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Back to School Shopping Made Simple

Contests, Featured, GEAR, kids, play, style, tech, toys By August 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , 88 Comments

Those who know me realize that I search ebay almost as often as I scan Instagram. My searches generally involve antique china, rockabilly dresses and steamer trunks, but as autumn approaches I must be responsible and get the kids ready to go back to school.

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Interac Flash

grow, LIVE By April 22, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Interac Flash

Money seems to go fly away these days faster than the speed of light. Remember when the ‘dollar store’ actually sold things for a dollar? And you could legitimately include limes in a $29 grocery purchase? (Sorry Gwyneth). It’s tough to make a living, to raise a family and to teach your kids about money. But it is even harder to explain the mysterious disappearance of hard-earned money. Many Canadians have fallen victim to electronic pickpocketing, skimming or huge retail data breaches that have seen bank accounts dwindle and necessitated thousands of hours of time invested in cleaning up the mess left by criminals.

I was always a traditional money girl, starting with a piggy bank and bank book followed by my first debit card. It’s PIN (cough) may still be the same. Afterwards came the ‘student’ credit card at university with the bonus of a bunch of free tupperware. Like all people, I have forgotten my wallet on top of phone booths (remember those?) and let my credit cards disappear into restaurant kitchens for a shade too long. As life got busier, I admit that I was not always the best (double cough) at checking statements or bank balances. Times may have changed with the inventions of the internet, chip and PIN technology and e-billing, but wouldn’t it be great if there were a superhero protecting us from fraud? There is. Now Interac has made our earnings even more safe.

Interac Fraud PreventionBank-issued Interac debit cards with chip technology (the ones that give you access to your millions stashed in your bank accounts) are now more secure than ever thanks to comprehensive fraud prevention tactics and the new introduction of Interac Flash. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the Avengers, though I do think Interac should be given a place in the superhero hall of fame.  

“Interac Flash, the contactless payment functionality of Interac Debit, has all the benefits of Interac Debit but it allows you to pay for smaller purchases faster and easier.  When making a purchase for less than $100, you can choose to use the functionality by simply holding your card in front of a supporting reader at check out.” – Mark Sullivan, Head of Fraud Risk Programs, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation

Knocking Out Skimming

Interac debit card fraud losses, as a result of skimming, are at a record low – decreasing 45 per cent to $16.2 million in 2014 from a previous low of $29.5 million in 2013. All ABMs and Interac debit cards have been converted to chip technology – and by the end of 2015, all point-of-sale (POS) terminals will be converted. To date, virtually all cards and ABMs have been converted and 96 per cent of POS terminals.

Not only that, but cardholders are protected from losses through Interac’s Zero Liability Policy.

Fighting Electronic Pickpocketing

And what about pickpockets? I remember playing the ‘Artful Dodger’ in the musical Oliver once. I was much more skilled as a dancer than I was at being a pickpocket, but that was years ago – before the era of electronic pickpocketing. Two out five Canadians (40 per cent) are concerned about electronic pickpocketing. But… when Canadians use Interac Flash, they are safeguarded against counterfeiting and transaction replay types of fraud, including electronic pickpocketing. As a contactless enhancement of Interac Debit, Flash protects cardholders with layers of security, including chip technology and spending limits. No single transaction can be more than $100 and total spend without a PIN can not exceed $200. Once a limit is reached, a cardholder must insert their Interac debit card and enter their PIN for verification, i.e., conduct a regular Interac Debit transaction.  The limits are then re-set.

Combatting Retail Data Breaches

Now that we’re talking about nailing criminals and spy stuff, I should discuss retail data breaches. Interac has that covered too.  With an Interac debit card, the number on the front is useless to criminals if they don’t have your PIN. Unlike credit cards and other debit card products, Interac rules do not allow the number on the front of the payment card to be used as an account number; it is only an identifier for Interac transactions. This means that any data captured or stolen through skimming or a breach is entirely useless to a criminal because it cannot be used to conduct transactions, online or in person. No personal financial information is ever shared or stored with retailers.

