Syncing Your Phone To Your Car Can Put You At Risk

In our uber-connected world, pressing a button on the steering wheel to make a phone Hand holding moble phone on dashboard of carcall is already second nature for many of us. With just a few taps, we can pull up our favorite playlist, read recent emails and even send a text message. Using our cars like a phone and storing information in data systems is incredibly convenient! And it helps us safely drive while using the phone hands-free, too.

Convenient though it may be, security experts are warning that syncing your phone to your car can put you at severe risk for a data breach. Connecting a rental car or a rideshare vehicle to your phone poses an even greater security risk.

Keep your information safe and avoid getting hacked by educating yourself about this oft-overlooked risk. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of syncing your phone to your car.

The sensitive information stored in your phone-and your car

When you connect your phone to your car, you’re using your vehicle to store loads of information that’s frighteningly easy to access.

Would you ever leave your wallet on the passenger seat of your car in a crowded neighborhood and then leave the doors unlocked? By storing your personal information in your car, you’re essentially doing just that. A hacker can easily scrape data from your car, even if your phone is nowhere in sight. All they need to do is connect their own phone to your car’s Bluetooth system and they’re in!

This is especially alarming when you consider the excessive amount of sensitive data most people store in their phones without thinking much of it. Here is some of the information a hacker can access via a synced car:

  • Recent call log
  • Recent text messages
  • Garage door opener code
  • Personal calendar
  • List of contacts
  • Recent emails
  • GPS data that includes your home address

Use extra caution when renting a car

If syncing your own vehicle to your phone poses a security risk, that risk increases tenfold when using a rental car.

According to a report from Privacy International, most major rental-car companies have no policies to delete sensitive information that is collected during a rental once a user returns the car. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever picked up a rental and find that the device information of the last 10 renters was still stored in the vehicle. That means, if you were to sync your own phone, the next renter would have your information at their fingertips.

It’s fun to have your own music blasting through your ride, and it’s convenient to sync your stored addresses to the car’s GPS system. But no fun or convenience is worth the risk this move can pose to your privacy and safety.

When you leave your personal information in a rental car, you run the risk of the next renter using your information to access your financial accounts, rob your home, or even steal your identity. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that your name and navigation history are not enough for a criminal to do much harm. Once they have this bit of information, they can hack into your social media profiles and crack open your passwords and usernames all over the internet. There are loads of creeps just waiting for the opportunity to act-don’t put yourself at risk!

You can delete your device’s information from the car you rent, but that can also be scraped by a low-level hacker. To be completely safe, it’s best not to sync your phone when renting a car at all.

If you frequently use rideshare programs, like Uber and Lyft, your driver might generously allow you to sync your phone to the car’s infotainment system so you can listen to your favorite song while waiting for the traffic to clear. This, too, can put your information at risk. If a driver ever makes this offer, pull out a pair of earbuds and tell the driver no thanks.

How to protect yourself

You don’t need to give up the convenience of a synced phone in order to protect your privacy. Simply follow these precautions and your information should be safe.

  • Never sync your phone with a rental vehicle or a ride-share car.
  • Don’t plug into USB ports in rental cars.
  • Delete any personal information already stored in your vehicle.
  • Adjust your phone’s settings to the strongest security levels..
  • Restrict the amount of information your vehicle can access and don’t allow it to store or access information without re-syncing to your phone.

Don’t let convenience put you at risk! Exercise caution and protect your privacy when syncing your phone to your car.

Your Turn: How do you keep the information stored in your phone safe from hackers? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/does-connecting-your-phone-to-your-car-open-up-new-security-risks/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.whio.com/news/local/connected-cars-how-syncing-your-phone-vehicles-could-put-your-data-risk/jnPmGicuvSVrdh5rs0gvgL/amp.html
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/1080225001

Why Do I Spend So Much When Shopping Online?

Q: I’m really trying to stick to a budget this holiday season, and I’m doing most of mywoman holding laptop and opening boxes shopping online. It should be easy to stay on track, so why am I constantly going over budget?

