Identity Theft

Protecting your Identity On-line

As  a follow up on my last post about YOUR credit report, I found another site that is tremendously useful in protecting your identity.  I was reading Clark Howard’s site when I came across this site about identity theft.

Karen Lodrick had her identity stolen and she fought back. Her site has been featured on  many media sites and television shows

On her site, you will see pages dedicated to educating yourself and protecting yourself against identy theft.

To round out Karen’s site, I recommend you read her blog it’s truly a must read!

I will be using the one site that I need right now: Opting out of those pesky credit card offers which state how pre-qualified I am.  Sometimes, I’ll get 2 or 3 of them from the same company on the same day.

In these tough times, your credit and name need to be protected!

Thanks to Karen for writing such an excellent tutorial and sharing her experience!

iPhone – Applications

iPhoneYes G, I finally figured out how to insert pictures into my postings. 🙂

Every day there are new applications that are coming out for the iPhone, I found a few Mashable sites which summarize what’s available in both the free and paid category. I personally have not purchased any paid applications.

While you are at it,  take a look at the 10 free music based applications that are available.

Of course we are all interested in personal finances (or improving our financial bottom line), I found this weblog of 50+ free apps to make you richer. Worth a look.

Since most of us don’t have time to read the newspapers, here are some apps that enable you to read breaking news on your iPhone. I personally use the NY Times and USA Today application on a regular basis.

Hope you enjoy..

Delta Skymiles – Your Credit Report for Free

I was reading my latest copy of Bottom Line Secrets and came across this gem that wanted to share with the millions and millions of AmEx Delta Sky Miles Members:

  • Until April 30th 2009, you can get your current credit score for free by just asking for it.

Keep in mind this is for Delta Sky Miles Members.

I checked mine out and was pleasently surprised.  Remember in this tight credit market, in order to get any credit,  you should know your numerical Credit score (330 – 830) as well as your FICO score (a combined score from the 3 credit reporting companies.

Of course, as any company does, they try to sell you an ongoing “credit monitoring” service which you can purchase (approx $12/mo).  I of course declined at this time.

Of course if you don’t have the Delta Skymiles card you can get your free annual  credit report for free from each of the credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion):

If you don’t do anything in 2009, make sure you know what your credit score is. Good Luck!

AFTER you know what your credit score is, you have the advantage when you negotiate (yes you can, if you try), with your credit card company revised rates. Credit card companies “rank” you based on your credit score, so if you know your score, you can get the best rates.

I’ve mentioned Suze Orman in the past, but I recommend to everyone to look at her site on how you can take charge of your credit!

Job Search – Part 6 – Path 101 – Career Discovery

I was skimming through my Yahoo front page and I found a site that allows you  get career guidance and coaching. Now who can’t use that? The Path 101 site is data driven

As I’ve indicated in the past, I find that Mashable always seems to have postings with pertinent sites related to topics that are timely in this time of high unemployment and job uncertainty.

Path 101 labels itself as a “Community Powered Career Discovery”.  Having browsed the site, I will recommend you take a look and print out and keep for reference

the pages that are usable

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Go to the Mashable site I listed above and get an overview of the Path 101 Alpha site.
  2. Take the Personality Quiz at Path 101 to determine YOUR personality type.  As the site indicates, you’ll need 25 to 30 minutes to take this test. Answer as honestly. I always believe the first answer is your true answer.
  3. Analyze the results of the quiz and see what career interests you. As I’ve said in the past, when you are unemployed, it’s the best time to do analysis on your future career.
  4. Based on your analysis, start the process of finding the job in the career that interests you.

Let me know what you find out about Path 101.  I’ll be taking the personality test.


Today with the way technology is proceeding at a breakneck speed, we are all inundated with offers either via email, telephone or by on-line malware. This post talks about some tips to avoid being scammed. In today’s of technology overload, you are your own last line of defense against spam, phishing, malware, virus’s, and any web born aggrevation.

Hmm, do I sound like someone who has gone down this path?

To battle the scourge of being scammed or having your identity stolen, here are a couple of really good sites which help you follow up on this ageless motto:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it absolutely is”.

  1. Scambusters – Check out questionable offers
  2. Scam – On-line community forums

Some tips to avoid being scammed or having your identity stolen (my list of on-line NO-NO’s):

