The security firm Bitdefender says users of Google (GOOG) Gmail are the target of a phishing attack. The fast-spreading scheme aims to steal your password, and it appears to be able to get past most computer security systems. Here's what to watch for: the subject line will contain a message such as "Mail Notice" or "Lookout Notice." If you get one, delete it, and definitely don't click on the link inside the text.
American's level of household debt rose in the first quarter, but most of it was for mortgages, not credit cards. In fact, credit card debt fell by $24 billion compared to a year ago, and it's now at the lowest level since 2002. That's good for our personal finances, but not so good for the overall economy, which depends upon consumer spending to spur growth.
One thing we are spending more on is wine. And for the first time, the U.S. has surpassed France as the biggest consumer of vino. However, the French still drink far more on a per person basis -- about six times more than the average American drinks.
Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 20 points on Tuesday. It was the Dow's fifth straight gain, the best streak this year. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 13 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) eked out another record high.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The S&P crossed the 1,900 level for the first time, even though it didn't close there. The index reached the 1,800 level less than six months ago. Last year the S&P topped three different century marks, but before that you have to go back to March of 2000, when it crossed the 1,500 level.
As the U.S. draws closer to energy independence, the Obama Administration is considering lifting the ban on oil exports. Due to the surge in shale oil production, the U.S. is set to become the world's largest producer within the next five to 10 years.
Finally, it's the birthday of Facebook (FB) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He turns 30.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt
Money Minute: Gmail Users Latest Target for Cyberattacks
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back."
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more.
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt.
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.