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So many of us are focused on how we can make the maximum amount of money possible. While this is important, learning how to protect your money is equally as critical. There are many different threats and risks out there that you need to be aware of, such as fraud, identity theft, stolen bank cards, and hackers. Thankfully, there are a variety of measures you can take to help protect your money.

protecting your money

Potential Risks

  • Fraud: Fraud is a major risk that you need to be aware of. Fraud simply means somebody attempting to deceive you or someone else for either personal or financial gain. An example of this are the spam calls that all of us have been getting about your car’s extended warranty expiring. In this example, the scammer is attempting to deceive you into giving them your credit card or bank account information to then steal your money. 
  • Identity Theft: Identity theft, although it is a form of fraud, is an extremely dangerous risk to your money. Identity theft is where somebody attempts to steal your identity, usually by obtaining your social security number and other important personal information. In some cases they even use digital synthetic identities that are so realistic most fraud detection services are fooled. They then use your identity to open up new credit cards or bank accounts, among other things. The risk of this is that, as the account is tied to your identity, any debt can potentially be your responsibility and severely impact your credit score.
  • Stolen Bank Cards: Most people, at least once in their life, have checked their bank accounts to see a bunch of charges they didn’t make. Usually, this happens through somebody illegally obtaining your debit or credit card, whether it’s through theft or you simply misplacing your wallet.
  • Hacking: Another common risk you need to be aware of when learning how to protect your money is a hacker gaining access to your bank accounts. This can happen either through hacking the bank directly (which is extremely difficult, as banks and other financial institutions have a ton of safeguards in place) or by hacking either your phone, app, or username and password.

Best Practices: How to Protect Your Money

Now that we’ve shared a few common risks that you should be aware of, we’d like to give you a few basic, simple best practices that will help you protect your money. You might already be aware of some of these, but they are all important when thinking about how to protect your money.

Check Your Accounts Often

One of the easiest things you can do to protect your money is to check your checking, savings, and credit card accounts daily.  Although it might sound a little extreme, taking the 5 minutes to briefly check your accounts allows you to stay on top of any potentially fraudulent transactions. 

monitor credit score

Monitor your Credit

There are many sources available to monitor your credit and even get notified if your credit is being checked or a new account is being opened in your name.

Lock your credit file when you are not applying for new credit. This can be a simple way to protect your identity and restrict fraudsters from impersonating you even if they gained access to your personal data. In order to lock your credit file, you will need to contact each of the following three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

Do Research on Your Bank

One of the most important steps you can take in learning how to protect your money is to thoroughly research your current and/or future banks. You will want to make sure your bank is FDIC-insured, which protects your money up to $250,000 per account. Another crucial thing to research is whether or not your bank has good customer service. Lastly, you’ll want to learn about any potential missteps that your bank has had in the past, such as the Wells Fargo scandal a decade ago, where employees were fraudulently opening new accounts without customer awareness.

Don’t Share Your Bank Info With Anyone

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually one of the most common ways to have your identity or money stolen. Unless you are calling your bank directly, under no circumstances should you share your bank account information with anybody, even if they seem legitimate. 

two factor authentication

Use Strong Passwords & Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

Strong passwords and MFA can help prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. By having long, complex passwords that you change frequently, you reduce the risk of somebody or a computer program guessing your password. Multi-factor authentication is another way to keep your accounts safe. MFA uses 2+ checks to confirm your identity, such as entering a password and then inputting a numerical code texted to your phone number. 

Be Sure You’re Using Secure Devices & Networks

You should only log in to your financial information from a secure, personal device and secure (password-protected) wifi network. It’s much easier for hackers to gain access to your data if you are using an unsecured, public device or wifi network. In a perfect world, you’d have a dedicated computer to access your finances, but this obviously is not realistic for most.

Protect Your Money w/ Marygold & Co.

Marygold & Co. is a new financial services app that’s dedicated to helping organize your financial life and reach your financial goals.

Not only is it revolutionizing budgeting and expense tracking through a new feature called Money Pools, but Marygold & Co. is extremely concerned with safety and security. That’s why we employ state-of-the-art technology like biometrics with facial authentication to determine if a government-issued identification is authentic and a selfie of a live person matches the picture on the ID.  This is highly effective because fraudsters don’t like to have their real picture taken and faking a real face is not an easy task. 

Other security measures like multifactor authentication and fingerprint credentials offer additional layers of protection once an account is opened.

You shouldn’t entrust your hard-earned money to just anybody, and Marygold & Co. will not only help protect your money but it gives you all the tools needed to push towards your financial goals.