A: Both online and in-store shopping can tempt you to overspend, but the internet is particularly designed to help you lose track of your dollars.

More and more people are choosing to hit the web instead of the mall for holiday shopping. The internet definitely wins for convenience. Since there are no crowded malls, no long lines and no crabby cashiers, it’s much more enjoyable. Plus, you get to shop in your PJs. Can it get better than that?

Shopping the old-fashioned way, though, is not without merit. When purchasing items that need to fit right or that you may need immediately, you might want to head to the mall or local small business. You might even save money that way.

If you choose to do most of your holiday shopping on the internet, though, it’s good to understand why we tend to overspend online.

Why we spend more online

Here are 10 ways online retailers push us to overspend:

  1. They push products strategically. The first few products you’ll see when you visit a retail website aren’t necessarily the hottest-selling items; they’re just the stuff the company needs to get rid of most urgently. Most people, though, will assume the products on the site’s homepage are the most popular and will quickly drop one or two of these items into their cart.
  2. They offer free shipping-with a minimum purchase. Don’t think the retailer is being super-generous when they offer to sponsor the shipping costs if you spend $50 or more. They’re only luring you to spend more. And it works: Most people choose to fill their carts with stuff they don’t need just to avoid paying the shipping fee.
  3. They make it super-easy to check out. Websites make their checkout process ridiculously easy just to keep you buying. If your info’s been saved on the site, you can order your whole cart within minutes. The quicker you make those purchases, the less time you have to rethink them and opt out.
  4. They offer spending-based discounts. Online retailers often offer discounts after you’ve reached a certain spending threshold. Just like the free-shipping minimum, these conditional discounts manipulate you into spending more just to qualify-even if you won’t save any money at the end of the day.
  5. They change their prices without rhyme or reason. Online retailers constantly adjust their prices according to consumer and market behavior. This tactic, known as “dynamic pricing,” is designed to draw you back to the site again and again just to check the going price. It also prompts you to buy before the price rises again.
  6. They use anchor pricing. Retailers want you to believe you’re getting a great deal. They frequently employ “anchor pricing,” or placing items with inflated price tags right next to one you’re looking at now to make your desired item look less costly.
  7. Their ads stalk you. Online retailers target you with ads based on your search history. They know what you’re into and they can even determine your style.
  8. They have lenient return policies. Online retailers purposely have looser return policies than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. They know you’ll consider these policies when making your purchase and that you’re more likely to buy something online if you can easily send it back to the store.
  9. They have a virtual checkout aisle. If you think you’ll save big by shopping online because you won’t be tempted to grab all those goodies that the brick-and-mortar stores have lining their checkout aisles, here’s a reality check: Retailers are smarter than that. They’ve discovered a way to create a virtual checkout aisle, full of last minute add-ons that go well with the stuff you’re buying. It’s all designed to make you drop another item or two into your cart before you realize your total is way above your planned budget.
  10. They stay in touch. That subtle email reminder that you still have items in your cart is really just a nice way of nudging you back into. buying mode. Fact is, it works. When retailers send you emails with headlines that scream about “Today Only!” and “Free Shipping on Every Order,” they get your attention. And your money, too.

Spending less online

Should you ditch the on-the-couch shopping and camp out at the mall until the holidays?

You don’t need to be extreme and do all your shopping IRL this year. By educating yourself about the most common manipulative tactics that online retailers use, you’re already better equipped at handling them. You can also follow these tips to keep your online spending to a minimum:

  • Shop with a list. Yes, just like the one you scribble before heading to the grocery. Don’t just have a look around your favorite sites. Decide what you want and need to purchase before browsing, and do your best to stick to your list.
  • Set a time limit. When there are no store closing hours to curtail your shopping trip, you can easily lose track of the time, which can trigger overspending. Plus, the internet is designed to keep you engaged, and one click leads to another. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to shop, and once time’s up, snap your laptop shut.
  • Never pay full price. Don’t check out without doing a quick search for coupons and discounts on sites like RetailMeNot.com and CouponCabin.com.
  • Don’t twist yourself into a pretzel to qualify for free shipping.Don’t buy stuff you don’t need just to avoid a dreaded shipping fee.
  • Shop early. You’ll find it easier to stick to your budget, and to avoid the free shipping trap, when you shop early. Plus, many e-tailers offer free shipping with no strings attached as long as you don’t mind waiting a bit for your stuff to show up.

