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.

LED’s In Auto Manufacturing

The popularity of LED lighting in many applications has seen major car manufacturers including Audi, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Ford offering colorful LED lights with new car models to attract customers.

Automotive lighting has seen few advancements in the past 30 years, instead relying on the widely used incandescent options. However, new LED options have emerged in recent years. LED is an abbreviation of light-emitting diode. It is a semiconductor that can change electrical energy into visible light. The light-emitting efficiency can reach 80%-90%. New, more intelligent LED options can now be seen in automotive electronic products, now known as the fourth generation car luminescence.

Compared with the traditional light bulb, LED’s main advantage is its lifespan. First of all, LED light life can last up to 50,000 hours in theory. In practice, it may be closer to 20,000 hours. Therefore, with the use of LED options, it’s possible to never need to change the lights for the life of the vehicle. Another advantage is that LED’s have a fast response time and can be lit without delay. LED’s start time is only tens of nanoseconds, much shorter than incandescent bulbs. LED’s are also energy saving. LED brake lights and turn signals can directly change electrical energy into light energy in the lower drive current, making it an eco-friendly option, not needing any other power. In addition, they will only need less than a quarter of the power of an incandescent lamp. The small size and compact structure of LED’s allow for use in places where traditional lights just could not fit.

Auto LED’s can be divided into two categories, lamps and decorative lights. Lamps include standard applications like instrument lights, front and rear turning lights, brake lights, back up lights, fog lamps and reading lamps. Decorative uses mainly include color changing lights for the side or bottom of cars.

The Market Prospects of Light-Emitting Diodes

Although the LED light source is still a relatively new alternative to conventional incandescent light source, the technology has matured and is continuing to mature greatly. The only disadvantage is that in some cases LED’s can be more costly upfront. However, with advancements in manufacturing and the rise of Chinese LED manufacturers, the hope is that LED’s will become the goto lighting option for automotive manufacturers in the future. With so many advantages, LED’s are almost certainly the future of auto lighting.

PlanningTravelling Alone

Often people are shocked when they hear that I love to travel alone. Some state that they would be afraid to do this while others imply that they just don’t think they would enjoy the trip without having people accompany them.

Well, there are several advantages to going solo:

1. Planning is much easier. You just think about where you would like to visit and start researching your options. You can open an email with flight offers and book whatever grabs your attention at the time without having to consult or compromise.
2. Travelling is more flexible. If you miss a plane or decide to get sidetracked you can coordinate things based on one schedule only – your own. You don’t have to worry about anxiety or commitments of others in your party. In fact, you could even choose to give up your seat on an overbooked flight and receive hundreds of dollars from the airline for doing so.
3. Opportunities abound. It is a lot easier to purchase one ticket to a popular event that two. Several times I have impulsively arrived at a box office and found that the concert was sold out – except for one great ticket – MINE! Would you believe twenty-third row center for Natalie Cole in Seattle?
4. Relationships develop. Frequently I am invited to join interesting people at their table for a meal when they realize that I am on my own. I have made amazing friendships and enjoyed great conversations on trips that wouldn’t have occurred if I had been with other people.
5. Culture can be experienced first-hand. There is always time to visit with hotel or restaurant staff, discover local adventures or learn about the language and customs from a shop keeper because no one is waiting for you or wanting to do something else.
6. Plans can be altered. You can sleep in, order lunch in mid-afternoon or take an impulsive detour without upsetting anyone else’s itinerary.
7. You set the pace. I have learned to walk slowly and rest often – a situation that does not match that of many other people. Last month, in Ronks, Pennsylvania, for example, I chose to take advantage of an outdoor Amish-made rocking chair so I could just rock and people-watch for two hours. I loved it but know that not everyone would have felt the same way!
8. You spend less money. At least I do because I know that I am the one who will have to haul my luggage around from place to place. And I don’t want to pay an extra transportation fee if it weighs in att over fifty pounds.
9. I also eat better when I am alone because I am not in restaurants three times a day trying to finish everything on the plate. In fact, I eat only one restaurant meal a day, ask for a take-out container and then supplement my left-overs with fruit, vegetables or snacks that I have purchased throughout the day.
10. Finally, and with tongue in cheek I enjoy the fact that there isn’t anyone to correct my stories!

You don’t have to be afraid to travel on your own if you are wise. Just use your common sense, ask hotel personnel for advice about safe areas and keep your eyes open. With just a little practice, you will find that travelling on your own can be a wonderful experience!

Best Deals on the Home Furnishings You Want

Most furniture stores offer a variety of great items for any room in your home. It can be fun to shop around and compare both options and prices. Take your time to get exactly what you want for a price that is going to work with your allotted budget. You can buy individual items or you can buy complete sets.

Don’t wait until you absolutely have to replace something though. If you do, you will feel stressed and rushed to make a purchase. This is going to result in you paying more because you don’t have time to look around. Start planning early to get the best choices and to really love what you will have in your home.

Sales

If you play your cards right, you will never pay full price for your furnishings. Instead, you can shop around and look for furniture stores offering very good sales. Make sure they really are giving you a deal though. Sadly, some stores will mark up prices and then put them on sale. This lower price is still more than you would pay for the same items somewhere else.

Clearance

Items are often on clearance at furniture stores to make room for the new merchandise. There is nothing wrong with those items, they are just older. They still have plenty of value and you may find something that gets your attention. This is a very simple way to save money on wonderful items for your home.

Save Money with a Set

Most furniture stores give you significant savings when you buy a set versus buying only one or two items. Think about this when you are shopping around. For example, if you want to get a couch, you may get a terrific deal to buy a couch with a matching loveseat. If you need a coffee table, you may find a wonderful price on a set with two end tables as well.

Free Shipping

Avoid paying to have your items delivered to you. Look for furniture stores that offer free shipping. The savings can add up quickly so don’t overlook this very important detail. Depending on what you buy from them, they may be willing to haul away your old items for free or a low price. It is a good idea to check into this as it will save you hauling them off.

Warranty

You need furnishings that look nice, they are fully functional, and they hold up well. Look for furniture stores offering quality items. You don’t want to pay for something that isn’t sturdy or from materials that simply aren’t going to hold up. Those companies offering a warranty on the items they sell are also encouraging. It means they believe in what they sell to you!

Financing

If you don’t have the money up front to buy home furnishings, you may be tempted to put it all on a credit card. Yet this can come with high interest with it and take time to pay it off. Many companies offer in house financing. The interest is often less than your credit cards. Some have special promotions too such as 0% interest as long as you pay off the balance.

You will have a specific period of time to pay it all in full. After that time passes, any balance you have left will be charged interest. This type of offer can help you to get the furniture you want not and not have to pay anything extra for it just by paying that balance early enough. The timeframe can vary but some are as long as 24 months.