Help, My Identity! What To Do When Your Identity Has Been Stolen

Salaam African Bank: How to Survive Identity Theft

It’s a nightmare we all share: you wake up one day to realize that someone is draining your accounts and making fraudulent charges to your credit cards. Having your identity stolen can be a stressful experience, and more than likely it isn’t one that you prepared for. It can be difficult  to know what to do, but don’t panic! With a little help, you will get through this with your life and your finances intact.

Act Fast

Time is of the essence here to shut the thief down and limit the damage they are able to do. Act immediately and aggressively to mitigate the problem and protect yourself. The faster you can react, the less painful this process will be.

Assemble Your Team

There are many resources available to help you fight an identity thief, so make sure you utilize them all. That means contacting all of the people and organizations that are there to help you. Your first call should be to your bank to stop the thief from getting away with causing any more destruction to your finances. Once your bank knows the situation, they can work with you to suspend your credit cards, stop all payments on fraudulent checks, and freeze any accounts that you suspect might be compromised. Many banks will have fraud and theft protections in place that will shoulder the loss instead of leaving it to you. Make sure you get a clear picture of all of your options.

Next, call the police and file a full report. Once again, the sooner you report the crime the greater chance they have of catching the criminal. The officer on your case can also help you understand your rights and choices should they apprehend the thief. It’s a good idea to start thinking about whether you will want to sue for damages.

Finally, you’ll also want to be in conversation with the companies that report your credit score. You’ll need to comb through your credit report and contest every fraudulent charge to ensure that this unfortunate incident can fade into memory without impacting your financial health for the rest of your life.

Keep Records

This is crucial. Keep a meticulous list of everything that happens during this process, including the names of service representatives that you spoke to, what they told you, what actions you took, and how long until each action was completed. These records will be invaluable if you end up in court, and they will also help you to remember the millions of important details that you are going to be flooded with and figure out where and when you need to follow up. You should also write down a list of all the fraudulent charges so that you know exactly what you’ll need to contest or have refunded.

So long as you act quickly and follow these steps, your identity theft should soon be a distant memory, and you’ll be able to resume your life without any dire consequences.

Top Retirement Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

Salaam African Bank: Avoid the Top Retirement Mistakes

Retirement is supposed to be a time of joy and relaxation. Without proper planning and decision making while still being employed, many can end up in challenges that they least expected. Here are the top five retirement mistakes.

Budgeting

Many retirees rush to retirement without  having a plan. Many simply say, “ Oh, I have money in the bank, or I might as well spend it while I’m living,” but this way of thinking leads to problems. The first thing a retiree should do is set up a budgeting plan on a month-to-month basis, but many fail to do so and go on vacation and extravagant dinners instead. Lifestyle adjustments are essential to living a retirement life stress free. Instead of eating out for every meal when retired, you should learn how to cook and plan meals on a daily budget. This goes the same for shopping and spending money on vacations. When you’re retired, your focus should shift from wants to needs. It’s important to create a budgeting plan that includes your daily/monthly costs, as well as having a plan set up in case of emergencies. This will help you avoid cost challenges in your daily life as a retiree.

Cashing Out

Many people rush to cash out their social security benefits as soon as they hit the proper age. Just because you’re retired, doesn’t mean you need to cash out your benefits right away. The problem with this could be that you’ll receive less than you are actually eligible. For example, The Finance World says that if you cash out at age 62, you’ll receive 25% less than if you cash out at age 66. If you can afford to pay your bills, then there is no need to cash out your benefits for a couple years. However, you should cash them out by age 70, because this is the age that you’ll receive maximum benefits.

Home Costs

Paying off your home before retirement is the goal for most people. If you’re retired, you shouldn’t be making monthly payments on a home you don’t already own. But you also shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on the upkeep of your home. If your home is paid off, but you find yourself still paying a lot of costs for the upkeep of your home, it may be time to sell your home and buy a smaller one. This will allow you to downsize your monthly cost and have extra cash on hand for emergencies.

Gifting Money

Holidays and birthday gifts, as well as loans are prime for losing money.  You should not be gifting or loaning money out, because you never know if you’ll actually get it back. By the time you’re retired, your friends and family should know that you are in a part of your life that you cannot financially help them. Many retirees make the mistakes of gifting cash or giving out loans, and they never see this money ever again. This is the money that you’ve worked for all your life and now must live off it, so you can’t afford to hand it away. However, having the proper budgeting plan can allow you to plan on how much you’ll spend on gifts and loans, to help avoid losing your money.

