Friday, 15 May 2009

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secured loan is a loan in which the borrower pledges some asset (e.g. a car or property) as collateral for the loan.A mortgage loan is a very common type of debt instrument, used by many individuals to purchase housing. In this arrangement, the money is used to purchase the property. The financial institution, however, is given security — a lien on the title to the house — until the mortgage is paid off in full. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the bank ould have the legal right to repossess the house and sell it, to recover sums owing to it.In some nstances, a oan taken out to purchase a new or used car may be secured by the car, in much the same way as a ortgage is secured by housing. The duration of the loan period is considerably shorter — ften rresponding to the useful life of the car. There are two types of auto loans, direct and indirect. A direct auto loan is where a bank gives the loan directly to a consumer. An indirect auto loan is where a car ealership acts as an intermediary between the bank or financial institution and the consumer.A type of loan especially used in limited partnership agreements is the recourse note.A stock hedge loan is a special type of securities lending whereby the stock of a borrower is hedged by the lender against loss, using options or other hedging strategies to reduce lender risk.[citation needed]A pre-settlement loan is a non-recourse debt, this is when a monetary loan is given based on the merit and awardable amount in a lawsuit case. Only certain types of lawsuit cases are eligible for a pre-settlement loan.[citation needed] This is considered a secured non-recourse debt due to the fact if the case reaches a verdict in favor of the defendant the loan is forgiven.UnsecuredUnsecured loans are monetary loans that are not secured against the borrower's assets. These may be available from financial institutions under many different guises or marketing packages: * credit card debt * personal loans * bank overdrafts * credit facilities or lines of credit * corporate bondsThe interest rates applicable to these different forms may vary depending on the lender and the borrower. These may or may not be regulated by law. In the United Kingdom, when applied to individuals, these may come under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.A credit card is part of a system of payments named after the small plastic card issued to users of the system. It is a card entitling its holder to buy goods and services based on the holder's promise to pay for these goods and services.[1] The issuer of the card grants a line of credit to the consumer (or the user) from which the user can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance to the user.A credit card is different from a charge card, where a charge card requires the balance to be paid in full each month. In contrast, credit cards allow the consumers to 'revolve' their balance, at the cost of having interest charged. Most credit cards are issued by local banks or credit unions, and are the shape and size specified by the ISO/IEC 7810 standard as ID-1.Credit cards are issued after an account has been proved by the credit provider, after which cardholders can use it to make purchases at merchants accepting that card.When a purchase is made, the credit card user agrees to pay the card issuer. The cardholder indicates consent to pay by signing a receipt with a record of the card details and indicating the amount to be paid or by entering a personal identification number (PIN). Also, many merchants now accept verbal authorizations via telephone and electronic authorization using the Internet, known as a 'Card/Cardholder Not Present' (CNP) transaction.lectronic verification systems allow merchants to verify that the card is valid and the credit card customer has sufficient credit to cover the purchase in a few seconds, allowing the verification to happen at time of purchase. The verification is performed using a credit card payment terminal or Point of Sale (POS) system with a communications link to the merchant's acquiring bank. Data from the card is obtained from a magnetic stripe or chip on the card; the latter system is in the United Kingdom and Ireland commonly known as Chip and PIN, but is more technically an EMV card.Other variations of verification systems are used by eCommerce merchants to determine if the user's account is valid and able to accept the charge. These will typically involve the cardholder providing additional information, such as the security code printed on the back of the card, or the address of the cardholder.Each month, the credit card user is sent a statement indicating the purchases undertaken with the card, any outstanding fees, and the total amount owed. After receiving the statement, the cardholder may dispute any charges that he or she thinks are incorrect (see Fair Credit Billing Act for details of the US regulations). Otherwise, the cardholder must pay a defined minimum proportion of the bill by a due date, or may choose to pay a higher amount up to the entire amount owed. The credit provider charges interest on the amount owed if the balance is not paid in full (typically at a much higher rate than most other forms of debt). Some financial institutions can arrange for automatic payments to be deducted from the user's bank accounts, thus avoiding late payment altogether as long as the cardholder has sufficient funds.Credit card