Category Archives: Technology

Identity Theft Protection

Target, Snapchat… Identity theft has been in the news a lot lately. Sure, you may have thought the movie Identity Thief was funny but in real life identity theft is a big headache.  It’s a problem that isn’t going away.  In fact, it’s only getting worse.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center 2013 saw a 30% increase in data breaches over 2012.  There were over 600 breaches exposing nearly 58 million records.  The FTC estimates identity theft happens every three seconds and the number of identity theft victims in the US rose to 16.7 million in 2017.  Scary stuff.

Until Target’s data breach late last year I hadn’t given much thought to protecting my identity.  I did all the common sense stuff everyone says you should do (create strong passwords, destroy sensitive documents before disposing them, avoid clicking on links in emails from people you don’t know, etc.) but that’s about as far as I had taken it.

Last night my wife and I got serious and made the decision to purchase identity theft insurance for our family.  We insure our home, our vehicles, our life… I guess our identity is the next logical step.  It really isn’t that expensive either.

We went with Zander Insurance and for less than $13 a month our entire family is covered.  That’s up to a million dollars in expense protection.  The thing I like most about the coverage is they handle all the work of restoring our credit if something were to happen.  Some reports I saw say that it takes 6 months and 200 hours of work to recover from identity theft.  Sounds like plenty of headaches, sleepless nights, and frustration that I don’t need.

This post isn’t meant to be a ringing endorsement or commercial for Zander Insurance.  There are plenty of resources out there.  Some that cost and some that are free.  Hopefully I have made you think about better protecting yourself from identity theft.

Take time to educate yourself.  Be vigilant.  At the very least get a free copy of your credit report.  A little time spent reviewing it now might save you a lot of time later.

What are you doing to protect your identity?

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Use Your Smartphone To Save

Smartphones… seems like everyone has one. It also seems like everyone complains about how much they cost (both for the actual phone and the monthly service). Since you’re already paying to have one you might as well take advantage of the many ways to save with your smartphone.

One of the easiest ways is to sign up for the email and text clubs of the places you shop. These days everyone from national big box stores to local small businesses send out special deals. Just yesterday I saved $15 on an oil change with a coupon the dealership sent me.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking… “I don’t want to get spammed with loads of emails.” Neither did I. That’s why I set up a special email account just for signing up for offers. A free Gmail account is perfect for this. You can even set up a different folder for each store and have your emails sorted into them. Then when you’re ready for an oil change, haircut, whatever… just open that store’s folder and see what deals they sent you.

Your smartphone is also great for comparing prices while you’re on the go. Not sure if the price in the store is the best price? A quick Google or Amazon product search will tell you. If you do find it for less online ask the store if they’ll match it. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I’d say my success rate has been about 50% when asking. While you’re looking up the price online take a quick minute to read the product reviews. They might save you from being frustrated with a purchase you’ll regret.

If you’re interested in saving even more money, my friend recently compared his broadband deals through Usave and was so glad he did. He saved money on his broadband and got a great service for his smartphone to connect too.

One other way to save is to see if your favorite stores offer apps that will help you save. Cartwheel by Target comes to mind. My wife saved us a couple bucks with the app recently.

This last tip for saving money using your smartphone is pretty basic but it will save you time, gas, and money. That’s to use your smartphone as a…. wait for it… a phone! That’ right. Call the store and ask questions. While Christmas shopping this tip saved me from going to several stores that were out of what we wanted and pointed me right to the store that had it.

Those are just a few ways we use our smartphones to save money. How do you use yours to save?

 

 

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Smartphone Camera Tips

Got a smartphone?  Want to take better pictures with it?   Want to safeguard the pics you take?  I’ve got a few tips to get you on your way to taking better photos while you are on the go.

The first one is so basic that sometimes it can be overlooked.   Make sure the camera lens is clean.   Carrying your phone around in your purse or pocket is convenient but you could end up getting a smear or smudge on the lens.   This can definitely impact the quality of your photos.

Next, go into the settings for the camera app and turn on the guidelines.   This will give you a 3×3 on screen grid to help you line up your shot.

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It might annoy you at first but after some time you’ll really enjoy using the guidelines and will notice when they are not there.

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Another thing you should do is spend an hour just playing with the various settings and taking pictures.  The more familiar you are with the camera app the better pictures you will take.

Want to make a good picture even better?  Try a photo editing app.  If you are on Android check out PicSay.   It’s one of my favorites.

Once you have your pictures you want to make sure you don’t lose them.   That’s where Dropbox comes in handy.

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The app and a basic account are free and you can use them to automatically have your photos uploaded to your account.   That way even if your phone gets damaged or stolen you’d still have your pictures.

Another app that works well with Dropbox is Dropsync.   You can also use it to upload your pics to Dropbox.  The main advantage it has is it lets you set power and connectivity conditions.   I have mine set to upload when plugged in and connected to wifi.   That way I don’t use data or power.

Google+ also has free and automatic backup to cloud storage.   You should check it out because it doesn’t hurt to have redundancy in your picture backups.

I am certainly no photography expert but with a little patience and practice I’ve been able to take some pretty good shots like these.

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20130723_174110That’s just a few photography tips from me.  Do you have some to share?  I’d love to hear them so leave me a comment.

 

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