Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Why Online Security is so Important to your Credit Rating

Since the widespread adoption of online shopping and the electronic transactions used to pay for it, online identity fraud has been a potentially profitable endeavour for criminals. These days fraud is rarely a confidence trick which happens in person, the majority of it occurs by stealing your identity and going online to spend your cash. It doesn't take much to have your identity stolen, but if you're not careful you could have thousands of pounds stolen.

An example of just how widespread identity fraud can be was highlighted earlier in the year by the Association of Chief Police Officers, they say unsuspecting consumers handed over a total of £3.7m to online ticket fraudsters in 2013 alone. This is only one area of identity fraud, but it shows just how much this despicable practice has risen in popularity in the UK and around the world.

It's not only losing your money to a fraudster that's infuriating, it's the time spent on the phone and in your bank trying to reclaim your money too. You also run the risk of damaging your credit rating when your accounts are compromised, imagine that you're desperate for a loan or mortgage in the future and you're denied because you fell for an online identity fraud scam a few years previously.

However, you don't have to be an expert in online security or computing to know the basic rules of how to protect yourself online. If you follow these simple rules you should be able to shop online with peace of mind...

1) Use trusted website only - This is probably the most important one on the list - Don't give your account details out to websites you don't trust! Make sure you're buying from established shops and businesses with online reviews and a visible customer base. You could even try typing the companies name into Google to make sure lots of negative reviews don't pop up in the results.

2) Check for the padlock - Make sure there is a padlock image in the top left of your browser address bar, this indicates the site you're viewing has the relevant security certificates and is safe to shop with.

3) Passwords - It's important to be sensible with passwords and follow the two golden rules. Firstly, don't leave them lying around or share them with others. Secondly, use different passwords for different sites - this is important because if one site is compromised your details can't be used in multiple places.

4) Social Networks - It is important to be careful with your social network profiles, by keeping your privacy settings high and not revealing too much personal information. If you're name and personal information is widely available on networks like Facebook, fraudsters can use it to get through security questions and answers on your accounts.

Online credit fraud is rapidly becoming the most common type of fraud committed in the UK. However, if you're careful online it's not difficult to avoid falling for a scammers tricks. It is worth staying vigilant by checking your bank accounts regularly in case you spot any irregularities. Log into your online banking weekly and you can also check your credit rating at Experian and similar sites. By staying alert to the potential issues around online shopping and making some small changes to your habits, you can potentially save yourself lots of money, hassle and keep your credit rating intact.

Friday, 23 May 2014

5 Ways to Save £1000+ on Travel

Train Travel

Saving: Hundreds of Pounds

12 Weeks before you travel, when tickets first go on sale for your journey contact the rail company selling your ticket or use thetrainline.com.  If you book this early it is possible to save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year on regular travel. 

For example, travelling from Manchester to London can cost in excess of £100, if you book in advance you could get the same journey for under £50 and in some cases as little as £12.50.

Even Cheaper Train Travel

Saving: £100+

Again contact either the train companies or use thetrainline.com. Instead of asking for peak-time tickets between your destination stations, try asking for separate tickets to stations en route. This "split-ticketing", is a completely legit practice and save you even more money on travel.

Generally it works better on the really long journeys, for example Newcastle to London, you would purchase separate tickets from Newcastle to Peterborough (and back) and then Peterborough to London (return), instead of a standard open return for next-day travel.

The only thing to watch out for, is that your tickets mean you actually stop at the station you've purchased for en route.

Buying a Car

Saving: £1000's

An easy way to make a significant saving on purchasing a car is to go for a nearly new one. The first thing you need to do is get a copy of the motor trades price comparison guide Glass's Guide (glass.co.uk), then check the prices of a one-year-old-car. Once armed with this data hit the showrooms and be prepared to haggle for the best price. Tell the salesman you're after a nearly-new car with the majority of the manufacturer's warranty in place.

Doing this can give you brilliant savings, its possible to slice thousands off original lists prices. Car's depreciate in value rapidly and even the year makes a huge difference to price.

However, avoid cars with short warranty lengths remaining, it is important to be covered if you have any difficulties for as long as possible.

Get a Brand New Bike, Tax-Free

Saving: £100+

A lot of companies participate in the government's Cycle to Work Scheme, a simple call to your companies HR department could save you a ton! You could easily knock £100 off the overall cost of a £250 bike, if your bike is more expensive, the saving can be massive.

It worth remembering though, with this scheme the bike isn't technically yours to start with, as you're in effect paying back a loan for up to two years. Only at this point, when you can then buy your not-so-new bicycle at a very fair price, does it really belong to you.

You'll also have to buy the bike from stores participating in the scheme. Your local bike shop may not be a member, so double-check first at cyclescheme.co.uk.

Reduce your Petrol Costs

Saving: £100+

This tip takes slightly more discipline and thought, but is well worth the effort and you can save hundreds of pounds. Basically, change your driving habits and you can cut your petrol bills significantly.

For example:
- Changing up a gear in a petrol car when you reach 2500 revs per minute (2,000rpm in diesel cars) and driving smoothly will use less petrol.

- Slashing your speed on a motorway from 85mph to 70mph saves almost a litre of petrol every 20 miles — over a year, that can easily add up to hundreds of pounds saved.

