Nearly Everybody In The United States Will Be Component Of A Significant Merchant Data Breach

As recent as April 2011, Sony PlayStation Network was breached and an estimated 77 million user accounts were compromised. Regrettably, such reports of info breach are ending up being common to the point that they do not produce fascinating news anymore, and yet effects of a breach on an organization can be serious. In a scenario, where information breaches are becoming typical, one is compelled to ask, why is it that companies are becoming vulnerable to a breach?

Siloed approach to compliance a possible cause for data breachOne check credit report of the possible factors for data breach could be that companies are managing their policies in silos. And while this may have been a feasible approach if the organizations had a couple of regulations to manage, it is not the best idea where there are various regulations to adhere to. Siloed approach is expense and resource intensive and likewise causes redundancy of effort between different regulatory assessments.

Prior to the enormous surge in regulatory landscape, many organizations engaged in an annual in-depth danger evaluation. These assessments were complex and pricey but considering that they were done once a year, they were doable. With the surge of guidelines the expense of a single thorough evaluation is now being spread thin across a series of relatively superficial evaluations. So, rather than taking a deep look at ones business and identifying risk through deep analysis, these evaluations tend to skim the surface area. As an outcome areas of danger do not get determined and attended to on time, causing data breaches.

Though risk assessments are costly, it is crucial for a company to reveal unidentified information streams, revisit their controls system, audit individuals access to systems and processes and IT systems across the organization. So, if youre doing a great deal of assessments, its better to combine the work and do deeper, meaningful evaluations.

Are You Experiencing Evaluation Tiredness?

Growing number of regulations has actually also resulted in companies experiencing evaluation tiredness. This occurs when there is queue of evaluations due throughout the year. In hurrying from one evaluation to the next, findings that come out of the first evaluation never ever truly get addressed. Theres nothing even worse than assessing and not fixing, because the organization ends up with excessive process and not enough results.

Secure your data, adopt an incorporated GRC solution from ANXThe objective of a GRC service like TruComply from ANX is that it offers a management tool to automate the organizational risk and compliance procedures and by doing so permits the organization to attain genuine advantages by method of reduced expenditure and deeper presence into the company. So, when you desire to cover danger protection throughout the company and determine possible breach locations, theres a great deal of data to be precisely gathered and analyzed initially.

Each service has been designed and grown based on our experience of serving thousands of clients over the last eight years. A brief description of each option is included below: TruComply - TruComply is an easy-to-use IT GRC software-as-service application which can be completely executed within a couple of weeks. TruComply best credit score monitoring service presently supports over 600 industry guidelines and standards.

Handling Information Breaches Prior to and After They Happen

The crucial thing a company can do to protect themselves is to do a threat evaluation. It might sound in reverse that you would take a look at what your obstacles are prior to you do an intend on the best ways to satisfy those obstacles. But until you assess where you are vulnerable, you actually do not know what to secure.

Vulnerability comes in different areas. It could be an attack externally on your data. It could be an attack internally on your information, from an employee who or a momentary worker, or a visitor or a vendor who has access to your system and who has an agenda that's different from yours. It could be a simple accident, a lost laptop, a lost computer file, a lost backup tape. Taking a look at all those different situations, assists you recognize how you need to construct a danger assessment strategy and a response plan to meet those prospective hazards. Speed is necessary in reacting to a data breach.

The most important thing that you can do when you learn that there has been an unapproved access to your database or to your system is to isolate it. Detach it from the internet; disconnect it from other systems as much as you can, pull that plug. Make sure that you can isolate the portion of the system, if possible. If it's not possible to isolate that a person portion, take the entire system down and ensure that you can protect what it is that you have at the time that you are conscious of the event. Getting the system imaged so that you can protect that evidence of the invasion is also critical.

Unplugging from the outdoors world is the first critical action. There is truly not much you can do to prevent a data breach. It's going to happen. It's not if it's when. However there are actions you can take that assistance discourage a data breach. Among those is file encryption. Securing information that you have on portable devices on laptop computers, on flash drives things that can be detached from your system, including backup tapes all must be encrypted.

