Author Susan Ladika

Susan Ladika

Susan Ladika is a freelance journalist who frequently writes about personal finance topics. Her articles for have run the gamut from domestic violence and debt to bankruptcies to staying safe while traveling abroad. She writes frequently for places such as, Workforce Management and International Educator.

Now based in Tampa, Florida, she got her start in journalism working at daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

Susan Ladika's stories for

Employer credit checks: Who does them, how they work and what laws apply -- If you're applying for a new job, a credit check could determine your fate, depending on the position and where it's based. Here's how they work and what to expect. ... (See Employer credit check)

My card issuer of 25 years suddenly wants to know more about me -- Under the Patriot Act, banks are required to verify the identities of their customers and maintain accurate information on them. But my bank's demand to know how I earn my income is an invasion of my privacy. ... (See Consumer privacy)

Rewards cards target sharing services, and their millennial fans -- As millennials embrace the sharing economy, card issuers are rolling out new cards or upgrading their rewards programs to offer benefits for using such services ... (See Rewards cards for sharing services )

Hurricane Florence: Banks offer relief to cardholders in storm-affected areas -- Banks and credit card issuers are waiving credit card late fees and out-of-network ATM fees and some are offering to increase credit card limits to help customers in storm-hit areas. ... (See Hurricane Florence relief )

Surprising credit card travel exclusions -- Your credit card's travel insurance may not cover injuries sustained while taking part in a protest or riot, driving under the influence, skydiving, or due to a pre-existing medical condition. ... (See credit card travel insurance exclusions)

How to avoid travel scams -- Summer vacation season is in full swing and so are travel scams aimed at getting your credit card info. Be on the lookout for misleading booking sites, fraudulent property rentals, bogus vacation discounts and Facebook posts promising free airline tickets. ... (See Summer travel scams)

Your guide to travel insurance ahead of your next trip -- As you plan your next trip, check your credit cards for their travel insurance benefits. This guide features what's included in travel insurance and how to assess what coverage you need based on your trip type, destination and length of trip. ... (See Guide to travel insurance)

6 common credit card fees and how to avoid them -- Many credit card fees -- late fees, foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, for example -- can be avoided. Follow these simple steps to cut down on the extra money you are paying card issuers. ... (See How to avoid card fees)

Pay down debt using snowflake method -- With the snowflake method, daily or weekly savings add up. Apply your snowflake savings weekly to your credit card debt to get your balance to zero faster. ... (See Snowflake method do pay down debt)

Buying a home? Rewards cards and balance transfers can help -- When buying a home, a lot of your expenses can be put on rewards cards racking up cash back and points, and for all that new debt, a balance transfer card can offer breathing room to pay off your cards. ... (See Credit cards and the homebuying journey)

The solo traveler's guide to keep you and your cards safe -- As a solo traveler, you have to be extra cautious with the safety of your finances and lodging, because you don't have a backup. You should, however, have a backup credit card. ... (See Guide for solo travelers)

Credit card on/off switches: More card issuers adding them -- The digital switches give cardholders greater control over their accounts and can help reduce card fraud. ... (See Credit card on/off switches)

Reselling a gift card? This is peak season for scam -- If you received gift cards you?re unlikely to use, be careful if you try to sell or cash them online. Other options include gift card exchanges, a new app, Target stores, kiosks and donating card to charity. ... (See How to avoid gift card scams)

First-time fraud victims likely to be hit again -- With reload scams and sucker lists, some first-time fraud victims are fleeced over and over. ... (See Repeat fraud victims)

Gas pump and ATM skimmers: How to spot and avoid them -- How can you spot card skimmers? Use your eyes, your fingers, a free Android app and your common sense to cut your fraud risk, but nothing is foolproof. ... (See How to spot card skimmers)

Annual card bonuses shower extra rewards for loyalty -- Extra points, free hotel nights and more at your sign-up anniversary give you a reason to stick with that card ... (See Annual bonus)

Fraudsters creating synthetic identities from personal info on web -- Synthetic identity fraud surges to $6 billion in 2016. Shift to EMV chip cards led fraudsters to seek out other scams, experts say. Auto lenders are a new target for fraudsters. ... (See Synthetic identity fraud)

Card customers in Irma's path get help, fee waivers from banks -- Many card-issuing banks are cutting Hurricane Irma victims some slack, waiving fees and offering financial help ... (See Hurricane Irma)

Bluesnarfing: newest card fraud at gas pumps, ATMs -- With a skimmer and Bluetooth technology, fraudsters can sit nearby and intercept your payment transaction details ... (See Bluesnarfing)

Can you count on your credit card travel insurance? -- Your trip may be ruined, but your credit card could help you get your money back ... (See Travel)

What millennials can teach us about credit -- They're debt-averse initially, but savvy about their credit in later years. ... (See Millennials)

