When Is the Right Time to Switch Banks?

When Is the Right Time to Switch Banks?

When Is the Right Time to Switch Banks?

Where you bank matters. Not only are you putting trust in them to manage your money, but your bank’s interest rates and fees have a huge impact on your finances. If you have found a better banking option, then it may be the right time to switch banks. Although change always comes with headaches, choosing the right financial institution and accounts can save you valuable time and money.

7 Signs That It Is the Right Time to Switch Banks

Perhaps you have already considered changing financial institutions. If you are still struggling to make a decision, here are a few signs that tell you it is the right time to switch banks.

1. You Found a Bank with Better Accounts and Better Banking.

You should always shop around. The same is true when comparing financial services and products. If you find a bank that has better interest rates, more rewards, and lower fees, make the change! Options for free checking or free services save you money. So, it only makes sense to take the better deal.

2. There Are Mounting Fees.

Another reason to switch is when your accounts have mounting fees. Many banks have cancelled free services and begun charging to offset lost revenue at their customers’ expense. If you were to sort through and tally your accounts’ monthly fees (ATM, transaction, overdraft, maintenance), I bet you would discover that you are spending more than you realize. Although every financial institution charges fees, some charge more than others.

3. It Is Inconvenient.

If it is inconvenient to access your money, you should look at other banking options. Most financial institutions have online and mobile banking which makes things easier, but it isn’t always enough. Some issues are just simpler to handle through face-to-face interactions. So, if your bank only has a few brick-and-mortar locations or you are moving to a new place with no local branches, it is probably the right time to switch banks.

4. Your Bank Has Poor Customer Service.

Did you know that the average American has had the same checking account for 14 years? That’s because banks understand the importance of fostering long-term relationships with their customers. Banks need a relationship built on trust. Their employees play a crucial role in building successful relationships. However, if they are rude or have poor customer service or make you wait, it could cause you more stress than it’s worth. If quality customer service is important to you, ask friends and family about their experiences to decide if it’s time to make a change.

5. You Have Had Security Issues with Your Accounts.

We have all read the headlines of recent hacks, computer errors, and corruption charges within the financial world. Security is a huge concern. So, if your bank has a history of doing shady business or no FDIC accreditation, then consider it a sign that it is the right time to switch banks. You don’t want to take unnecessary risks with your money. It’s better to find a safe and trustworthy financial institution to manage your accounts.

6. You Have Too Many Accounts.

Perhaps you have several accounts at different banks. Working with multiple institutions can get messy. Merging your accounts is a great solution to consolidate and organize your finances. It also increases your accounts’ security. Not only do you have fewer passwords, but also reduces the risk of mistakes when the same institution handles all your transactions.

7. The Bank Goes Against Your Ethics or Values.

When it comes to managing your money, you want to bank with an institution you feel good about. However, several multinational banks have recently been found guilty of corruption and taking advantage of customers. While large banks are convenient, you should consider changing banks if you feel uneasy using their services. I know that I prefer a bank that aligns with personal values and has a good reputation with its customers.

Create a Checklist When You Switch Banks

Sometimes making the decision is the hardest part. However, creating a checklist can make it faster and easier. When you have a roadmap, it makes the task less daunting and ensures you don’t waste your time.

  • Compare Options and Choose a Bank

The first decision is where to bank. Compare your options to determine which one has the types of accounts and services you need. You should also take into account their customer support, online banking accessibility, fees, and interest rates. Be certain to look at all your options including traditional banks, credit unions, and online banks.

  • Open an account

This only takes a few minutes, but you can’t transfer funds until you have a new account. Once you make the opening deposit, set up your online banking and create a login. However, you might want to wait before closing your old account. Most banks advise to wait until you receive your debit card and download their apps before completing the switch. It is also smart to begin using the account before transferring funds to ensure everything works smoothly.

  • Plan Ahead

Banks need time to process requests and transfers. Since it typically takes 7-10 business days to issue cards or checks, use this time to prepare your new account for the transfer. In addition to setting up your online and mobile banking, you can also use the time to link it to your other active accounts. Furthermore, you can use this time to complete any necessary forms they require for you to use certain features on their accounts.

  • Ask Your Bank about Account Switching Services

Some banks have dedicated departments to handle the entire process for you. They take the time transfer all your automatic payments or direct deposits for you. Moreover, they will also contact former bank and notify them to close the accounts in question. This saves you a ton of time and headaches.

  • Review Automatic Payments

Setting up automatic payments is a great way to help you manage your monthly bills. However, it can be a hassle to switch them over when you open a new account. Rather than rushing to close your old accounts, wait a month to review your activity and track them. While most recurring deposits and payments happen monthly, some occur less frequently. Giving yourself this time to review the details ensures you don’t miss one.

  • Schedule a Day to Finalize the Switch

The last step is to mark a day on the calendar to finalize the switch. This provides you one last opportunity to run through your checklist and ensure you completed everything before you empty your account and close it for good. When it comes to financial matters, such as switching banks, it’s better to take the extra time to avoid costly mistakes.

