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MEDIA CENTER

The Money Minute - October 2012  

In this Issue

  

 

Social Media May Lead to Identity Theft

Do you post your status on Facebook, sharing where you are, and what’s going on in your life? Do you know all of your connections on LinkedIn? Research shows that sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are fast becoming the latest stomping ground for identity theft thieves. Although the information you share may seem harmless, it could also make you a victim.

Read the entire article.

 

 ©Brian Treffeisen Photography

Meet The Zooks: Honorees of the 2012 NFCC's Housing Clients of the Year

Facing financial crisis and the potential of losing your home is a nightmare that none of us would want to face. Most of us could easily become overwhelmed by the situation. Not the Zooks. They faced down their financial situation and fought to regain control. Their story is one of overcoming the odds through hard work and perseverance. The Zooks can be an inspiration for all of us.

Read the entire article.

Photo: Standing from left to right Mike Kappas, President and CEO of Apprisen, Susan C. Keating, NFCC President and CEO and Yvonne Fengler, Financial Services Specialist of Apprisen. Sitting Lora Zook and Michael Zook with their award.
 

Don't Be Spooked by Financial Decisions

Halloween tricks or treats happen once a year, but the consequences of financial decisions can last beyond the next spooky holiday. Options that seem good on the surface, if not handled properly, can have long-lasting negative consequences. To understand how a seemingly good financial move can work against you, there are tricks to be aware of before you get your financial treat.

To read the entire article click here.

 

How can you protect yourself and your children from ID theft?

ID thieves make a living at stealing information. That's why Apprisen wants you to learn invaluable tips to protect you and your child's identity by offering our free webinar on ID Theft Prevention.

The dates for the webinar are:

Tuesday, October 23rd --- 12:00pm EST.

Tuesday, October 23rd --- 12:00pm PST.

Wednesday, October 24th --- 12:00 CST.

To register or to find out more click here.

 

Could You Live Without Credit?

No one ever intends to dig a deep financial hole. Life’s unexpected events often throw a curve to even the most stable financial plans, making credit the choice of last resort to meet monthly obligations. Many well-meaning people think living off of credit will be a short-term solution; the new job is just around the corner; the medical event won’t be serious; the divorce decree will read differently. Others have not experienced a financially back-breaking life event, but have built a lifestyle that their income simply will not support.  

 Read the entire article.

 

 

Social Media May Lead to Identity Theft

Do you post your status on Facebook, sharing where you are, and what’s going on in your life? Do you know all of your connections on LinkedIn? Research shows that sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are fast becoming the latest stomping ground for identity theft thieves. Although the information you share may seem harmless, it could also make you a victim. 

Below are some tips to help you avoid social media identity theft.

  • Protect your privacy. Anytime you register on a new site, you’re asked to agree to the privacy and security notices. But do you actually read these policies? More likely you click “agree” and move on. If you don’t read the whole agreement, you may want to find out what information they are sharing about their users with third parties or solicitors. That way your information is secure. Also, make sure the privacy settings on your social networking accounts are set with the maximum amount of security possible. 

  • Protect your information. Install a firewall, anti-spam and anti-virus software on your computer, and keep them updated! Think of it like a yearly flu shot or check up for your computer. Identity thieves constantly create new versions of viruses, so keeping your computer protected is essential. Also, create strong passwords that you use for your various log ins. You may want to store these passwords on a secured site or in a password-protected file so you don’t forget them. Although it’s convenient, resist automatically saving your password on sites and log off sites when you’re finished. This may reduce the ability of thieves to track your web surfing and will help prevent strangers from infiltrating your account. Lastly, don’t post your address, phone number or email address on a social media site. Scam artists, as well as marketing companies, may be looking for this information.

  • Don’t overshare. Remember that whatever goes on the internet may be viewed by an unintended audience. Would you want a stranger, your mother, or a potential employer to see certain information or pictures? If not, think twice before posting! Also, be mindful of information you share on friends’ social media accounts because even though your account may be secure, theirs may not. And don’t ever share your birthday, age, or place of birth online. An identity thief can piece together your Social Security number based on this information.  

  • Know your friends. Thieves can pose as friends, colleagues, friends of friends, followers, or an attractive person wanting to know you better. But are you sure they are who they say they are? If you are friends with a stranger or haven’t spoken to the connection in some time, consider removing that person from your account. If you receive a connection or friend request from a stranger, the safest thing to do is to reject the request.

  • Be cautious. Playing games online is a great way to pass time. However, logging in with your social media account could provide another opportunity for your identity to be stolen. Make sure you’re reading the privacy and security notices before joining the site. In addition, verify any emails you get from these sites, especially email that request password resets. Bogus emails from third parties posing as social media sites are often designed to gain access to your user name, password and, ultimately, your personal information. When in doubt, don’t open it, download it, add it, or share it.