Just don’t forget your pin. And make sure it isn’t the same as the one you were given at age 8.

So what are the bad guys doing now? “Criminals are looking for large amounts of cash and highly fenceable goods, not a few coffees,” reinforced Sullivan. “Interac Flash is about speed and convenience for small value purchases but we know cardholders want security and that’s why it offers strong protections, including protection from criminals attempting electronic pickpocketing to a lost card where someone tries to fraudulently spend $100.”

No more digging in your purse or diaper bag to scrounge for enough change for a coffee. Scotiabank, RBC Royal Bank, and TD Canada Trust are the first financial institutions to offer the enhancement, along with Sunova, Conexus, Cambrian and Affinity Credit Unions.   Other Canadian financial institutions are also working to provide their customers with Interac Flash soon.

So maybe it’s time to worry a little less about fraud so you can focus on catching up with your other favourite superheroes.

Disclosure: This post was proudly sponsored by Interac. As always, the opinions shared here are mine, all mine.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Redeem AIR MILES for Everyday Purchases

FAM, self By December 11, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Redeeming AIR MILES for Everyday PurchasesThe reality is setting in. December has arrived and the holiday to-do list is longer than my children’s wishlist for Santa. (Which is saying something). I haven’t started to shop for gifts, haven’t chosen cookie recipes and my pantry is bare.

This year, our family has also undertaken the enormous task of chairing a Family Ball for 450 adults and kids to raise funds for mental health. The event is on December 7th, and I think a whole big bunch of my angst stems from having slightly too many things to do. But just as I was about to have a panic attack, my AIR MILES American Express Card fell out of my wallet and the inspiration hit me.

I have always been so wise in using both my AIR MILES Collector Card as well as my Amex AIR MILES Credit Card to get twice the miles on purchases, and now it’s time to be rewarded for my efforts. Let’s see just how many AIR MILES I can redeem and how much money I can save this year while purchasing the items I need to buy anyway…

AIR MILES Cash RedemptionI chose from one of my many list-making apps and came up with a cunning plan. Every 95 reward miles redeemed equates to $10 off of the bill at participating stores if you are an AIR MILES Cash Collector, so I will attempt to end up with the smallest credit card bills I’ve ever seen this coming January! My plan:

1. Redeem AIR MILES for eVouchers at Toys R’ Us toward Minecraft toys to use as silent auction donations that will appeal to kids at the Family Ball. While there, with the miles available for redemption, I’ll add a few stocking stuffers for my kids and find games for the cousins.

2. Redeem AIR MILES while filling up the gas tank at Shell before our family trip to Big White Ski Resort in mid-December. Actually, I’ll also add in a couple jugs of windshield wiper fluid while at the gas station to combat the dirt from snowy roads!

3. Make a quick visit to the movie theatre and coffee shop during next week’s soccer practice to redeem my AIR MILES for movie tickets for the teachers, coffee for the mail carrier and other eVouchers for both as part of another silent auction prize. DONE.

4. Groceries. I can never quite fathom how long the holiday list is. This year I am going to calmly analyze the recipe books and make sure I only have to do a big shop once. I will take into account the brownies-in-a-jar mix we are gifting to neighbours, extra hot chocolate for snow days and plastic containers to replace the ones whose lids have miraculously disappeared. My local store participates in AIR MILES Cash redemption… wouldn’t it be incredible if I did my whole holiday shop for $17?

5. After realizing that all of our children’s fever medications are expired, I need to head to the drugstore. Beginning a new year without a proper first aid kit is not a wise move. Not only will I redeem some AIR MILES Cash balance for the new medicine, but I may treat myself to some holiday makeup with a touch of glitter.

I’d love to hear how you make out – and especially which everyday spending you choose to tackle with your AIR MILES Cash over this busy holiday season!

If you want to learn more about the Amex AIR MILES suite of cards you can check them out here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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