Protect Yourself Against, and Mitigate Damages From, Identity Theft

We’ve all heard of it. But we all think that we’re invincible to it. Identity Theft!

What is it? It refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes.

Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes.

If your identity is stolen, do you have a plan in place to mitigate the damages? If not, you should at least bookmark this, just in case you need it in the future.

Identity thieves are looking for the following information:
• full name
• date of birth
• Social Insurance Numbers
• full address
• mother’s maiden name
• username and password for online services
• driver’s license number
• personal identification numbers (PIN)
• credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the last three digits printed on the signature panel)
• bank account numbers
• signature
• passport number

There are things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, and there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage and help bring the thief to justice.

Here are 5 things that you can do right now to protect yourself:
1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your cheque as it passes through all the cheque processing channels won’t have access to it.
3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SIN printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
5. When you travel abroad, carry a photocopy of your passport. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Insurance number, credit cards, etc…

If your identity does get stolen, what kind of things can you expect to have happen?

Here are just some of what they can do:
1. Access your bank accounts
2. Open new bank accounts
3. Transfer bank balances
4. Apply for loans, credit cards
5. Make purchases
6. Buy cell phone packages
7. Credit line approved by retail stores
8. Access your driving record, and change your information online

If you are a victim, here’s some critical information to act on immediately:
1. Cancel your credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. This is why we photocopy them (see above). Call your local bank/financial institution as well.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here’s what is perhaps most important of all:
3. Call the nationwide credit reporting companies immediately. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your name and credit report. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers for two national credit bureaus:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
2.) TransUnion Canada: 1-877-525-3823
3. Order free copies of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

Have you even been a victim of identify theft? Tell us your story and maybe others can learn from what you did, or didn’t do.

Plan The Most Professional Conference Call Possible – The Simple Tips

A conference call is a telephone call that allows more than two people to join in the conversation. It breaks geographical barriers and makes it possible for professionals to hold meetings without the cost or need to travel and make accommodation arrangements. More and more companies are now embracing the technology that saves so much cost and time and also offers lots of convenience. There are so many platforms you can use for your business conference calls, some of which even make the calling free for your convenience. But how do you make sure the call is as professional as it ought to be?

1. Consider even the smallest details in your plan. Before anything else, you need to know what you are doing and when you will be doing it. Set the date and time and make sure you have all relevant participants include and laid out. If it is an international conference call, then make sure that you remember to consider time zone differences so all participants are comfortable with the scheduling.

2. Give participants early notice. Professionals tend to be very busy people and for this reason you really cannot assume that they will be available at the time you have scheduled the conference call. It is advisable that you tell them about the conference call at least a month or few weeks to it. This is good enough time for everyone to reserve time for the call or make any necessary changes to the scheduling early enough for you to come with better alternatives. If everyone is okay with the date and time, then you need to provide them with instructions to access the call including dial-in numbers and PINs. Proposed start and end time and also the topic should also be provided.

3. Keep all necessities handy. Visual aids, charts, spreadsheets and even graphs may be necessary during the call and you should have them handy. If possible you can send them out to the participants before the call for their analysis. Whether your call is an audio call or a video call, you will need to avail necessary guides to get the most from the session.

4. Create a good agenda. Your teleconference will only be successful when you have a complete and well-organized agenda for it. A good agenda should cover topics, speakers on each of the topics, and even time every speaker has on the topics. Consider any requests from the participants and include them in the agenda too.

5. Exercise good teleconference etiquette. It may be a conference call, but you should show professionalism in handling it. Call on time and introduce yourself appropriately immediately you dial in. Allow speakers to finish talking before you jump in and keep your phone mute when not talking to prevent background noises from seeping in. You should also remain attentive to what is happening during the call; you do not want to seem lost in the conversation just because something distracted you during the session.

Automotive Filter Changes Importance

Humans require clean, easy-to-breath air in order to live. And just like humans, vehicles also need to be able to “breathe” clean air in order to survive. While human lungs make it possible to breathe, a vehicle’s air filters do just the same. But after some time, they begin to accumulate mass amounts of dirt, debris, and other airborne particles, which eventually decreases their quality and function. For this reason, it is critical to have your vehicle’s engine and cabin air filters inspected and changed on a routine basis to promote safe and efficient driving. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of routine automotive filter changes.

Air Filters

Keep in mind that your car’s air filters are your first line of defense against irritating and obstructive airborne contaminants. Dirt, dust, pollen, mold spores, exhaust gases, bacteria, and more are examples of airborne contaminants that have the ability to negatively affect the quality and performance of your engine and vehicle as a whole. And according to Community Car Care, there is a 1 in 5 chance that YOUR car needs an air filter change right now! Many drivers are guilty of overlooking this small but highly-necessary scheduled maintenance.

Engine Damage

The long list of airborne contaminants can have a powerful impact on your vehicle’s engine, and in a very negative way. Everything from pistons, cylinders, and cylinder walls, to piston rings and bearings, are just a few areas of a car engine that can begin to lose performance value from clogged or dirty air filters. Over time, neglecting to change them can lead to serious engine malfunctions and breakdowns, which means frustrating, costly repairs.

Cabin Filters

If you like to have clean, breathable interior air that smells good, you need to change your air filters on a routine basis. Once they start to become clogged, they begin to slowly lose their ability to do their job. So once they are entirely clogged, you can suffer some mild but irritating consequences, such as musty smells, sore throat, coughing, itchy eyes, tightening of the chest, and more. Changing them regularly keeps the interior environment of your car fresh and easy to breath.

Schedule

Refer to your vehicle’s owners’ manual for the manufacturer recommendations on factory scheduled maintenance. The general rule of thumb is to have your air filters inspected and changed every time you take your car in for an oil change. In fact, it is often a part of oil change packages. This should be every 3,000 miles or so. Talk to your mechanic for professional advice.

Step Moving Companies – Choosing the Best

When you are moving, you want to make sure that your possessions are safe, that they are going to arrive at your new home undamaged, but how do you make sure this happens? One way is to move your possessions yourself but if you have a lot of stuff to move or you are moving to another state moving everything yourself might not be possible without hiring a moving company.

The first step is to sort through your household stuff and divide it into three categories, which would include items to be given away, items to be sold, and items to move. This will help you know just how much stuff you have to move so you would know what type of mover you would need to hire. When you either sell or give away things that you do not need you will be getting rid of things and not taking it with you to store in your new home.

To find a good mover talk to family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to see if they know of a reputable moving company they can recommend. If possible it is better to hire a moving company that someone recommends than to hire one from a listing in the phone book or from an online search. With a recommendation, you know that they will give you good service. Even if you have a recommendation it is best to check with several moving companies to sure that you are getting a reputable company and the best deal. When talking to the moving companies ask them how many years they have been in business, and what amenities they offer. You should inquire how long it would take them to move your household goods to the new home. You also want to make sure that they have the required licenses.

Make sure that the company is regulated by calling the state transportation department. You should also check with the Better Business Bureau to see there were any complaints filled against the moving company. Doing these things should give you an idea of how trustworthy and reliable they are. Next call and get an estimate of three or four companies. This estimate should include packing fee, storage fees, insurance, surcharges, and more.

Some moving companies will give you a non-binding or binding estimate. With a binding estimate, it includes all costs with no additional charges. In a non-binding estimate, as much as ten percent or more can change on the original estimate. Once you have the estimates compare all the companies and choose the one with the best services for the best rates. Make sure that you get a copy of the estimate before signing the contract.