9 Ways To Break Up With Your Phone

Dearest phone,Man laying in bed looking at smartphone

It feels like we’ve known each other forever. You’ve been there for me through everything and I can’t imagine life without you. But this relationship has to end. I can’t do this anymore. It’s not you; it’s me. I’m not myself when I’m around you and you turn me into someone I don’t recognize or like.

I need to move on. But don’t worry; we can still be friends.

Are you ready to pen this breakup letter to the love of your life?

You may not think you’re addicted to your phone, but they were created to keep us completely absorbed and captivated. In fact, the average American adult checks their phone every 12 minutes, spending more than 4 hours on their phone daily. For teens and young adults, those numbers are even higher.

Smartphones are the ultimate oxymorons. They were created to help us multitask and save time, but we waste hours upon hours on them every day. They help us stay connected, but we’re more lonely and disconnected than ever.

So, are you brave enough to break out of the 21st century’s mobile prison? You’ll find yourself with lots of free time to do the things that really matter, you’ll improve your relationships with friends and family, you’ll finally break free of the superficial and gossipy world of social media, and more.

Get ready to regain control of your life!

Use apps to track the time you spend on your phone

Ironically, the best way to wean yourself off your phone is to use an app. Download Checky or Moment to see how much time you actually spend on your phone. You might be shocked by the number of hours you actually spend thumbing through your device. Moment will even let you track the time you spend on each particular app.

Once you have this information in hand, use it to set restrictions on how you spend time on your phone.

Socialize without it

The sight of a group of friends ostensibly socializing, but each bent over their own device, has become so familiar it’s almost cliché. But, if you take a minute to think about it, being busy with your phone when you’re out with friends is like frankly telling them you’d rather be somewhere else. Seriously – how rude can you get?

Keep your phone out of sight when you’re spending time with family or friends. You might discover that socializing IRL totally kicks what you can do on-screen.

Ban it from your bedroom

Co-sleeping with your phone can really kill the quality of your shut-eye and keep you up a lot later than you’d like. The bright screen messes with your melatonin production, making it hard for you to drift off or fall back to sleep if you’ve woken up mid-dream. The endless distraction your phone provides can also keep you up for hours, and you’ll pay the price the next day when you’re trying to focus through half-lidded eyes.

Don’t be dependent on your phone’s alarm to pull you out of bed in the morning either. Instead, invest in a good old-fashioned alarm clock. It will do the job just fine.

Kick your phone out of bed and leave it charging overnight in another room. You’ll perform better on every level when you can get a full night’s sleep.

Delete a social media app – or all of them!

If smartphones are the ultimate time-waster, it’s social media that takes the blame for making them so absorbing. Waiting for our friends’ approval and likes can be addictive and give a false impression that we’re actually connecting meaningfully.

You don’t have to give up social media entirely, though you can if you’d like. But, if you limit your time spent on social media to when you’re sitting in front of a computer, you’ll drastically cut down on the hours you waste on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Also, you won’t be picking up your phone every few minutes to check for the latest updates.

Spend your meals apart

Yes, you can actually enjoy a good meal without sharing it with your crowd of fawning Instagram followers. Stop snapping and focus on your food. You’ll make smarter meal choices and enjoy it more when you’re eating alone.

Give it the cold shoulder

Sometimes, you need to ignore someone or they just won’t go away. Be brave and turn off all notifications on your phone except for phone and text messages. You don’t really need to know every time a retailer sends you a promotional email or an app alerts you about something senseless. Every notification compels you to pick up your phone again. So, turn them off and you’ll be less inclined to waste time on your phone.

Prepare for withdrawal symptoms

Breaking up with a significant other is never easy. Scientists have found that phone addiction is very real – and so are the withdrawal symptoms people experience when they try to disengage from their devices. Be prepared for feelings of anxiety and restlessness for the first few days after you break up with your phone. Don’t worry; you’ll get over it soon.

Take your email off your phone

Unless you absolutely need to be reached via email at any time, there’s no reason to have email access on your phone. Most of us only skim through incoming emails on our phones and don’t respond to them until we’re sitting in front of a computer. The emails only distract us from whatever we’re doing at a given time. Keep your virtual mail on your computer for more freedom from your phone.