Not Staying Active

Although retirement is for relaxing, many retirees don’t stay social and active. Retirement should be about getting together with old friends and spending time with family. It is also a time that you can do anything for yourself, such as learn a new hobby, try new things, go to new places. One of the many mistakes that retirees make is becoming secluded within their lives, which could lead to depression or higher health risks.  This is terrible for the physical and mental health of humans. This is a time you should continually be feeding the mind and the body with healthy habits such as reading, socializing, and walking. You’ll live a happier and longer retirement if you do so.

How to Pay Off your Mortgage Early

Salaam African Bank: How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Most home owners still do not own their homes outright. While mortgages are fantastic tools that can put owning your dream home within reach, it is natural to want to be free of financial obligation as soon as possible. If you are interested in paying off your mortgage early, the first question to ask yourself is whether that is really the most advantageous move. If you have a retirement fund with higher returns than the interest on your mortgage, or if you have an employer who matches your retirement contributions, it may actually make more financial sense to invest your extra money rather than put it towards your mortgage.

If, however, you want to make it your first priority to be mortgage free, the first thing you’ll want to do is speak to your bank and let them know that you want to begin paying your mortgage aggressively. They should have good advice about the best way to reach your goals, and you can also ensure that your extra payments are being credited as you intend them to be, rather than towards the next month’s payment, for instance. Once you’ve worked out a plan with your bank, here are some of the best strategies to own your house as soon as possible.

Add Extra Payments

Divide your monthly payment by 12% and add that amount to each payment. This will effectively mean you are making 13 payments each year, which can shave years off your mortgage and save you lots of money in interest. Some people choose to reach the same goal by making a payment every two weeks. You can also try adding an extra payment each quarter to move a little faster still.

Round Up

If you want to make movement but can’t afford a full extra payment, you can also try simply rounding up each month’s payment to the nearest round number. This puts a little extra towards your mortgage each month without ever saddling you with the full cost of another payment all at once.

Throw in the Extra

Every time you find yourself with some extra money like a bonus at work, an unexpected windfall, or a tax return, send it straight over to your mortgage. This method has the advantage of never dipping into your primary income or shrinking your everyday budget. However, it is very difficult to say how much time you are saving as it is impossible to predict when you will have extra money to contribute.

Refinance

The most straightforward way to pay off your mortgage early is to refinance. Often you can even get a lower interest rate by doing this. There are usually fees and costs associated with refinancing, however, so unless the interest rates are significantly better, you may choose to simply act as if you refinanced and commit yourself to paying off your mortgage in 15 years even though your paperwork says 30.

 

You can use this handy mortgage payoff calculator to help you plan for your future using any of these methods.

Investments Made Easy: A Simple Guide to Savings, Index, and Mutual Funds

Salaam African Bank: Investments Made Easy- A Simple Guide to Savings, Index, and Mutual Funds

Investments Made Easy- A Simple Guide to Savings, Index, and Mutual Funds

If you have any significant amount of money that you know you won’t need to spend for a few years, you likely want to invest that money so that it works for you to increase in value while you don’t need it. You also know, however, than investments are risky — you could win big and make money with very little work, or you could lose your initial investment just as easily. Investing can be extremely complicated, and most of us don’t have the time or the inclination to study the market and carefully manage an investment. Luckily, you don’t have to. Here is a basic breakdown of the three main choices when it comes to investing your money without managing your own stocks.

Savings Accounts

Although not typically viewed as an investment, a good savings account meets all the criteria. When you don’t need to spend your money right away, you can put it in an account and essentially lend it to the bank in exchange for a higher profit margin. Over time, you will turn a modest profit. Savings accounts tend to be some of the lowest yielding investments, but they are extremely safe. You do not stand to lose your initial investment, and you can also access your money and make withdrawals at any time and with little to no notice. The balance does not, however, increase to match inflation.

If you don’t need the advantage of liquidity and won’t need to withdraw your money for some time, you can opt for a Certificate of Deposit, which offers the same safety along with higher profit margins in exchange for restricted access to your money for a set period of time.

Index Funds

If you want a higher return on your investment and to keep pace with inflation, you must also accept the higher level of risk that comes with buying stocks, or shares in ownership of a company. Linking your financial future to the market value of one or several specific companies is the most volatile option, and may result in both great gain and great loss.

You can, however, invest in stocks for a more modest return and much less risk with an Index Fund. And Index Fund spreads your investment out across the entire market by buying a representative sample of stocks. This means that if any one company does poorly, your own investment will not go down with it. Your returns will be tied to the overall health of the market, which almost always increases over long enough periods of time.

Actively Managed Mutual Funds

Actively managed Mutual Funds are Index Funds that are carefully curated and overseen by an expert who actively chooses which stocks make up your fund at any given time and makes trades according to their best predictions of the market. The goal is to outperform the market, resulting in higher gains for their investors. Of course, there can be no guarantee that these goals will be met, and even the experts are sometimes wrong, resulting in higher losses. Because the funds are actively managed, they also charge larger fees.