The variety of data incidents that include a lost laptop or a lost flash drive that hold personal info might all be prevented by having actually the data secured. So, I think encryption is a key component to making sure that at least you lower the events that you may develop.

Id Information Breaches May Lurk In Workplace Copiers Or Printers

Lots of physicians and dentists workplaces have embraced as a regular to scan copies of their patients insurance coverage cards, Social Security numbers and drivers licenses and include them to their files.

In case that those copies ended in the trash bin, that would plainly be thought about a violation of patients privacy. However, physician offices could be putting that client data at simply as much danger when it comes time to replace the copier.

Office printers and photo copiers are often overlooked as a major source of personal health details. This is most likely since a lot of individuals are unaware that numerous printers and photo copiers have a hard disk, just like your home computer, that keeps a file on every copy ever made. If the drive falls under the incorrect hands, somebody might acquire access to the copies of every Social Security number and insurance coverage card you have actually copied.

Thus, it is extremely important to keep in mind that these gadgets are digital. And simply as you wouldnt just throw away a PC, you should deal with photo copiers the very same way. You ought to always strip personal details off any printer or photo copier you prepare to toss away.

John Shegerian, chair and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International, a Fresno, Calif.-based e-recycling company that runs 7 recycling plants throughout the nation, said he got into business of recycling electronic equipment for environmental reasons. He states that now exactly what has actually taken the center spotlight is privacy issues. Cellular phones, laptop computers, desktops, printers and photo copiers have actually to be handled not just for environmental best practices, but likewise finest practices for privacy.

The primary step is examining to see if your printer or copier has a hard disk drive. Machines that function as a central printer for several computer systems generally utilize the disk drive to produce a queue of jobs to be done. He said there are no set guidelines despite the fact that it's less most likely a single-function maker, such as one that prints from a sole computer system, has a hard disk, and more most likely a multifunction machine has one.

The next action is discovering whether the device has an "overwrite" or "cleaning" function. Some machines automatically overwrite the data after each job so the information are scrubbed and made ineffective to anybody who might get it. The majority of makers have instructions on how to run this function. They can be found in the owner's handbook.

Visit identity theft court cases for more support & data breach assistance.

There are vendors that will do it for you when your practice needs help. In reality, overwriting is something that needs to be done at the least before the device is offered, disposed of or returned to a leasing agent, professionals stated.

Since of the attention to privacy issues, the suppliers where you buy or rent any electronic equipment must have a strategy in place for dealing with these problems, professionals stated. Whether the difficult drives are damaged or returned to you for safekeeping, it depends on you to find out. Otherwise, you could discover yourself in a dilemma comparable to Affinity's, and have a data breach that need to be reported to HHS.

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Facts About Credit Card Fraud vs. Identity Theft

While credit card scams is a kind of identity theft, not all identity theft is charge card scams. It just so happens that identity theft including charge card is the type you are most likely to hear about regularly. This type of theft typically occurs in one of two ways: the thief can physically take a person's charge card number and after that use it to make transactions that do not need picture ID, whether it's because the purchase is for a percentage, it's somewhere like a gas pump where there is no clerk present or it is negotiated by a clerk who just doesn't follow treatment by asking to see identification.

The second method is through phishing rip-offs, where a thief sets up a bogus site and the consumer is tricked into typing in his or her charge card info. In this case, the person merely gets the charge card number and security code and the customer's contact details, but this suffices for even less skilled burglars to change the address on the account and likely open a brand-new one in his or her name. While the burglar is not totally taking control of the victim's financial life. For example, he or she is not utilizing the victim's Social Security number, this is still identity theft. By utilizing a charge card in somebody else's name, they are pretending to be that individual, whether that is the actual intent. The damage from basic credit card identity theft and assumption deterrence act scams can be severe, particularly if the burglar opens many charge card or has several with an extremely high limit. To help prevent charge card fraud, you need to be really mindful where you enter your charge card information on the internet. Keep an eye out for e-mails that profess to be from a reputable organization but have links that look suspicious. Also, if you're making a credit card purchase online, make sure you're purchasing from a legitimate website. Look for the https in the address bar and an icon that looks like a padlock. Keep your anti-viruses up to date, and beware of sites that it tags as suspicious. If your credit card is lost or stolen, report it by calling the number on the back of your card as quickly as possible. Do not wait, believing you might have simply lost it. There's usually no charge for a replacement card, so no damage no nasty. Identity theft defense plans can also assist, given that you will be alerted if somebody opens a deceitful account in your name rather of finding out someplace down the roadway. Much of these services likewise search the black market web where identity thieves purchase and sell your details like credit card numbers and savings account. See the Dateline NBC special with Chris Hanson on our homepage identity theft attorney for some captivating examples.