Spring is the season for cleaning and that shouldn’t just end at home. Your finances should go through a little spring cleaning themselves. Having an organized financial life can help you better understand the flow of your money. Tracking your income, how you spend it, and how much of it you save can give you the information you need to set financial goals for yourself.

So, while you’re decluttering your closet, remodeling your back patio, consider some financial spring cleaning, as well.

Here are some ways to organize your finances this spring (or anytime, really):

financial spring cleaning

Review and Establish a Budget

To ensure your finances are in order and that they remain that way, it’s best to set up a balanced and realistic budget, if you don’t have one already. Review your monthly income and expenses then establish what your financial goals are. You could be saving for a long-term investment like a down payment on a home or you could be saving for a new gaming system or a getaway.

Whether it’s a long-term or short-term goal, budgeting is essential to making sure those goals are achieved. Organize your budget on a simple spreadsheet and review it often to ensure you are on track.

Having a budget will make it easier for you to reach your savings goals because it’ll help you determine how much money you can spend and how much you need to put away. You don’t need to plan out the rest of the year perfectly but instead start by creating a monthly budget, then track your finances for that month. Once you get into the habit, you’ll find yourself becoming a budgeting expert.

organize your finances

Set up a Money Pool/Automated Savings

One way to keep yourself organized financially is to set up automated savings, or an interest-earning Money Pool, like the one we offer at Marygold & Co.

Having a Money Pool allows you to separate and categorize your finances all within one account, making it easy for customers to track multiple savings goals at once.

Each individual can customize their automated savings to best align with their goals and current financial standing.

You can choose to contribute to your savings goals on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, and the amount you deposit is up to your discretion as well.

Automating your savings will help prioritize your goals and will reduce the temptation to overspend. You don’t even have to worry about making those regular deposits, it’s all done for you!

Pay Off Outstanding Payments

Look over any outstanding payments, if you have the means to pay them off, then do so. If not, this is the time to work out a way to pay your debts off.

Is there anything laying around your house you could sell? Are there extra shifts you could pick up at work?

Find opportunities that’ll help you earn that extra income to help you pay off your debts.

If you are unable to pay everything off right away, setting up a debt repayment plan can help you stay on track. While you may not pay everything off in one go, at least you have taken steps to reduce that debt and eventually eliminate it.

Make sure you include your debt payment plan in your budget.

This will help you stay on top of your payments by ensuring there is money available in your checking account to contribute to this payment plan.

Automatic Billing and Investments

Having your bills automated can help you ensure that they are always paid on time and that you’re not rummaging around for extra cash to meet your phone bill payment at the end of the month.

The best part about automatic billing is you don’t even have to think about it, it is automatic after all.

Additionally, you can even set up automatic deposits to your IRA or 401k investments. Automating deposits into these accounts will ensure you’re continually investing your funds.

The advantages of investing your money include reducing your taxable income for the year.

control your spending

Analyze Your Spending Habits

Analyzing your spending habits will help you point out your spending habits, bad and good. When looking over your spending habits, you might find some patterns that are preventing you from achieving your financial goals.

An important step while spring cleaning your finances is to look over your spending habits and find areas where you can save.

Are there any unnecessary monthly subscriptions billed to your credit card?

Are there unnecessary transactions you can eliminate?

These are important questions to ask yourself when analyzing your spending habits. Find areas in your daily life where you can save. Maybe pack a lunch instead of ordering out every day, you’ll definitely see big rewards from the small changes you make in your daily habits.

If you lack financial discipline, the Marygold & Co. app can help. The customizable security dashboard allows customers to limit where the card can be used.

Accounts can also be turned on or off – which can also remove the temptation to unnecessarily spend.

Clean Up and Shred Old Paperwork

It’s easy for those paper bills and bank statements to pile up on the corner of your table.

Marygold & Co. can help you keep your finances organized. The best part about the Marygold & Co. app is that you won’t have to worry about paper – checks, receipts, pay stubs, etc.

Take the time to shred and discard any old paperwork. Make sure you dispose of these documents properly as they contain very sensitive information including personal information and bank statements. We recommend using a shredder to ensure these documents are properly destroyed.

Marygold & Co. Makes It Easy

Marygold & Co. can help you sort your finances and keep them organized throughout the year through an innovative new app launching this spring.

The FDIC-insured fintech app offers customers interest-earning savings accounts and allows them to send, receive, spend and save securely through their mobile device.

Control and organize your finances easily with Marygold & Co.

Your finances will never have to go through a spring cleaning again – instead, you can keep them clean and organized.

