Credit Card Fraud

 

bill itunes

Yesterday a friend shared a story with me how her credit card was fraudulently used for online purchases. She always tracks her credit card transactions, so when some unknown charges came up, she could act fast and block the card before further damages were done.

When she called the bank to ask about the charges, she was told that they were apps purchases at iTunes store. She started to get suspicious because the only time she used it was buying an app for her niece a few months ago. Her niece might have purchased apps without knowing that these purchases would be charged to her aunt’s credit card account. 

After checking with her niece, her suspicion was confirmed. She had bought some apps from iTunes store thinking that they were free because they were featured in Apps Gone Free. Well, they were only free for a day, not forever!

Since the amount of credit card charges were not too big, my friend paid the credit card charges in full and asked the bank to replace her card, instead of disputing the charge. Sometimes disputing the charge can cost more than simply paying the balance. (You can read my story here)   

What can we learn from this incident?

  • Track your credit card expenses 
  • Get your bank to notify you for any credit card expenses above a certain amount (you can set the amount yourself). The notification is usually sent by SMS just a few seconds after the transaction occurs.
  • Do not leave your credit card detail saved on website or online store. It may be inconvenient to enter your credit card detail for every transaction, but it is definitely safer, especially if you have youngsters using your gadgets. 

Do you have any similar experience or want to give more tips? Please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

What Can An Old Childhood Toy Teach Us?

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Yesterday while shifting stuff at family storage, I found this driving simulation toy from my childhood. I did not quite remember whether I got this for my 11th or 12th birthday, but I remembered the process before getting this toy.

The toy was displayed in a toy store just opposite our old house. I regularly came to the toy store just to see what was new and interesting. When I saw it, I really wanted to have it. In the 80s, something like this was already a very technologically advance toy. The screen on the right displayed the road and when you turned the steering wheel, the car moved from left to right. I could not remember whether the speed changed by shifting the gear. Anyway I was quite obsessed in getting this particular toy.

I told my parents that I wanted this toy for my birthday. They tried to persuade me not to buy it because it was quite expensive. I said I wanted it and I gave them several reasons why I wanted to get it. One of the reasons that I told them was that I could use it to practice my driving skill so I would be ready to drive by the time I reached the age of 17. When I think about it now, I realize how ridiculous the reasons and excuses that I gave to my parents. Yet they still bought me the toy.

I played with it for about a week or so, and I just got bored with it. I did not think that I would lose interest that fast, but it happened. It went to the storage and I just found it again after more than 20 years. I showed it to my 3 year old nephew and he was not even interested in it, the iPad certainly had more appeal to him than something like this.

What can we learn from this?

Sometimes we are still like little kids. We want something so bad and we start making up reasons why we need it. We build a strong case about why we need and have to buy it now. Even the most ridiculous reason seems reasonable and acceptable.

We can be so stubborn and do not want to hear other people’s advice or recommendation although they can see it more clearly than us. Sometimes they just keep quiet after a while because they can’t be bothered speaking to closed ears and mind. So if you still have friends who are honest with you about your silly purchases, be glad you have them around.

Remember that the excitement often occurs during the wait, and we simply lose interest after we have it. Why not just keep waiting to keep the excitement going on and on? Hahahaha In a few months, we will be enchanted by different or newer toys anyway. At the moment, I am excited thinking about getting a MacBook Pro in December…I’ve been waiting for more than two years…perhaps I will buy, perhaps I will wait for the next and more advanced MacBook Pro.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Things You Need to Know When Going to Investment Seminars

investment seminar

Have you ever been to an investment seminar?

I like going to those free investment seminars and gatherings because I get to know many different products offered by various banks and financial institutions. If you are interested in learning more about financial products, you can come to these events with some cautions.

Although it is often called a seminar, more often it is more about selling investment products. Even if it is a financial institution’s consumer gathering about economic outlook, at the end, we are often told about some new product offerings.

Sometimes we get emotional when hearing the special offer available that day.

For example, for the first 7 people who open an investment account with a minimum balance of Rp 100,000,000 will get a cashback of Rp 300,000. You can use the money to trade, but you are not allowed to withdraw for the first three months. We feel like we are getting some free easy money, but when you really calculate it, it is not really worth it.

If you are loaded with lots of money, that amount may be a spare change for you and it does not matter where you put it. However if you are not, you need to think about the opportunity cost of putting that money there. You need to think whether there are better alternatives for you. 