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Should Mobile Location Data Become Public?

Should We Be Using Mobile Location Data for COVID-19 Containment?

The collection and sharing of mobile location data has become a hot topic of debate. And rightly so since there have been several large-scale data breaches and serious questions of privacy. It’s no wonder why many people do not want this information publicly accessible. However, some governments have effectively been using this data for contact tracing and containment of COVID-19. In my mind, this begs the question…are there times when mobile location data should become public? And furthermore, don’t we already willingly provide this information through apps on our phones?

What Is Mobile Location Data?

When someone wants to use your mobile location data, it means they access your geolocation information from your cell phone. When you use your cell phone, it ‘pings’ your location through nearby cell towers. The Telecommunications operators (Telcos) then store this information in a secure location. Using GPS signals, Bluetooth beacons, and triangulation, anyone with access can track movement of a specific individual or an entire population in real time.

What Concerns Are There over Mobile Location Data?

There are dozens of ethical concerns about the collection and use of this data. However, the biggest points of contention for me come down to privacy and security. Collecting this type of information exposes sensitive information about you and everyone around you. It shows your exact location at any time and the routes you take every day. The data also reveals locations where you spend the most time.

While this may be unnerving to you, we freely and willing provide this information every day. Each time you click ‘OK’ when an app asks to access you location data, you give it permission to use and sell your mobile location data. Although millions of us consent to sharing this information through phone apps every day, little is known about how the information is collected or being used.

When governing bodies can freely access and use big data analytics as they see fit, it isn’t hard to imagine scenarios where it could be abused and used against its own citizens. What starts out as programs to support public health initiatives can quickly turn into more restrictive policies akin to a military state. While many governments in Southeast Asia have been effectively using apps for contact tracing and enforcing quarantine measures, how far will they go to ‘keep people safe’?

How is Mobile Location Data Used for COVID-19 Containment Measures?

During the pandemic, technology has been a critical tool in the fight to protect public health. Many governments have been using mobile location data to contain the spread of COVID-19. They conduct contact tracing and hot spot mapping to determine who is at risk. The data makes it easy to determine who attended “super-spreader” events or visited locations where there are higher chances for community transmission.

Local authorities use this data to see who has been in close proximity to confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you have been exposed, then health officials will contact you with health directives. They inform you of the exact time and location of exposure, how to monitor your health, and where the nearest hospitals and testing locations are if you have symptoms.

However, some governments have also been using this information to enforce quarantine and social distancing restrictions. They are able to track your location to ensure you are following official protocols. Some airports require you to install tracking apps on your phone when you enter the country, and deny access if you refuse to comply. In some instances, local governments even dispatch police officers or levy huge fines if you break quarantine without permission.

Their justification is that people cannot be trusted to adhere to the prescribed guidelines which puts the public at risk. However, international watchdogs worry that it could also be used to further discriminate against marginalized groups who already have limited freedoms and restricted movement.

Should We Be Using Mobile Location Data to Combat COVID-19?

Knowing both sides of the argument, that brings us back to the main question: should we allow authorities to use mobile location data to combat COVID-19?

After reviewing several case studies and personal testimonies, I would have to say yes. However, there are several asterisks following this statement. First and foremost, all health initiatives need to be in compliance with international laws. This means any restrictive measures should be “lawful, necessary, and proportionate” to the severity of the problem. It also requires both transparency and defined time limits to reduce the long-term impacts on people’s livelihoods.

Then, of course, there is the issue of security. Private citizens have a right to know how their information is being used and secured. Health authorities should specify what data it is collecting and sharing. Additionally, they should also outline how they will maintain anonymity and protect against unlawful surveillance.

For these reasons, self-reporting initiatives will likely have greater success. By creating platforms where people can disclose information, it puts more power in the hands of individuals. It also invites free and active participate in the national programs to fight COVID-19. If people feel as if they have a choice in the matter, they will be more likely to comply with public health measures.

How Can You Secure Personal Data?

However, if you disagree, what can you do to secure your personal data? Unless you are going to give up your devices that track your location, you will never be able to completely mask your personal information. But, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information from hackers, scammers, and cyber-attacks.

  1. Don’t store personally identifiable information on your cell phone. Delete passwords, social security number, credit card, and other sensitive financial information from your mobile devices.
  2. Regularly delete your browsing history and cookies. Your internet activity is constantly monitored and stored by the browser. Deleting it makes it harder to track your web activity.
  3. Clean up emails and messages that contain personal information. If it fell in the wrong hands, it could leave you vulnerable, especially if they have access to sensitive financial information. Review and delete sensitive information so it is not remotely accessible.
  4. Use secure payment methods for online purchases. Some scammers direct you to payment portals then skim your credit card number and steal your information. Using secure portals protects you from unauthorized transactions, identity theft, and cloning of your information.

