Banks and credit card issuers are constantly scrambling to strengthen security measures, but fraudsters and identity thieves haven’t slowed down. Even with EMV (“chip”) cards and updated ATMs and card readers, fraudsters find new ways to steal payment information. Georgia consumers have dealt with skimmers, shimmers, and hackers who use Bluetooth to steal card data. It seems like neither debit cards nor credit cards are 100% safe, but credit cards come with built-in advantages. If a Georgia resident’s credit card is compromised, at least there is no immediate money loss. Also, using credit cards to make everyday purchases is a good way for Georgians to build good credit scores.
Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: Why Credit Cards Offer Better Protections to Georgia Consumers
Georgia consumers who favor debit cards over credit cards typically do so for the right reasons. Debit cards limit consumer spending to the amount of money available in their checking accounts. This prevents shoppers from overspending and building interest-accruing debt. However, if Georgians can get into the habit of paying credit card bills off every month, the threat of debt-building decreases.
Also, there are federal laws in place to protect credit card users from theft and fraud. For example, if your credit card is stolen, you should immediately report the theft to your card issuer. Then you are liable for up to $50 in unauthorized charges. Many credit card companies will actually waive this $50, making the consumer liable for nothing. If a fraudsters steals a credit card number, but not the actual credit card, the cardholder is not liable for any fraudulent charges.
Of course, there are laws to protect debit card users too. If a Georgia consumer’s debit card becomes lost or stolen, they should report the loss within two business days. If they do, they are only responsible for up to $50 in unauthorized purchases/withdrawals. After this two day window passes, the consumer can lose as much as $500 if the debit card is reported missing within 60 days. Unfortunately, after 60 days, the consumer’s loss is only limited by the amount of cash in their account. They may even be responsible for the overdraft credit.
The worst part about debit card theft is that even if you’re able to get stolen funds back, it takes time. Sadly, bills and other expenses won’t wait. Losing all of your available cash is a major hassle, and this is why a lot of Georgia consumers have switched over to credit cards.
How Georgia Consumers can safely make the Switch to Credit Cards
Using credit cards to build a better credit score and protect your money will only work if you can stick to a budget. Remember that there are two ways to look at credit cards. One way is right and the other is wrong. The incorrect view of credit cards is to see them as a means to spend more than you make and build debt. This perception often leads Georgia consumers to financial ruin and bad credit. On the other hand, seeing credit cards as budgeting/credit building tools is correct.
The best way for Georgians to plan a budget around credit card use is to track their spending and never charge more than they can afford to pay off every month. This way, no interest accrues. If you want help with your credit card budgeting system, there are several online software systems available. These systems will provide you with spreadsheets, track your spending, and do the necessary math. Popular budgeting software programs include YNAB.com (You Need a Budget), PersonalCapital.com, and Mint.com.
Are all Georgia Consumers Eligible Candidates for Credit Card Budgeting?
Unfortunately, not all Georgia consumers are good candidates for credit card budgeting. If you have bad credit, credit card approval is difficult. Even if you can get approval, your credit limit may be low due to your less than perfect credit score. With little available credit, using credit cards for everyday expenses is not a good option. Why? Ideally, Georgians should use no more than 30% of their available credit at any time. Otherwise, your credit score can drop even if you’re paying all of your bills on time.
However, just because credit card budgeting isn’t a viable option right now, it might make sense down the road. Repairing your credit will earn you a better credit score and allow you to qualify for larger lines of credit. If you want to improve your credit score, applying for a secured credit card is possibly a good option. Opening a secured credit card requires a cash deposit, so they’re a little easier to get. Yet, there is still a vetting process. So make sure that you meet the qualifications for a particular secured credit card before applying.
One of the easiest ways to give your credit score a boost is to check your credit reports for errors and have any that you find removed. Believe it or not, inaccuracies on credit reports are very common, and many of these mistakes are damaging to credit scores. If you haven’t checked your credit reports in a while, go to www.annualcreditreport.com, and request one copy from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Federal law permits you to do this every 12 months.
How Georgia Consumers can get their Credit Reports Cleaned Up for Free
Any Georgia consumer who finds errors on their credit reports can get a FREE credit repair lawyer to help get them removed. We can also take care of credit report damage caused by identity theft. These services, along with all of the other services we provide at Credit Repair Lawyers of America, are free of charge for consumers.
Don’t let errors or unauthorized credit card charges on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (404)591-6680 or sending him a message through our contact page.