With awareness and careful planning, you can stick to your budget this holiday season-even when shopping online.

Your Turn: Do you spend more when shopping online or in-store? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/05/18/you-might-be-spending-twice-as-much-money-as-you-think-online-shopping.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.recode.net/platform/amp/2018/6/8/17441288/internet-time-spent-tv-zenith-data-media
https://apparelmag.com/holiday-trend-continues-consumers-will-do-more-shopping-online-vs-store-season
https://www.everydollar.com/blog/online-vs-in-store-shopping
https://www.google.com/amp/s/kdvr.com/2017/12/04/do-you-spend-more-when-shopping-online/amp/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/sneaky-ways-online-retailers-get-you-to-spend-more-2016-5

5 Scams To Avoid This Black Friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great fun – but they can also put you at great risk.woman shopping black friday sale on tablet Scams abound on the weekend that heralds the holiday shopping season, and you don’t want a phishing scheme or a bogus bargain to turn you into a Grinch.

Here are 5 scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving.

Crazy deals that are actually bogus

The noisy crowds and flashy ads on Black Friday can lead you to make rash decisions and spend more than you planned. But be careful not to leave your senses at home.

An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of genuine Ugg boots for just $9? These deals sound insane because that’s exactly what they are. And yet, thousands of people happily send their money to online stores that are advertising these laughable prices on Black Friday. And of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they won’t hesitate to use it for their own shopping spree – all on your dime.

Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low. It’s only bait used by scammers to lure you into their trap. Black Friday deals tend to fall within the 20-30% off range or an offer of free shipping.

Black Friday gift cards for cheap

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might see an explosion of cheap gift cards being sold at online marketplaces. The gift cards are linked to big-name retailers and are offered for a fraction of their real value.

These cards are usually stolen from their real owners. The victim of the theft will likely report the loss and the card will be disabled. And you’ll have forked over your hard-earned money for a card that’s not worth the plastic it’s made from.

Be smarter: Don’t buy any gift cards that are retailing at a heavily marked-down price.

Bait and switch

Want to be the lucky winner of a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details and take this survey. You may just be the proud new owner of the super-expensive phone!

If you know anything about online scams, you’ll already recognize this one. Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information. And, with holiday expenses growing each year, it’s the perfect time to lure an innocent victim into thinking they’ve just saved a ton of money.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from this scam just because you’re doing all your Black Friday shopping at the mall. “Bait and switch” scams can happen offline, too.

The brick-and-mortar version of this scam is somewhat less nefarious. Retailers will advertise deals so amazing you’ll find yourself traveling across town and battling impossible traffic to grab these bargains. Once you finally reach the store, though, you’ll be told that those items are all sold out, but you can check out the items they do have in stock. You’ll be shown similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are just a waste of your time and often your money, too.

Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with.

Delivery problems

With so much of your shopping happening online, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases. But if you get an email like this asking you to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date, you’re looking at a scam. You may also receive a message asking you to pay an extra fee for delivery after you’ve completed an order. Again, this email is bogus and you’re being scammed. Ignore these emails. And, if you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly.

Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source.

Online purchases that can only be paid for with a wire transfer

If you’re planning on going on an all-out spending spree this Black Friday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected.

A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and retailers you trust and frequent often (don’t forget that Small Business Saturday is in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – support your local retailers!).

Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These are favorites among scammers since they are similar to paying with cash – once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back.

Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card.