This will take a while to get used to and requires patience, however, if you want a shorter term fix try petrolprices.com, a website that finds the cheapest petrol for sale in your area.

Monday, 12 May 2014

5 Of The Easiest Vegetables To Grow At Home

There's no better feeling than eating food that you have grown yourself. It's fun, healthy and will save you money. With a little know-how you can be eating fresh, delicious produce in no time. The best part is you don't need to be a farmer, you don't even need a garden to get started!

Let's kick things off with something literally anyone can grow.

Salad Box

A salad box is simply a small container that can support several different varieties of lettuce and other greens. What exactly you fill yours with is up to you. You can find attractive pre made wooden boxes at garden centres or you can make one yourself to fit your own requirements. They will thrive outdoors but can also do very well perched on your kitchen window.

There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce with which to fill your box. Most are easy to cultivate and can be picked throughout the year. This is one of my favourite things about growing lettuce, you won't ever experience waiting three months for harvest only to have your plant succumb to a disease at the last moment - leaving you with nothing.

Lettuce does well indoors and out, and in positions that receive five or more hours of sunlight a day. Afternoon shade is ideal as they lettuce will wilt if it is exposed to long periods of heat. Water frequently, but make sure you have adequate drainage!

You don't have to confine yourself to lettuce either. Coriander, dill and parsley will also do well in your salad box.

New Potatoes

Not a salad person? Potatoes are easily grown outdoors in large buckets or sacks.. They are not too fussy about the kind of soil used, and not too sensitive to over watering, needing a steady supply of water throughout the season.


This most versatile of fruits is used across the world in all kinds of dishes, and is also packed full of goodness. There are hundreds of varieties to try, but unless you are an experienced gardener it is best to stick to the 'easier' and more predictable varieties, at least for now.

Tomatoes like a lot of sunlight, and can be grown indoors or out. Soil should be kept moist, with daily watering on hot days. A greenhouse is advised if growing outdoors due to our notoriously unpredictable and often wet weather.


This superfood is not only delicious and nutritious,but very easy to grow. Spinach thrives in similar conditions to to those outlined above for the salad box, and indeed, you can add some to your box if you wish.

Leaves can be picked between late May and October for summer cultivars, and between October and April for winter cultivars.


As with most root vegetables, you will need greater soil depth than you can generally provide inside for carrots, although it can be done. Carrots should be sown outdoors between March and July and harvested in late summer and Autumn. Watering should be kept to a minimum once seedlings have emerged from the ground.

Friday, 9 May 2014

10 Tips To Get The Best Deal On Car Insurance

Car insurance can be prohibitively expensive for a lot of people, particularly the young. Many of us are paying well over the odds, but it doesn't have to be this way! Take a few minutes to read these tips and you could potentially save a sizable chunk on your car insurance.

1. Car Comparison Sites

If you haven't heard of these sites then you must have been living under a rock. The annoying adverts have been infiltrating our TVs and radios for many years now. Our favourites are confused.com, comparethemarket.com, moneysupermarket.com and gocompare.com. It is worth remembering when you use these kind of comparison sites that they do not compare prices from Direct Line or Aviva. Don't forget to check those too.

These sites do not compare the same insurers, if you just use one of the above comparison sites you will not be getting the full picture and may end up losing out on a cheaper deal.

2. Check Specialist Quotes

Whether you're young, old, female, male or drive a specific type of vehicle, you may be able to find a great deal from a specialist insurer.

3. Get Quotes For Third Party And Comprehensive Policies

Don't always assume that third party fire and theft will be cheaper than comprehensive insurance. If you have the time it is worth checking out all the options, you might be surprised.

4. Add A More Experienced Second Driver

Try adding a second driver to your policy. Particularly if you're a younger driver it can sometimes actually lower your premium.

5. Consider Multi Car Policies

If you're living with your parents you may want to take a look at multi-car policies, they often work out cheaper.

6. Getting 'The Right Car'

If you haven't already bought your car then spend some time researching the models that will be cheaper to insure. Typically smaller, less powerful cars are the way to go. The Fiat Panda, Citroen C, Ford Ka and Volkswagen Fox are the kind of things you should be looking at. Sorry to burst your bubble if you had dreams of driving a brand new BMW or top of the line Range Rover.

7. No Modifications

If you wish to slam your ride, fit some new alloys, change the sound system, exhaust or perhaps even the engine then you will certainly end up paying more for it when it comes to insurance! Avoid the temptation.

8. Get Additional Driving Qualification

Most of us don't bother, but for those that do a higher qualification such as Pass Plus can make a big difference to the cost of your insurance. 

When you've just passed your test it might seem like the very last thing you want to do, especially considering the additional cost - but it will make you a safer, more competent driver and with the savings you will receives in insurance it will pay for it faster than you might think!

9. Pay Yearly

If you can afford the upfront cost it is usually best to pay for a whole year rather than monthly. This way you avoid the monthly interest charges that insurers slap on top.

10. Increase You Excess

Opting for a highly excess can often result in a significantly cheaper quote. Remember though that if you are involved in an accident that that same excess you opted for doesn't cripple you financially.