issuers usually waive interest charges if the balance is paid in full each month, but typically will charge full interest on the entire outstanding balance from the date of each purchase if the total balance is not paid.For example, if a user had a $1,000 transaction and repaid it in full within this grace period, there would be no interest charged. If, however, even $1.00 of the total amount remained unpaid, interest would be charged on the $1,000 from the date of purchase until the payment is received. The precise manner in which nterest is charged is usually detailed in a cardholder agreement which may be summarized on the back of the monthly statement. The general calculation formula most financial institutions use to determine the amount of interest to be charged is APR/100 x ADB/365 x number of days revolved. Take the Annual percentage rate (APR) and divide by 100 then multiply to the amount of the average daily balance (ADB) divided by 365 and then take this total and multiply by the total number of days the amount revolved before payment was made on the account. Financial institutions refer to interest charged back to the original time of the transaction and up to the time a payment was made, if not in full, as RRFC or residual retail finance charge. Thus after an amount has revolved and a payment has been made, the user of the card will still receive interest charges on their statement after paying the next statement in full (in fact the statement may only have a charge for interest that collected up until the date the full balance was paid...i.e. when the balance stopped revolving).[3]The credit card may simply serve as a form of revolving credit, or it may become a complicated financial instrument with multiple balance segments each at a different interest rate, possibly with a single umbrella credit limit, or with separate credit limits applicable to the various balance segments. Usually this compartmentalization is the result of special incentive offers from the issuing bank, to encourage balance transfers from cards of other issuers. In the event that several interest rates apply to various balance segments, payment allocation is generally at the discretion of the issuing bank, and payments will therefore usually be allocated towards the lowest rate balances until paid in full before any money is paid towards higher rate balances. Interest rates can vary considerably from card to card, and the interest rate on a particular card may jump dramatically if the card user is late with a payment on that card or any other credit instrument, or even if the issuing bank decides to raise its revenue.Benefits to customersBecause of intense competition in the credit card industry, credit card providers often offer incentives such as frequent flyer points, gift certificates, or cash back (typically up to 1 percent based on total purchases) to try to attract customers to their programs. However it should be noted that the incentive is insignificant to the interest charged for carrying a balance.Low interest credit cards or even 0% interest credit cards are available. However, services are available which alert credit card holders when their low interest period is due to expire. Most such services charge a monthly or annual fee.Benefits to merchantsn example of street markets accepting credit cards. Most simply display the logos (shown in the upper-left corner of the sign) of all the cards they accept.For merchants, a credit card transaction is often more secure than other forms of payment, such as checks, because the issuing bank commits to pay the merchant the moment the transaction is authorized, regardless of whether the consumer defaults on the credit card payment (except for legitimate disputes, which are discussed below, and can result in charges back to the merchant). In most cases, cards are even more secure than cash, because they discourage theft by the merchant's employees and reduce the amount of cash on the premises. Prior to credit cards, each merchant had to evaluate each customer's credit history before extending credit. That task is now rformed by the banks which assume the credit risk. Credit cards can also aid in securing a sale, especially if the customer does not have enough cash on his or her person or checking account.For each purchase, the bank charges the merchant a commission (discount fee) for this service and there may be a certain delay before the agreed payment is received by the merchant. The commission is often a percentage of the transaction amount, plus a fixed fee. In addition, a merchant may be penalized or have their ability to receive payment using that credit card restricted if there are too many cancellations or reversals of charges as a result of disputes. Some small merchants require credit purchases to have a minimum amount (usually between $5 and $10) to compensate for the transaction costs, though this is strictly prohibited by credit card companies and credit card companies attempt to get consumers to report such merchants.[4]In some countries, for example the Nordic countries, banks guarantee payment on stolen cards only if an ID card is checked and the ID card number/civic registration number is written down on the receipt together with the signature. In these countries merchants therefore usually ask for ID. Non-Nordic citizens, who are unlikely to possess a Nordic ID card or driving license, will instead have to show their passport, and the passport number will be written down on the receipt, sometimes together with other information. Some shops use the card's PIN for identification, and in that case showing an ID card is not necessary.