Is Your Greatest Fear Losing Your Phone?

CELL PHONEYour phone has likely become an extension of who you are, and if you ever lose it or have it stolen, you might suffer from Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder, a new term coined by researchers.Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, say the anxiety is real and the loss of your phone stems from feeling disconnected from the depth of data “assets” that many have entrusted to their phones.

“These assets may include personal and business contacts, private pictures and videos, meeting and lecture notes and the like, banking details, utility statements, company spreadsheets and much more,” researches Zhiling Tu, Yufei Yuan, and Norm Archer write in their paper. “All such assets are potentially sensitive to abuse by third parties.”

Losing your personal and business data can trigger anxiety. But researchers say coping with this anxiety must start before you ever lose your device. They suggest smartphone users get acquainted with security measures to protect against theft or loss. Therefore, the blow of losing your phone may not be as great if it ever does happen.

But researchers found that few participants in their study are aware of “countermeasures” such as remote device locks or “time bomb” data deletion settings that effectively can wipe out everything on the phone before someone manages to break into it.

Too many people, the researchers say, are in denial about ever losing their phone that they fail to investigate phone security measures to protect their information.

In an article published by the International Journal of Mobile Communications, researchers urge an awareness campaign to encourage users to take more steps to secure their phones and protect their data. Read more: 4 Ways to Keep Your Phone Safe From Hackers.

Source: “The Anxiety Disorder Lurking in Your Pocket,” Forbes.com 

Get Emergency Warnings Via Phone and Text

CodeRED - Keeping citizens informed.Get the latest weather warnings and other emergency warnings in your area via text/phone. This service operates 24/7 to warn you of dangerous weather or other emergency warnings through the Emergency Communications Network.

I have signed up for this service and I am so grateful to get the messages through my land line. It wakes me up in the middle of the night during a storm to warn me to get to a safe location. Otherwise, I most likely would sleep through it. These warnings could save your life.

Sign up for this free service at: https://cne.coderedweb.com/Default.aspx?groupid=PeWwHdBbZnBHVvjk4IqCmg%3d%3d

Refrigerator Out?

The American Red Cross advises using a digital quick response thermometer to check the temperature of frozen foods. If food is above 40 degrees, consider it thawed, and the clock is ticking on how soon it should be used.

Here is a chart from the American Red Cross, advising what foods to keep, and what to discard. http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_564_,00.html#foodchart

More advice here: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_564_,00.html

Stop Junk Mail Dead in Its Tracks

(ARA) – Ever stop and wonder how that mortgage broker from out of state managed to find your name and address? Or how the unfamiliar home improvement company that called you last night knew you were shopping around for windows?

We often give out our name, address and phone number without a second thought — to the salesman at the home improvement store, to the sweepstakes company promising the chance at a $1 million prize, to the marketers who promise to send free samples in exchange for completing a survey. In a perfect world, all companies would protect our personal information. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

“There is a $10 billion industry profiting from the trading and selling of consumers’ personal information — without consumers’ knowledge or their consent,” says Steven Gal, CEO of ProQuo.com, a La Jolla, Calif. company founded to help provide consumers with meaningful choice and control over how their personal information is used. Gal points out that in many cases, these so-called “data brokers” get their lists from reputable companies the consumer has done business with, but had no idea would be selling their personal information.

Companies are now realizing that in this day and age many of their customers are skittish about the idea of their personal information falling into the wrong hands, especially due to the threat of identity theft. As a result, many are now offering their customers opportunities to “opt-out,” or to keep their information private. You likely received an opt-out offer hidden in the privacy notice that came with your latest phone or credit card bill.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest Identity Theft Survey, nearly two million Americans have had their personal information used to open fraudulent accounts. In addition, the practices of data brokers lead to massive amounts of junk mail — Americans now receive nearly four tons of junk mail annually.

Here are five easy steps you can take to help prevent misuse of your personal information and reduce junk mail:

1. Many stores offer “rewards” or “points” programs. Often stores consider your participation as consent to share your information without directly asking for your permission. If you want to avoid getting junk mail or other promotional material, either don’t join these programs, or ask the stores not to share your personal information.

2. Take advantage of a free service like ProQuo.com to remove your name and personal information from thousands of marketing lists, data brokers and other organizations that send you unsolicited mail. ProQuo.com is a free Web site where you easily set up an account and choose the organizations that you want to stop using your personal information and sending you unwanted mail.

3. The next time you buy something that comes with a warranty card, do not send it back. These are used primarily to market more products to you, and you are not required to send in a completed warranty card — your receipt is all you need to make a warranty claim.

