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09.13.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Eight Steps to Simplify Your Finances

         

Handling your financial affairs doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem.  Try these 8 simple ideas to save time and reduce the stress of managing your financial affairs. 

1. Enroll for direct deposit. It eliminates trips to the bank and keeps your
money working longer. 

2. Sign up for overdraft protection. By link your checking account to a line of credit you avoid the cost, hassle and embarrassment of a bounced check. 

3. Establish an automatic savings plan. This will automatically transfers funds to  a savings account and will add up over time. 

4. Use electronic bill paying. Eliminate the dreaded task of writing checks and save money on stamps. 

5. Consolidate your financial relationships. Dealing with one institution makes everything easier. 

6. Consider personal finance software. Many programs make handling your finances easier and quicker. 

7. Build a safety cushion. Be ready for unexpected expenses or use some extra for a special vacation.

 

08.31.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Identity Theft

         
Here are some simple tips that will help you avoid becoming a victim of Identity Theft.
  • Don't give your Social Security number or other personal credit information to anyone who calls you. Criminals use this information to open new charge accounts posing as you.
  • Tear up or shred receipts and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. Criminals can collect bits of information about by going through your trash.
  • Watch for missing mail and don't mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up. An identity thief may steal your mail and file a change of address form with your credit card company or the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Review your monthly accounts regularly for any unauthorized charges.
  • Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
  • When conducting business online, make sure your browser's padlock or key icon is active.
  • Don’t open e-mail from unknown sources and use virus detection software.
  • Protect you PINs and passwords and change them frequently
 

07.13.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Kids Socializing Online

         

Remind your children that Online Actions Have Consequences.
The words kids write and the images they post have consequences offline.

Kids should post only what they’re comfortable with others seeing.
Your child's profile may be seen by a bigger audience than think. Encourage your child to be careful with the language they use online, and the pictures they post.  Employers, college admissions officers, coaches, teachers, and the police may view your child's posts.

Remind kids that once they post it, they can't take it back.
Even after you delete the information from a site, you have little control over older versions that may exist on other people's computers and could be  circulated online.

Tell your kids not to impersonate someone else.
Your child should be taught that it's wrong to create sites, pages, or posts that seem to come from someone.

Help your kids understand what information should stay private.
Teach your children how important it is to keep some things about themselves  and their family members to themselves. personal Information like their Social Security number, street address, phone number, and family financial information is private and should stay that way.

Talk to your teens about avoiding sex talk online.
Research shows that teens who don't talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to come in contact with predators

Politeness counts.
Teach your children to be polite online as well as  offline. Texting may seem fast and impersonal, yet courtesies like "pls" and "ty" (for
please and thank you) are common text terms.

Tone it down.
Using all caps, long rows of exclamation points, or large bolded fonts are the online equivalent of yelling. Most people don't appreciate a rant. Suggest that your kids resist the temptation to send a message to everyone on their contact list.

Use privacy settings.
Many social networking sites and chat rooms have adjustable privacy settings, so you can restrict who has access to your kids’ profiles. Set high privacy preferences on your kids' chat and video chat accounts. Most chat programs allow parents to control whether people on their kids' contact list can see their status. Some chat and email accounts allow parents to determine who their children can send and receive messages from.

Create a safe screen name.
Encourage your kids to think about the impression that screen names can make. A good screen name won't reveal much about how old they are, where they live, or their gender. For privacy purposes, your kids' screen names should not be the same as their email addresses.

Review your child's friends list.
You may want to limit your children's online "friends" to people they actually know

Ask your children who they are communicating with online.
Just as you want to know who your kids' friends are offline, it's a good idea to know who they're talking to online.

Encourage your kids to trust their guts if they have suspicions.
Encourage them to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or are uncomfortable about something online. Most sites have links for users to report inappropriate behavi
or..


6.29.12

Posted by:
Derek Todd

 

The Truth About Lies: Protecting Yourself From Scams      

         

           There’s something that I’ve noticed in my experience that I’ve never quite been able to understand. It’s been my observance that no matter who you’re dealing with and regardless of the context, people are more easily tricked by “big” lies than “small” ones. The larger and more incredible a falsehood, the more people want to believe it. This theory was used extensively by Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in creating propaganda for the Third Reich and was featured prominently in George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

            You may be asking, “how does this principle apply to banking?” And I’m glad you did. Many times we have seen innocent individuals who have been led astray by scammers because they were willing to believe their lies. This is nothing to be ashamed of. The perpetrators have merely studied human psychology enough to know how to manipulate others into giving them the things that they want. In this scenario it is usually either money or personal information. So in preperation for potential scams, let’s look at our greatest vulnerability—our desire for the lie to be true.