  • Act quickly. If you think your social media account has been compromised, report it to the site immediately and alert your contacts. Change your passwords, but proceed with caution because your computer security may have been affected.  Malware, including key-logging software, may have been installed on your computer, so you’ll want to make sure your computer security is intact before logging on to any online bank account. Also, check your financial accounts for suspicious activity. Your financial institution should be able to work with you to ensure your accounts are secure.

The information you share on social media sites can be used for purposes other than what you intended.  Anytime you choose to engage with these sites you are taking certain risks. Common sense, caution and skepticism are some of the strongest tools you have to protect yourself.

October 20th - 27th is National Protect Your Identity Week. Apprisen and their partners will be hosting a variety of shredding events and workshops throughout their communities. Check our events page on our website to see what's happening in your area.

 

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Meet The Zooks: Honorees of the 2012 NFCC's Housing Clients of the Year

Facing financial crisis and the potential of losing your home is a nightmare that none of us would want to face. Most of us could easily become overwhelmed by the situation. Not the Zooks. They faced down their financial situation and fought to regain control. Their story is one of overcoming the odds through hard work and perseverance. The Zooks can be an inspiration for all of us.

Dedication 
When the Zooks first came to Apprisen, they felt defeated. Lora is a cancer survivor and suffers from neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes difficulty in walking and Michael had been injured on the job at the Minot Air Force Base. The road to financial stability was a rocky one. He filed an insurance claim with Labor and Industry, which was eventually denied, and was in the process of applying for Social Security Disability.  All of these obstacles proved to be financially challenging for this family. As a result, they fell six months behind on their mortgage. When they met with their counselor, Yvonne Fengler, for the first time, they felt a glimmer of hope which they hadn’t experienced in a long time. They explained to Yvonne that they had been in contact with their mortgage company but were not offered any options due to their income levels. Yvonne examined what had to be done to modify the loan. She reviewed HAMP requirements and consulted an amortization chart to determine that the Zooks needed to increase their monthly income by $500. They then began to explore job opportunities that would allow for their disabilities. They found a job with the local paper on a delivery route. It was difficult at first, but with determination and ambition they were able to reach their goal of increasing their income. 

Approach
The Zooks worked diligently for four months increasing their income and saving up enough money to qualify for the trial modification. When that occurred, they were ready. They had enough money in savings to make the initial payment and had money left over for an emergency fund. With Yvonne’s help, they were able to create a monthly spending plan that worked for them and still be able to put money aside. It took nine months for the final modification to be approved. By that time, they were in a strong position to manage their new payment and feel secure in the knowledge they were going to keep their home.

Learning/Lifestyle Changes
The Zooks have learned a lot through this process and are happy to share their success with others.  In April, they were featured in many media stories in the Tri Cities, Washington area with State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Apprisen, highlighting the new Attorney General’s Foreclosure Settlement Funds. Their story was used as an inspiration to others that all is not lost when dealing with a past due mortgage and that help is available.

Personally, the Zooks have a lot to look forward to. They have learned to stick to a monthly spending plan and still make savings a priority. They would like to save enough to be able to go on a nice vacation.  Lora is still working the paper route and is attending community college to seek a degree in social work. They both are confident with their new skills, and the knowledge that Apprisen is there to help. If any future financial crisis occurs, they will be well prepared.

Apprisen was so inspired by the Zook’s success that we nominated them to be the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s (NFCC) 2012 Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE) Housing Clients of the Year. The Zooks won the honor. In September, the Zooks received a standing ovation for their motivating success story while attending the NFCC annual conference in Charlotte, NC. None of the Zook’s success would have been possible if they had not taken the first step, reaching out for help. Their success is a lesson that we can all take to heart.

 

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Could You Live Without Credit?

No one ever intends to dig a deep financial hole.  Life’s unexpected events often throw a curve to even the most stable financial plans, making credit the choice of last resort to meet monthly obligations.  Many well-meaning people think living off of credit will be a short-term solution; the new job is just around the corner; the medical event won’t be serious; the divorce decree will read differently.  Others have not experienced a financially back-breaking life event, but have built a lifestyle that their income simply will not support. 

According to the September poll hosted on Apprisen’s website, fifteen percent of respondents indicated they could not make ends meet without access to credit.  An additional twenty-four percent said they would have to make significant lifestyle changes if they did not have access to credit.  Taken together, thirty-nine percent of consumers would experience major interruptions to their financial lives if denied the use of credit

The solution for either group is a three-step process:  stop charging, increase income, decrease expenses.  Facing the financial facts can be hard. Changing ingrained habits is never easy, but it is not only worth the effort, it is essential to a person’s current and future financial stability.

To determine if your finances are on the brink of disaster, try living without credit for one month.  If successful, it is likely that credit is being managed responsibly.  If not, reach out to Apprisen for assistance.  Spending an hour with a certified credit counselor is time well-spent, and will provide you with concrete answers to your financial concerns.

The actual September poll question and responses are as follows:

Q:  If asked to live on a cash basis, I

A.  Would be able to maintain my same lifestyle =31%
B. Would make some changes, but basically be fine = 30%
C. Would have to make significant lifestyle changes = 24%
D. Could not make ends meet without credit = 15%

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