What do you need to do if you come to these seminars?

  1. Come with a clear goal in mind – is it just to learn about an investment product? Then come to learn and do not buy anything.
  2. Ask a lot of questions. If you do not understand the product, do not invest in it.
  3. Get a second opinion from someone outside the seminar, preferably those with financial knowledge and unrelated to the financial institutions that are offering the products. If you have a trusted certified financial planner, you can ask him or her.ziggy second opinion
  4. Be skeptical, especially if they are offering something that is too good to be true because it often is. If they are saying that it is a no-risk, high return investment, then run away as fast as possible because nothing is without risk. The higher the return, the higher the risk.
  5. Do not get pressured by the account officers or sales people, especially if they say that if you do not take action now, you will miss out on the profit. Let it go! There will be other opportunities to make profit!

Just like reading books, financial blogs, going to investment seminars can help you to be more knowledgeable about financial products. Use the opportunity to learn and may what you learn take you closer to your financial goals.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Interest – Part 1 Simple Interest

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When we talk about investment or borrowing money, we need to understand interest.

For most of us, we had learned how to calculate interest when we were at school, but we might not put much attention to it because we were too young to understand its implication. We only learn the mathematical aspect of it without understanding how important it will be when we grow up and start saving, investing or borrowing. 

Today we will learn about SIMPLE INTEREST. Interest is how much you pay for the use of money. If you borrow money, then you pay interest. If you lend or invest money, then you earn interest.

Example 1: If you invest Rp 1,000,000 and the interest rate is 12% a year. How much interest will you get in 3 year?

You will get an interest of = Rp 1,000,000 x 12% x 3 = Rp 360,000                            

The amount of money you will have after three years is

Rp 1,000,000+ Rp 360,000 = Rp 1,360,000.

 

Example 2: If you borrow Rp 5,000,000 and the interest rate is 10% a year. How much you will have to pay if you borrow for 3 years?

You will have to pay back  = Rp 5,000,000 + ( Rp 5,000,000 x 10% x 3)

                                         = Rp 5,000,000 + Rp 1,500,000

                                         = Rp 6,500,000

 

Tomorrow, we will learn about COMPOUND INTEREST.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Wishing Wishy-Washy Wishes

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I wish…

  • I have more money,
  • I have a new car,
  • I have a bigger house,
  • I have the best smartphone,
  • I win a lottery,
  • I get a windfall from distance relatives,
  • I get a pay raise at work,
  • I can travel more,
  • etc.

I wish…I wish…I wish…so many wishes, but unfortunately they will remain just wishes.

If you want to your wishes to come true, one of the first things you need to do is to change your wishes to goals. Some of you may have heard SMART goal setting that goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific – What do you want? Why do you want it? How are you going to do it? You need to be very clear about what you really want. For example, instead of wishing you have more money, you can set a specific goal of saving 10% of your income or Rp 1M a month.

Measurable – You can quantify your goal and measure your progress. For example, if you want to have a saving of Rp 6,000,000 in a year, then you can measure your progress when you save Rp 500,000 a month.

Attainable – You need to believe that you can achieve this goal. You need to set a goal that is big but not impossible to achieve. For example, if your income is Rp 10M a month, saving Rp 1.5M a month or 15% of your income is attainable. If you say that you will save Rp 5M or half of your income, it will be very hard, especially if you have a family to support. If it is too difficult you are not going to do it, so set a goal that will excite and motivate you to achieve it.

Relevant – How is the goal relevant to your life or purpose? For example, if you say that you want to save Rp 1M a month for a child’s education fund for 10 years, but you do not have a child…then it’s irrelevant. The goal must be meaningful and rewarding for you.

Timely – You set a timeframe for the goal. For example I have Rp 20M of emergency fund by 31st December 2013.

Transform your wishes into goals and start taking action today! 

If you do not mind sharing your goals with us, please share them in the comments! You will be more motivated when you make a public commitment!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Tips to Put Money into Savings Account

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I know some people find it difficult to save money. It’s not because they do not have enough income, but because of their spending habit. When they have money, they just feel like spending them all.