            I recently received a letter in the mail telling me that I had won the Canadian Lottery and stood to collect several thousand dollars in U.S. currency. The letter appeared highly professional and all the correct terms were utilized so that it seemed legitimate in every way. There was only one problem that I could see with it… well two, actually.

            First, I am an American citizen and have never been to Canada. I would think that this fact should exclude me from the winnings automatically. The second hole in the story is that I have never played the lottery—not even once. I know the chances of winning the lottery are microscopically thin, but imagine winning without even buying a ticket! This was obviously a scam, and yet it was difficult to concede the fact that I was not a winner because of the seeming legitimacy of the letter and my desire to collect the prize.

            Other scams are based on alternative falsehoods but work virtually the same way. Whether you are asked to be a home shopper, are in line to inherit a fortune from a previously unknown Austrian relative, or are approached by a very generous Nigerian prince, we can easily fall victim to predators. In most cases the lie is big enough to grab our attention, the content appears professional in nature, and the culprit behind the scenes is insistent upon the ligitimacy of the claim. They’re also confident that 99.9% of all people would like to have a large sum of money without doing anything to earn it.

            You might have heard people say, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This statement is not entirely accurate. I’ll amend it in this way: if it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is! Always be on the lookout for those unscrupulous few who would take advantage of you at a moment’s notice. Be confident in yourself and realize that denial is not just a river in Egypt. 

Derek Todd

6.08.12

Posted by:
Brain Duncan
Brian Duncan  

June Events

         

“Dost thou love life?  Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.” –Ben Franklin 

A few suggestions for things to do while you wait for the 4th of July: 

June 8- Lincoln County Relay for Life- Lincoln County High School, 7:00 PM-7:00 AM.  If you haven’t been to the Lincoln County Relay, this is one of the biggest events in the area, period.  With games, food, entertainment, and camaraderie, and more, this is a great night for the whole family as the community bands together in the fight against cancer.   

June 14-Jan Watson book signing-7:00-9:00 PM, Arts and Music Center, Stanford.  Sponsored by Kentucky Soaps & Such and Grassroots writers group. 

June 15- Stanford Main Street Car Show-5:00-8:00 pm- Main Street. 

June 15-16- Spring Music Festival- Arts and Music Center, Stanford.  Cheaper than Bonnaroo! 

June 7-10- Great American Brass Band Festival-Downtown, Danville.  For more information call 859-236-7794. 

Go outside and play!


06.08.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Scammers have found new a way to nab your Information

         

Scammers have found a new way to nab your personal information and maybe even your money

If you've received a text message from Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Target that you've won a free gift card, you're going to want to read on before going after that offer. Reports of prize text messages are popping up in the Upstate, informing the recipient that they've won a free $1,000 gift card for their entry in a drawing.

But store officials say this is an offer shoppers won't be able to cash in on because retailers aren't on the other end of the line. Instead, it's a scam the Better Business Bureau calls "smishing."

The messages typically include links to click on or numbers to call. They aren't associated with the business, and they may even carry a virus or request personal information such as a Social Security number or even money to cover shipping and handling costs of your "free" gift card. Sadly, people who do that lose the money, they never see the money again," said Tammy Dankovich of Upstate Better Business Bureau.

The Upstate BBB says they've gotten several reports of "smishing" - it's the latest scamming trend. If you haven't received one yet, the Bureau says it's almost inevitable you'll eventually be a recipient.

"Smartphones are becoming so popular, more and more people are using them and this is another way of trying to scam people," said Dankovich.

Large retail companies are also the victim of this new trend. In a statement released by Best Buy, the store says:

"Best Buy continues to pursue the individuals and entities responsible for using Best Buy's trademark without authorization. We share the frustration of our customers, and are taking efforts that will put an end to this unauthorized use."

If you receive an offer from a company, the best way to know if it is legit is to simply call that business directly before clicking on any links or providing any information. The Bureau advises to never respond to smishing. They also say you should contact your cellular provider if you do receive any of these messages and have the number blocked from your phone.


05.21.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Memorial Day Scams

         


Memorial Day has become an opportunity for criminals to target veterans as well as active duty military and their families, the Better Business Bureau said in a recent bulletin. Older veterans are often targeted by scammers this time of year, the BBB said. "The unique lifestyle of our service members makes them prime targets for scammers," noted Brenda Linnington, director of the BBB’s military division. "It’s imperative that we educate our service members and ensure that the support we give to them equals the effort they make every day on behalf of us."
Some scams target service personnel and their families directly, while others go after people attempting to contribute to military charities. "Donors need to watch out for questionable charities that raise funds on behalf of military organizations," said Art Taylor, president of the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance. Another scam to watch out for involves a telephone call in which a criminal poses as a Veterans Administration representative and asks for credit card, bank or other financial information.
 