[edit] Costs to merchantsMerchants are charged many fees for the privilege of accepting credit cards. The merchant may be charged a discount rate of 1%-3%+ of each transaction obtained through a credit card. Usually, the merchant will also pay a flat per-item charge of $0.05 - $0.50 for each transaction. Thus in some instances of very low value transactions, use of credit cards may actually cause the merchant to lose money on the transaction. Merchants choose to pay these costs in exchange for the increased profitable sales they can create. Thus, they are considering part of the overall cost of marketing. Merchants with very low average transaction prices or very high average transaction prices are more averse to accepting credit cards. But rates are often reduced in an attempt to include more of these types of merchants.Transaction steps * Authorization: The cardholder pays for the purchase and the merchant submits the transaction to the acquirer (acquiring bank). The acquirer verifies the credit card number, the transaction type and the amount with the issuer (Card-issuing bank) and reserves that amount of the cardholder's credit limit for the merchant. An authorization will generate an approval code, which the merchant stores with the transaction. * Batching: Authorized transactions are stored in "batches", which are sent to the acquirer. Batches are typically submitted once per day at the end of the business day. If a transaction is not submitted in the batch, the authorization will stay valid for a period determined by the issuer, after which the held amount will be returned back to the cardholder's available credit (see authorization hold). Some transactions may be submitted in the batch without prior authorizations; these are either transactions falling under the merchant's floor limit or ones where the authorization was unsuccessful but the merchant still attempts to force the transaction through. (Such may be the case when the cardholder is not present but owes the merchant additional money, such as extending a hotel stay or car rental.) * Clearing and Settlement: The acquirer sends the batch transactions through the credit card association, which debits the issuers for payment and credits the acquirer. Essentially, the issuer pays the acquirer for the transaction. * Funding: Once the acquirer has been paid, the acquirer pays the merchant. The merchant receives the amount totaling the funds in the batch minus the "discount rate," which is the fee the merchant pays the acquirer for processing the transactions. * Chargebacks: A chargeback is an event in which money in a merchant account is held due to a dispute relating to the transaction. Chargebacks are typically initiated by the cardholder. In the event of a chargeback, the issuer returns the transaction to the acquirer for resolution. The acquirer then forwards the chargeback to the merchant, who must either accept the chargeback or contest it.[edit] Secured credit cardsA secured credit card is a type of credit card secured by a deposit account owned by the cardholder. Typically, the cardholder must deposit between 100% and 200% of the total amount of credit desired. Thus if the cardholder puts down $1000, they will be given credit in the range of $500–$1000. In some cases, credit card issuers will offer incentives even on their secured card portfolios. In these cases, the deposit required may be significantly less than the required credit limit, and can be as low as 10% of the desired credit limit. This deposit is held in a special savings account. Credit card issuers offer this because they have noticed that delinquencies were notably reduced when the customer perceives something to lose if the balance is not repaid.The cardholder of a secured credit card is still expected to make regular payments, as with a regular credit card, but should they default on a payment, the card issuer has the option of recovering the cost of the purchases paid to the merchants out of the deposit. The advantage of the secured card for an individual with negative or no credit history is that most companies report regularly to the major credit bureaus. This allows for building of positive credit history.Although the deposit is in the hands of the credit card issuer as security in the event of default by the consumer, the deposit will not be debited simply for missing one or two payments. Usually the deposit is only used as an offset when the account is closed, either at the request of the customer or due to severe delinquency (150 to 180 days). This means that an account which is less than 150 days delinquent will continue to accrue interest and fees, and could result in a balance which is much higher than the actual credit limit on the card. In these cases the total debt may far exceed the original deposit and the cardholder not only forfeits their deposit but is left with an additional debt.Most of these conditions are usually described in a cardholder agreement which the cardholder signs when their account is opened.Secured credit cards are an option to allow a person with a poor credit history or no credit history to have a credit card which might not otherwise be available. They are often offered as a means of rebuilding one's credit. Secured credit cards are available with both Visa and MasterCard logos on them. Fees and service charges for secured credit cards often exceed those charged for ordinary non-secured credit cards, however, for people in certain situations, (for example, after charging off on other credit cards, or people with a long history of delinquency on various forms of debt), secured cards can often be less expensive in total cost than unsecured credit cards, even including the security deposit.Sometimes a credit card will be secured by the equity in the borrower's home.