts increases your chances of striking items off your list and also motivates you to continue. This method is commonly referred to as the snowball method, which involves making a list of your debts and their financial values. This list helps you keep track of your debts and also helps to determine their worth. Thus, you would be more inclined and motivated to pay off each debt eventually.
  • Pay off loans whose interest keeps accumulating
    In cases where there are loans with high-interest rates which aren’t the smallest loans, the snowball method might put you in more debt. The method, commonly referred to as the avalanche method, helps you save more off interest rates. Create a list of your debts with their interest rates then commence either a monthly, weekly or daily payment method on the one with the highest interest rates. Do this consistently till you have cleared all your debts.
  • Budget your resources
    The key to financial independence oftentimes is budgeting. Budgeting helps you manage your resources according to your needs. In periods of economic depression or debts, you should work to eliminate insignificant expenses. Your budget should begin with a scale of preference, your needs in their order of significance. Then draw a method to allocate money to only the needs that are very important within that period.
  • Stick to your budget
    Making a budget and failing to stay in-line with your plan, is like buying bricks and hoping that the wind does the construction. A budget is meant to be a guide. It is a means to an end, which is eventual financial freedom. Your intentions wouldn’t come out to make your budget work if you keep on buying burgers and shoes at every window stop.
    (READ MORE: The economy may end up weaker if inflation rate is not controlled – CBN report)
    Loans/Debts have timelines, and the fastest way to clear your debts is to beat the timeline and avoid the interests. Keeping to your budget ensures that you have extra money to avoid paying interest.
  • Find an extra income source
    Extra money at this time would help facilitate your debt repayment process. An extra hour or two could be the defining factor in keeping to the loan timeline. Yes, there are fewer jobs at the moment, especially with the state of the world’s economy. Freelancing is a viable option in this case. You get to work at your convenience and make extra money too. Fiverr, UpWork and LinkedIn, are reputable and safe platforms for finding freelancing jobs at low cost.
  • Pay timely and occasionally
    The mistake most people make is trying to accumulate the total money before paying. This is careless, as you are prone to spend the money before the given date. With every fresh income earned, pay your debt(s) gradually, it helps ease anxiety. Timely payment not only ensures that you clear your debt(s) on time, they also add to your credit score and ensure that you can borrow again if need be.
  • Never borrow to pay debts
    A debt is a debt, fresh or old. Never make the error of taking loans to pay off loans; it only leaves you in a fresher hole.
    (READ MORE: Here are 7 ways to plan for the unexpected in your small business)
  • Change your spending habits
    Spending on unnecessary items or unbeneficial investments while in debt(s), leaves you at the risk of widening your debt gap. It would help if you modified your spending habit to suit your current situation. If you must make it through, every extra resource is valuable.
    Aside from poor management, debt is one of the significant causes of bankruptcy in the financial world. If you must maintain your financial independence and wealth, after repaying your debts, you must stick to all the habits and skill you acquired during your loan repayment period.
    Avoid spending on insignificant investments, save every extra money you acquire till you find a profitable venture to invest in.

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Personal Finance

Legit ways to make money with your phone

In today’s world, phones have become an asset, allowing one to do simple jobs that would have previously needed the use of computers.

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CBN begins dialogue with industry stakeholders on USSD charges , Legit Ways to Make Money With Your Phone

One of the significant strongholds of technology advancement is the emergence of smartphones, which you can basically do anything on. The quality of smartphones has dramatically reduced the use of computers for basic tasks like browsing the internet or viewing a document. More importantly, jobs that would have otherwise be done on computers can be quickly done on mobile phones. This has made phones an asset, especially with the emergence of legit ways to make money with your phone from any location.

The fantastic thing about these jobs is the fact that they still allow you to keep your 9 to 5 job. You can smoothly run them on the side and get extra cash to pay your bills.

This article unveils seven legit ways to make money with your phone. Keep reading to learn about them, and choose the one that suits you best.

  • Online tutor: Having a phone gives you direct access to the internet as well as online learning platforms that you can earn from. Are you good at something? Simply register on one of those platforms and offer your knowledge for a fee. These days, you do not even need a professional camera or studio. Instead, you can simply make a video with your phone’s camera, as far as it is decent enough. If your content is good, people will keep coming.

(READ MORE:10 side businesses to sustain your professional career)

  • Earn from YouTube: YouTube is one of the few social media platforms that pay the people using it. To benefit from this payment, all you need to do is open a channel and get people to watch your videos. Some of the videos that attract lots of views are comedy skits, fashion advice, how to do stuff, and even tutorials. Once again, as long as your phone has a good camera, you can simply make your video with it and expand as you earn. Many of these large YouTube channels started with mobile phones.
  • Own your eCommerce business: eCommerce businesses is no longer as complicated as it once was. Today, all you need to start one is your mobile phone as there are platforms that offer everything else. Websites like eBay and Jiji simply allows you to take a picture of your good, upload it, and wait for interested customers to make a bid. You can sell anything on these apps, and the better rating and review you have, the more trust people would have in your product. All you need to start earning money is your phone and whatever you intend to sell.
  • Freelance: Freelancing is basically offering your services on the internet for money. As long as you have a good internet connection and a decent phone, you are good to go. Jobs like writing, copywriting, and graphics designing can be easily done on a mobile phone. You can visit and register with popular freelance websites like fiver and Upwork to get started.
  • Watching videos: Believe it or not, there are websites that pay you to watch videos. For most of them, it’s a larger scale of digital marketing, which you do not really have to get involved in. Simply stream a video, advert or clips, and get paid for doing so. One of the most common apps that do this is Swagbucks. They pay you for watching videos, shopping, and taking surveys, and offers different means through which you can redeem your payment. Swagbucks services are, however, restricted based on locations, as tasks to earn money are not readily available compared to other areas. Fronto is another popular app that offers the same services too.

(READ MORE: Budgeting on a fluctuating income)

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  • Taking paid surveys: Paid surveys is one of the easiest ways to make money with your phone. Like watching videos, taking paid surveys is part of a broader scope investigation that companies invest in to understand customers’ perspectives. They rate this so important that they are ready to pay you to complete surveys containing different questions. All you need to get started is your phone, and then open an account with the platform. Some of the websites that offer this are InboxDollars and Opinion space. The availability of surveys is based on your geo-locations.
  • Virtual assistant: Although being a virtual assistant might hinder you from having a daily job, its pay is enough to cover your needs. As a virtual assistant, all you need to do is offer your services to individuals or companies with a lot of work to do. It could range from simple tasks using excel sheets to managing documents and compiling reports. Most of these works can be done on your phone. The difficult thing about virtual assistant jobs is that you would have to seek it like a regular job. You apply and go through recruitment processes like a regular job.

Although there are a ton of other money-making applications that you can earn from on your phone, most focus on some specific locations. The location favors those in Europe and the US and a little bit of Africa. However, the methods above are universal and work in Nigeria. You should try them out and start making money off your phone today.

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