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.

Buying Foreclosure Properties

Buying Foreclosure Properties

Definition:

“A foreclosure property is a piece of real estate that a mortgage lender sells to pay off a defaulted mortgage loan. Every foreclosure culminates in a public auction where the lender sells the property and anybody can purchase the property. Or you can purchase a foreclosure property from a bank after the bank purchases the property at the auction.”

The real estate market is showing increasing signs of recovering and there are great investment opportunities to be found. Home prices are still relatively stable and interest rates are still very attractive.

However, whether buying for a primary residence or for investment purposes, there are still some basic guidelines to follow when considering buying foreclosure properties.

Below are my 4 Buying Foreclosure Properties Tips

1. Work with a broker.

It does not matter if you are buying a foreclosure for investment or as a primary residence, it is really helpful to have a broker help with the process.

Neighbourhood is one of the most important factors when it comes to buying a home and a broker is worth their weight in gold when it comes to knowing the local real estate market.

2. Do the financial due diligence.

All we need to do is remember the real estate market crash to see why it is important to do a thorough financial due diligence when purchasing a home.

Be realistic about your budget and how much home you can really afford. If the home is an investment purchase, can you make the mortgage payment if you have to carry the mortgage for a few months?

That can happen with investment property so be sure you factor in at least six months of mortgage payments just in case.

Also factor in the cost of any repairs. This is especially true with foreclosure purchases which are often sold ‘as is’ which means they often need repairs.

Verify the condition of the property. Restore and repair costs add up on a total value of a home.

It is always best to purchase foreclosure properties that require minimal repairs, otherwise your profit margin shrinks.

3. Understand that every neighbourhood is local to that neighbourhood.

What this means is that what is selling in one area may not be selling just down the road, so you need to do your homework and check comparable homes in the area to know whether or not what you are buying is a good investment.

Get a proper assessment on the home you are considering purchasing.

Buying foreclosure properties will generally be thirty to forty percent discounted, so if a foreclosure home does not need major repairs and you can get it for a price that is well below the market value of similar homes in the same area, then you are probably making a good investment.

4. Try and find foreclosures that are bank and creditor owned.

These properties are where you can most likely get the best deal because banks are not in the business of owning property so want to sell these types of properties and will often do so at a much discounted price.

Investing in foreclosure properties can be a very smart move, especially in the current real estate market.

With housing prices still relatively stable and interest rates still very attractive, there are many good opportunities for investment available.

When considering buying foreclosure properties, it pays to research the property and to do the financial due diligence in order to verify the quality of the property and financing.

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.

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?