[6][7] This is called a home equity line of credit (HELOC).[edit] Prepaid "credit" cardsSee also: Stored-value cardA prepaid credit card is not a credit card,[8] since no credit is offered by the card issuer: the card-holder spends money which has been "stored" via a prior deposit by the card-holder or someone else, such as a parent or employer. However, it carries a credit-card brand (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover) and can be used in similar ways just as though it were a regular credit card.[8][9]After purchasing the card, the cardholder loads the account with any amount of money, up to the predetermined card limit [10] and then uses the card to make purchases the same way as a typical credit card. Prepaid cards can be issued to minors (above 13) since there is no credit line involved. The main advantage over secured credit cards (see above section) is that you are not required to come up with $500 or more to open an account. [11] With prepaid credit cards you are not charged any interest but you are often charged a purchasing fee plus monthly fees after an arbitrary time period. Many other fees also usually apply to a prepaid card.[8]Prepaid credit cards are sometimes marketed to teenagers[8] for shopping online without having their parents complete thection.[12][13][14][15]Because of the many fees that apply to obtaining and using credit-card-branded prepaid cards, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada describes them as "an expensive way to spend your own money".[16] The agency publishes a booklet, "Pre-paid cards",[17] which explains the advantages and disadvantages of this type of prepaid card.[edit] FeaturesAs well as convenient, accessible credit, credit cards offer consumers an easy way to track expenses, which is necessary for both monitoring personal expenditures and the tracking of work-related expenses for taxation and reimbursement purposes. Credit cards are accepted worldwide, and are available with a large variety of credit limits, repayment arrangement, and other perks (such as rewards schemes in which points earned by purchasing goods with the card can be redeemed for further goods and services or credit card cashback).Some countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, limit the amount for which a consumer can be held liable due to fraudulent transactions as a result of a consumer's credit card being lost or stolen.[edit] Security problems and solutionsMain article: Credit card fraudCredit card security relies on the physical security of the plastic card as well as the privacy of the credit card number. Therefore, whenever a person other than the card owner has access to the card or its number, security is potentially compromised. Once, merchants would often accept credit card numbers without additional verification for mail order purchases. It's now common practice to only ship to confirmed addresses as a security measure to minimise fraudulent purchases. Some merchants will accept a credit card number for in-store purchases, whereupon access to the number allows easy fraud, but many require the card itself to be present, and require a signature. A lost or stolen card can be cancelled, and if this is done quickly, will greatly limit the fraud that can take place in this way. For internet purchases, there is sometimes the same level of security as for mail order (number only) hence requiring only that the fraudster take care about collecting the goods, but often there are additional measures. <--The main one is to require a security PIN with the card, which requires that the thief have access to the card, as well as the PIN. Commented out: Doesn't quite make sense in this section as PINs are not used for "card not present" transactions. Comment following is nonsense: PINs are for ATM and debit cards, not credit cards.-->The PCI DSS is the security standard issued by The PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council). This data security standard is used by acquiring banks to impose cardholder data security measures upon their merchants.The low security of the credit card system presents countless opportunities for fraud. This opportunity has created a huge black market in stolen credit card numbers, which are generally used quickly before the cards are reported stolen.The goal of the credit card companies is not to eliminate fraud, but to "reduce it to manageable levels".