  • Don’t open ANY emails that look suspicious (No you have not won $5M in the European Union’s lottery that you never entered)
  • Don’t confirm any personal information via email – NO valid financial institution will ask you for your pin code to “confirm” your identity.
  • Never ever give your credit card number to anyone on the phone, if you have any doubt of  who the caller is. I encountered this when I kept on getting “restricted” calls from the Policemen’s fund raiser on my home phone. As soon as you ask for proof of identity or email confirmation, the phone line mysteriously goes dead….
  • Make sure your Antivirus, hardware/software firewall, spyware blocker, anti-phishing (browser) addons for Firefox or IE are updated. If this sounds like I’m over-protected, I’m not. Even with all of the above, I’ve seen many of these villans attack my machines at home. So in order to protect yourself, you need to have a combinations. I’ve used both McAfee and Norton. These days I lean towards McAfee, only because, it’s provided free by most web providers (Comcast, Optimum, etc…). I’v also stopped using IE all together and only use Firefox on all my machines.
  • Make sure you disable Pop-Ups (this is how how I caught the dreaded “Your machine has a virus, you need to purchase ….”  virus). You can always enable or override with simple keystrokes.
  • Do not accept any invitation/messages  from anyone that you do not know on social networking sites.  Yes that means me, a noted Facebook and LinkedIn fanatic.
  • Do not accept an invitation : When you get an invite from someone that you have no clue to be your “friend” on your instant messager client (cindyfunxx38  is not your friend)

Overall, I can safely say: “If you encounter stangers bearing gifts, you can almost be assured that you will be given a gift that will last for a lifetime”.

If you know of any additional scambuster sites, leave me a comment.

Coupon Clipping by Zip Code

Every week I get these coupon mailings to my home and I utilize these to save some money. Two of my favorite ones are valpak and coupon clipper.

Both of these have a website where you can register and search for coupons by zip code. ValPak is nationwide whereas coupon clipper is NJ based.

Both sites allow you to print out coupons.. so take a look and clip away!

iPhone issues

So after another week of taking off and not putting up any posts, here I am again. Over the past few weeks, I hve been preoccupied with doing my taxes (still not done) and trying to fix my wife’s iPhone which had gotten brick’d (unable to restore, so basically DOA).

After much efforts and mucho reading on blog postings, I finally gave up and went to the Apple store to get help. I gotta admit I was impressed with the way the “Genius” support at the determined that my iPhone was indeed DOA and needed to be replaced.  The Apple store is really a fun and happy place.. really impressive. The support staff is very knowledgeable and they seem to be genuine in trying to help you.

Here are some lessons I learned from my iPhone fiasco:

  1. If the iPhone says “haredware problems, service is needed”… Service is needed. My mistake was that when I saw it on the phone, I tried to restore the iPhone to 2.2.  (Big Mistake).
  2. When you buy a refurbished iPhone, your “Apple Care” warranty does not start on date of purchase. It starts on the purchase date of the ORIGINAL owner.. odd right?
  3. There are endless number of sites that provide you with guidance on the funky error codes (mine was Error Code 23 – Unknown error).  The most reliable way to find a resolution to the error code by  Googling the code and look at blogs..
  4. If you decide that you will take the risk of  hacking the iPhone using the Pawnage tool, make sure you follow directions.
  5. Make sure your iTunes software is up to date. If you cannot restore using iTunes there is a 100% probability that you have brick’d your iPhone.
  6. Utilize the restore function in iTunes to do the restore

Overall I can say that the lesson learned here is: the iPhone is a great device when it is utilized in the manner intended… otherwise, BE EXTREMLY careful!

Jobs Search – Part 5 – Where the Jobs Are

Over the past few days, I didn’t post anything, as I was (again) in the writer’s block mode. I was having lunch with my little brother G at work and saw the new site created by CNN called: where the jobs are.  So I decided to write about this site as an addendum to my previous posts on job search method in these tough economic times.  As unemployment hits an all time high in the US,  I am continuing my efforts in Job search related posts.

So as many companies are curtailing annual raises (mine included), the economy continues to tank and more people are losing  jobs.  In my continued effort to provide support to the millions that have lost their jobs and continue lose their jobs,  I’ll continue to provide sites that can help..

Where are the jobs? CNN provided a good site yesterday to answer this question: Where the jobs are?

In the same mindset as this, here are my personal thoughts on where some jobs are if you need to get back into the work force.

Go to the Indeed site and key in your zip code and look for local jobs. Below are some tips for using the indeed site.

  • Don’t restrict yourself to your specialty.  Step outside your comfort zone and explore opportunities that you would not normally consider.
  • Create you specialized my.indeed portal. signup is free and this gives you the ability to specialize your search
  • Create an email alert as jobs become available with your specific search criteria. This alert should be the first thing you read in your job search email that you have created (use any free email services).
  • Look for temporary jobs or jobs that may interest you.  No part time job should be considered “beneath you”.
  • FYI: was flagged in the lastest issue of Bottom Line Personal as a useful site.

Do a blog search for jobs searching.

  • WordPress has excellent blogs on ideas for improving your chances of finding a new job, writing a resume, social networking, interviewing, and experiences of  other job seekers such as yourself.

Find upcoming job fairs in your area where you can research jobs and submit resumes.  In my opinion, Job fairs are just a forum where companies gather resumes for FUTURE jobs and not for current openings.

Find a part-time job. Read this article in Yahoo on the 7 best part time jobs.

Always keep this in mind, when it is you that is out there, you should utilize every resource at your disposal to find your next job. When it is you that is unemployed and looking for a new job, you are the master of your own destiny!

Good Luck and feel free to leave me comments on your job search!

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