Debit cards

August 01, 2021

Stealing a PIN code is as easy as 1234

You work hard for your money.

So why put your finances at risk with a personal identification number (PIN) that's as easy as 1234?

A study by DataGenetics revealed that people are opening themselves up to identity theft and financial fraud by selecting four-digit PINs that are easy to crack.

When thinking of a four-digit password, many people opt for something that is simple and easy to remember such as a child's birth date, an anniversary or the year they were born.

However, there are over 10,000 possible combinations the digits 0 to 9 can be arranged to create a four-digit PIN code, according to the research.

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June 13, 2021

Big brother is watching you

Who knew government surveillance programs could encourage people to read more?

Dystopian classics such as George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 have been flying off the shelves since news broke that the United States government has been undertaking secretive surveillance systems targeting phone and internet messages.

As a matter of fact, Orwell's 1984 novel, featuring a totalitarian futuristic society under the watchful eye of Big Brother, is listed as one of's top 200 bestsellers.

We are being watched and followed at every move. Whether, it's us willingly inputting data about ourselves on Facebook, LinkedIn or into the Twitter sphere...our information is out there for everyone to see.

There are surveillance cameras wherever we go. Shopping, offices, workplaces, streetscapes. Then there's Google maps where you can just zoom in on anyone's personal space.

There are even enthusiastic candidates who want to be under the watchful eye of Big Brother, the Canadian TV show, for millions to see their every movement.

And who is out there gathering our data and perhaps using our personal information?

Security is always a concern, especially as we move forward into a cashless society with debit cards, credit cards, swiping and tapping out our information in stores and over the internet.

We're seeing, hearing, and watching world events as they unfold. Not just through news agencies, but now through average citizens with their mobile devices in hand and on the scene at any given moment.

But who is watching the watchers? And what happens when someone does blow the whistle like Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Administration (NSA) contractor?

Remember, Big Brother is watching you.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

What do you think about government surveillance?

March 27, 2021

Coin counters: rolling with the times

CoinsI remember my father with his neat stacks of coins lined up on the kitchen table, ready to roll up into coin wrappers of every denomination.

Quarters, nickels, dimes and, of course --- lots and lots of pennies!

He had a lot of patience sorting and counting the change and I admired how he managed to stuff those neat stacks of coins into the little paper wrappers with expert precision.

Now, many banks across the country are rolling out coin counting machines to offer convenience for all that spare change laying around the house.

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March 13, 2022

Canadians on a penny roll

What do you plan on doing with all your hard-earned pennies during the great Canadian penny phase out?

It seems like my change purse -- which was usually overflowing with pennies -- is becoming void of one-cent pieces.

I seem to be taking out my debit card a little more than usual -- especially if the store is rounding up and I will be short-changed so to speak.

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March 05, 2022

Sharing isn't always a good thing

Remember when you were little how you were always taught that it's good to share?

Oh sure, it's always polite to share your toys or cookies.

But as we get older we are now finding out that it may not be such a good thing -- especially when it comes to sharing our personal and financial information on the Internet.

A recent study by Visa Canada revealed that many Canadians are in fact "oversharing" their financial information over their computers and cellphones which could put them at a greater risk for fraud.

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February 21, 2022

Canadians still penny pinching

PennyIt appears Canadians aren't ready to stop pinching their pennies quite yet.

In what could turn out to become a long goodbye, a new BMO Bank of Montreal report has found that many consumers are not ready to bid farewell to the beloved one-cent piece.

In fact, 73 per cent of those polled in the survey conducted by Pollara expect retailers to continue to accept pennies for their purchases at the check-out counter.

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December 24, 2021

Target's incoming rewards program making Cdn. stores rethink theirs

To the fanciful realization of many local shoppers, 2012 will be the last full year in Canada where there has been no Target.

173363_REDcard_iconic_DebitCertainly, it’s been a long time coming for the U.S. retailer’s expansion north, an oft-called for, much-hyped move that will finally commence next spring.

But already, Canadian consumers might be enjoying the perks.

When it opens across the nation in March, Target Canada will be unveiling a rewards program so generous it’s making the country’s own storied loyalty plans up their ante.

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March 14, 2022

While handy, debit cards need to used carefully: report

Using a debit card might seem like a better option than cash or credit, but there are a few risks involved, warns Consumer Reports in the April issue of its ShopSmart magazine.   

“Debit cards are sneaky – they are extremely convenient but can get you into a lot of trouble if your information winds up in the wrong hands,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Some simple precautions can save you a lot of trouble and protect you and your account from danger.”

Here are five common areas where things can go wrong, CR warns. 

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...