There are many reasons why they do it. For some people, it is because of some traumatic events in the past, upbringing or due to friends’ influence. For some, it is because of their personality type. Certain type of personality such as Influence or Sanguine tends to seek pleasure and want to enjoy things now. They tend to be unorganized and won’t be bothered to track their expenses. (If you want to know more about how personality type can influence your finance, you can attend our seminar “Mastering Your Personality for Financial Freedom”)

These are some tips to help you put money into savings

  1. Auto-debit – automatically transfer some money to a separate account straight after you receive your income or salary
  2. Pension scheme provided by the company – some of the salary is automatically put into your retirement account and you can only access the account at certain age
  3. At the end of the day, take one piece of third biggest denomination of money from your wallet and put it in a jar. At the end of the week or month, deposit that money into your savings account. For example, if there are a few 100K, 50K, 20K and 10K in your wallet, take one piece of 20K (third biggest denomination) and put it away. If you do this for a month, you may get around 500K that you can put in the savings account.
  4. When you get some change after paying for something, put the change into a separate wallet and save them. Don’t forget the coins because they can add up. For example, when you pay for 36K lunch using 50K denomination, put away the 14K and save them.

I hope these practical tips can help you put more money into your savings account. Start today! Put into practice and see you much you have saved by the end of the month.

If you have other tips to share, please do so in the comments.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Pay Insurance Premium Monthly and Get Double Protection

A few days ago I attended an interesting presentation from an insurance company (Sequislife Indonesia). Some details of the illustration:

  • The sum assured for life insurance is Rp.100,000,000 (USD 10,000) and there is an additional investment in mutual fund managed by Schroder. It is assumed that the return of the investment is around 17% a year.
  • There is also a health coverage for critical illness, hospital expenses up to Rp.220,000,000 per year.
  • The annual premium is Rp.15,000,000 (around USD 1,500)
  • The payment premium period is 8 years

Although it is a very good program, the considerably high annual premium payment may deter some people to take this program. The insurance company offers a monthly payment program but there is better alternative.

The solution is to use an automatic saving plan offered by some banks. In this case, I’ll use Mandiri Tabungan Rencana (MTR) offered by Bank Mandiri. Some details of MTR:

  • The minimum term is one year (it can be up to 20 years)
  • The minimum monthly saving is Rp.100,000 (USD 10)
  • The interest is 0.5% higher than the bank saving rate. At the time of writing, the interest is 4.25% p.a
  • There is an insurance coverage from PT AJ Manulife up to Rp.5,000,000 (USD 500) per month in case of death or total permanent disability. The insurance premium is basically free because it is paid by the Bank.

How can you use this?

  1. If you decide to take the program illustrated above this month, you need to pay the first annual payment, Rp.15,000,000 in full.
  2. In the same month, open an account in Bank Mandiri and start an MTR program.
  3. Choose one year term and monthly saving of Rp.1,250,000. It will be automatically debited from your account every month so you do not need to worry about missing any payments.
  4. At the end of the one year term, use the collected amount of Rp.15,000,000 to pay for the insurance premium.
  5. Repeat Step 3

What are the benefits of using this method?

  • Pay monthly instead of annually
  • Get additional protection for free
  • Earn interest on your monthly saving that’s even higher than the interest in regular saving account

You may be able to use this method with any insurance company or banks of your choosing that may offer similar programs. Please check thoroughly with your insurance company or bank before making any decision.

Learn and Grow!

Disclaimer:

All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. This blog post is not meant as a financial advice. I’m only sharing my experience.

Blog Action Day – Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic this year is about poverty. I am joining other bloggers around the world to write about poverty.

What can I do to help and make a difference?

As a teacher and coach, I usually seize the opportunity to talk about personal finance with my students whenever the opportunity arises. I see a need to teach them about personal finance because:

  • Almost all of my university students have no clue about managing their finances;
  • They may have heard about interest, yet they do not know the power of compound interest;
  • They do not know the danger of consumer debts;
  • Negative beliefs about money are prevalent. Scarcity mentality can be found everywhere.

I have a 3-hour seminar about personal finance for young executives, students and teenagers. It is called “The Secret to be A Billionaire” (Billionaire is the new standard for wealth here in Indonesia because almost everybody is a millionaire ha ha ha) I use some of the basic principles written in the book “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach and combine them with other financial tips from various sources. I talk about savings, basic investment strategies, reducing debts, giving and shifting beliefs about money.