Be an educated shopper this Black Friday and outsmart scammers!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a Black Friday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

SOURCES:
https://www.finder.com/black-friday-scams

https://www.scam-detector.com/article/black-friday-scam
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-scams-watch-black-friday-cyber-monday/

8 Reasons To Shop Local On Small Business Saturday

Mega e-tailers, like Amazon and Walmart, may monopolize online commerce, but it’s thwoman holding an open sign inside of storee small businesses across the country that keep the economy going. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the 28 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all sales in the country. Small businesses create jobs, build a demand for locally made products and keep communities thriving.

Your local small businesses are part of your community’s landscape. That’s where you rub shoulders with your neighbors, where you catch the latest town news and where you’re always greeted with a warm smile. At a local small business, you’ll be guaranteed superior service and the gratification that comes from knowing you’re supporting the economy in your own community.

Here at Destinations Credit Union we strongly believe in supporting the community and helping local businesses flourish. Join us in our important goal by shopping local on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.

Here are our top 8 reasons to shop local:

Help create jobs in your community

The money you spend at local retailers goes back into your community. When you support these small businesses, you enable them to grow and hire more workers, thus creating more jobs and helping the local economy thrive.

Keep your tax dollars in the community

Why pay to support public services in a town across the country? Let your tax dollars serve your own community by shopping local small businesses.

When you spend your money at local retailers, approximately $68 of every $100 spent will be reinvested in your community. That money will go toward better schools, libraries and parks-in your own neighborhood.

Support the American Dream

Keep the spirit of America alive by supporting the American Dream: Anyone can start a business and work to keep it thriving. When you shop local, you’re showing support for the entrepreneurs in your community, those folks who were brave enough to strike out on their own.

Small businesses give back to the community

According to Community Business Finance, 92% of small business owners personally donate to charities and nonprofit organizations. Whether it’s a contracting company that sponsors a Little League team or a café that hosts an open mike night to raise money for the local soup kitchen, small businesses play a large part in supporting community causes and charities.

When you shop local, you’re enabling small businesses to continue supporting community charities.

Celebrate your community

This Small Business Saturday, celebrate your community! Spend a delightful afternoon browsing the local shops and talking with customers and small business owners. Ask about their family members, chat about the weather and revisit all your favorite local hotspots. You’ll reconnect with your community, support its businesses and rediscover what makes it thrive.

Find unique gifts

Skip the overrated, mass-produced items at huge chain stores this holiday season, and find gifts for everyone on your list at local stores. You’ll be rewarded with an array of truly unique and durable items that will make the perfect gifts for your family and friends.

 Help keep your community interesting

Imagine your community with no small businesses, only franchise stores from major retailers and restaurants. How boring would that be? Sure, we need those mainstream retailers and everyone likes a fast food chain they know well, but it’s the small businesses that keep the community vibrant and colorful. They’re the ones running quirky marketing campaigns and hosting online contests that have the entire town buzzing.

And where else can you pick up a portion of local crab cakes or crab dip?

You wouldn’t want any of the charming little stores that dot your town’s landscape to be forced to close due to a lack of business. These stores rely on your patronage! Shop local to help keep those mom-and-pop shops thriving.

Explore new retailers and restaurants

What better way to try out the latest haunts in town than by spending the day shopping local small businesses? Give that new pizza place a try, sample the lattes at the small coffee joint that just opened its doors and browse through the merchandise at the quaint costume jewelry store you’ve been wanting to check out since its grand opening. It’s a fantastically fun way to kick off your holiday shopping!

On Small Business Saturday, and throughout the holiday season, give back to the community you love by shopping local. You’ll be glad you did!

Are you a small business owner? We want to help keep your company thriving! Give us a call or stop by the credit union today to ask about offering credit union membership as a free benefit to your employees!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite reason to shop local? Share it with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.eccalifornian.com/article/small-business-saturday-supporting-local-businesses

http://www.communitybusinessfinance.com/blog/10-reasons-support-small-business-saturday/
https://www.wthr.com/article/shoppers-support-local-businesses-on-small-business-saturday

How To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Q: Help! I know I need to prepare my home for the upcoming cold weather, but I don’t Image of house with stocking cap and money jarknow where to start. What do I need to do?