05.11.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

5 Dumbest Things You Can Do If You Have Too Much Debt

         


If you’re struggling with too much debt you’re not alone. It seems as if the whole nation has a borrowing hangover. For years, credit was easy and many people became overextended. But, we now live in an era of austerity and it’s time to get our affairs in order.

The five strategies you may want to avoid:

The first advice of experts in the field is to be sure you don't make your situation worse by making common mistakes. In particular try to avoid:

Paying only the minimum payment on your debt, as this will result in the amount you owe actually growing, and your problems will only become worse.

Relying on friends and family, as this can damage relationships with the most important people in your life.

Unscrupulous credit counselors that demand cash upfront, or high fees for help they promise, but don't deliver.

Using new high-interest loans to pay off lower interest rate loans--while it may be easier to just have one payment, it will actually increase the amount you have to pay back.

Declaring bankruptcy - avoid if you can, especially when debt settlement may work for you...

Debt Settlement

For many people, working with a debt consolidation company can actually be a great solution. You’ve probably heard a lot of advertising for these services recently, but what exactly do they do?

Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with creditors to get them to forgive a big portion of your unsecured debt. Unsecured debt includes credit cards and medical bills, but does not include mortgages, auto loans, student debt and taxes.

Why would a credit card company do this? Well, it’s not out of the generosity of their heart. They have made the financial calculations and determined they are better off knowing for certain that they’ll get paid something, rather than not knowing at all if they will get paid anything.

Consolidation companies work with individual consumers to determine a reasonable monthly amount that they can afford to pay against their debt load. The individual makes the affordable payment every month into a special-purpose account, and, as these funds accumulate, the consolidation company reaches out to creditors to negotiate a full and final actual settlement amount that they will take.

Typically, these companies have excellent relationships with creditors and are negotiating on behalf of thousands of people every day. The amount of savings they can obtain for consumers can be significant.

While each situation is different, it’s not uncommon for debt consolidation companies to negotiate reductions of as much as 75 percent of the outstanding amount, and help get their customer debt free in just a few years.

There are a many debt consolidation agencies, so how do you find a legitimate and trustworthy company to work with? One great way to start is by visiting Thomas McKnight, LLP. They offer a free, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your options. Then, if you chose to proceed, they will develop a plan that meets your specific needs and negotiate it on your behalf with your credit card companies.  


5.02.12

Posted by:
Brain Duncan
Brian Duncan  

May Events

         

 Never trust a man that hasn’t a single redeeming vice! - Winston Churchill 

The month of May is all about Horsepower!  (Well, that and the appreciation of mothers.)  Whether thoroughbred or motor city, there are several opportunities to appreciate unbridled power and speed this month. 

May 5- The 138th Kentucky Derby- The biggest display of horsepower outside of Bowling Green kicks off at 5:00 PM with the race starting at around 6:24.  Get the mint juleps ready! 

May 5- Spring Hike at Perryville Battlefield- Hike starts at 11:00 rain or shine.  The hike is four or five miles and should last three or four hours, so dress comfortably and bring plenty of water. 

May 11- Friday Night Talent Night- Community Arts Center, Stanford- Play some tunes, or just come and listen; either way, a fun night for all. 

May 12- Oak Ridge Boys-Renfro Valley- Giddy Up Oom Poppa Maw Maw!  Call 1-800-765-7464 for more info. 

May 13- Call your mother! 

May 18-Stanford Main Street Car Show 5:00-8:00 pm- A glorious celebration of classic American Muscle.  Come downtown to quench your thirst for gasoline! 

May 19- Habitat Car Show- Main Street, Stanford 9:00 am- 4:00 pm- If you didn’t get your horsepower fix the night before, come back for another helping of chrome and carburetors.  Contact Calvin for more information at 606-669-0748. 

May 22-Kentucky Presidential Primary.  Get out the vote (if you are a registered Republican, otherwise you have to wait until November). 

Have a great May and I’ll catch you next time!


04.20.12

Posted by:
Regina Thompson
 

Tablets: The Future of Computing

         


What is a Tablet PC?

A tablet PC is a small, lightweight, portable computer which operates using a touch screen interface.  In many ways tablets are similar to smartphones, only larger and with a primary purpose of computing, not telephony.  Otherwise they are quite similar and include many of the same features. Some tablet PCs are more similar to a computer which runs a familiar desktop operating system, only in  aversion adapted for the smaller screen and “touch” environment.

The term “tablet PC” is often used interchangeably with “tablet.”  Traditional tablet PC operating systems include adaptations of Windows, Linux, BlackBerry Tablet OS, Android, and Apple’s iOS.  Examples of tablet computers which you may be familiar with include the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab (an android tablet), BlackBerry PlayBook, and a range of tablets from many other popular tablet manufacturers including Acer, Fujitsu, Asus, and Toshiba.