Leave it at home

Finally, if you’ve detached enough from your phone that you no longer feel like you’re missing a limb if it’s not within your reach, start going out without your phone. You’ll experience the true freedom of being able to live and breathe in the moment with no distractions on hand.

Break up with your phone and you’ll discover the liberation of owning your time and connecting meaningfully once again.

Your Turn:

Have you broken up with your phone? Tell us about the impact this decision has had on your life in the comments below.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/5139859/smartphone-addiction-solutions

https://uk.norton.com/norton-blog/2015/10/13_ways_to_breakup.html
https://bemorewithless.com

Fake Check Scams On The Rise

In early September, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) released a report warning about aWoman writing a check spike in fake check scams across the country. While these scams are not new, their occurrence rate has doubled over the last three years and is up 12% from 2017.

The BBB further announced that billions of dollars in fake checks circulate each year, and that the number of victims this scam snares annually is close to 500,000.

The amount of money lost from these scams is just as staggering: The FTC reported losses of approximately $40 million from fake check scams in just one year.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this scam is the fact that the largest pool of its victims falls between the ages of 20 and 29 – a segment of the population that is far more familiar with electronic payment methods, like PayPal and Venmo, than with the archaic paper check. This makes them easy victims for the scam.

Aside from ordinary paper checks, this scam can also be pulled off with cashier’s checks and money orders. Regardless of the medium, each of these scams involves a scammer “overpaying” a victim and requesting the check be cashed with the difference being deposited into a designated account belonging to the scammer.

Steve Baker, an investigator with the BBB, cautions: “What they all have in common is that the check is counterfeit, and just because the money is credited to your account does not mean the check is good.”

Here are the most common variations of the fake check scam:

  1. “Buyers” send sellers a check written out for more than the asking price of an object sold on an online marketplace, such as Craigslist.
  2. Lottery “winners” are rewarded with an inflated prize and given instructions to pay back a part of the check to cover taxes or fees.
  3. “Employees” are granted checks for supplies, with instructions to wire back a part of it to the “company.”

In each case, the fake check or money order seems to clear in the bank or credit union. It is only a few days later, when the victim’s payout to the scammer is deposited and the account does not have sufficient funds to cover it, that the scam becomes clear.

The BBB warns that this scam can be hard to spot, especially for millennials who may not be familiar with paper checks. To that end, learning what to look for to determine a check’s authenticity is the public’s best weapon against this scam.

Wondering if a check is a fake? Hold it up to this checklist:

  • Is the check’s paper stock weak and flimsy?
  • Check the company’s name and address. Are they spelled correctly?
  • Every check will have an identification number printed toward its top and again at the bottom. Verify that these numbers match up.
  • If you’re allegedly holding a lottery-winning check in your hands, the check should be written out from a state lottery commission. If it’s made out by a random company, it’s bogus.
  • Look for the special ink required for the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) code that’s at the bottom of the check.
  • The check should have a routing number from its bank. You can Google the bank to find out if the routing number is genuine.

Aside from knowing how to recognize a fake check, it’s important to know which kinds of transactions are likely to be scams. If you come across any of the following, run the other way and don’t look back:

  • You’re asked to wire money to a company you’re not familiar with.
  • You’re given a check by a “buyer” that is made out for more than the item’s sale price.
  • You’re given a check from a foreign bank you’ve never heard of.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee to claim a “prize.”

Now that you know how to spot a fake check and which kind of transactions to avoid at all cost, those scammers don’t stand a chance!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a fake check scam? Share your story with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.semissourian.com/story/2549480.html

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2018/09/05/better-business-bureau-releases-report-fake-check-scams/1202964002/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/fake-check-scams-an-exploding-epidemic-new-report-says-better-business-bureau/

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union.

Do I Still Need A Landline?

Q: My landline barely gets any use. Every family member has their own cellphone and itTwo teen girls sharing a landline phone feels like I’m throwing out money each month when I pay the bill. Should I get rid of my landline?

