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This Week In Your Wallet: Libra & The Unending Quest For Keeping Our Identity Secure 

Jean Chatzky  |  June 18, 2019

Are you already itching to spend some Libra, the new Facebook cryptocurrency?

The vision is grand — If all goes according to plan, we’ll all be Libra’ing by 2020, sending payments instantly, anywhere in the world, with almost no fees… But don’t get too excited just yet. Libra’s blockchain technology is still being developed and Facebook (along with its 27 partners in this venture) still have to find banks willing to hold money to insure the currency. Once it’s up and running, Libra will function a lot like Bitcoin — users will have a “wallet” and ostensibly any company will be able to accept the currency, not just Facebook. But when there are already more than 1600 cryptocurrencies on the market, why is this one creating so much buzz? For starters, it’s Facebook, and the company has 2.7 billion customers. Compare that to the number of Bitcoin wallets that currently exist in the world — 32 million. Essentially, as soon as Libra is rolled out, more people could be paying with cryptocurrency than any other currency in the world. Facebook is also putting a lot of manpower and thought into the project. There’s a Swiss nonprofit designing and setting up Libra, and the company has plans to eventually include financial services like lending and investing. In other words, if you’re still struggling to figure out Venmo or your bank’s app, it’s time you approached a recent graduate in your life and asked for a tutorial. Soon, it seems, we’ll pay for virtually everything via our devices.  Even if cash is still king in your book (or at least a major player) in your wallet, we all need to learn these brave new ways. 

The Quest for Keeping Safe 

If you were impacted by the Quest Diagnostics identity breach — nearly 12 million of us were — you’ll soon be getting a letter from the company detailing exactly what information may have been compromised. Unfortunately, the company confirmed that social security numbers and financial data were part of what the hackers were able to access. In 2018, there were 87,765 cases of medical and insurance-related identity theft, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission, and each instance costs on average $13,500 to fix. If you’re impacted, there are a few steps you should take to keep your information safe. First, request access to your medical records, just as you would a credit report. You can request the information from your doctor’s office, and by law they have to send you a copy within 30 days, though they may charge a small fee. If you notice any irregularities, call your health insurer as soon as possible and ask to speak with the fraud department. They will likely issue you a new health insurance account and card. In future, be cautious about how much information you give out at your doctor’s office. Most offices don’t need a copy of your driver’s license in order to provide services, and you should never include your social security number on the forms you fill out — your insurance card should be more than enough. Also, keep in mind that credit freezes are now free, and locking down access to your credit once you’ve been compromised (or even if you haven’t) is always smart. 

Career Myths That May Be Holding You Back 

What? No promotion, again? You may be falling into the trap of often-repeated career misconceptions, such as: Changing your career will stall your trajectory. False. Today, people change careers all the time, and not only is it okay, it’s encouraged. In other words, this isn’t your mothers’ workplace. Today, we’ve got more flexibility in where we work, when we work, even how we work, and with all of these changes, the career advice that we grew up hearing often doesn’t apply anymore. Check out our story in HerMoney this week to see which of these outdated career myths may be holding you back. 

Thinking About Secured Credit Cards In A New Way 

Secured credit cards for people with no credit history or poor credit have gotten more attention recently, and for good reason, writes Ann Carrns in this week’s New York Times. The cards — which are easy to obtain from a bank as long as borrowers make a refundable cash deposit of $200- $500 to “secure” the card’s line of credit — have a great track record of helping to increase credit scores. People who kept their card open for two years saw a 24-point increase in their score, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Folks with a secured card can make purchases in amounts up to the deposit they’ve put down, and if you miss a payment, the bank can draw down on your security deposit — but note, those missed payments will be reported to the credit bureaus. The goal is that the borrower is eventually able to  “graduate” to a traditional credit card with a higher limit, and get their deposit back. Sounds great, but these cards are still underused by the people who need them the most. According to one estimate, there were fewer than six million secured card accounts in 2015, while 108 million consumers could benefit from them. If you have a kid heading to college, or if you’ve struggled to build credit in recent years, think about looking into a secured card to help get you — and keep you — on track. 

Have a great week, 

Jean 

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