Protecting Your Excellent Credit Rating

If you have actually ever had your wallet taken or lost, you understand the drip of fear that such a discovery produces. Many consumers realize that it's important to call the bank and charge card companies immediately in order to close those accounts and avoid deceptive charges. Regrettably, a terrific bulk of people don't realize that their credit report and ranking may be at danger every day. Unless consumers take extra care to protect themselves, online charge card and identity theft supplies criminals with a perilous and in some cases undetectable technique of draining a checking account, acquiring charges to the limit on a credit card or invading your individual privacy and security that often goes undiscovered for weeks, and often months. These days, online acquiring is a method of life, as is bill paying online. Nevertheless, Web scams is limited to roughly 10% of all fraud cases. Nonetheless, while some of us inspect or checking account and charge card declarations daily, or at least weekly, the huge bulk don't log onto their Web accounts until it's time to pay those bills. In as little as a day, a burglar can rack up your credit card balance or make lots of purchases from a charge card account without you being the smarter. identity fraud Take steps to avoid identify theft before it occurs. Identity theft is often described as either the standard type of identity theft or credit hijacking. Fundamental identity theft includes the "traditional" form of identity theft where a specific takes biographical details to open brand-new charge account. Credit hijacking is a kind of identity theft where an individual gains access to and utilizes existing charge account for scams.

To protect your monetary security, follow these fundamental steps:

Position a preliminary scams alert on the 3 major credit reports (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax).
  • Offer your creditors the exact same phone number that's listed on your customer credit report. (Creditor's are avoided from opening or approving brand-new credit limit until after spoken verification by you).
  • Extend the time frame for the initial scams alert (90 days) to extend as much as seven years by writing a letter to each credit bureau asking for such, and mailing to the address specified in the verification letter you receive from the preliminary scams alert.
  • Develop an individual security code for all credit card and savings account. This password or code remains in addition to your personal PIN number, mother's maiden name, postal code, and the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. The private security code is yours alone and may be considered an extra pass code to make sure that nobody has the ability to access your accounts without mentioning this code.
While taking these actions may take a little of your time, it's more than worth the benefits and added security you will take pleasure in. Don't wait up until you have ended up being a victim of identity theft or credit hijacking to protect your monetary security. Visit identity theft credit card for more information.

Natural Herbal Weight Loss Remedies To Try at Home

Natural weight loss done correctly is probably the best way to ensure that your diet efforts are successful in the balance of your life. You can gain assistance, especially in the early stages of the diet by the use of herbal remedies that give your weight management efforts a boost. These herbs don't create the negative side effects that often result from prescription diet drugs. The herbal remedy also tends to provide nutritional benefits rather than just chemical effects. They gently increase the metabolic rate, assist the dieter to feel full and in most cases provide vitamins or minerals for nutritional benefits.


Ginkgo is a popular herbal substance that helps to provide natural weight loss without using harmful or dangerous prescription diet drugs. Ginkgo biloba is a highly unusual tree found only in a small area of Eastern China. The trees are large and live to be quite old. Chinese medicine has used the seed of the Ginkgo biloba tree for many years and it has been added to many Western formulas in the belief that it improves many life functions. This makes the product popular in diet formulas in the West.