A: Phone lines that need to be plugged into the wall are quite outdated. And, if you’re feeling like your landline has gotta go, you’re not alone. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than half of American homes were exclusively using wireless phone service during the first half of 2017. However, lots of people insist on holding onto their landlines for good reason – several of them, actually.

Before you make a decision to cut the wire, read up on the main reasons people cling to their landlines, and why some of them may not matter after all.

Communication during emergencies

This is easily the most pressing reason keeping people tied to their landlines. If a natural disaster or a power outage hits your area, your cellphones will eventually run out of juice. Your landline, on the other hand, will keep you connected to the outside world even when the lights go out.

Why this may not matter: Here’s where a huge misconception comes into play: Many newer landlines actually won’t work in a power outage.

Older landlines, which are connected via copper wires to switch boxes and transmit calls between phones plugged into the wall, will almost always work in a natural disaster. They connect through wires and don’t depend on electricity. So, if your landline is older, your reasoning is sound.

If your phone line is newer, though, it’s not so simple. Most telecommunication companies are no longer using copper wires because copper is not great at transmitting signals for cable TV and internet. Since most telecom companies now offer bundled services, most use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line instead of copper wires. These lines transmit phone service over the same cables and wires used for the home’s internet connection. To work, a VoIP line needs to be plugged directly into the household’s internet gateway device. If your landline and internet are connected with a shared VoIP line, when the power goes out, so will your phone.

Ironically, the primary reason people hold onto their landlines may not even be relevant at all.

Let 911 find you

Here’s where a landline really works for you during times of crisis: It helps emergency responders find you quickly. When you call from a landline, the operators will instantly have your location on their screens. Calls from cellphones, though, are harder to trace. And, when every minute counts, you don’t want 911 wasting precious time trying to determine where you are.

Call quality

They may be a relic of a disappearing era, but landlines rarely make your voice sound tinny, they won’t suddenly drop your calls in middle of an important conversation and they’re hardly ever guilty of filling your phone line with annoying static.

What about your cellphone? Thanks to its bandwidth allocation and its small receiver and microphone, you never know when your cellphone is going to get moody on you and decide to drop your call or make it unclear.

Why this may not matter: If you have excellent reception at home and your phone service is impeccable, you can have clear, perfect conversations, even with a cellphone.

Money saved

In another twist of irony, clinging to your landline might actually be saving you money each month. Here’s why: As mentioned, lots of telecommunication companies offer special deals on service bundles like cable, internet and a landline. If you cut the landline, but still want to keep the other two services, you might not be eligible for that great deal any longer and you can end up paying more for fewer services.

Why this may not matter: If you don’t bundle your telecom services and you keep your phone line separate from your internet connection, this won’t apply.

Cheaper international options

You may have a terrific cellphone plan, but it your bill can look scary if you ever make the mistake of using it for an out-of-country phone call. Landlines, on the other hand, often offer fantastic international plans that can make overseas calls affordable.

Why this might not matter: If all of your family and friends live in the U.S. and you rarely make calls overseas, this factor might not make a difference to you.

Share a family phone

It can be expensive to get each family member their own cellphone. It’s also annoying to have to constantly nag them about not going over their minutes or data coverage.

Why this might not matter: If each child already has their own cellphone and you share a family plan with enough minutes and data to go around, this won’t concern you.

So, can you hang up on your landline or not? The jury is still out on this one. But, if you carefully consider your own needs and particular circumstances, you can make the decision that’s right for you.

Your Turn: What’s your take on the landline debate? Have you cut the cord yet? Share your opinion with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/landline-phones/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.mnn.com/family/protection-safety/stories/amp/do-need-landline-emergencies
https://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2018/landline-phones-fd.html  
https://wealthpilgrim.com/is-there-any-reason-on-earth-to-keep-a-land-line-anymore/  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.centurylinkquote.com/resources/reasons-you-need-a-landline/amp/  

 

7 Halloween Hacks You Don’t Want To Miss

Halloween is coming – and so is the fun! Everyone wants to win the prize for creepiest costume and the most frightening yard décor in the neighborhood.House decorated for Halloween

But all that spookiness comes with a scary price tag. The average American will spend $169 on Halloween costs this year. And, if that’s not enough to terrify you, consider this: Most people spend close to $70 just on their Halloween getups. That’s a lot of money for a costume you likely won’t wear again.