[18] This implies that high-cost low-return fraud prevention measures will not be used if their cost exceeds the potential gains from fraud reduction - as would be expected from organisations whose goal is profit maximisation.Most internet fraud is done through the use of stolen credit card information which is obtained in many ways, the simplest being copying information from retailers, either online or offline. Despite efforts to improve security for remote purchases using credit cards, systems with security holes are usually the result of poor implementations of card acquisition by merchants. For example, a website that uses SSL to encrypt card numbers from a client may simply email the number from the webserver to someone who manually processes the card details at a card terminal. Naturally, anywhere card details become human-readable before being processed at the acquiring bank, a security risk is created. However, many banks offer systems where encrypted card details captured on a merchant's web server can be sent directly to the payment processor.Controlled Payment Numbers which are used by various banks such as Citibank (Virtual Account Numbers), Discover (Secure Online Account Numbers, Bank of America (Shop Safe), 5 banks using eCarte Bleue and CMB's Virtualis in France, and Swedbank of Sweden's eKort product are another option for protecting one's credit card number. These are generally one-time use numbers that front one's actual account (debit/credit) number, and are generated as one shops on-line. They can be valid for a relatively short time, for the actual amount of the purchase, or for a price limit set by the user. Their use can be limited to one merchant if one chooses. The effect of this is the users real account details are not exposed to the merchant and its employees. If the number the merchant has on their database is compromised, it would be useless to a thief after the first transaction and will be rejected if an attempt is made to use it again.The same system of controls can be used on standard real plastic as well. For example if a consumer has a chip and pin (EMV) enabled card they can limit that card so that it be used only at point of sale locations (i.e restricted from being used on-line) and only in a given territory (i.e only for use in Canada). This technology provides the option for banks to support many other controls too that can be turned on and off and varied by the credit card owner in real time as circumstances change (i.e, they can change temporal, numerical, geographical and many other parameters on their primary and subsidiary cards). Apart from the obvious benefits of such controls: from a security perspective this means that a customer can have a chip and pin card secured for the real world, and limited for use in the home country assuming it is totally chip and pin. In this eventuality a thief stealing the details will be prevented from using these overseas in non chip and pin (EMV) countries. Similarly the real card can be restricted from use on-line so that stolen details will be declined if this tried. Then when card users shop online they can use virtual account numbers. In both rcumstances an alert system can be built in notifying a user that a fraudulant attempt has been made which breaches their parameters, and can provide data on this in real time. This is the optimal method of security for credit cards, as it provides very high levels of security, control and awareness in the real and virtual world. Furthermore it requires no changes for merchants at all and is attractive to users, merchants and banks, as it not only detects fraud but prevents it.[citation needed]The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are responsible for prosecuting criminals who engage in credit card fraud in the United States, but they do not have the resources to pursue all criminals. In general, federal officials only prosecute cases exceeding US $5,000 in value. Three improvements to card security have been introduced to the more common credit card networks but none has proven to help reduce credit card fraud so far. First, the on-line verification system used by merchants is being enhanced to require a 4 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) known only to the card holder. Second, the cards themselves are being replaced with similar-looking tamper-resistant smart cards which are intended to make forgery more difficult. The majority of smart card (IC card) based credit cards comply with the EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) standard. Third, an additional 3 or 4 digit Card Security Code (CSC) is now present on the back of most cards, for use in "card not present" transactions. See CVV2 for more information.edit] Credit historyThe way credit card owners pay off their balances has a tremendous effect on their credit history. All the information is collected by credit bureaus. The credit information stays on the credit report, depending on the jurisdiction and the situation, for 1, 2, or even 10 years after the debt is repaid.edit] Profits and lossesn recent times, credit card portfolios have been very profitable for banks, largely due to the booming economy of the late nineties. However, in the case of credit cards, such high returns go hand in hand with risk, since the business is essentially one of making unsecured (uncollateralized) loans, and thus dependent on borrowers not to default in large numbers.[edit] CostsCredit card issuers (banks) have several types of costs:[dit] Interest expensesBanks generally borrow the money they then lend to their customers. As they receive very low-interest loans from other firms, they may borrow as much as their customers require, while lending their capital to other borrowers at higher rates. If the card issuer charges 15% on money lent to users, and it costs 5% to borrow the money to lend, and the balance sits with the cardholder for a year, the issuer earns 10% on the loan. This5% difference is the "interest expense" and the 10% is the "net interest spread".edit] Operating costsThis is the cost of running the credit card portfolio, including everything from paying the executives who run the company to printing the plastics, to mailing the statements, to running the computers that keep track of every cardholder's balance, to taking the many phone calls which cardholders place to their issuer, to protecting the customers from fraud rings. Depending on the issuer, marketing programs are also a significant portion of expenses.