Tax fraud crackdown to delay early filers' refunds -- The tax fraud crackdown has halved identity theft cases in the past year, but a new law to further fight fraud means refunds won't start flowing until after Feb. 15 this year. ... (See Tax fraud)

Online dating scams: How to protect your heart and wallet -- Romance scammers might persuade you to drain you bank accounts, max out your credit cards ? all to send them the cash. ... (See Romance scams)

8 ways to cut your risk of fraud during holiday travel -- Data breaches, unsecure Wi-Fi, ATM skimmers are all on the rise. ... (See Fraud)

Brexit, pound's plunge bring a UK shopping discount -- Online shoppers can save 10 to 20 percent, and may even get free shipping ... (See Brexit)

As hotel data breaches mount, be alert for card fraud -- Regularly change passwords, watch accounts for suspicious activity ... (See Hotel)

It's now harder to pay health insurance premiums via credit card -- Citing fees, Humana and some Blue Shield units have dropped the pay-by-credit-card option ... (See Payments)

Paper versus online statements: 8 FAQs -- Frequently asked questions about switching from paper to online statements for your credit card account, or maybe switching back ... (See Paper statements FAQs)

Poll: Paper bank statements remain popular -- More than half of us still get them; younger consumers more likely to go digital with bank statements, a national poll finds ... (See Paper statements)

Threat of tax fraud, tax ID theft grows -- The year 2016 has already seen a surge in email tax fraud, the IRS warns, and private tax collectors may add to the confusion ... (See Tax ID theft)

Millennials most likely to fall prey to scams -- Younger generation comfortable, but not always careful, with technology ... (See Scam)

Personal loans surge into mainstream -- Rise of online lenders and a lack of home equity help fuel the growth of this once-small niche of unsecured loans ... (See Personal loans grow )

Roadside assistance, your credit card's little-known benefit -- If your car breaks down by the side of the road, in some cases your credit card company won't leave you stranded ... (See Credit card roadside assistance)

Credit balances: what happens if you overpay your card bill -- Your money is protected by federal banking rules, but getting it back requires effort, and a big overpayment can trigger a fraud investigation ... (See Overpay)

Identity theft packs an emotional toll -- A high percentage of identity theft victims feel stress at the violation, studies show ... (See Emotional toll)

Top 10 phone scams to watch out for -- Phone scams are No. 1 choice of communication for fraudsters looking to cash in on unwitting consumers, and the phony credit card rate reduction is the No. 1 scam ... (See 10 scams)

How finance companies differ from credit cards, banks -- Consumer finance companies offer an alternative way to pay for big-ticket items. But look before you leap. ... (See Finance companies)

Elder fraud cases on the rise -- Cons aimed at the elderly include a 'grandchild' in distress and threats from a government 'official.' They're effective and on the rise ... (See Elder fraud)

Synthetic identity theft crimes growing fast, targeting kids -- Synthetic identity theft is growing fast, and victims may be children or others who don't use credit, so they're unaware of the crime for years ... (See Synthetic identity theft)

Dangers of applying for an online payday loan -- Considering an online payday loan? Don't. These sites often scatter your personal information to the Internet wind, opening you up to, at best, bad deals, and at worst, relentless fraudsters ... (See Online payday loans)

Fighting back against the growing threat of tax fraud -- Tax fraud scams have skyrocketed as rip-off artists file phony tax returns on consumers' behalf. To avoid getting burned, be alert to their tricks ... (See Tax fraud)

Beware auto-renewals' endless charges -- Signing up for magazine subscriptions or a free trial could haunt you for months or years, ringing up endless charges on your credit card through automatic renewals ... (See Auto-renew)

7 high-tech holiday scams -- As they attempt to spoil your holidays, crooks are turning to technology, using email, apps and phony online surveys in service of their cons ... (See Holiday scams)

Old-school phone scammers make comeback with modern twist -- Old-school telephone fraud is making a comeback as fraudsters are again more likely to contact you by phone than through websites or email ... (See Telephone scams)

Trip canceled? Your credit card may reimburse you -- Some cards offer reimbursements on failed travel plans ... (See Trip cancellation)

Compare credit cards' trip cancellation, trip interruption policies -- Does your credit card cover you if you have to cut your vacation short or cancel it all together? Use this chart to compare some of the cards that can ... (See Trip cancellation card policies)

Retailers roll out layaway plans early for 2014 holidays -- Holiday layaway programs are popping up earlier every year. Some retailers are even moving layaway online to vie for consumer business ... (See Layaway 2014)

Study: Data breaches pose a greater risk -- It used to be that just 1 in 9 victims of a data breach had the hacked info used against them. Now the odds are 1 in 3, says a new study ... (See Breach)

Spotting and avoiding hidden hotel fees -- Taking a page from airline and card industries, hotels are raking in billions of dollars a year in unexpected and sometimes hidden fees. Here's how you can steer clear of such costs ... (See Hotel fees)