Ready to save big? Read on for 7 awesome Halloween hacks that are just too good to miss. From DIY décor that will scare the living daylights out of your guests to effortless costumes that look great without costing a bundle, we’ve got you covered.

Is that real ketchup?

No Halloween costume or party is complete without some sickly-looking crime scene splatter. And there’s no need to blow big bucks on whatever concoction the party store’s got in stock. Make your own fake blood with this quickie recipe. All you need are 3 ingredients:

  • 4 cups corn syrup
  • Red food coloring
  • Blue food coloring

Pour the corn syrup into a large bowl and start adding the red food coloring a few drops at a time. Stir your mixture with a whisk until you reach your desired consistency. To darken the “blood,” add a few drops of blue food coloring while continuing to stir.

You’re all set – now go scare someone silly!

Whose hand is floating in the punch bowl?

For a super-scary addition to your Halloween party, fill a rubber glove with water and seal it shut. Stick it in the freezer and just a few hours later, you’ll have an iced severed hand to drop into the punch bowl and really freak your guests out.

Stick ’em up!

For a ridiculously easy costume that will make people laugh, go as a stick person!

Dress in black from head to toe. Use white masking tape to add stick lines to your legs, arms and torso. Put some lines in the back, too. For a full-body costume, take a paper plate and paint it black. Use your tape to draw a stick-face on the plate and glue a popsicle stick onto the bottom so you can hold it up.

Don’t forget to do the stiff stick-walk and you’ll really crack people up!

Is that a witch sticking out of your snake plant?

Got some spare pool noodles lying around? Dress them up to go as witch legs!

Take two pool noodles and stuff them into a pair of striped leggings. Top it off with black witchy-looking shoes and you have yourself a pair of witch legs! Stick them upside down into the plant on your front porch, or make them look like they’re coming out of your garbage can.

Now sit and watch your visitors’ reactions and you’ll have the last cackle!

Would you like some spiders with that?

Have fun with a cheap bag of plastic spiders! Here are some ways to use these creepy crawlies to add the fear factor to your Halloween party:

  • Stick them in your ice cube tray for floating critters that will terrify your guests.
  • Drop them inside your soap dispenser to frighten anyone looking to wash up.
  • Scatter them inside the popcorn bowl for a scary surprise.

Did you really just kill a box of cereal?

Looking for a funny-scary costume you can make yourself? Go as a serial killer! Err … a cereal killer, that is.

Take an old white T-shirt and decorate it to look like your favorite cereal box. Then take a dress-up dagger and carefully cut off its tip. Glue the blunted dagger to the middle of your cereal box so it looks like it’s piercing it right in the heart. Then use your fake blood to add splatters and drippings all over your shirt. Make your face look menacing with some dark costume makeup and add an ominous scar across your cheek, too.

You’re ready to hunt down those no-good cereals!

Anyone care for some fresh worms?

Serve up an entrée from the dark side that will have your guests completely grossed out!

Drip a bit of black food coloring into boiling pasta and it will instantly turn your dinner into a dark, horrendous-looking creation. Drain your pasta as usual and then bring it out to the table, asking if anyone would like some delicious hot worms for dinner.

Don’t let Halloween costs scare you. Follow our hacks for a frighteningly fun time that won’t kill your budget and will still terrify the entire neighborhood!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite Halloween hack that’s easy on the budget? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.the36thavenue.com/halloween-hacks-and-diy-ideas/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/last-minute-halloween-hacks?utm_term=.oo7EPKBAN#.xn4VMabN8
https://www.littlethings.com/diy-halloween/

Credit Card Fraud In Fives

No one wants to be the victim of credit fraud. Aside from the stolen money you mMan using a credit card on the computeray never recover, victims of fraud can be faced with an enormous hassle. That hassle involves the closing of accounts, putting a fraud alert on your credit and a huge ding on your credit history, which can be difficult to fix.