A basic thesis on Wall Street is that what has worked well in the last market cycle is likely to underperform in a new cycle, and conversely, the underperformers of the last cycle can or should be the outperformers of the new cycle.

The basic logic is intuitive – an asset class that had been a leader in the previous run-up will, at some point, become overpriced and will struggle in the future without significant earnings growth to support the higher prices.  

Historically speaking, small caps outperform large caps. 

This makes sense because investors need to be compensated for the increased volatility and risk in the small-cap space. 

Also, over the long term, value stocks outperform growth stocks. 

Since 1926, value investing returned 1,344,600% vs. 626,600% for growth stocks, according to Forbes Advisor. And some of the most famous investors on the planet (think Warren Buffet and Benjamin Graham) are value investors.     

But largely none of these long-term trends mattered over the last few years of this past market cycle. 

The bull market of the last decade seemed to make investing quite easy, large-cap growth dominated, and as long as you held the big-name tech stocks your portfolio, probably did well.  

This trend was exacerbated during the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

During the 2020 bear market caused by the pandemic, U.S. markets bottomed on March 23, 2020. From that bottom, the S&P Growth Index initiated a historic recovery and peaked on September 1, 2020.  

Much has been made in the media about how quickly markets recovered from the market bottom, but that outperformance was mostly a product of the “Big 5” stocks (Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft).  

As of September 2, 2020, those five stocks had a year-to-date performance of 65%, the other 495 stocks in the S&P 500 had a total YTD performance of just 3%. Since the fourth quarter of 2020, the story has begun to shift to the performance of small caps and specifically small-cap value. 

At the end of the first quarter of 2021, the top two performing sectors of the S&P 500 were Energy and Financials.  

reversion to the mean

What Does it Mean?

Is the “reversion to the mean” a story of small caps over larger caps, or is it Energy & Financials over Tech and Consumer Discretionary?  

It is still early and we will continue to watch how this plays out.  The main point here is to not be married to a thesis that worked very well in 2020, because the markets may have already started to revert to the mean.  

“This time is different” is a phrase commonly heard toward the end of market cycles.  

If you hear someone tell you that “this time is different”, run! This time is not different.  

Math does not evolve over time. Corporate price/earnings ratios and other investment metrics matter just as much as they have in the past.  

Don’t chase performance.  

What happened in the past, even in the recent past, is not guaranteed to continue in the future.  

Thanks to COVID-19, most of us really don’t want to hand our card to someone or touch a potentially contaminated PIN pad on a POS device.   Questions about passing germs and touching common surfaces have boiled to the top of our everyday thoughts.

What if there was a way to pay without worrying about the cashier handling your card or whether the payment processor has been sanitized?

Let me introduce you to the world’s newest buzzwords: contactless payments.

What Are Contactless Payments?

Investopedia defines contactless payment as a “secure method for consumers to purchase products or services by using a debit, credit, smartcard or another payment device by using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and near-field communication (NFC).”

Now that may sound confusing. Essentially a contactless payment is exactly what the title states – a way for you to make a transaction without handing the card to the cashier, swiping your card, or even touching a point-of-sale terminal. This process allows customers to tap-to-pay rather than inserting your card into a machine. Contactless transactions are made through your phone, card, watch, key fob, bracelet, or other enabled items.

However, only NFC-enabled cards allow for no-touch transactions. Your smartphone is already equipped with this chip for services like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Most banking cards are being issued with the NFC chip as the U.S. begins to migrate towards this new tap-to-pay technology. If you have noticed the sideways wifi symbol on your card, this is an indication that your card has the tap-to-pay functionality.

nfc technology

Technology Behind Contactless Payment

Contactless payments are possible through near-field communication (NFC). Both the card and card reader must be equipped with this in order for the transaction to work.

This technology allows the chip in your card – or phone or smart-watch – to emit secure, short-range radio waves that communicate with the point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Purchases made using this method are as simple as holding your payment method near the POS terminal.

The History of Contactless Payment

Surprisingly enough, contactless payment has been around for decades. The first example was in Seoul, South Korea in 1995 when the transit system began to use contactless bus passes.

Since then, and especially more recently, the method has exponentially grown.

The United States is slightly slower than other countries in adopting new transaction methods. However, most retailers have moved over to NFC-capable terminals and almost all major banks in America offer ways to make contactless payments.

As the world is trying to socially distance and stay healthy, contactless payment is gaining more popularity. Mastercard reported that there was an uptick of over forty percent in contactless payments in 2020.

However, being creatures of habit, many people still have trouble trusting this new method of payment versus the traditional way of paying.