Prepaid debit cards: With all the scams, are they worth it? -- Prepaid debit cards fill an important financial need for people without traditional bank accounts, but they have fewer protections and are prone to scams ... (See Prepaid debit scams)

Savings clubs: Not just for Christmas anymore -- Small banks and credit unions have extended the Christmas Club tradition to encourage savings for both good times and bad ... (See Savings clubs)

Some frequent flyer miles, reward points can be inherited -- You aren't going to be able to take those frequent flyer miles with you on that trip to the great beyond, but you might be able to pass them on to your kids ... (See Inheriting frequent flyer points)

Layaway 2013: Survives recession's end, but evolves -- Compare fees and policies for the old-fashioned holiday financial helper, which enjoyed a revival during the recession and shows every sign of sticking around ... (See Layaway)

Don't let a rental scam spoil your vacation -- Rental scams are becoming increasingly common. Recognizing the warning signs is essential to prevent a scam from ruining your next vacation. ... (See Vacation rental scams)

Bankruptcies continue to fall -- As the eighth anniversary of a bankruptcy reform law approaches, filings in the first half of 2013 have fallen 14 percent from the same period one year ago ... (See Bankruptcy filings)

Pet wellness plans touted to spread out vet costs -- Some snarl, others purr at the idea of evening out pet care spending; evaluate all the costs and what's covered before signing up ... (See Pet wellness plans)

Bankruptcy filings plunge in first quarter of 2013 -- Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy fillings fell the most in states hard hit by the recession, including Nevada and California ... (See 1st quarter bankruptcies)

Vacay layaway: Pay now, enjoy later plans spread to vacations -- Cruises, airlines and travel agencies turn to layaway financing options so dreams of faraway places can come true, debt-free ... (See Vaction layaway)

Bankruptcies fell 14% in 2012, continuing 2-year decline -- Bankruptcy filings for 2012 year show a 14 percent fall, following a 12 percent decline the prior year, as America continues its shaky economic recovery ... (See Bankruptcies fall)

What happens, what to do after a card data breach -- If your card data has been breached, your vulnerability -- and the right self-defense actions -- can vary widely ... (See Coping with a data breach)

Layaway 2012 season begins with an early rush -- Layaway payment plans, reborn in the recession, are retaining their popularity and coming back early, though consumers should be wary of the fees ... (See Layaway)

Tips: How to protect yourself from financial abuse, coerced debt -- Knowledge is power if you?re a victim of a partner's financial abuse that has led to debt. These tips from experts can help halt or reverse the abuse ... (See Financial abuse)

A credit crunch consequence: Bankruptcy filings decreasing -- The tightening of consumer credit during the economic downturn may be paying off: Consumer bankruptcy filings again plunged in the second quarter of 2012 ... (See Bankruptcies fall)

Passbook savings loans allow you to borrow against your own account balances -- Credit unions and some banks across the country offer a tool to help build credit: 'passbook savings loans' secured by your own savings ... (See Passbook savings loans)

State by state bankruptcy statistics, 2005-2012 -- Bankruptcy filings for the third quarter of 2012 show the number of filers continuing to decline, after a long series of increases that followed the 2005 bankruptcy law reform ... (See State bankruptcy statistics)

Tax ID theft skyrockets; thieves feasting on a refund bonanza -- Filing false tax returns with stolen Social Security numbers to obtain refunds is booming. If you're not wary, they'll end up with a refund debit card meant for you ... (See Tax ID theft)

9 tips for protecting your tax return from identity thieves -- Fraudulently filing a tax return to get a refund has become a popular crime. You may not be able to thwart a determined thief, but these tips will tilt the odds in your favor ... (See Tax return tips)

Sending remittances: more options, more protection -- Thanks to a new regulation taking effect in 2013, those who need to send remittances abroad will have more protections and more fee transparency ... (See Remittances)

Personal loans on the rise - are they right for you? -- Priced as high as credit cards, but paid off over a fixed time like auto loans, this financial product is finding a growing audience ... (See Personal loans)

Late on your credit card bill? Your auto could be seized -- Credit unions are especially fond of a clause that lets an financial institution seize cars or deposits if loans at the same institution go bad ... (See Cross-collaterization)

Christmas clubs: Start saving now to avoid card debt next holiday -- These old-fashioned savings tools are still around at smaller banks and credit unions, and they can be a useful, fun part of an overall savings strategy ... (See Christmas clubs)

Refer-a-friend programs catch on for credit cards, prepaid cards -- Current customers, friends can get discounts for signing up, and some programs use social media to spread the word ... (See Refer-a-friend programs)

State by state bankruptcy statistics, 2005-2011 -- Bankruptcies reversed course and fell in 2011, but it's not just due to debt aversion. We may just be running out of people who benefit from filing ... (See State bankruptcy statistics)

