Navigating your financial future can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. What you’ve learned here is just the start. After you’ve read these, visit our website at for even more information for you, your family and your community.

What should you do if you lose a prepaid card or notice unauthorized charges?

  1. Don't panic.
  2. Go to the website for the company who issued the card to find a customer support number to call.
  3. Call right away and give them the information needed to help you.*

    * Check your card providers website, or your cardholders agreement/contract to understand your particular rights.

Plan ahead: When you get a card for the first time, write down the name of the company who issued the card and the card number. Put this in a safe place, and never share this information with anyone.

What is a 'secure website' and how can I protect myself from fraud and theft while online?

  1. When buying online, or entering any personal information into websites, make sure the site is secure. Do this by:
    1. Looking for a 'padlock' icon on the left side of the URL window, along with the word "Secure." You can see this to the left of the URL address.
    2. Make sure that every page you visit has a URL starts with "https://." The 's' means it's a secure site, and the data you enter will be encrypted. Encrypted sites turn your data into a code that is hard for others to access and use.
  2. When using an app to buy things or entering personal information, avoid using public Wi-Fi which is less secure. Try to connect using your personal Wi-Fi instead (by turning off Wi-Fi in your device's settings), or use the secured mobile site for the bank or merchant you are doing business with, rather than their app.
  3. If you are using a public computer:
    1. Log out of every site as soon as you are done.
    2. Because public computers often use an unsecured Wi-Fi network, you should also limit the amount of financial and personal information you enter. If you need to enter data, make sure each page is secure using the steps above.
    3. Make sure you are using different passwords for each site. When you use the same password, it could make it easier for others to use that password to access your accounts.
    4. Stay aware of your surroundings, and make sure that others are not looking at the data you enter on your screen.

Glossary of Terms

Print Glossary
Account Number

Each bank account has a unique account number. The account number can be found at the bottom of a check the second range of numbers in the series of numbers at the bottom of a check that tells the bank cashing the check which account to pull the money from.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Another name for the interest rate charged on the balance of a credit card.


An abbreviation that stands for Automatic Teller Machine. An ATM is a machine that allows you to make electronic deposits and withdrawals from your bank accounts.

ATM Card

A payment type similar to a debit card that allows you to make electronic purchases but requires that you enter a PIN (Personal Identification Number) for any transaction.


The total amount of money in a banking account at any given time.

Balance Transfer

A transfer of your existing credit card balance to another credit card. Balance transfers are typically used when a consumer wants to transfer their credit card debt onto a card with a lower interest rate.

Bank Teller

A bank employee who helps with account transactions like depositing or withdrawing money.


A budget is a plan of how you will spend the money that you make or receive.

Cash Advance

A loan of cash you obtain with a credit card.

Charge Card

A payment type that works just like credit cards except the balance must be paid in full every month.

Check Card

Another name for a Debit Card.

Check Number

A number identifies each personal check, found at the top right of a personal check that identifies that specific check.

Checking Account

A type of bank account in which interest is not usually applied to the principal, but offers a safe place to store your money with high liquidity and allows you to make withdrawals using an ATM card, debit card, or personal check.

Consumer Fraud

When a product or service is illegally used to deceive you into sending money or signing up with a phony service. Consumer fraud scams frequently start with a fake email, letter or phone call.

Credit Bureaus

Credit bureaus, also called credit agencies or credit reporting agencies, are companies that collect credit information about individuals. They then calculate a credit score for each individual based on this information. Note that credit bureaus are private, for- profit businesses-they are not part of the government, though they are overseen by various government agencies. In the United States, the three major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Credit Cards

A credit card is a payment type that does not automatically draw money from your account. Instead, it provides a short-term loan that you can use to make everyday purchases. Credit card loans are unsecured, which means the credit card company can't take your valuables away from you if you don't pay the loan back. This is why credit card companies charge a high interest rate on the money you owe them--so they can make money off of your loan.

Credit History

Credit history is a record of a person's borrowing and repayment activity. Whenever you take out a loan or a line of credit, it goes on your credit history, along with all the payments you make towards the loan. This includes any detrimental information such as late payments. Consumer credit history is tracked by the credit bureaus. Your credit history is the information that goes into your credit report, though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Think of it like this: Credit history is what you've done, while a credit report is where it's written down.

Credit Limit

The amount of money that you are able to charge to a credit card. If you exceed this limit, your purchase may not go through and you could be penalized.

Credit Report

A credit report is a record that details a person's credit history. It also includes identifying information, such as names and addresses, so that an individual can be matched with his or her credit history.

Credit Score

Your credit score is a numerical rating of your credit-worthiness (how likely you are to pay off your debts). In the United States, the most commonly used credit score is the FICO score. Credit score is based on the information in credit reports from the three main credit bureaus.

Debit Card

A payment type that allows you to make electronic purchases that debit the cost of the purchase directly from your checking account.


When money is taken out of a bank account (also known as a 'withdrawal').


Occurs when a borrower is unable or unwilling to repay a debt or required payment.


When money is added into a bank account (also known as a 'credit').