This brings us to the question – is contactless payment safe?

In short, yes.

How Safe is Contactless Payment?

Many people fear that sending data wirelessly is easily intercepted. This is certainly not the case with contactless payment. For all intents and purposes, it’s just as safe as using the chip reader.

Any time information is shared between a payment method and POS terminal, the data is encrypted. Furthermore, to ensure the process is even safer, the transaction uses a one-time code that has no value outside of that transaction.

Meaning even if someone was able to get the information from the two inches between your payment and the card reader, the information would be essentially useless.

Compared to the old magnetic strip technology, contactless payment is exponentially safer. With magnetic strips, people could steal and clone the data on your card and make a completely new one, leading to fraud. This process is not possible with NFC/EMV chips.

is contactless payment safe

Why Should I Use Contactless Payment?

Many people are coming around to contactless. In fact, one in three card payments is now contactless. But if you’re still not convinced, consider these advantages for contactless payments.

It’s Secure

Security is (and should be) a top priority for most businesses, especially in the fintech industry. NFC technology certainly helps make transactions as secure as possible. As the transaction goes through, all data is encrypted and uses a unique, one-time code, making it nearly impossible to clone the data. Secondly, the card or mobile device must be within centimeters of the POS terminal for tap-to-pay to work. Thirdly, the transaction is verified by using two-factor authentication or fingerprint when using your mobile device.

It’s Fast

Contactless payments don’t require a Personal Identification Number (PIN). It’s as simple as holding your card or phone up to the reader – and you’re done. Much faster compared to inserting a card in the chip reader, declining cash back, then entering your PIN – all to wait fifteen seconds for the payment to go through.

It’s Contact-Free

This is a given – but it can be understated. We’re all trying to stay safe and healthy. The pandemic has made many realize how dirty public surfaces can be. Yes, companies are taking extra measures to ensure everything is cleaned and sanitized – but this doesn’t eliminate the risk. With contactless payments, you don’t need to touch the reader that potentially hundreds of others already have.

It’s Convenient

Contactless doesn’t have to be done with a debit or credit card. Think about Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay – these are virtual wallets that eliminate the need to carry around a physical wallet. Say you’re going to the beach or on a hike – you don’t want to lose your wallet, but may want to buy something on your outing. Using a contactless payment method makes it possible to pay without physically carrying your card as long as you have your mobile phone or NFC-enabled bracelet or key fob like those offered at Marygold & Co.

tap and pay

Risks Of Contactless Payments

Like anything, contactless payments have risks, but NFC technology is so advanced it is less susceptible to hackers than traditional card technology and improvements are adding layers of security to protect user data. However, the impossibility of interception can’t be completely guaranteed:

Because there is no PIN entered when using contactless, whoever is physically holding the card is able to make transactions. However, there are normally lower limits set on the card for extra protection. Enhanced security controls, like Marygold & Co. offers, will enable you to manage your own limits and turn on/off contactless payment capabilities. Keep track of your card and freeze it anytime one goes missing.

How to Get Started

Most banks will offer forms of contactless payment, be it on your smartphone or your credit card.

Start by using Marygold & Co. for all your financial needs and transactions.

Have you ever seen that icon on your credit card with frequency wave-like lines, similar to the WiFi icon, but sideways? That means your card is enabled for NFC payment. But what exactly does that mean?

What is NFC?

Near Field Communication is a feature available on most modern phones. As the name suggests, NFC is a method of wireless data transfer. It detects and allows technology in the vicinity to share data without an internet connection.

nfc payments

How Does NFC Work?

NFC may power key cards or fobs, pet microchips, and even public transit cards.

NFC is more simple to use. It is a successor to radio frequency identification. The NFC chip in your card is part of a wireless link. It is activated by another chip. Once that happens, small bits of data flow between the two devices. The transfer occurs when your card is held an inch or less from the other chip.

Advantages of NFC

There’s a reason we’re seeing this technology more and more in our everyday lives.

As FIS.com notes, there are four main advantages of NFC payment.

NFC is easy

Using NFC is simple.

You don’t have to recall a passcode since it doesn’t require a pin. With near field communications, all you need to make a payment is to hold up your phone, your NFC-equipped card, key fob, or bracelet near the POS terminal and you’re done.

When compared to EMV cards that require entering the card, waiting, and typing in your pin code, NFC cards are a one-step, quick process.

NFC is fast

As consumers, we are attracted to businesses where we don’t have to wait.

Using NFC, your transaction takes a fraction of the time it would take to pay cash or with a traditional credit card. This is good news for both customers and businesses.

