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Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

• Use your initials and last name when ordering printed checks. A check forger won’t know how you sign your checks, but your bank will.
• Do not have your home phone number or Social Security number printed on your checks. Use your work phone number. Use a post office box or work address instead of your home address.
• Order new checks from your bank and pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.

Credit Cards
• When paying credit card bills, write only the last four digits of the account number in the check memo line.
• Do not sign the back of your credit card. Instead write “Photo ID required.”
• Photocopy both sides of your driver’s license, credit cards, and other important contents of your wallet. In the event it is stolen, you’ll know exactly what is missing.
• Keep a list of your credit card numbers and their toll-free customer service numbers so you can cancel cards quickly if lost or stolen. Keep the list in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet.

PINs and Passwords
• Do not write your PIN on the back of the card or on anything else in your wallet.
• Use different PINs for each debit and credit card. If you have too many to remember, consider reducing the number of cards you carry in your wallet.
• Do not use easily available information, like your birth date, phone number or part of your Social Security number, for PINs and passwords.

Mail and Trash
• Use post office collection boxes for outgoing mail, rather than your home mailbox.
• Shred any trash that may contain personal information, including charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, medical statements, checks and bank statements, expired credit and debit cards, and direct mail credit offers.
• You can opt not to receive direct mail credit offers by calling

If your wallet is stolen, you should immediately:
• File a police report to document the theft and the wallet contents.
• Contact one of the national credit reporting organizations (listed below) to have a fraud alert placed on your name and Social Security number:

Equifax 800-525-6285
Experian 888-397-3742
Trans Union 800-680-7289.

The organization you contact is required to contact the other two. If the thief’s purchases initiate a credit check, the credit reporting organization can alert the merchant. Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports.

• Close all accounts for missing credit cards. Check your credit reports for accounts opened fraudulently.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which maintains a database of identity theft cases, online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. This database assists law enforcement agencies and helps the FTC learn more about identity theft.
• Notify your bank if your wallet contained a checkbook or debit/ATM cards.

Information provided by:
Travis Price, Price Financial Group

Refinancing 101

Homeowners refinance for different reasons: lowering theirinterest rate, lowering their monthly payment, changing loan type, “cashing out” on home equity, consolidating consumer debt, or even shortening the length of their loan term to own their home sooner and save on mortgage interest.

In today’s market, we have a great environment for refinancing: historically low interest rates and rising home prices. As mentioned above, there are several reasons that someone would want to refinance. With over 14 years of experience in the mortgage industry and having closed thousands of loans, I like to take more of a financial planning approach to refinancing versus just putting the client into any type of loan. I like to look at the client’s age, current and projected income, financial plans/goals for the future, debt, and cash reserves. All of these make a difference when refinancing into a new loan.

My main goal for the client is to eventually be debt free as well as have a strong cash/retirement reserve. The reserve is relative to each individual and is a topic for another article. However, any monthly savings that comes from the refinance should go back to paying off non-secured debt, funding a retirement account or savings account, or a combination thereof.

A good basic rule of thumb to consider when looking into a refinance and going back onto the same loan term is: am I saving over $125 per month and/or am I reducing my rate by at least 1%? If you are changing the loan term and/or paying off debt, then this rule wouldn’t necessarily apply.

If you’re not sure on whether a refinance is right for you, it can also be helpful to consult with a personal tax consultant, since refinancing can affect the bottom line at tax time. I have a good recommendation if you need one.

Since rates are at or near historical lows and home values have finally begun to stabilize and actually increase again, if you’ve been contemplating a refinance, I wouldn’t wait much longer. Rates are only going to go up from here, and we most likely will not see them this low again in our lifetime.

My team and I keep a close eye on mortgage interest rates at all times and help alert clients of the best possible opportunities. I also offer free consultations so if you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.

Information provided by
Elliott West, West Coast Mortgage

   By Bobbie

(Commercial Integration)

What are hair extensions?
They are units of natural hair for attachment to our own hair. Once for the rich only, they are now easy to obtain from beauty supply stores and to have attached by various operators. But be careful: not all extensions are good quality, and despite You-Tube instruction videos, they should be attached only by trained professionals who also understand care of the scalp and hair.

Why use them?
They are often used to fix a bad hair cut (your own hair has a chance to grow while the extension covers mistakes) or to compensate for thin hair or hair loss by adding volume. Or you may just
want to try a different type of hair for awhile.

How are they attached (integrated)?
There are four methods: glue (hot fusion), strand by strand, microlink, or sewn/stitched. All methods are very tedious and require time and expertise. If done properly,an extension should last about 3 months.
To select the right method and hair type for you, you should consult with the specialist in advance to discuss your needs and ensure your satisfaction with your investment of money and time.

Once integrated, how should I treat my extension?
Extensions are composed of natural hair, so they should be treated—cleansed, conditioned, etc—with the same respect as your own hair.

What causes thinning hair?
If you are among the 80+ percent of us who are progressively losing our hair, you may find it helpful to know that hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors:

If you have an itchy scalp, have a history of braiding or other styles where hair was pulled, or feel discomfort during salon or at-home hair treatments, you may have chronic scalp inflammation. This is most common.

If hair loss is accompanied by fleeting sensations of feeling overheated, lighter-than-usual periods, or mild vaginal dryness, your problem may be low estrogen.

If you’re losing hair, but have hair growth on the chin or upper lip, the cause could be androgen sensitivity.

If you have been feeling unusually tired and headachy, your hair thinning might be due to low iron.

If you have hair loss and your appetite is lower, you have frequent GI distress, or you catch colds easily and recover slowly, a zinc shortfall could be the culprit.

If you’re losing hair and you are 25 pounds or more overweight, have persistent muscle weakness, or get little exposure to midday sunshine, consider low Vitamin D as a possible cause.

For more information on causes of hair thinning and what you can do about it, please ask your stylist.

Please help us and others to protect you.

No matter our age or status in life, we all need to be prepared for that one unexpected emergency. Be sure the information in your purse or wallet is current. The people that want to help you will need your help in this way. Your information will never be shared if that is your request.

For more information, ask your stylist. We want to help. Thanks.
— Jacque Backus

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