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Here is the latest on credit card concepts

It did not seem so long ago that the plastic credit card was new and innovative. Some creditors are looking to revamp it so that the consumer can spend less time at cash registers. Like anything new, it does bring forward questions about safety and spending habits.

Chase wants you to ‘Blink’, MasterCard wants you to ‘Tap and Go’ and American Express wants you to ExpressPay. What does all this mean for you?

It means that you can have incremental time saved when making purchases. The retailer may lose sales if the lines are too long or too slow. Proponents say it will save time for consumers and could make money for merchants.

What the financial institutions want you to do is use “contactless payment technology,” which is a microchip and an antenna implanted in anything from a credit card to a small reader on a key chain.

The technology works similar to a bar code. When you get to the register you just scan the device over an electronic reader, which sends the information to your bank or payment center to either approve or deny the purchase. You don’t have to hand a teller your card, there’s no password to enter and, depending on the merchant, it may not even require a signature.

The technology’s acceptance is growing with the national retailers even though it is in the infancy stages right now. A MasterCard spokeswoman said over 20,000 stores now take its PayPass version.

Card companies will make their money from processing fees charged to merchants. So the higher usage of cards vs. cash, the more money they make.

One question that has been raised regards identity theft. How easy is it to steal the card and personal information?

MasterCard, American Express and Visa, which offers the Visa Contactless feature, said all the information sent via the airwaves is encrypted and other monitoring measures are in place, such as cross referencing charges to stores to make sure they accept contactless technology.

They also stress that, as with conventional cards, customers are not liable for purchases made on a lost or stolen card.

But regardless of the security precautions or of the actual vulnerability of the technology, its success may rest more on how safe people perceive it to be.

Another technology that helps consumers keep their money is internet searches for unclaimed money. There are many people that are unaware of unclaimed property left in “old” accounts or bank deposit boxes unforgotten. If you feel you may have some unclaimed assets, please do a search. Many have been surprised to find money owed to them you could be next.

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