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.

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.

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.

Economics and Collateralizing Future Earnings Ownership

In order to stand a snowball’s chance in this brave, new, globalized, Trumped-up economy, here’s something that millennials need to know and understand. For all practical purposes, ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED ON THE OWNERSHIP SIDE OF THE ECONOMY!

That’s right. There are two ways in which to generate income. You can work for it in order to earn a wage or a salary. Or you can own wealth producing capital assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, machinery, copyrights, or patents, etc. Owners of such wealth producing capital assets collect dividends (i.e. generate an income) strictly by virtue of their ownership.

That’s why best-selling author and motivational speaker Robert Kiyosaki says “A job is a short term solution to a long term problem.” The long term solution to the long term problem of course is capital ownership because for all practical purposes ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED ON THE OWNERSHIP SIDE OF THE ECONOMY – NOT ON THE JOBS/LABOR SIDE. The jobs/labor side of the economy has stagnated for over three decades now, while the ownership side has expanded exponentially during the same time period.

So What Can Millennials Do?
So what can millennials do with this insightful piece of knowledge? For starters, in the wake of graduation, as they make their way into the brave, new, 21st century economy, they can look for companies that are owned by employees (including worker owned co-ops and ESOPS) and submit their resumes and applications.

Collateralizing Future Earnings
You see, companies that are employee owned (ESOPs which is short for Employee Stock Ownership Plans) are organized in such a way that employees who qualify are rewarded with opportunities to buy stock (become semi-partners) in the company they work for using FUTURE EARNINGS OF THE COMPANY (as opposed to their own savings or equity, which minimizes personal risk) AS COLLATERAL. In investment circles this strategy would be called a Leveraged Buy Out (an LBO).

THIS UNIQUE FORM OF CAPITAL CREDIT FINANCING IS ACCESSIBLE ONLY TO EMPLOYEES WORKING FOR COMPANIES OFFERING AN ESOP OPTION. More specifically, it’s not available in employee owned co-ops, which is the next best option. And it has NOTHING TO DO with a company offering employee stock options which is not only highly speculative, but 100% dependent on conventionally collateralized financing possibilities.

Two Income Streams
So, without dipping into savings or jeopardizing the family home, ESOP employees develop TWO STREAMS OF INCOME. One from their wage or salary, and the other from their stock based dividends. The first is actively generated through the employee’s own time and effort. The second is passive or residual income that’s generated by virtue of their ownership.

Suddenly you see employees/workers who are benefitting from both the job/labor and the ownership side of the economy – which, as we’ve said before, is where ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED in the 21st century economy.

What Else Can Millennials Do?
So what else can millennials do in this regard? They can support political candidates who advocate employee ownership as a business model. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has sponsored two bills in the US Senate that are specifically designed to encourage employee ownership practices. The first (S.2909) “Provides programs designed to encourage employee ownership and participation in business decision making throughout the US.” The second (S.2914) “Creates a US Employee Ownership Bank” which is designed to be friendly to the idea of using future earnings as collateral in the stock ownership transaction.

The more millennials know about the power of ownership, the better their odds become of participating on the ownership side of the economy, where as we’ve said before, all the discretionary wealth is being generated. In the process the malignant wealth gap that’s so threatening to American democracy can be reversed. Corporate plantations that are built on hierarchy and on the backs of modern wage slaves can be democratized. And the odds of millennials surviving, even thriving in the 21st century economy will be maximized.