Tablet PC Features

Tablets are quickly becoming a real option for people who want something larger than a smartphone but smaller and lighter than a laptop. Tablet PCs are fully functional computers within the constraints of their physical size; they allow consumers to carry significant amounts of their data with them and can connect to even more of their information stored in the Cloud. Tablets can be very functional for both personal or business use.  Here are some key tablet features and specifications:

  • Size and weight:  Tablet PCs are among the largest mobile computing platforms.  Most tablet screens measure 7 to 11 inches.  The heaviest tablets weigh about two and a half pounds, while most tablets fall within the range of 1-2 pounds.  Many  newer tablets weigh under a pound however, and are generally equipped with smaller screens (7 inches on average).
  • CPUs featured in tablet PCs include Nvidia Tegra 250, Intel Atom, and Intel Core.
  • Storage:  The vast majority of tablets feature solid-state disk (SSD) drives.  These drives don’t use mechanical parts for reading and writing data.  As such they are very fast.
  • Operating systems include Windows, Linux, BlackBerry Tablet OS, Android, iOS and more.
  • Touch screen input. Tablets include touch-screen interfaces which enable a user to input data using a virtual keyboard. Touch screens are either resistive or capacitive. Resistive touch screens can enable a great deal of precision and usually require a stylus. Capacitive screens are more responsive, include multi-touch capabilities, and generally do not include a stylus for input.
  • Handwriting recognition.  This is a common tablet feature, but by no means a universal one.  If a tablet includes a stylus, it also will include handwriting recognition.  Non-stylus based tablets instead rely on the virtual keyboard for typing.
  • Tablets can sense direction.  Using technology called an “accelerometer,” many tablets can detect what direction they are facing and can shift the screen accordingly.
  • Docking stations may be included with newer models.  These docking stations give you the option to add peripherals such as a full size keyboard.
  • Tablet PCs tend to utilize either on-board flash memory or storage drives.  Additional flexibility and capacity is provided by card ports.

Potential Drawbacks to Tablet PCs

  • No keyboard is included.  Not having a standard keyboard isn’t a big deal for some people, but for others there’s just nothing like a physical QWERTY keyboard (whether full-sized or otherwise) to input words.  If you need to do a lot of typing fast, the touch-screen may not be what you’re looking for. Consider getting a tablet PC with a docking station for a keyboard if you really want a tablet PC and you type a lot.
  • The screen may be prone to damage.  With laptops and traditional PCs, you don’t actually interact with your screen at all except visually.  With a tablet however, you touch the screen frequently, increasing the odds you’ll eventually damage it.  While you can typically buy a replacement screen for a tablet, it will be expensive.
  • Security issues are prevalent.  Since you won’t always be on a secure wireless network when you use your tablet PC, you are exposed to greater risk.  You can take steps to protect your tablet PC however by installing antivirus and scanning regularly.


04.02.12

Posted by:
Regina Thompson
 

10 Downsides to an Aging Computer

         


An increasingly common question is how long to stick with an aging computer? Frequently it becomes a question of continuing to use an older computer that “sort of” meets your needs, or upgrading to a new computer with its many potential benefits. Having the budget to buy a new computer is a key starting point. As part of the keep it or replace it question this post will examine Ten Downsides of an aging computer system.

  1. Too Slow — The current computer is too slow, especially with several programs open at the same time. Everything takes longer and you sometimes don’t do certain tasks, including maintenance, because they just take too long.
  2. Too Unreliable — There are too many quirky or weird behaviors that sap your productivity or enjoyment when using the computer.
  3. Too Long — The computer takes longer and longer to boot up and to shut down.
  4. Too Little RAM — The computer does not have enough RAM (memory) and it makes the system run significantly slower than it would with a greater amount of RAM installed.
  5. Upgrading Components Won’t Help – There are various component upgrades that can be done such as adding RAM, upgrading to a faster graphics adapter, or upgrading to a faster network adapter, but the CPU and bus speed will still be the same – Slow.
  6. Repairs May Be A Bad Investment – It may be necessary to repair a component (CD-ROM drive, graphics card, hard disk drive, or network adapter), but is it worthwhile to pour money for components and labor into an aging computer that may crash completely in six months?
  7. Software Confusion – There is uncertainty about all the programs and processes that are loading every time the computer boots up. Which ones are necessary, which ones just bog the system down and which ones are safe to deactivate or turn off?
  8. More Software Confusion – Over the years you have installed numerous programs, utilities, add-ons, plug-ins, and widgets. This creates lots of software clutter and more uncertainty about what can be uninstalled cleanly.
  9. Version Confusion — Not sure what programs, drivers, upgrades, add-ins, plug-ins or widgets are up to date or if they can all work together without causing strange behavior or intermittent problems.
  10. Tune Up Needed — The computer hasn’t been tuned up or cleaned up effectively in years. For desktop computers in particular this can lead to accumulations of dust, cobwebs or possibly pet hair in the vents, filters or interior of the computer.