A: As soon as you see the seasonal aisles at your favorite superstores filling with Halloween paraphernalia, you know “Old Man Winter” will be creeping up on us before you can say “Boo!”

This year, be prepared. Keep your home warm and safe this winter by following our comprehensive to-do list before the real cold sets in.

Seal your home

Don’t let those brutal winds inside! Your home is your fortress against the cold, so make it as airtight as possible. Give your home a quick run-through, checking for visible and hidden drafts. You can do this by holding a lit candle near the following areas:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Vents and fans
  • Plumbing areas
  • Air conditioners
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas lines

If the candle flickers, you’ve got a draft.

Seal up all holes and reinforce existing points of entry with weather stripping. You can pick some up in your local hardware store. Follow the simple instructions and you’ll be keeping that cold air out and the warm air inside – right where it belongs.

You can also caulk windows and doors to make sure they’re truly sealed against the cold.

Clean your gutters

If your gutters are clogged with sodden leaves, they can freeze up and block the drainage, allowing melting ice and snow to slowly seep into your roof and cause excessive damage. You can do this chore on your own, or hire a professional roofer to get the job done for you for under $100.

Invest in a roof rake

And here you thought raking was strictly for autumn! If you live in an area that sees lots of snow each winter, your roof can be sitting under several feet of snow for a few weeks at a time. All of that snow can get heavy, causing your roof to collapse.

Invest in a roof rake that will help you clear the snow off your roof when it really starts piling up. You don’t want that roof falling in during the coldest time of the year.

Reverse your ceiling fans

Flick the reverse switch on your ceiling fans to make the blades spin in a clockwise direction instead of counterclockwise. This way, the fans will produce an updraft, which will push the rising hot air down so it can keep the entire room warm.

This is especially crucial in rooms that have high ceilings, or are even two stories high. You might find that putting your ceiling fans to work allows you to crank down the thermostat by a couple degrees to trim your energy bill this winter.

Prune your trees

Take a walk around your home’s exterior and inspect all trees and bushes near its façade. Look for low-hanging or loose branches that are close to your house. If you find any, prune them now so they don’t end up cracking from heavy snow or wind and causing damage to your home.

Take inventory of your emergency supplies

Don’t be stuck facing empty store shelves days before the first big storm hits; Prepare now! Stock up on water, canned food, batteries, flashlights and storm lanterns. You may also want to invest in an external charger for some juice when the lights go out.

Turn off external faucets

Unscrew your garden hose from the spigot and drain your sprinkler system to prevent any freezing. You may need to call in a professional to do this properly.

Protect your pipes from freezing

Did you know that a burst pipe can cost you more than $5,000 in water damage?

Prevent burst pipes with these simple steps:

  • Keep your heat on-even when you’re not home. You don’t need to turn the thermostat all the way up when you’re out, but keep it on a moderately warm temperature so your pipes don’t freeze and burst.
  • Allow your faucets to drip during severe cold snaps so that the water flows through your cold pipes. Allowing the water to stay stagnant puts it at greater risk of freezing.
  • Wrap any exposed piping to prevent freezing. You can find foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes and outdoor hose bibs at hardware stores.

Check your heating system

Crank up the heat before the cold blows in to check if everything is in working order. After turning on your heating system, walk through your home to check if every heating vent is blowing warm air. If anything needs repairs, tend to it now while it’s still warm out.

Your Turn: What’s on your checklist this fall as you prepare your home for winter? Share it with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.farmers.com/inner-circle/home-tool-kit/winter-weather-home-checklist/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/T029-S001-12-ways-to-prepare-your-home-for-winter.html
https://www.nationwide.com/winter-weather.jsp

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