Direct Debit

Also known as ACH (Automatic Clearing House) transfer. Allows you to have money come out of your account one time or automatically.

Direct Deposit

Also known as ACH (Automatic Clearing House) transfer. Allows you to have money come into your account one time or automatically.

Down Payment

An upfront payment made when an item is bought on credit. Down payments are usually provided at the time of purchase particularly when purchasing larger items, like a house or car.


One of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, which tracks credit histories, creates credit reports, and calculates credit scores.


Expenses are anything you spend money on, from a pack of gum to your monthly cell phone bill.


One of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, which tracks credit histories, creates credit reports, and calculates credit scores.

Identity Theft

A form of fraud. Identity thieves use another person's personal information in order to steal that person's money or gain access to other benefits. Common forms are credit card fraud, phone and utility theft, and banking fraud.


The government defines income as any form of money, property, or services that you receive.

Initial Fraud Alert

An alert put on your credit file to help prevent additional identity theft. The alert stays on your file for 90 days, at which point you can choose to renew it if necessary.

Interest Rate

An interest rate is the percentage of interest you either make or pay on a principal (like 1% or 5%). Say you have a savings account with $1,000 and a 5% interest rate. 5% of $1,000 nets you $50.


Interest is the fee someone pays to be able to borrow money. You either pay interest on money you borrow (like when you take out a loan to buy a car) or you make interest on the money you save (like when a bank pays you interest on money you put into a savings account).


A lease is a rental agreement. It lays out the terms for the property you'd like to rent: how much you're going to pay and how long (and how often) you're going to pay it. The most familiar use of a lease is in the rental of housing, like an apartment. In this case, it refers to the document you sign with the owner that gives you the right to live there in exchange for paying the rent and complying with any other requirements. It's also used when leasing a car, which is really just a long-term rental agreement. You lease the car for a period of time, and when that time is up, you return it to the dealer.

Merchant Credit Card

A card that you sign up for at a store, which may offer discounts or other rewards. These cards function like a regular credit card.

Minimum Monthly Payment

In regards to credit cards, this refers to the least amount of money you are obligated to pay back on a monthly basis to avoid fees and penalties associated with not paying the minimum amount.

Money Order

A payment type paid for upfront and used to pay for goods or services. Money orders function like cash, but are safer because you are able to specific whom the money order should go to.

Nest Egg

An amount of money – usually saved over a long period of time – that is used to pay for something in the future, like retirement.

Online Access

Some bank accounts offer this as a way to allow customers to complete some financial transactions electronically, via the Internet, like checking account balances and making transfers.

Online Transfer

A transfer of funds from one account or individual to another through a bank’s website or mobile application.

Payday Lenders

Payday lenders offer small cash loans, usually in the range of $100 to $500, with payment due in full at the borrower's next paycheck.

Payment History

A history of the payments you have made on all credit you have obtained, which affects your credit score. Tracks such things as whether or not you pay your bills on time, whether or not you always pay at least the minimum amount, etc.

Payment Types

Payment types are what you actually use to buy something. There are lots of options: cash, checks, debit cards, and credit cards are just a few.

Personal Check

A paper payment type. You can write and sign a personal check to pay for purchases at places that accept them, and funds from personal checks are drawn directly from your checking account.

Phishing Scam

A scam where someone tries to deceive you into providing personal information by impersonating someone, like a bank representative.


Stands for “Personal Identification Number”. Often used to complete a transaction made with a debit card.

Prepaid Card

A card that allows you to put a specific amount of money onto them. Prepaid cards usually come with additional fees and charges.


Principal is the sum of money you put into an account or the amount of money (minus interest) you owe on a debt. So if you open an account with $500 (or take out a loan for $500), the principal amount in either case is $500.

Savings Account

A type of savings vehicle in which you earn interest on the principal, usually without minimum balance requirements but lower interest rates.

Savings Plan

A savings plan is a way to save money for the long-term, which for most people means retirement. Examples of these savings plans include 401(k) and 403(b)s, which are employer-sponsored retirement plans to which both the employee and employer contribute, and IRA and Roth IRAs, which are retirement accounts set up by individuals.

Security Deposit

An amount of money that the property owner holds onto during the lease that can later be used to pay for any damages to the property caused by the renter. Usually equal to one month’s rent.

Social Security Number

A Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary working residents. It is chiefly used to track down who should be paying taxes, and more recently as a national identification number. Each individual has his or her own unique number.

Tax Bracket

Brackets that determine, based on how much income an individual makes, what percentage of that income will be owed in taxes.


One of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, which tracks credit histories, creates credit reports, and calculates credit scores.


Services – like electricity, water or gas – provided to the public.


A tax form employers send to each of their employees listing how much money that individual made during the last year and how much has already been paid in taxes.


A tax form an employee fills out that tells the IRS how much money to take out of each of their paychecks.


In reference to budgeting, a want is an expense that is not an absolute necessity.


When money is taken out of a bank account (also known as a 'debit').


An amount taken out of your paycheck to pay for taxes.

We partner with community leaders every day to help bring you a brighter financial future. Meet a few of those partners, A. Philip Randolph Institute and World of Money, and learn more about their efforts in communities near you.