[edit] Charge offsWhen a consumer becomes severely delinquent on a debt (often at the point of six months without payment), the creditor may declare the debt to be a charge-off. It will then be listed as such on the debtor's credit bureau reports (Equifax, for instance, lists "R9" in the "status" column to denote a charge-off.) The item will include relevant dates, and the amount of the bad debt.[19]A charge-off is considered to be "written off as uncollectable." To banks, bad debts and even fraud are simply part of the cost of doing business.However, the debt is still legally valid, and the creditor can attempt to collect the full amount for the time periods permitted under state law, which is usually 3 to 7 years. This includes contacts from internal collections staff, or more likely, an outside collection agency. If the amount is large (generally over $1500–$2000), there is the possibility of a lawsuit or arbitration.In the US, as the charge off number climbs or becomes erratic, officials from the Federal Reserve take a close look at the finances of the bank and may impose various operating strictures on the bank, and in the most extreme cases, may close the bank entirely.[edit] RewardsMany credit card customers receive rewards, such as frequent flyer points, gift certificates, or cash back as an incentive to use the card. Rewards are generally tied to purchasing an item or service on the card, which may or may not include balance transfers, cash advances, or other special uses. Depending on the type of card, rewards will generally cost the issuer between 0.25% and 2.0% of the spread. Networks such as Visa or MasterCard have increased their fees to allow issuers to fund their rewards system. Some issuers discourage redemption by forcing the cardholder to call customer service for rewards. On their servicing website, redeeming awards is usually a feature that is very well hidden by the issuers. Others encourage redemption for lower cost merchandise; instead of an airline ticket, which is very expensive to an issuer, the cardholder may be encouraged to redeem for a gift certificate instead. With a fractured and competitive environment, rewards points cut dramatically into an issuer's bottom line, and rewards points and related incentives must be carefully managed to ensure a profitable portfolio. Unlike unused gift cards, in whose case the breakage in certain US states goes to the state's treasury, unredeemed credit card points are retained by the issuer.[edit] FraudThe cost of fraud is high; in the UK in 2004 it was over £500 million.[20] When a card is stolen, or an unauthorized duplicate made, most card issuers will refund some or all of the charges that the customer has received for things they did not buy. These refunds will, in some cases, be at the expense of the merchant, especially in mail order cases where the merchant cannot claim sight of the card. In several countries, merchants will lose the money if no ID card was asked for, therefore merchants usually require ID card in these countries. Credit card companies generally guarantee the merchant will be paid on legitimate transactions regardless of whether the consumer pays their credit card bill. Most banking services have their own credit card services that handle fraud cases and monitor for any possible attempt at fraud. Employees that are specialized in doing fraud monitoring and investigation are often placed in Risk Management, Fraud and Authorization, or Cards and Unsecured Business. Fraud monitoring emphasizes minimizing fraud losses while making an attempt to track down those responsible and contain the situation. Credit card fraud is a major white collar crime that has been around for many decades, even with the advent of the chip based card (EMV) that was put into practice in some countvent cases such as these. Even with the implementation of such measures, credit card fraud continues to be a problem.In addition to fees paid by the card holder, merchants must also pay interchange fees to the card-issuing bank and the card association.[21][22] For a typical credit card issuer, interchange fee revenues may represent about a quarter of total revenues.[23].These fees are typically from 1 to 6 percent of each sale, but will vary not only from merchant to merchant (large merchants can negotiate lower rates[23]), but also from card to card, with business cards and rewards cards generally costing the merchants more to process. The interchange fee that applies to a particular transaction is also affected by many other variables including: the type of merchant, the merchant's total card sales volume, the merchant's average transaction amount, whether the cards were physically present, how the information required for the transaction was received, the specific type of card, when the transaction was settled, and the authorized and settled transaction amounts. In some cases, merchants add a surcharge to the credit cards to cover the interchange fee, enouraging their customers to instead use cash, debit cards, or even cheques.[edit] Interest on outstanding


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