03.19.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Shopping Online

         


Know who you're dealing with.

Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don't reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don't ask for information that way.

Know what you're buying.
Read the seller's description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like "refurbished," "vintage," or "close-out" may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.

Know what it will cost.
Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare "apples to apples." Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of your purchase. Do not send cash or money transfers under any circumstances.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.
Can you return the item for a full refund if you're not satisfied? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will get your order? A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options, so you can see exactly where your purchase is and estimate when you’ll get it.

Pay by credit card.
If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. In the event that someone uses your credit card without your permission, your liability generally is limited to the first $50 in charges. Some companies guarantee that you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card online; some cards provide additional warranty, return, and purchase protection benefits.
 

Keep Records.
Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them; be on the lookout for charges that you don’t recognize.

Protect Your Information

Don't email any financial information.
Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the "s" stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

Check the privacy policy.
Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they're going to use the information. If you can't find a privacy policy — or if you can't understand it – consider taking your business to another site that's more user-friendly.

How to Report Online Shopping Fraud
If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer, or site operator. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with:

·                 the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint

·                 your state Attorney General, using contact information at naag.org

·                 your county or state consumer protection agency. Check the blue pages of the     phone book under county and state government, or visit consumeraction.gov and look under "Where to File a Complaint."

·                 the Better Business Bureau
 


2.17.12

Posted by:
Regina Thompson
 

Protecting yourself Online

         
Here are a few suggestions on ways to keep your personal information and money more secure when you go online:

 Beef Up Your Security. Personal firewalls and security software packages (with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features) are a must-have for those who engage in online financial transactions. Make sure the computer you are using has the latest security patches, and make sure that you access your online brokerage account only on a secure web page using encryption. The website address of a secure website connection starts with "https" instead of just "http" and has a key or closed padlock in the status bar (which typically appears in the lower right-hand corner of your screen).

 Use a Security Token (if available). Using a security token can make it even harder for an identity thief to access your online brokerage account. That's because these small number-generating devices offer a second layer of security - a one-time pass-code that typically changes every 30 or 60 seconds. These unpredictable pass-codes can frustrate identity thieves. While fraudsters can use keystroke logging programs to obtain regular username and password information, they can't use these programs to obtain the security token pass-code. Ask your brokerage firm if you can protect your online account with a security token or similar security device. 

Be Careful What You Download. When you download a program or file from an unknown source, you risk loading malicious software programs on your computer. Fraudsters often hide these programs within seemingly benign applications. Think twice before you click on a pop-up advertisement or download a "free" game or gadget.

 Use Your Own Computer If You Can. It's generally safer to access your online brokerage account from your own computer than from other computers. If you need to use a computer other than your own, you won't know if it contains viruses or spyware. If you do use another computer, be sure to delete all of the your "Temporary Internet Files" and clear all of your "History" after you log off your account.

Don't Respond to Emails Requesting Personal Information. Legitimate entities will not ask you to provide or verify sensitive information through a non-secure means, such as email. If you have reason to believe that your financial institution actually does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call the company yourself - using the number in your rolodex, not the one the email provides!
Security Tip: Even though a web address in an email may look legitimate, fraudsters can mask the true destination. Rather than merely clicking on a link provided in an email, type the web address into your browser yourself.

 Be Smart About Your Password. The best passwords are ones that are difficult to guess. Try using a password that consists of a combination of numbers, letters (both upper case and lower case), punctuation, and special characters. You should change your password regularly and use a different password for each of your accounts. Don't share your password with others and never reply to "phishing" emails with your password or other sensitive information. You also shouldn't store your password on your computer. If you need to write down your password, store it in a secure, private place.

Use Extra Caution with Wireless Connections. Wireless networks may not provide as much security as wired Internet connections. In fact, many "hotspots" - wireless networks in public areas like airports, hotels and restaurants - reduce their security so it's easier for individuals to access and use these wireless networks. Unless you use a security token, you may decide that accessing your online brokerage account through a wireless connection isn't worth the security risk.

 Log Out Completely. Closing or minimizing your browser or typing in a new web address when you're done using your online account may not be enough to prevent others from gaining access to your account information. Instead, click on the "log out" button to terminate your online session. In addition, you shouldn't permit your browser to "remember" your username and password information. If this browser feature is active, anyone using your computer will have access to your brokerage account information.
 

2.03.12

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Upgrades May Make More Sense Than A Complete New PC.

         


RAM:
  You should have at least 2GB, but  4GB is better. RAM is cheap and your programs will run better, and you'll  have a greater  ability to open more programs at the same time.

Hard drives: A larger hard drive will increase your storage but You won't get much of a performance boost.  External Hard drives are a great way to manage backups while providing a good source of extra space.