Transactions are faster with near-field communication. Checkout lines are shorter, fewer staff members are required and customers move through purchase and payment rapidly.

There’s nothing to remember

NFC works automatically. No pairing code is needed.

With NFC, the only thing you need to carry is your smartphone, card, or NFC-enabled item.

NFC is energy efficient

The chips in NFC require only minimal amounts of energy to link up.

These low or passive energy chips are much more power-efficient than other wireless communication.

NFC is physically safer

As we deal with COVID-19 and the spread of other viruses, people are more sensitive than ever when it comes to touching things.

Near-field communication is a safe, contactless payment option.

You simply hold the NFC chip near the terminal and the transaction is complete. Having a means of payment that does not involve human touch has been reassuring during these difficult times.

NFC is more secure

Many people fear that something as fast and easy as NFC isn’t as secure as requiring a PIN or a signature at payment. If customers don’t trust the payment option, they won’t use it.

NFC signals are encrypted and transmitted only in close proximity. Meaning, the signal can’t be hacked by someone who is even a few feet away.

Security protection built into smartphones makes NFC payments even more secure if the transaction is made not with a card but with your phone. Thus, using your phone as your NFC chip, there is an additional layer of security.

Issuers also place lower limits on NFC transactions (example $100 max) to protect against lost or stolen cards and fraudulent transaction attempts.  Some even allow you to freeze and unfreeze the NFC contactless payment option for additional security.

NFC increases customer satisfaction

Because transactions are faster, checkout lines are shorter. The result is increased customer satisfaction with the business. Ease of transaction makes customers happy. They will return to buy at this business. When they are assured NFC is a very secure way to pay it adds to customer satisfaction.

NFC encourages consumer spending

Since customers can check out faster because of tap and pay, those who might make a purchase are encouraged to do so. If there are long lineups at the movies, the grocery store, a  restaurant, a gas station, or the bookstore, potential buyers will abandon their goods and leave.

NFC payment translates to a pleasant business experience. Happier customers and more efficient operations are what make buyers purchase and return to buy again. Be careful not to let your spending get out of control, though!

NFC is easy to implement

More businesses are starting to implement near-field communication as well as NFC-enabled payment terminals. Most new payment equipment now contains near-field communication technology. Setup is instantaneous.

tap and pay

Disadvantages of NFC

Livewire writer Priya Viswanathan points out that although there are many advantages to NFC, there is a downside.

For some businesses, implementing NFC technology may be just too expensive. Large retailers can afford the hardware and software upgrades. Some stores and shops may take a longer time to acquire new devices.

As with any change, there is a level of mistrust until consumers are assured NFC is safe and easy.

How do NFC and EMV Differ?

EMV means Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (the 1994 founders) and commonly refers to the smart chip in debit and credit cards. EMV uses a chip embedded in a card instead of a magnetic strip. Chances are you’ve probably seen it being implemented on newer cards. The EMV chip is much more secure than the magnetic strip.

NFC chip stands for near field communication technology and is typically embedded inside debit and credit cards, smartphones, or smartwatches. This chip allows data to be read by a POS terminal without inserting your card creating a contactless payment. You simply hold the NFC enabled item near the terminal and boom, payment accepted. No pin, no swipe.

The NFC “card” might not be a card at all. It could also be a key fob, a bracelet,  a phone, a watch, or any other object a chip can be inserted in.

Many businesses have machines that can accept both EMV or NFC. However, some transaction terminals may take only one payment option.

Examples of NFC Payments

Welcome to the world of touchless technology. Wherever there is a POS terminal that accepts NFC transactions, you can tap and pay.

This might include a restaurant, a coffee shop, a taxi or subway ride, buying a concert ticket, or getting refreshments for that concert.

You can pay a toll, purchase a subway ticket, pay for coffee, or get snacks from a vending machine all with a contactless tap.

nfc chip

Why Choose Marygold & Co.?

Marygold & Co. provides you with NFC Mastercard* debit cards to enable contactless payment.  Additionally, our app enables contactless payments from your Android phone, and clients have access to NFC-enabled key fobs and silicone bracelets. Support for Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay wallets are also coming in late Spring of 2021.

We have gone to great lengths to ensure customer security is the priority for contactless payment cards.

  • Lower limits are set on purchases and
  • New technology also allows you to freeze your NFC chip. You can unfreeze it at any time.
  • You can also lower or raise the purchase maximums whenever you wish for the NFC-equipped card, bracelet, key fob, watch, or smartphone.

As part of our customer service plan, Marygold & Co. cards have both NFC and EMV capabilities.