4. If you don’t want your personal information in the hands of data brokers, avoid putting your name and address in the box for a free drawing or other promotion. These are surefire ways to get your name, address and telephone number on multiple junk mail or telemarketing lists.

5. Avoid the urge to enter sweepstakes that require you to provide your contact information. Many times these are a front to build mailing databases, and the only guaranteed prize you will win is a mailbox overloaded with marketing offers.

For more information on how to take control of your personal information from marketers, log on to www.proquo.com and establish your free account today. ProQuo says the site can help people reduce their junk mail by 50 to 90 percent within just three months.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Common Real Estate Terms

Adjustable rate mortgage: An ARM is a mortgage rate that changes over time as the interest rate changes.

Escrow: A third party wills act as a stakeholder for both buyer and seller according to both parties’ instructions. The third party will hold responsibility for handling all paperwork and distribution of funds.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Often made for 15 or 30 years, this type of mortgage is based on payments that stay them same throughout the entire term of the loan.

Inspection: A third-party report on the property’s overall condition prior to a sale. A buyer may attend the inspection, and demand repairs for any problems reported.

LTV: A loan to value ratio is a figure that tells the lender what percentage of the purchase price the loan will be.

PITI: Stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. This is an owner’s typical monthly payment.

Point: An amount that is equal to 1 percent of the principal amount of the investment or loan You can either pay points to get your lender to offer you a lower interest rate, or you can refuse to pay and keep the initial interest rate

Purchase Contract: A document wherein the homebuyer will set the price and conditions under which he or she will buy the property and the seller agrees. This is also called a sales contract or agreement for sale.

Title Insurance: Guarantees a return if your investment if a title problem arises after you’ve taken possession. There are two types of title insurance: 1) Fee title policy — insures owner’s title. 2) Mortgage title policy insures the lender for the mortgaged amount. These policies will fluctuate depending on the mortgage amount.

Five Ways to Maximize Your Back to School Budget

(ARA) – For students across the country, the beginning of a new school year is just around the corner. And, if you haven’t started your back-to-school shopping yet, you may soon find yourself dealing with large crowds and pricey cash register totals.

Back-to-school spending is expected to jump 6.9 percent this year, and families with school-aged children are expected to spend a total of $18.4 billion, an average of $563.49 per child. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 back-to-school survey, here’s how the register totals break down:

* Clothing and accessories: $231.80
* Shoes: $108.42 * School supplies (notebooks, backpacks and lunchboxes): $94.02
* Electronics or computer-related equipment: $129.24 To reduce the financial strain of back-to-school expenses, use these five tips to develop a strategy before you venture to the malls.

Tip No. 1 – Generate a list of necessities and stick to it. Younger children typically receive a list of required supplies directly from their school. Most teenagers will want to generate their own lists — make sure to spend time reviewing it together before you head to the stores. Often a teenager’s definition of “necessity” may be slightly different than their parent’s.

Sending kids off to college? Remember — they’ll need a lot more than the basics. Make sure to include items such as linens, laundry supplies, computers and more.

Tip No. 2 – Watch for sales. It seems like back-to-school sales start earlier every year. Start as early as possible and stockpile supplies little by little as they go on sale. By spreading out back-to-school expenses into several smaller purchases as you find the sales, you’ll feel less of an impact on your budget, and you’ll save money overall.

In addition to the basic school supplies and clothing, bigger ticket items such as electronics, laptops, calculators, cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras tend to go on sale as new items are often released to hit stores in time for holiday shopping.

Tip No. 3 – Take advantage of price matching. Many retailers now offer to match their competitor’s prices. If an item on your list is on sale at a store that’s too far out of your way, look for a more convenient, competitor store that will match the offer. You’ll not only spend less on the item itself, but you’ll save yourself time and gasoline.

Tip No. 4 – Supplement your budget with your change. Concerned about how you’re going to pay for all the things your list? Coinstar, Inc. estimates that there is approximately $90 worth of change in the average American home waiting to be put to good use.

Take your change to the nearest Coinstar Center and have it counted for free when you place the value of your change onto a gift card or certificate from retailers like Amazon.com, Circuit City, iTunes, Timberland and more. Or, turn your change in for cash (there’s a nominal service fee) and spend it anywhere you like. (Visit www.coinstar.com for details and to find the nearest location.)

Tip No. 5 – Ask for student discounts. Don’t forget about student discount programs. While most are geared towards college students making their own purchases, many are extending to middle and high school students. Depending on the amount of the purchase, the savings could be substantial.

Courtesy of ARAcontent