Video card: A new video card may give you a  performance boost, since a new card will be able to handle higher resolutions than the older one.

Processor: If you have an older processor and you have options that will fit your motherboard socket, this upgrade may make a  impact on processing time.

Displays: A new, flat-panel display with more screen space can speed up everyday tasks by letting you keep multiple windows visible.
 


12.29.11

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Money Transfer Scams!

         

 

Wiring money – through companies like Money Gram and Western Union – is like sending cash. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. That’s one reason scammers often insist that people wire money, especially to addresses overseas. It’s nearly impossible to reverse the transfer, trace the money, or track the recipients.

 

What’s Risky About Using Money Transfers?

Money transfers can be useful if you want to send money to someone you know and trust. At the same time, they are risky when you send money to someone you don’t know. That’s why many law enforcement agencies caution against it.

The recipient of a money transfer gets the money quickly, so it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transfer if you realize you’ve made a mistake.

How to Avoid Money Transfer Scams

Don’t wire money to a stranger or someone you haven’t met in person. That includes:

·                 anyone who insists on wire transfers for payment

·                 an online love interest who asks for money

·                 someone advertising an apartment or vacation rental online

·                 a potential employer or someone who is hiring you to be a mystery shopper

·                 someone who claims to be a relative or friend in need. They say they’re in a foreign hospital or jail.

In a variation, scammers ask you to deposit a check for them, and then wire money back to them. The scam is that the check is fake. It will bounce, and you’ll owe your bank the money you withdrew. By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within a few days, but it can take weeks to uncover a fake check. It may seem that the check has cleared and that the money is in your account. But if a check later turns out to be a fake, you’ll owe the bank any money you withdrew.

Report Money Transfer Scams

If you think you’ve wired money to a scam artist, call the money transfer company immediately to report the fraud and file a complaint. Ask for the money transfer to be reversed. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s important to ask. Then, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
 


12.14.11

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

7 Computer Energy Saving Tips

       

7 Computer Energy Saving Tips

Energy saving tips are important these days because of rising energy costs. While this may be the prime motivation to cut down on the costs there are other benefits in regards to computer systems. A computer system that saves energy will produce less heat which is important in the summer months. Heat can lead to all sorts of computer problems and also an increased noise level as the computer fans try to cool down the computer system.

Computer systems consume power. The amount of power depends on the system at hand. It can vary widely depending on the hardware build into the computer system. A high end user’s computer with the latest hardware will consume more power than an Office computer system that uses low end hardware. High end computer systems use 250 Watts or more per hour which equals 1 kWh every four hours of usage. The US average energy costs for 1 kWh are $0.11.

A computer running 24 hours a day using 100 Watts per hour will need 876 kWh a year which would equal $96. If the computer uses 250 Watts instead the costs would rise to 2190 kWh per year which would equal $240. Not all computer systems are running 24 hours though but it is probably good to know some maximum values. Keep in mind that energy costs are on the rise and that it will also reduce heat and noise.

1. Buy energy efficient products:

Considering energy efficient products is a good way to save energy in the first place. Look for logos like the Energy Star to buy computer hardware that offers good energy efficiency. Another good idea is to look for a 80+ power supply unit which is more energy efficient as well.

2. Use build in power saving features:

Most operating systems come with power saving features that put hardware like hard drives or the computer monitor into idle mode or turn it off for the time it is not being used. Idle mode consumes between 20 to 50 times less energy. Windows users find the power saving settings in the Control Panel. It might be necessary to tweak the values for turning off the computer monitor, hard drives and setting a system standby time to suit the individual needs. A lower time will save more energy but is also likelier to affect work.

3. Turn down the brightness:

Turning down the brightness of the computer monitor, or any other monitor actually, saves energy. This is actually a good tip for users with laptops, and other mobile devices including cell phones. It can also be helpful on desktop systems. 

4. Turn off the monitor instead of using a screensaver:

Screensavers do not save energy. Their function these days is reduced to visuals only. Turning off the computer monitor instead of running screensavers saves lots of energy.

5. Disable devices that are not needed

Laptops come with all sorts of devices that a user might not need. Each of the devices - if enabled - consume energy. A laptop user that uses the build in network adapter and a cable to connect to the Internet probably does not need Wi-fi, the build in modem, Bluetooth or infrared. The same might be valid for other devices like the DVD drive or sound card.

6. Turn off the computer:

This might be an obvious tip but there are a few myths surrounding this. Some users think that turning off a computer will reduce its lifetime. Others believe that it will cost more power to turn the computer off and on again than to put it to hibernate mode.

It might not make sense to turn off a computer system when going on a 5 minute break but it definitely make sense for longer breaks, e.g. lunch or meetings.