Whodunnit? When we’re talking about credit card fraud, everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else.

Consumers tend to blame the credit card issuer, but the vulnerability usually lies with the point-of-sale terminal. Tampering with a credit card reader takes just a few minutes and can be done with an inexpensive device that’s available on Amazon. In addition, there are lots of other ways your information can be skimmed, none of which point to a security deficiency with your credit union or credit card company.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent and recognize credit card fraud before it happens. Read on for all you need to know about credit card fraud in 5 lists of fives.

5 ways your card can be frauded

  1. It’s physically lifted from your wallet.

The old-fashioned pickpocket is still a very real threat. Invest in a secure wallet and/or purse and always keep your card inside.

  1. A restaurant or bar server skims it.

When you hand over your card to a dishonest server at the end of a meal, you give them a few minutes to skim your card while it’s in their possession.

  1. A terminal you use is compromised.

Payment terminals can be tampered with and rewired to transmit your information to scammers. This is especially common in pay-at-the-pump gas stations.

  1. An online breach puts your information on the black market.

After a company you use suffers a breach, your personal information may be up for sale on the dark web.

  1. Your computer’s been hacked.

Once a scammer gets inside your computer, they have full access to all of your sensitive data.

5 signs a terminal’s been compromised

  1. The security seal has been voided.

Many gas stations have joined the war against credit card crimes by placing a security label across the pump. When the pump is safe to use, the label has a red, blue or black background. When it’s been breached, the words “Void Open” will appear in white.

  1. The card reader is too big for the machine.

The card reader is created to fit perfectly on top of the machine. If it protrudes past it, it’s likely been tampered with.

  1. The pin pad looks newer than the rest of the machine.

The entire machine should be in a similar condition.

  1. The pin pad looks raised.

If the pin pad looks abnormally high compared to the rest of the machine, the card reader may have been fitted with a new pin pad that will record your keystrokes.

  1. The credit card reader is not secured in place.

If parts of the payment terminal are loose, it’s likely been compromised.

5 times you’re at high risk for credit card fraud

  1. You lost your card.

If you misplaced your card – even if it was eventually returned to you – there’s a chance your information has been skimmed.

  1. You’re visiting an unfamiliar area.

When patronizing a business in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you don’t know who you can trust.

  1. A company you use has been breached.

If a business you frequent has been compromised, carefully monitor your credit for suspicious activity.

  1. You shared your information online with an unverifiable contact.

If you’ve willingly or unwillingly shared sensitive information online and you’re not certain of the contact’s authenticity, you’ve likely been frauded.

  1. You downloaded something from an unrecognizable source.

Have you accidentally downloaded an attachment from an unknown source? Then your computer has likely been compromised and you’re at risk for credit card fraud.

5 ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud

  1. Check all card readers for signs of tampering before paying.
  2. Never share your credit card information online unless you’re absolutely sure the website you’re using is authentic and the company behind it is trustworthy.
  3. Check your monthly credit card statements for suspicious activity and review your credit reports on a frequent basis.
  4. Use cash when patronizing a business that’s in an unfamiliar area.
  5. Don’t download any attachments from unknown sources.

5 steps to take if your credit card has been frauded

  1. Lock the compromised account.

Dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised accounts and ask to have them locked or completely shut down.

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

  2. Consider a credit freeze.

This will make it impossible for the scammer to open a line of credit in your name.

  1. Alert the FTC.

Visit identitytheft.gov to report the crime.

  1. Open new accounts.

Begin restoring your credit with new accounts and lines of credit.

At Destinations Credit Union, we’ve always got your back! Call, click, or stop by today to ask about steps you can take to protect your information from getting hacked.