5 Reasons You Need a Credit Card Today

Salaam African Bank: 5 Reasons You Need a Credit Card Today

5 Reasons You Need a Credit Card Today

Everyone manages their money differently, and the modern bank should allow you the freedom of many options when it comes to personal finance. There are some excellent tools, however, that should be part of almost every personal finance plan. Credit cards are one useful, versatile piece of most responsible plans, and can offer many advantages even if they aren’t your go-to for every purchase.

Convenience

The most obvious reason to carry a credit card is convenience. They are faster to use at the check-out counter and only require you to carry one item rather than assorted bills and heavy coins. Most importantly, credit cards give you the freedom to buy what you need when you need it, even if you don’t have access to the money until later on.

Emergencies

There’s nothing worse than being caught unprepared in an emergency. Whether it’s an unexpected medical bill, housing or car repairs, or even getting lost in an unfamiliar place, there are bound to be moments in all of our lives where we need some immediately available funds to help us out of a scrape. At that moment, it is extremely wise to have a credit card on hand to get you through the emergency.

Protection

Credit cards are a considerably safer way to carry your money with you than cash. If you wallet is stolen, you won’t lose any money that you can’t get back! A quick call to your bank can freeze or cancel the card and replace it without any trouble or loss to you. If somehow your card information is stolen and fraudulent charges are placed on your account, your bank will help you fix the situation and protect your savings. In most cases, you will be entirely protected from the theft and not held responsible for the theft, a luxury which you could never achieve if your cash was stolen.

Easy Records

If you use a credit card for most of your purchases, recording your finances is a breeze. You bank will keep an automatic list of all charges placed on your card and who you paid. Gone are the days of saving giant wads of receipts and sifting through complicated lists to keep track of your finances or build a budget.

Building Credit

Building good credit is easy when all it takes is using your card for your day to day shopping. It makes great sense for the purchases you are already making to work for you and help build strong credit that will save you money in the future. Thanks to the smart use of a credit card, you could save with better rates on mortgages, insurance, and other big ticket items like asset financing.
SALAAM African Bank offers great deals for credit cards that can help make your finances and your life go more smoothly. See our offers and decide for yourself!

Choosing the Bank That’s Right for You — SALAAM AFRICAN BANK

Choosing the Bank That's Right for You — Salaam African Bank

Choosing the Bank That’s Right for You — Salaam African Bank

There have never been more banking options that there are today. But with so many options to consider, it can be difficult to know which bank is right for you. Choosing the right bank depends on a number of different criteria. Yet the most important one might be finding a bank that helps you meet your financial goals.

Banking Experience and Location

If you prefer to bank in person, then you need to pick a bank with a lot of locations in your area. Otherwise, you won’t get the type of banking experience that you enjoy. You’ll also need to consider whether you want to walk, take public transportation, or get in your car to visit the bank. Traveling thirty minutes across town to deposit a check or speak with a banker in person isn’t very convenient. World-travelers need to make sure they choose a bank with locations throughout the globe. Having easy access to money makes traveling a lot less difficult.

Hours

If you work during the day, you’ll need a bank that is still open when you leave work. Many people prefer to do their banking on the weekend. Not all banks offer weekend hours, so make sure you pay attention to this detail if you prefer weekend banking.

Online Banking

Online banking is a very popular option, and it seems to become more and more popular as each year passes. Many banks offer their patrons the ability to deposit checks online simply by taking a picture of the check with their phone. Today, almost everyone has a phone which makes it easy to keep track of banking information via an app. Online banking also makes it easy to transfer money between accounts.

Fees and Rates

Every bank has different fees. Some have monthly maintenance fees just for having an account. Some charge you every time you use an ATM that doesn’t belong to the bank. All of these fees add up, so read the fineprint before depositing your money. If you want to open a savings account, pick a bank with high-interest rates. In some cases, it’s a good idea to use an online bank for your savings. Online banks can offer high-interest rates because they don’t have to spend money on physical locations and tellers.

Services

Do you plan on purchasing a house, starting a business, or getting a credit card? If so, you’ll need a bank that can offer mortgage loans and business loans. Not all banks offer these services. Small, community banks typically offer limited services while large national banks have the ability to do more for their customers due to their size.

Whatever bank you decide on, don’t just pick it because it’s the closest one to your home. Location and convenience are important, but there are so many other factors that you need to consider. If the bank that’s nearest to you just opened a month ago, it might be a better idea to go with a more widely-known institution that’s been in business longer. Do your research, and you won’t have to worry about your money.