Sign-up bonuses for rewards credit cards become more generous -- As cards make a comeback from the recession, issuers chasing new customers are becoming more generous with sign-up bonuses ... (See Reward card bonuses)

Online layaway: Old-fashioned payment system gets new digital life -- During the recession, the old-fashioned concept of layaway came roaring back to life. Now it even has an online twist ... (See Online layaway)

Bankruptcy filings fall in first quarter of 2011 -- The economy has improved and tight credit means there's less debt to file over, but it's not clear that the decline in bankruptcy will last ... (See Bankruptcy filings)

Play now, pay later: Sports teams, theme parks roll out payment plans -- Your favorite theme park or pro sports team wants you back, even if you have to pay for your fun over time ... (See Entertainment payment plans)

Credit card issuers, banks waive fees for Japan relief donations -- Banks will forgo their usual transaction fees so that 100 percent of the money donated for Japan relief reach its destination ... (See Credit card donations)

After disasters, beware credit card frauds and scams from fake charities -- In the wake of a disaster, emotions can run high and people want to help. Fraudsters know it, and pose as phony charities to steal credit card information ... (See Disaster scams)

Medical marijuana sellers can't take their 420 money to the bank -- Pot merchants, selling legally under state laws, are shunned by major credit card banks, but a few entrepreneurs see a budding opportunity ... (See Medical marijuana: 420 money is shunned by banks)

Personal bankruptcies rose 8 percent in 2010 -- Housing bubble states led the pack in bankruptcies, with California and Florida having the most people file. Hawaii had the largest percentage increase and Nevada the most per capita ... (See 2010 bankruptcies)

Comparing pro sports leagues' credit cards -- From Major League Baseball to the UFC, credit card issuers are offering something for every sports fan. It's fine to root, root, root for the home team, but if they don't offer a credit card with decent terms, it's a shame ... (See Compare pro sports cards)

Store loyalty programs: Discounts can have hidden costs -- Sure, the popular store loyalty programs offer discounts, but is it really a discount if you're chasing savings on items you wouldn't have otherwise bought? ... (See Store loyalty programs)

2011 brings expensive changes to FSA, HSA use -- Unless you have a prescription, that card you've used to buy drugs could have a surcharge tacked on ... (See Health care law)

Vending machines that take credit, debit cards catch on -- Newfangled machines take plastic and sell everything from fancy electronics to wine -- and yes, they can check your ID, too ... (See Credit card vending machines)

Tips for minimizing danger of using an ATM card abroad -- Problems at ATMs are a rarity in America. But if traveling abroad, you may need to be wary ... (See Foreign ATM use)

Travel tips for countries where cash, not credit, dominates payments -- Going to a country where cash and coin, not plastic cards, must be used? These tips will help you minimize the risks that ATMs and carrying cash can bring ... (See Tips for traveling with cash)

Feds cap credit card late fees at $25 -- The fee limit is among several new protections from Credit CARD Act that were finalized Tuesday ... (See Card fee caps set)

Bankruptcies resume climbing, aided by tax refunds -- Bankruptcy filings rose 17 percent over a year ago; once-available cushions of credit and home equity have vanished ... (See Bankruptcies rising)

Law compels speedy estate settlement for card debt -- A little-noticed provision of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 makes it easier for the estate's administrator to settle the account in a timely fashion. ... (See Death)

Varied credit card travel perks make them good vacation partners -- Travelers can count on all kinds of special treatment from their credit cards. Benefits vary widely; shop for a card that fits your travel plans. ... (See Card travel perks)

Visa expands 'no signature' credit card transactions program -- That once-familiar credit card ritual -- signing for your purchases -- will become a rarity for purchases under $25 once Visa expands its no-sign program in July. ... (See Credit card signatures)

Bankruptcies soared 32% in 2009 -- A 'perfect storm' of unemployment and plunging house values sends filings up to highest level since a 2005 reform law went into effect. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Personal loans offer less risky alternative to credit cards -- Think of a personal loan as a credit card's more-stable, less-popular cousin -- it's just as pricey, but its terms tend to be fixed. ... (See Personal loans)

Bankruptcy filings on track to hit 1.4 million in 2009 -- Spurred on by high unemployment, bankruptcies have steadily climbed toward the level present before a 2005 reform law that was supposed to hold down filings. ... (See Bankruptcies)

Got great credit? Credit card offers improve as crunch works in your favor -- While shedding people with credit problems, card issuers are sweetening the deals for those with excellent credit, putting them in good bargaining position. ... (See Deals)

Should you refinance your home to pay off card debt? -- Rolling unsecured credit card debt into a secured mortgage may mean lower interest but higher risk that you could lose your home ... (See Refinance to pay off card debt?)

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Updated: 06-16-2019