Your Turn: Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? Share your story with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.thebalance.com/how-credit-card-skimming-works-960773

https://www.thebalance.com/more-at-risk-of-credit-card-fraud-960780
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/credit-card-fraud-works-stay-safe/
http://gizmodo.com/home-depot-was-hit-by-the-same-hack-as-target-1631865043

What You Need To Know About Health Share Programs

If your health insurance premiums are making you sick, you might want to explore Man handing a healthcare professional a cardanother option that’s becoming increasingly popular: a health share program.

A health share program can be a way to get medical coverage that’s sufficient for your needs. With open enrollment starting soon, on Nov. 1, it’s worth your while to learn about this kind of health coverage before you renew your existing plan.

Here’s all you need to know about health share programs.

What is a health share program?

A health share program, also known as a health care sharing ministry, actually works a lot like a credit union. There’s no Big Cheese sitting on top of a wealthy corporation while trying to dream up new ways to squeeze money out of you. Instead, the program is run by a not-for-profit religious organization and is jointly owned by members who share expenses for their collective medical needs.

Most people opt to join a health share program because of the significant savings potential: A family of four can easily find a health share plan for just a few hundred dollars a month. Many others will choose this kind of health care because conventional health insurance covers medical procedures that are not in line with their religious beliefs.

Some popular health share programs include Liberty Healthshare, Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries.

How does a health share program work?

Health share programs are usually faith-based. As such, members must agree to uphold certain religious beliefs before joining the program. Once they’ve signed up, members are charged a monthly premium based upon their age and general health. They will then receive a membership card they can present to a medical practitioner in lieu of an insurance card. The practitioner will then bill the sharing program for the cost of the member’s visit.

How does a health share program differ from traditional health insurance?

While their goal is similar, there are several important differences between a health share program and traditional insurance. Most significantly, since sharing programs are not official health insurance providers, they are not subject to the same federal laws and regulations, as reflected in several of the differences listed below.

  1. Unshared amounts – Health share programs don’t have deductibles. Instead, every member has an annual unshared amount. Some programs will begin covering a member’s medical expenses after the member has shelled out as little as $1,000 toward these costs. Other programs, though, require members to pay $5,000 toward their medical expenses each year before the program kicks in.
  2. No network requirements – All health insurance providers have a list of doctors, medical professionals, clinics and hospitals that are covered under their insurance. But members of health share programs have the freedom to use any doctor in any health care facility they desire. If a doctor refuses to accept the membership card, the member can pay out of pocket and the health share program will reimburse them for the cost of the visit.
  3. Strict rules regarding pre-existing conditions – Unlike most plans offered by the ACA, many health share programs will not accept members who have pre-existing medical conditions. Some will accept members with pre-existing conditions, but will only begin covering the attached expenses after a year – and they will only partially cover them.
  4. Refusal to cover certain procedures – Health share programs reserve the right to deny coverage for procedures that are against their religious beliefs, like abortions. Many won’t cover the costs of birth control either.
  5. Lifetime caps on coverage – Sharing plans are usually accompanied by a lifetime cap on health coverage. These caps have a broad range and their exact amount depends on the member’s chosen plan. They can be as small as $250,000 or as large as $1,000,000.
  6. Incomplete coverage – Many health share programs don’t cover costs for an annual well visit. Lots of them will not pay for vision or dental needs either.
  7. No government protection – Since health share programs are not subject to government regulation, members lose out on the government’s protection if the program does not deliver as promised. This means every member is essentially taking a risk by signing up for the health share program.
  8. Lifestyle requirements – Lots of insurance providers will encourage and reward healthful lifestyles. But a health share plan will often require members who are even slightly overweight to consult with a nutritionist and start working out.

Health share programs can be a terrific way to free up some extra cash each month, but they are not for everyone. If you are in good health and you rarely see a doctor, a health share program might be right for you. Just be sure to read the fine print so you know exactly what you are signing up for before joining a program.

Your Turn: Are you a member of a health share program? Tell us what you love about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://blog.bcbsnc.com/2017/12/5-things-need-know-health-share-plans/

https://www.libertyhealthshare.org/faq
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/10/24/cant-afford-obamacare-consider-a-health-care-sharing-ministry-instead
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.laurengreutman.com/save-money-with-health-care-sharing-ministries/amp/