Protect Yourself Against, and Mitigate Damages From, Identity Theft

We’ve all heard of it. But we all think that we’re invincible to it. Identity Theft!

What is it? It refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes.

Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes.

If your identity is stolen, do you have a plan in place to mitigate the damages? If not, you should at least bookmark this, just in case you need it in the future.

Identity thieves are looking for the following information:
• full name
• date of birth
• Social Insurance Numbers
• full address
• mother’s maiden name
• username and password for online services
• driver’s license number
• personal identification numbers (PIN)
• credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the last three digits printed on the signature panel)
• bank account numbers
• signature
• passport number

There are things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, and there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage and help bring the thief to justice.

Here are 5 things that you can do right now to protect yourself:
1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your cheque as it passes through all the cheque processing channels won’t have access to it.
3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SIN printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
5. When you travel abroad, carry a photocopy of your passport. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Insurance number, credit cards, etc…

If your identity does get stolen, what kind of things can you expect to have happen?

Here are just some of what they can do:
1. Access your bank accounts
2. Open new bank accounts
3. Transfer bank balances
4. Apply for loans, credit cards
5. Make purchases
6. Buy cell phone packages
7. Credit line approved by retail stores
8. Access your driving record, and change your information online

If you are a victim, here’s some critical information to act on immediately:
1. Cancel your credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. This is why we photocopy them (see above). Call your local bank/financial institution as well.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here’s what is perhaps most important of all:
3. Call the nationwide credit reporting companies immediately. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your name and credit report. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers for two national credit bureaus:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
2.) TransUnion Canada: 1-877-525-3823
3. Order free copies of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

Have you even been a victim of identify theft? Tell us your story and maybe others can learn from what you did, or didn’t do.

Features to Expect in Future Smartphones

Smartphones are the most common thing now. They are much different to the so called mobiles. As the name already indicates they are much smarter than the mobile phones. These are handy devices that every person uses as means of communication with friends and relatives. Earlier the phones were simply used for calling purposes. But now with advancement in technology phones are used for multiple purposes. A simple smartphone is now loaded with multiple apps, cameras and of course the primary calling functions.

It is expected that the future smartphones are going to have certain features which are going to make the phones even more powerful. The features that might make their way are –

1. Augmented reality- This something that provides us more information by combining the computer data so that we have real life experience of what we see. It will give you all relevant information by the use of your phone’s camera. The augmented reality apps that is available now makes use of the GPS to provide information. But now it has limited recognition accuracy which is expected to increase in the coming years.

2. Flexible screens- There might be a time when you can adjust the size of the screen according to your needs. Suppose you want to play a game or watch a video you can do that by folding and unfolding the portable screen size. This can be made possible with the help of Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology.

3. In-built projectors- Not only the screen, we hope that you will be able to show movies to your friend and family by projecting the screen in an appropriate place. This has the mightiest possible chance of replacing the TV that is used as gaming consoles.

4. Seamless voice control- Though voice control has been there in earlier phones but the voice recognition function was the best one. In the later years, it is expected that there would be seamless voice control that might take interactivity to the next level.

5. 3D screens and holograms- Many of the Smartphone have high-defined cameras that offer sharper resolutions than the human eyes. Still, our thirsts for good photos are not over. The companies are thus, now moving their focus from the 2D smartphones to the 3D smartphones. The next in this route is likely to be the holographic projections. This will enable you to resize your photos to whichever size you like removing out the unnecessary things.

We guess that you are already excited to think of the things. Imagine what you would do if you get all these features in your handheld smartphone. Isn’t the idea awesome? Yes, it is definitely. All you have to do now is hold your breath, and wait for the awesome features to come to the market.

Plan The Most Professional Conference Call Possible – The Simple Tips

A conference call is a telephone call that allows more than two people to join in the conversation. It breaks geographical barriers and makes it possible for professionals to hold meetings without the cost or need to travel and make accommodation arrangements. More and more companies are now embracing the technology that saves so much cost and time and also offers lots of convenience. There are so many platforms you can use for your business conference calls, some of which even make the calling free for your convenience. But how do you make sure the call is as professional as it ought to be?

1. Consider even the smallest details in your plan. Before anything else, you need to know what you are doing and when you will be doing it. Set the date and time and make sure you have all relevant participants include and laid out. If it is an international conference call, then make sure that you remember to consider time zone differences so all participants are comfortable with the scheduling.

2. Give participants early notice. Professionals tend to be very busy people and for this reason you really cannot assume that they will be available at the time you have scheduled the conference call. It is advisable that you tell them about the conference call at least a month or few weeks to it. This is good enough time for everyone to reserve time for the call or make any necessary changes to the scheduling early enough for you to come with better alternatives. If everyone is okay with the date and time, then you need to provide them with instructions to access the call including dial-in numbers and PINs. Proposed start and end time and also the topic should also be provided.

3. Keep all necessities handy. Visual aids, charts, spreadsheets and even graphs may be necessary during the call and you should have them handy. If possible you can send them out to the participants before the call for their analysis. Whether your call is an audio call or a video call, you will need to avail necessary guides to get the most from the session.

4. Create a good agenda. Your teleconference will only be successful when you have a complete and well-organized agenda for it. A good agenda should cover topics, speakers on each of the topics, and even time every speaker has on the topics. Consider any requests from the participants and include them in the agenda too.

5. Exercise good teleconference etiquette. It may be a conference call, but you should show professionalism in handling it. Call on time and introduce yourself appropriately immediately you dial in. Allow speakers to finish talking before you jump in and keep your phone mute when not talking to prevent background noises from seeping in. You should also remain attentive to what is happening during the call; you do not want to seem lost in the conversation just because something distracted you during the session.