7. Share hardware where appropriate:

Hardware like printers, scanners or routers that are connected to a computer system are also using power. A way to save energy is to share these devices where possible. This does require some computer knowledge though.

Energy Saving Verdict: It is possible to save lots of energy by turning off devices when they are not needed. Buying energy efficient hardware and using power saving settings are the two other helpful options. 


11.22.11

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

CardCash-- you can now earn 1% back..

       

Card Cash
You can now warn 1% cash back -- up to $500 every year simply for using your PBK Bank debit card for everyday purchases. 

To qualify for 1% cash back on all qualified purchases, simply: 

            - Press or say CREDIT with every purchase.
            - Use Your card to shop online or by phone, and choose the CREDIT option.
            - Make minimum of $450 in Non-PIN debit card purchases each month.
            - Earn 1% cash back on all transactions above the monthly $450 minimum (up to $500.00  per year) 

Whether you sign for your purchases or request the credit option, the purchase amount is deducted from your checking account just as though you had used your pin. 

Don't sacrifice this valuable benefit- It is absolutely free.   

All you have to do click on the card cash photo on our web site or go to the web site, www.cardcash.us/pbkbank and fill out the application to sign up.  You can also pick up a form at the bank and mail it to :

                        CardCash Headquarters
                        113 Seaboard Lane, A180
                        Franklin, TN 37067


10.21.11

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Can I Repair My Bad Credit?

         


Just because you have bad or not so perfect credit today doesn’t mean that you are always destined to stay in that shape. Believe it or not, there are some things you can do to help repair your credit, but don’t forget the passing of time is one of those items. 

·         Check Your Credit Report – Checking your credit report can help insure that what is being reported is correct. It can help you to ensure that you get errors removed before they cause you problems. 

·         Use Payment Reminders – There are a variety of different ways you can set up reminders, such as through your email, your phone, writing it down on a calendar, or even using Bill Pay. Whichever reminder option you choose; reminders are a great way to be sure you don’t forget to make your payments on time. 

·         Reduce The Amount You Owe – Live within your means and do not take the mind set “well, if I couldn’t afford it, why would they send me a credit card”. Be responsible with your credit and it will reward you. 

·         Pay Bills On Time – This is pretty simplistic, but it works wonders. Paying your bills punctually over a span of time can really go a long way to repair your credit. If you don’t get this one down the rest is about useless. This also includes if you have any charged off accounts or accounts in collections; be sure to get them paid as well.  

·         Passing Of Time – Just the passing of time may not necessarily help repair your credit but the passing of time without issue really can. The negative impact of missed payments, collections, and filing of bankruptcy diminishes with the passing of time; well that is assuming history doesn’t repeat itself. 

So keep in mind that bad credit is not a life sentence, and it can be overcome with a lot of hard work and diligence in the handling your finances.
 


10.28.11

Posted by:
Lanny Hubbard
 

Shopping Online, Protect Your Self!

       

Know who you're dealing with.
Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don't reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don't ask for information that way.

Know what you're buying.
Read the seller's description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like "refurbished," "vintage," or "close-out" may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.

Know what it will cost.
Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare "apples to apples." Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of your purchase. Do not send cash or money transfers under any circumstances.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.
Can you return the item for a full refund if you're not satisfied? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will get your order? A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options, so you can see exactly where your purchase is and estimate when you’ll get it.


Pay by credit card.

If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under
this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. In the event that someone uses your credit card without your permission, your liability generally is limited to the first $50 in charges. Some companies guarantee that you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card online; some cards provide additional warranty, return, and purchase protection benefits.


Keep Records.

Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them; be on the lookout for charges that you don’t recognize.

Protect Your Information

Don't email any financial information.
Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the "s" stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

Check the privacy policy.

Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they're going to use the information. If you can't find a privacy policy — or if you can't understand it – consider taking your business to another site that's more user-friendly.

How to Report Online Shopping Fraud
If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer, or site operator. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with:
the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complain

1.  Your state Attorney General, using contact information at naag.org
2.  Your county or state consumer protection agency. Check the blue pages of the phone book under county and state government, or visit consumeraction.gov and look under "Where to File a Complaint.
3.  The Better Business Bureau
 
 


10.07.11

Posted by:
Brain Duncan
Brian Duncan  

The relativity of money part Deux

         

O.k., where we last left, I was rambling about something to do with conch shells and the Beatles.  If you missed out, I highly recommend going back and catching up, otherwise, this next part will make no sense at all (that’s not really true, but I did spend a good bit of time thinking up those analogies, so please check them out).  The nail biting cliffhanger that I left you with had laid out the conundrum of our current financial situation (or one of them anyway) about the perils of fiat currency and inflation and the disadvantage to saving money.  Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, let’s take a look at the bright side. 

If the American dollar looks like it will continue to lose its purchasing power, a good frame of mind to start with is “what can I purchase that will keep its value?”  The popular trend seems to be in gold, “Bring your scrap gold in for cash!” Sound familiar?  This may not be a bad idea; after all, gold has been treasured since the days of the Old Testament.  And yet, it is possible that the current gold rush has created a bubble with an artificially inflated price, and when you get right down to it, how useful is gold?  It doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value.  It isn’t very practical for building a shelter.  Unless you are the villain in a James Bond story, you can’t make an automobile with it.  So, take a cue from King Midas and recognize that gold won’t solve your problems.  Silver seems to me to be the more practical choice, as it is a precious metal that also has technological uses, plus, it is much more reasonably priced.   

Precious metals are great and all, but there is something much more practical to sink your sinking money into, real estate!  Right now, you have the perfect storm of depressed house prices and low interest rates.  Many people are reluctant to buy right now because of the simple fact that houses have lost a bit of their value.  But, if you follow the long term arc of property values, they have appreciated greatly over the past decades.  Aside from that, there are also the other benefits of owning your own home like cookouts and yard sales. 

What ever you decide to do, the thing to remember about currency, i.e. money that is not tied to anything, is that it is most effective when it is in motion.  The traditional mentality about the virtue of saving is diminished because it will continue to lose its value as more and more of it is printed.  A good approach is to consider putting your money into something that will likely continue to be of value for the long haul. 

Tune in next week for a bit of a spin off with a couple of tricks and treats for getting more mileage out of your dollar! 
 

09.22.11

Posted by:
Brian Duncan
Brian Duncan  

I’m a Multi-Trillionaire, So Why am I Still Working

         

It’s true, no exaggeration, (although it is a bit misleading); I have a 100 trillion dollar bill from the bank of Zimbabwe, actual printed currency, not counterfeit or anything.  Here’s the catch, it wouldn’t buy you a dozen eggs, even in Zimbabwe; the result of an economy in the throes of hyperinflation.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea of inflation, this is the way my economics professors described it:  Too much money chasing too few products.  That’s all well and good, but here’s a little bit more concrete example.  Until 1971, our money was merely a receipt for gold, and the value of gold was fixed at $35 an ounce.  This is what is commonly known as the “gold standard,” meaning that gold was the standard for our currency.  In 1971, President Nixon removed the American dollar from this standard, basically changing the dollar from a receipt, to an IOU.  The net result is that since 1971, the dollar has lost about 97% of its value.  It’s not so much that gold is worth more; it’s that the dollar is worth less. 

Sure, this is great dinner conversation fodder, but here’s where we get into the nuts and bolts of what it really means to you and how you can (read should) take advantage of it.  Most of the world’s economies are fueled by fiat currency, i.e. money that’s not tied to anything, meaning that the country can always just print more money because it’s not tied to gold, silver, cattle, conch shells, or first edition Beatles Albums.  Our conventional wisdom has always told us to “save, save, save!,” which is not bad advice, except you want to be saving something that will retain its value.  It’s not the best analogy and it is a bit extreme, but it is not entirely unlike investing in eight-tracks, vinyl records (I don’t mean collectible ones, just records in general), cassette tapes, or any other media format that will eventually fall out of favor. 

Now that I’ve given you the prognosis, tune in next week for the exciting conclusion where I will lay out the remedy!  I may also pull a rabbit out my hat.
 

09.16.11

Posted by:
Brian Duncan
Brian Duncan   Don't Let The Boat Pass You By          

Although this is not new news, this is an occurrence that happens frequently enough that it is worth reiterating.  Every once in a while a customer will come in who is over (in some cases well over) the age of fifty, and in the process of looking up their account, I will realize that they are not set up on our Senior Reward account.  What is often the case is that the individual in question is a long time customer who opened the account before he or she reached that landmark birthday and never switched the account over.  If this is case, that person is missing out on a lot of benefits.  By switching the account over to the Senior Reward you are enrolled in our “Pretty Big Kids Club” which is, in my opinion, the best deal in town. 

If you are fifty or better, and are not sure if you are enrolled in the Pretty Big Kids Club, just check with one of our Customer Service representatives and we can fix you up.  By switching your account over to the Senior Reward account, you will be switching to a free, interest bearing account with no minimum balance, unlimited transactions, unlimited free checks, and a 25% discount on personal storage boxes.  It will also make you 20% more attractive (well, not really, but the other stuff is true).  With the club, you will automatically start receiving our quarterly newsletter, which will keep you up with the goings on of our club, and will be eligible to participate in our other activities, which include but aren’t limited to Bingo, dinners, breakfasts, travel, and other fun and exciting things. 

So, while it may not make you more attractive, healthier, or taller, if you are eligible (read 50 or older), switching your account over will at least save you some money and allow you to join in the fun that is the Pretty Big Kids Club!
 


 

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