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.

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!

Telling Your Story the Right Way for Your Brand

We all want our marketing dollars to stretch as far as they can. One way to ensure that your dollars are taking your company as far as they should go is to have your brand tell the right story in the right way. It is important to think of marketing as someone in the corner raising their hand to get attention. If you aren’t intrigued by what you see, if you aren’t interested in figuring out what the story is, then your marketing and advertising can quickly be ignored and even more quickly add up to a cost that is not sustainable. Most marketing is an interruption, plain and simple. Whether it’s the ads you see scattered around the internet, streets, windows, and seemingly everywhere these days, the stuff that works is the stuff that grips you, makes you stop, and makes you curious.

Appeal to Your Customers
The first step in telling your story is to meet your customers where they are. No one is going to listen to your story if they can’t hear you. You need amplification to get your message out there and keep it out there.

Be Genuine
Developing a brand that really represents the high caliber services and products that your company provides is key to attracting the kind of loyal customers you want. You need to show them exactly what they can expect from you from the first moment they encounter your brand.

Create a Connection
Life is about the connections we make. If you can successfully connect with your customer base, then they are more likely to become your customers, return as customers, and spread the word about your brand to their connections.

You need a way to stay in your customers’ minds so that when they need your products or services, your brand is the first one they think of. Using promotional products can help your brand be remembered long after you make an initial connection with your customer base.

And Repeat
The stories that stick with us are those that we hear all the time. The best way to get the story of your brand remembered is to tell it over and over.

One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is with promotional products that appeal to your customers. Giving potential customers something they will use every day is the smart way to keep your brand repeating in their mind.

Ready to choose the right promotional product to tell your brand’s story?

Features to Expect in Future Smartphones

Smartphones are the most common thing now. They are much different to the so called mobiles. As the name already indicates they are much smarter than the mobile phones. These are handy devices that every person uses as means of communication with friends and relatives. Earlier the phones were simply used for calling purposes. But now with advancement in technology phones are used for multiple purposes. A simple smartphone is now loaded with multiple apps, cameras and of course the primary calling functions.

It is expected that the future smartphones are going to have certain features which are going to make the phones even more powerful. The features that might make their way are –

1. Augmented reality- This something that provides us more information by combining the computer data so that we have real life experience of what we see. It will give you all relevant information by the use of your phone’s camera. The augmented reality apps that is available now makes use of the GPS to provide information. But now it has limited recognition accuracy which is expected to increase in the coming years.

2. Flexible screens- There might be a time when you can adjust the size of the screen according to your needs. Suppose you want to play a game or watch a video you can do that by folding and unfolding the portable screen size. This can be made possible with the help of Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology.

3. In-built projectors- Not only the screen, we hope that you will be able to show movies to your friend and family by projecting the screen in an appropriate place. This has the mightiest possible chance of replacing the TV that is used as gaming consoles.

4. Seamless voice control- Though voice control has been there in earlier phones but the voice recognition function was the best one. In the later years, it is expected that there would be seamless voice control that might take interactivity to the next level.

5. 3D screens and holograms- Many of the Smartphone have high-defined cameras that offer sharper resolutions than the human eyes. Still, our thirsts for good photos are not over. The companies are thus, now moving their focus from the 2D smartphones to the 3D smartphones. The next in this route is likely to be the holographic projections. This will enable you to resize your photos to whichever size you like removing out the unnecessary things.

We guess that you are already excited to think of the things. Imagine what you would do if you get all these features in your handheld smartphone. Isn’t the idea awesome? Yes, it is definitely. All you have to do now is hold your breath, and wait for the awesome features to come to the market.