In the digital age, personal privacy will continue to come into question. As more entities have access to information like your mobile location data, we have an individual responsibility to ensure our rights our not violated. Therefore, make sure you know what you’re agreeing to before you click ‘OK’ and grant access to sensitive data.

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Things To Know Before Contesting a Will

Things to Know Before Contesting a Will

The loss of a loved one is an emotional and difficult time. Unfortunately, it can become even more overwhelming when a person’s last will and testament comes to light. If survivors feel that the allocation or assets does not reflect the deceased’s final wishes, there may be grounds for contesting a will. However, it can take a heavy emotional and financial toll. Here are a few things you should know before you spend time and money trying to challenge it.

How Do You Contest a Will?

You cannot contest a will simply because you do not like or agree with what it says. Before you can contest it, you need legal standing and be able to prove that the will is invalid. Only an heir or a named beneficiary can challenge it.

Although, anyone can review the terms if you believe there has been a mistake. Start by obtaining a copy of the document. The executor should be able to provide a copy of the current will and all previous versions that exist. Compare the documents and look for significant changes. You can check the complete list of assets to ensure nothing was overlooked as well. However, if the executor has not done due diligence, you can request a copy of the existing documents from the probate court.

If you are still suspicious after reviewing everything, discuss your situation with an attorney to see if you have a case. They will provide legal counsel and assess the validity of your claim. If you and your lawyer feel that there are enough grounds, the next step is legal action. Your attorney would file a contest against the will on your behalf. This litigation seeks to invalidate the will, but the burden of proof falls squarely on you. Depending on the specific circumstances, contesting a will can be a very long and expensive process.

When Should You Think about Contesting a Will?

The testator, or deceased person, has the right to will their inheritance based upon any belief or whim. They also have the right to change it at any point in time, for any reason. But, if you believe they changed the will under suspicious circumstances, try to clarify what happened that led to the decision.

In most instances, a contest is filed when someone is excluded from the will. Sometimes it is an heir or beneficiary who expected to be included but was not. Other times it happens if the testator discussed changes prior to their death but never officially amended the document. Either way, it is a good idea to seek professional advice before filing any paperwork.

It is no small undertaking to contest a will, so it is not a decision that you should make lightly. Of all cases presented to probate court, only about 0.5% to 3% of will contests are successful. So, you should prepare yourself for an uphill battle from the start. You must also look at the practicality of taking action from a financial standpoint as well. Does the potential gain outweigh the legal and emotional cost?

If the answer is yes, there are time-sensitive steps for contesting a will. The rules and timelines concerning a last will and testament vary state to state. These are determined based on where the testator lived at the time of death. Time frames range from a few months to a few years. So, you will need to verify local laws if you want to pursue legal action.

What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?

If you believe the last will and testament does not reflect the person’s true intentions, you must prove it in a court of law. However, there are certain criteria to meet before you can contest a will.

1. The will does not meet state regulations or the testator did not sign it in accordance with state laws.

Although you probably assume that documents prepared by an estate lawyer satisfy all legal formalities, it is not always the case. In fact, failure to follow state regulations is the most common way to invalidate a will. Each state sets very specific rules to determine what constitutes a valid will and testament. If the document does not meet all requirements, the courts cannot uphold it.

2. The will was signed under coercion, fraud, or diminished mental capacity.

These cases of often the most difficult to prove and endure. You must have hard evidence on your side as well. In these instances, you must prove the deceased did not have the mental faculties to understand what was happening or was unduly influenced to make changes. Since they cannot speak for themselves, courts must rely on the testimony of those present when the testator signed the will. Unless you have concrete proof, you may not have grounds to contest.

3. The terms of the will are unclear.

In order for a document to qualify as a last will and testament, it must clearly indicate the writer’s intention. If there is any shred of doubt, the probate court can invalidate it.

 4. Heirs of beneficiaries disagree with asset distribution.

Lastly, an heir or beneficiary can contest a will if they disagree with the asset distribution. They may have standing if they are entitled to a larger portion of the estate or have been taken out of the will by mistake. However, be wary of no-contest clauses. Under this clause, you would inherit nothing should you challenge the will and lose.

What are the Alternatives to Contesting a Will?

Before taking any legal action, you may want to look for other avenues to pursue, especially if your case is difficult to prove. Mediation may be a better alternative than an expensive and drawn-out court battle. You are more likely to find a satisfying resolution and avoid the legal fees of prolonged litigation as well.

There may be other options as well that allow you to completely bypass a will contest. Depending on the claim on the estate, there may be other ways to obtain it. For instance, you may be able to claim compensation for unpaid work.

However, if you have no legal grounds to contest the will, it may be better to walk away. The bitterest estate fights often cost more in legal fees than the entire value of the inheritance. If the estimated amount is too low to cover the retainer, don’t spend precious time and energy to fight a losing battle.

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