I want to be given the opportunity by various universities and schools in Solo to give this seminar to their students, so I can help and make a difference by equipping the next generation with better financial knowledge and skills. I hope that by learning about personal finance, they can become catalysts for breaking the vicious circle of poverty.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com for Blog Action Day 2008

New Bed and Good Night Sleep

dunlopillo

Last week we bought a new Dunlopillo Backsafe mattress, divan and headboard to replace my old bed. I wanted to get a new mattress because the old mattress was too soft and it did not support my back. This time, I specifically asked for a very firm mattress that would support my back, thus avoiding back pain. The divan and headboard were bought as an afterthought because I loved leaning on the headboard when I read at night.

The bed was delivered two days ago and I’ve had such a good night sleep two nights in a row. In the last two days, I woke up about one hour later than my usual wake up time at 5AM. My family commented that it was because of the new bed being too comfortable.

I believe a good night sleep is very important because it is the time when our brain processes and re-organizes information that we receive during the day. It is also the time when our body detoxifies and rejuvenates to prepare us for the next day. (Ahem, my excuses for sleeping longer HAHAHA)

What do I love about this bed?

  • It is firm and hard, yet soft and comfortable. I don’t know how to explain it, you just have to feel it yourself
  • It provides independent support so that when I twist and turn, I do not disturb the person sleeping next to me
  • I was told that it is low allergenic and pollution-free. It has anti-microbes properties and resistance towards dust mites, mould and bacteria. It is basically healthy.

Although it may be a good investment in the long run, but I still feel it is a very expensive purchase. If I want to rationalize this purchase, I would calculate the daily cost over a period of time. It costs me 50 cents a day. The question is…Would I pay 50 cents a day for a good night sleep? Well, yes! Would you?

I am looking forward to having good night sleeps in the days to come.

Learn and Grow!

Credit Card Fraud Incident

Last month when I checked my credit card statement, I was quite surprised to see an unrecognized transaction. It was a purchase in Jakarta by the amount of Rp. 500,000. I was sure that it was a fraudulent purchase because of several reasons:

  • I was in Jogja on that particular day. I was having coffee in Starbucks Jogja and the credit card statement clearly stated that I had two transactions in Jogja that day.
  • I always keep track of all my expenses, no matter how small or trivial it is.
  • I rarely used that particular card because it was an additional card issued by the bank. I only used the card once when I bought something from the bank catalogue the month before. At first I suspected that they double billed me on that transaction because the amount was the same, but the bank said that it wasn’t.
  • The card was brand new because my sister just brought it home from Jakarta that weekend.

I called the bank’s customer service and I was advised to block the card and got it replaced, costing me Rp. 50,000. Then they also said that I could get the detail of the transaction so that I could be sure that it was not my transaction, costing me another Rp. 30,000. Since I was convinced that it was not my transaction I followed their advice. I thought if it was really a fraudulent transaction then I could save Rp.420,000 (Rp.500,000 minus Rp 80,000).

I also decided to pay the credit card bill in full because I did not want them charging me interest if it turned out to be a valid transaction. I’d rather have the bank credited the amount back to me if it turned out to be legitimate.

Last week, I received a copy of the transaction slip. When I saw the signature, it surely was not mine but it looked familiar. Finally I recognized the signature, it was my sister’s!

Before lodging the complain to the bank, I’ve already asked my sister whether she ever used my credit card and she said she would never have used mine. I also asked her whether she recognized the name of the store and she said that she didn’t recognized the name. When I showed her the transaction slip, she also recognized her signature. Finally after asking her secretary to search through all her credit card receipts, she found the original slip. It turned out she mistakenly used my credit card because she put my new credit card in her wallet because she was afraid of losing it if she put it in her bag. She took out the wrong credit card when she paid a deposit for her gown.

Yesterday I called the bank to inform them that I wanted to withdraw the complain about that transaction because I already knew what happened. They said that they’d charge me Rp. 80,000 for the cost of card replacement and detail enquiry.

How did I feel about this? First, I was slightly embarrassed because I was so convinced that it was the bank’s fault, yet at the end it turned out to me our own mistake. Second, I was quite annoyed with my sister because she didn’t keep a good record her transactions, otherwise she would’ve known when I asked her the first time. Third, I was upset because I had to pay Rp.80,000 to find out.

Lessons:

  1. Keep a complete record of all your transactions, especially credit card transactions because it will be very helpful in case your credit card is used by other people.
  2. Make sure that you check the name on the card before using it to avoid mistakenly using your sibling’s card.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso