How to Protect Your Identity

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Hi guys and gals! I’m really hoping you find today’s post helpful and valuable. In this age of everything digital, have you thought about making sure your identity is protected?  Probably not, and that’s what identity thieves are betting on when they are scouting their next prey.

It gets easy to forget just how much of our personal information is vulnerable to identity theft, and by the time we find out our information has been compromised, chances are, our bank accounts and identities have been hacked. Not good.

Let’s talk about some great tips today to protect your identity.

1. DON’T VISIT SUSPICIOUS WEBSITES

There are identity thieves trying to “phish” their way to your information by way of deception. It is very common for thieves to set up fake websites that look like the real thing and then entice their victims to enter in their personal information into these fake sites. One of the most important things you can do is to never enter your personal information into a site that’s not secure, or a site with which you are not familiar.

2. USE STRONG PASSWORDS

Websites these days, at least the big ones, are getting much better about requiring stronger passwords. A good password is usually 8-10 characters, includes upper and lower case characters, numbers, and a mixture of symbols. Whatever you do, don’t use a password that’s easy for someone to hack. Also, whenever changing passwords, using the same password except for changing the number is not recommended. Identity thieves know that many people like to keep the same password, and that often times changing only the number to the next number in the sequence is a common move. Change your password completely every time you are prompted.

3. INSTALL ANTIVIRUS/MALWARE SOFTWARE

Having a stable antivirus/malware application installed on your device is critical in safeguarding your data. I use a free antivirus app called AVG and MalwareBytes to scan for malware and registry errors. Using your computer without an antivirus application opens your system up to attack, and more importantly, identity theft.

4. BE SELECTIVE ABOUT SHARING PERSONAL INFORMATION

I’m sure most of you are connected to all of the major social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Prying eyes are just waiting for the right information to be posted to steal your identity. Be extremely selective what type of personal information you post online and never share it with those you don’t know.

5. INVEST IN IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION

Investing in monthly identity theft monitoring is a great investment to make. There are many companies to choose from in the identity protection market, but I highly recommend Identity Guard. Identity Guard provides you with continuous monitoring and alerts, quarterly 3-bureau credit reports, and a dedicated case manager, among other services. Click here to get your free trial of Identity Guard

6. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS

If you are one to work on your laptop or tablet in public, be aware of who is around you. Don’t position your screen where anyone else can see the information on it, and be careful when working with your personal information over public networks. Identity thieves use personal networks to hack into your device, and chances are you’ll never know it.

7. DON’T PUT OUTGOING CHECKS IN YOUR MAILBOX

I don’t know of too many people today who still pay bills through a physical check and drop it in their mailbox. Identity thieves can easily stroll through the neighborhood, swipe the envelopes, and steal the routing and account number of off checks. If you are going to pay with a physical check, take it to the post office and drop it off, or physically hand it to your postal carrier.

8. NEVER PAY AN UNKNOWN SELLER BY CHECK OR MONEY ORDER

If you are one to participate in online transactions, such as eBay, never agree to pay for your items via check or money order. It’s nearly impossible to track these items and makes it much harder to recuperate lost funds if an item never arrives. If you pay with a credit card, you can dispute the charges much easier.

9. MONITOR STATEMENTS REGULARLY

Most of us probably don’t check our statements very often. With the 24/7 access to mobile banking or apps to our bills, we know our balances left and right. Make it a regular habit, though, to check for suspicious activity and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate institution.

10. KEEP YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD LOCKED AWAY

I never take my Social Security card out of my locked filing cabinet, unless I’m going somewhere that requires me present it to them (government agency, etc). There is absolutely no need to keep a copy in your wallet or purse, because if it’s ever stolen, the identity thief has everything he or she needs to do the dirty work of hacking your life. Unless you absolutely need it every day, leave the Social Security card at home in a secure location.

11. BE DILIGENT IN IDENTIFYING SPAM

Identity thieves are very smart today in terms of making spam look legit. Most email clients and providers have sophisticated tools built in, but they will never be able to catch everything. Before clicking on links in emails that appear legit, verify the sender’s email address and hover over the links to check for spammy or fictitious websites.

12. SECURE YOUR CELL PHONE

Securing your cell phone is important in safeguarding your phone’s content. Set a strong password and make sure you have a phone location app installed in case you lose it while traveling.  If you are traveling, remove any sensitive apps you may not need while on the trip. You can always reinstall them once your trip is over.

13. EDUCATE YOUR KIDS

If you have kids, it’s a smart idea to get them conditioned to looking for identity theft red flags from an early age. Teach them to never give money to an unknown source and make sure they understand the importance of keeping their personal information secured.

Stay one step ahead…

I hope that these tips help you and your family in the fight against identity theft. The most important things you can do include securing your personal information and staying one step ahead of would-be thieves.  Keep yourself in the know about privacy tips and learn about the new ways thieves are trying to steal information. Knowing these things will greatly reduce the chance of cyber or identity theft.

Creating Amazing Photo Books With Blurb

Creating Amazing Photo Books With Blurb

This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through them.

Photo books are so important to have when you want to preserve family memories. Blurb gives you the opportunity to make them not only with high quality, but with attractive designs. When I see my family in a photo book that I’ve created, it reminds me of how wonderful our family is and how much fun we have together. I’m really proud to be an affiliate for Blurb, and only recommend products I use and love.

I’ve been meaning to compile the over 10,000 photos I currently have on my camera role and create numerous projects out of them. Photo books seem to be all the rage these days, and are becoming increasingly popular gifts. Not only do I have plans to create and give away photo books to grandparents and relatives, I’m working on my very own eBook, “The Ultimate Blogger’s Handbook.”  I’m more than halfway through writing the book and am now in the process of looking for a reliable service to help me design it.

One of the best services I found was a company called Blurb.  Blurb specializes in custom photo books, trade books, magazines, and eBooks. The great thing about Blurb is that you do the work using their tools. You can either use Blurb’s tool, BookWright online or use other products such as Adobe InDesign.  If you are an Adobe Lightroom user, there is a Blurb-powered creation tool built into the software.

Shop Blurb Online

What really caught my eye when I was researching more about Blurb was their PDF to book formatting feature. Using their specifications calculator, you can turn your PDF into any size book you want. Neat, huh?  Since I already have most of my eBook written in Microsoft Word, converting it to PDF and using Blurb’s book formatting calculator will be a feature I’ll use right away.

Blurb also has their own apps for iPhone and iPad. You can choose from 3 different page layouts, add captions, and auto flow your images to create an amazing picture book! In addition to IOS support, Blurb also provides you with downloadable professional templates to choose from to help you get started. If you are simply overwhelmed with the entire process, Blurb even has professionals on staff to help you complete your project! Or, if you are headed in the self-publish direction, you can complete your own book for as little as $14.99 – not a bad price at all!

Self-Publishing Services

Blurb offers many services to help you as you self-publish your project including:

Photo Book Services

Blurb offers just about any kind of photo book to suit your needs including:

Popular Book Types

Here’s a list of popular book types made through Blurb:

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Join the Blurb Affiliate Program

If you are blogger looking to join another affiliate program, Blurb is a great one to join. Simply click here and complete the application through ShareASale.

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10 Ways You Can Protect Your PC

10 Ways You Can Protect Your PC

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission that helps keep Go Ask Your Daddy running.  Read my full disclosure here.

10 Ways You Can Protect Your PC

In this day and age, having the right protection for your all of your devices is so important. Viruses and malware are around just about every corner, and falling victim to any type of cyber attack can be serious.  Hackers are looking for new and creative ways to steal your personal and confidential information.

Today, I’m going to talk about several ways you can protect your devices from potential attacks. As a blogger who uses several devices every day, I understand the importance of protecting myself, and feel that it’s very valuable information to share with all of you too.

1. Install Antivirus Software

No PC or device should ever go without having antivirus software installed. Good antivirus software locates, isolates, and destroys potential malware and prevents theft of personal information. There are many free antivirus programs available on the internet today.  My favorite has always been AVG Antivirus.  AVG’s free antivirus software includes real-time security updates, scans for malware and PC performance issues, and stops malicious downloads even before they reach your PC. AVG also has a free antivirus app for your device. By far, it’s the best antivirus app for Android.

2. Download from Trusted Sites

One major rule I always follow is to only download files from sites I trust. Downloading files from sites without encryption increases your risk of downloading viruses onto your device. Check your security settings inside your browser and make sure they are set high enough to prevent unauthorized downloads.

Never open files from unknown sources.  Many phishing scams today are designed to fool unsuspecting victims into clicking on links and entering in personal information on phony websites. If you don’t know the sender, don’t download the files or click on links in the email.

3. Use Strong Passwords

10 Ways You Can Protect Your PC

I know it’s really tempting to use a password that is easy to remember, but with today’s technology, it’s becoming easier and easier for cyber thieves to hack into devices.  Always use a complex password that only you can remember, and never use words or phrases that are easy for others to guess. Many security companies also recommend not using the same password for multiple sites. It is also recommended to add in special characters (such as @ # ! &) and change letter case to make hacking difficult.

4. Keep Software Updated

Most PCs and other devices have settings that allow for automatic software updates. Keeping software updated helps reduce or eliminate the risk of potential vulnerabilities. Be sure to enable update notifications in your PC’s settings to ensure you are downloading and installing the latest software versions. If you haven’t already, go in to your Windows security settings and turn ON automatic updates. Microsoft is always strengthening its software to be resistant to viruses and malware, so staying in sync with the latest updates will ensure your OS is as protected as possible.

5. Disable Image Previews in Outlook

If you use Microsoft Outlook, disabling image previews can prevent unwanted viruses and malware from downloading to your PC. Most newer versions of Outlook will come have this setting set as default. But, if you’ve happened to disable this feature on your own in the past, simply going back to your security settings and enabling it will turn the feature back on.

If you happen to use another email client other than Outlook such as Thunderbird, there are similar security settings that will give you the same result.

6. Visit Only Trusted Websites

If you are a web surfer who clicks on every link and goes to every website imaginable, you are opening your device up to malware and other viruses. I make it a point to only go to websites I know are safe and have implemented proper security settings. Never attempt to enter in personal information or make a purchase from a site with which you aren’t familiar. Smart surfing can heavily prevent hacking and viruses.

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7. Protect Your WordPress Site

Like other sites and software, WordPress is not immune to hacking attempts. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced a hacking attempt into Go Ask Your Daddy’s WordPress site in the past.  I didn’t have any plugins installed to protect my site, but did have a daily backup plugin installed which saved a YEAR’S worth of blood, sweat, and tears!

Fortunately, numerous security plugins are available for WordPress. Some popular ones include:

  • WordFence
  • Bulletproof Security
  • Sucuri Security
  • iThemes Security
  • Acunetix WP Security Scan

Plugins aren’t the only way to protect your WordPress site from hacking attempts. One common known hacking attempt among cyber thieves is that most people don’t change their user name from ‘admin.’  If you are still logging into your WordPress site using ‘admin’ as the user name, you’ve already given thieves half of what they need to access your entire site.

Another way to keep WordPress secure is to keep the software updated. You can tell there’s a new version as soon as you log into your admin area. There will be a link to download the updated version. Be sure to back up your site before installing, removing, or updating WordPress. Along with the WordPress software itself, keep themes and plugins also updated.  If there are any themes or plugins you no longer use, remove them from your WordPress site.

8. Use a Firewall

Many people think they don’t need a firewall if they have an antivirus program installed. This is definitely a mistake, and one you don’t want find out about should someone hack into your computer. Both Windows and Mac operating systems come with their own built-in firewall.  Go to your security settings and ensure the firewall is enabled.  If you ever need to disable it, be sure it’s only temporary. Running a PC without a firewall enabled increases the chance your data could be compromised.

9. Back Up Your Computer

Have you ever lost everything on your computer and didn’t have a backup? System components fail – even in the most expensive, highest quality computers. There is no feeling like knowing your information is gone forever and you didn’t back it up. Both Windows and Mac PCs have built-in automatic backup applications. I also recommend using third-party apps to save files – such as Microsoft OneDrive. System recovery features are now standard on just about any newer computer, so take advantage as soon as you take the computer out of the box.

10. Download Spyware Removal Apps

10 Ways You Can Protect Your PC

One of the largest threats to computers is spyware. You will know you probably have Spyware if you start experiencing annoyances such as a large amount of random pop ups and your browser keeps redirecting you to inappropriate websites. Malware Bytes’ Anti-Malware and Spybot Search and Destroy are two very common and very reliable Spyware removal apps.

Protect Your Identity

It’s never too late to protect your identity from identity thieves just looking for an opportunity to steal all of your personal information. Signing up with a trusted identity protection company can help prevent identity theft. Today‚ Identity Guard’s award-winning services offer comprehensive solutions that extend beyond the basics — they also help protect your financial information‚ personal data‚ computer, privacy and much more.

How to Keep Calm When Money's Running Low

How to Keep Calm When Money’s Running Low

This post contains affiliate links. Go Ask Your Daddy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

 

Why Trust National Debt Relief

There’s no doubt about it – money issues are stressful for anyone. Whether you are single, or you have a large family, when the cash stops flowing and the bills pile up, no one is feeling at ease. But, it doesn’t have to always be a stressful time. There are ways to manage income and expenses to keep everyone calm and to get back on track.

Let’s begin…

Make A List

What do you bring in?  What do you owe? Write down everything so that you can look at everything flowing in and out of your household each month. I recommend Quicken to track everything. If you are familiar with using Quicken, it is so easy to import your bank account and categorize everything so that you won’t miss anything.

Make a list of everyone’s net income.  Net income is after everything comes out of your paycheck. Then, make a list of every regular monthly expense.  Try to be exact. You’ll want to capture utilities, mortgages, insurance, tuition, credit cards, student loans, etc. No expense should stay off the list unless you’v eliminated it.

Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

Cutting expenses is easier than you might think.  Just today, I cut my Dish Network bill from $129 per month to $75 by adjusting my programming package.  I then saved $40 with AT&T by calling their Customer Loyalty department and negotiated my internet from $80 per month down to $40.

Other ways to cut expenses include calling your utilities (water, trash, sewer, electric, gas) and setting your accounts up on budget billing.  Budget billing averages out your last 12 months of usage and creates a steady monthly payment.  This means no surprises come bill time.

Analyze how often you dine out. Do you eat out at restaurants 2-3 times a week? Cut it down to 1, or even 0. Make eating out a luxury or a reward for a special accomplishment.

Look at what you spend at the grocery store.  Buying store brands, using coupons, and only buying what you need will help make a huge dent in your grocery bill. Never go to the grocery store hungry. I’ve made that mistake way too many times.

Analyze Your Paycheck

Another great place to save money is by looking at your paycheck. Do you have the right amount of taxes withheld? Use a tax calculator or, visit www.irs.gov for advice on how to calculate how many exemptions you qualify for, and adjust your paycheck accordingly.

Do you have other items coming out of your paycheck that aren’t necessary? Although putting back money into a 401K is always a great idea, most employers allow you to adjust your contribution level at any time. May temporary adjustments to this level to adjust your paycheck in a positive direction.

Call a Credit Counseling Agency

A great place for anyone to go for credit counseling advice is with certified credit counseling agencies. If you are drowning in credit card, agencies such as National Debt Relief are equipped with many different debt management plan options. Here is the link to fill out the debt relief application.

Be cautious with the agencies you choose from, as many work for credit card companies and not for the consumer. Many agencies charge a fee to participate in plans, so make sure you aren’t hurting yourself instead of helping yourself. Most agencies will work with creditors to lower interest rates and reduce minimum payments to help you get caught up and pay off debt.

Don’t Fight About Finances

The number one problem in any household usually has to do with money issues. Fighting and blaming do no good. If you follow my recommendations above, you can alleviate pain and stress caused by financial disorder.  Keep a cool head and remember that you control the outcome.

There are going to be unavoidable times when couples disagree with finances. Marital counseling, as well as financial counseling, can both be positives in the midst of disaster. Never be afraid to admit when you need the help of outside parties.

Don’t Procrastinate

The last thing you want to do when you are experiencing debt problems is to procrastinate. Not only can late payments impact your credit rating, waiting to seek help only causes the debt and late fees to mount. Take action as soon as you know you are starting to have problems.  The earlier you start seeking help, the more likely you can obtain the help that you need.

Consider Legal Help

Many people simply dig themselves in too big of a hole to be able to dig out without help. There is no shame in consulting with a bankruptcy attorney.  Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, while they can be embarrassing, do work if all of the steps are followed.  While you will take years of a credit hit, sometimes its the only way to get completely out of debt.

When you file for bankruptcy, you are required to complete a credit counseling class before you are allowed to proceed.  Pay attention in these courses and make all efforts to follow the steps after the bankruptcy is over.

Bankruptcy may not be the right course of action for everyone, and I’m not an attorney, so seek professional help from a licensed attorney for assistance with your specific needs.

Over to You…

What ways have you found to help out your household in times of financial crisis? Share in the comments below.

Less Stress and Less debt is only 30 seconds away

How to Decorate a Shared Bedroom for Opposite Sex Siblings

There is nothing more enjoyable than decorating a room for your own child. However, when your children are opposite sex siblings, this activity usually turns into quite a challenging one. However, there’s no reason to be worried since we’ve prepared a list of some very useful advice on how to decorate their room so that they both love it.

Go for gender-neutral colors

The best way to start this endeavor is by choosing the right color for your children’s room. Since you cannot go for traditional boy’s or girl’s colors, we advise you to opt for a gender-neutral color palette which includes grey, yellow, black and white. This way, both your son and your daughter will be content and happy to spend time in their shared room. Furthermore, you can opt for a combination of colors such as orange and blue, so that each of them gets the color they like. Although, neutral colors can be a bit dull, don’t worry, you can always make the space brighter with colorful furniture and other accessories.

Same beds, but different colors

Siblings usually like having the same things; so, in order to avoid quarrels over whose bed is nicer, buy them the same one. However, let them choose their own pillows and sheets. This way, you’ll include them in the process of decoration and allow them to have their personal space which best suits their preferences and allows them to express their own personality. And, since children usually choose colorful ones, these sheets will serve as a great accessory and add some life to the neutrally colored walls.

Buy them some shared furniture as well

Aside from buying them the same beds, desks and wardrobes, go for some shared furniture as well. This way, you’ll teach them to share their possessions instead of selfishly keeping them only for themselves. For example, you can opt for something interesting like a teepee by Cattywampus. We guarantee that they will both love it, since this piece of furniture will truly stir their imagination and they’ll be eager to spend time playing together.

Personal corners

Teaching your children to share what they have with others is very important as we have already mentioned, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t allow them to personalize their own corners in the room. So, even though the whole room cannot be decorated according to their likings, their corners can, and this is why they shouldn’t be forgotten when planning how to decorate your children’s room. For example, you can have two different kids rugs in their favorite colors which will mark the borders of their personal spaces. Each of these corners can be decorated the way they like it and equipped with their favorite toys.

Choose the right accessory

Children adore colorful accessories and according to them any amount of it is never too much. So, not only will you make their room look more interesting, but they will be absolutely thrilled by it as well. First of all, you should consider buying colorful drapes which will add some drama to the entire decor. Just make sure that they’re thick enough, so that you can simulate the night time, when you want them have an afternoon nap. Furthermore, you can bring in floor mats in the shape of their favorite cartoon and video games characters in bright colors. Finally, let your children hang posters and their drawings on a bulletin board which is specifically dedicated to this purpose. It will truly personalize the whole room.

As you can see, decorating a shared room for opposite sex siblings is not that hard after all. You just need to ensure that everybody gets something they like and teach them how to share what they have.

Have a cracked iPhone screen? Check out CellSavers!

Have a Cracked iPhone Screen? Check out CellSavers!

** This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Quick, affordable & certified cell phone repair service at your door. Schedule now!
It’s no question that iPhones are very popular phones.  In fact, I have been an iPhone user for years. While these phones are extremely well-manufactured pieces of technology, they are prone to screen cracks and faulty headphone plugs. Even if you have the extended coverage through your cellular service provider, repair costs for these phones can easily skyrocket. I’ve heard so many horror stories about how expensive it is to repair the screen, or how time-consuming it is just to get it in to the service tech’s hands.

My oldest son is about to get his first phone.  While he is excited about it, I have my worries about how long the phone will actually stay in its original condition. If past behavior continues, I can expect him to handle the phone like it’s a play toy. I’ve seen other electronic gadgets he’s had in the past get destroyed or damaged. While all of the protective cases and screen covers can only do so much, I know that damage is still inevitable with a phone. I’ve had to replace my iPhone before, and the process was expensive. $99 deductible? No thanks…

I am excited to announce that I have partnered with CellSavers. This means I’ll be able to pass on their deals and specials to all of you!  CellSavers can help you repair that pesky broken screen or faulty headphone plug.  One of the great things about CellSavers is that they can meet you at your desired location and time to make the necessary repairs.  How cool is that?  So no going to the Apple Store, no shipping your phone off for weeks, no expensive deductibles to replace the damaged phone!  They come to you!  How cool is that? I wish they had been around sooner!

Quick, affordable & certified cell phone repair service at your door from CellSavers! Schedule your repair now!

Here’s an idea of all the issues CellSavers’ techs can fix:

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CellSavers makes it quick and easy! In just 4 simple steps they can get their device up and running!

  1. Tell CellSavers which device needs repair.
  2. Describe the issue.
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  4. Done! CellSavers technicians will meet you anywhere in an average of 60 minutes!

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