herbal green tea for weight loss

Psyllium seeds are used in natural weight loss products because they tend to expand in the stomach and thus make the dieter fill more full. The fiber is not soluble in water and thus provides fiber in the diet without adding calories to the food intake. The substance has no known negative effects and has been used in the past to treat both diarrhea and constipation with equally successful results. Typically the seeds of the Psyllium plant are ground either coarse or fine and added to other substances as a filler that doesn't add calories. The plant is grown mainly in India and is used around the world. Psyllium can also be found in the structure of the Forskolin plant, which is another natural weight loss supplement

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar has become known as a dietary aid in natural weight loss programs. The great news about this product is that it provides nutritional benefit in addition to being flavorful for salad dressings or other seasoning choices. Apple cider vinegar can be sprinkled on vegetables for a flavor pickup or as part of a low calorie salad dressing. Many claims have been made for the health giving properties of this substance, but there have not been many studies that back up or deny the claims. In the meantime, use vinegar as a flavoring on your vegetables and salads.

Green Tea

is that of green tea. Green tea is another of the natural products for which many claims have been made. Green tea provides a pick-me-up beverage that adds to the healthy glow you will have as the weight comes off. Green tea is used by some individuals as a natural tonic that perks up your brain and doesn't add hundreds of calories to do it. If you are trying to lose weight naturally, take a sip or two of green tea throughout the day.

Weight Loss methods are quite appealing to many individuals. If you are trying to lose weight, you want to do as much as possible to ensure success.

Tips For Long Term Hardwood Floor Care

Clean Floor Store has a great selection of microfiber mops, cloths, and quality cleaners to keep your floor surfaces looking their best. Microfiber mops are ideal for hardwood floor care. Microfiber Floor Cleaners Or Mops

They pick up and trap dirt so it doesn’t fly  around.  Clean Floor Store has a website  that offers different products for hardwood floor care.  They have a high grade industrial mop that  has a mop head that rotates a full 360 degrees.   It comes with 2 wet pads and 2 dust pads that are machine washable.  The bucketless mop is also sold on this  site.  It has a push button flow control  that releases cleaning fluid, but only when you need it.  Other features of this mop are an  anti-clogging filter, angled cleaning head, and a microfiber cleaning pad  that’s washable.  They also offer a product called Glista hardwood floor cleaner that safely cleans all unwaxed  floors and leaves no dulling residue.  It  contains an advanced formula with a clear non-wax

MacMop specializes in  quality hardwood floors and hardwood floor care products.  Their products include MacMop™, which comes  in a floor care kit.  The MacMop™ cleans  hard surface floors and removes dust, grease, and dirt.  This kit comes with a guide called  How-to-Care-For-Your Wood Floors.  Their  hardwood floor cleaner also comes with the mop kit or you can buy it separately.  The easy hardwood floor cleaner  is recommended for wood surfaces that have sealed polyurethane finishes.  MacMop also offers an easy hardwood floor care  polish that’s made of fast drying water-based urethane.  Other products include a microfiber  replacement cover, polish applicator pad, and duster cover by BonaKemi.  For more information go to:  

Casabella clean is the name  of a website that also offers wood floor cleaning products that won’t damage  your hardwood floors.  Their products  include Real Simple® microfiber floor cleaner that attracts dirt.  This floor cleaner is beneficial for hardwood  floor care because you don’t need to use harmful chemicals.  The scraper insert removes dirt that is hard  to get up.  The neck is flexible so you  can clean in places that are difficult to reach.  The extendable microfiber cleaner is perfect  for different kinds of floors including hardwood.  The Casabella® Cares microfiber floor cleaner with refill has a microfiber head that is washable and replaceable.  You can use these cleaners dry or moistened  with water for extra strength. Variety Of Products For Hardwood Floors

A website called Floors  Etcetera, Inc. has a complete line of hardwood floor products to help you  maintain your hardwood floors.  For  hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish, there are products such as Premium  Swedish Formula® MicroPlus TM hardwood floor care formula, and Bona® Swedish  Formula hardwood floor cleaner.  Other  products that can be used for the care of hardwood surfaces are the Swedish  Formula® MicroPlus TM replacement pad and MicroPlus TM floor cleaning  cloths.  You can also find directions on  this site for cleaning hardwood floors.   Go to:

Armstrong has a website with  a variety of hardwood floor care products.   Armstrong Total Care is a liquid paste wax for hardwood floors that are  light colored and waxed.  This product is  good for old hardwood floor care because it will revitalize the floor with a  protective shine.  This product also  cleans and polishes hardwood floors that are waxed, sealed, stained, or  oiled.  Another product sold on this site  is Armstrong Restore Hardwood Floor Finish.   This is a semi-gloss urethane coating for all unwaxed urethane finished  hardware floors.  This product is also  good for old hardwood floor care and can be used as an alternative to sanding  and recoating.  To find all their  products, go to:

Wicks Wood floors have a  variety of products to keep your hardwood floors clean and in good shape.  They offer a water based formula called  Wick’s hardwood floor cleaner that can be safely used on unwaxed hardwood  floors to remove spots, spills, and much more.   They also offer a maintenance kit that comes with a specially designed  mop, a washable mop head, and a bottle of Wicks floor cleaner.  Other kits available are Wicks kit and Wicks  kit deluxe.  They also sell Bona hardwood  floor care and scuff shield. Water Based And Non-Toxic Products

Orange Glo hardware floor  cleaner is a water based and non-toxic cleaner designed for polyurethane  finished floors.  You don’t need to  dilute or mix this cleaner, because it’s full strength and all you’ll need to  do is use it.  Orange Glo hardwood floor  refinisher is a product that’s used for worn or dull hardwood floors.  It will leave your floor with a clear and  durable gloss shine.  Orange Glo hardwood  floor cleaner and polish system includes an Orange Glo mop head with a 3 piece  pole, Orange Glo hardwood floor cleaner, two bottles of Orange Glo wood floor  cleaner, two orange glo microfiber cleaning pads, and a microfiber dusting  pad.  For more information go to:

Synteko Best is a  water-based non-toxic polyurethane hardwood floor finish.  It’s great for areas that get a lot of  traffic.  This product come in matte,  satin, and gloss.  It’s resistant to  things such as wear, scratching, scuffing, and chemicals.  There’s no need for a sealer on top of  stained floors.  Its cross-linking  formula causes it to dry hard very fast.   You can find more information about this product at:

Natural Interiors sells  non-toxic products for hardwood floors including old hardwood floor care.  Bio Shield floor milk can be used on  different kinds of sealed and waxed floors including wood.  It builds a dirt resistant, water resistant,  anti-static coating on your floor.  Bio  Shield floor soap protects interior floors made of wood, cork, linoleum, and  stone.  It can be used on oil and waxed  floors.  This product contains fats that  revive surfaces and resins to protect floors.   Safecoat Safe Seal is a waterbased and low gloss sealer.  It is used to seal in formaldehyde outgassing  in processed wood including plywood, particle board, and pressed Saperecom WebsitesMore Ideas For Your HomeCopyright © 2013 Saperecom LLC, All rights reserved.

Easy Solutions For Obtaining A Free Identity Theft Report

Protection Against Identity Theft - With credit becoming a very important focus of normal life and many reports of large scale identity theft surfacing each year, people are very concerned about being able to obtain a free identity theft report. Every year, many people have to check a free identity theft report to make certain that their identity has not been compromised due to a security breach at a company that holds personal information on their customers.

Because identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation and nearly 10 million people are affected by the criminal act annually, it is very important that anyone that has access to a free identity theft report because of a security breach review the report regularly while it is available so that the person will be aware of what information is being reported to the credit bureaus and can report possible identity theft before major damage to their credit history can occur.

Where To Get A Free Identity Theft Report

If the person has had their personal information compromised by a security breach at a company, the company will generally pay for the person to have access to a free identity theft report for several years after the security breach has occurred. There are dozens of websites which claim to offer free identity theft reports but will steer people towards subscription based services sold by credit bureaus instead. Typing “free identity theft report” into a search engine will result in a list of links to websites that sell services from the Experian or Trans Union credit bureaus.

People who obtain their free identity theft report through one of these websites will find themselves enrolled in one of the credit monitoring services sold by the credit bureaus. With these services, an agency will notify the person whenever something new occurs and is reported to the credit bureaus. When the person’s identity is stolen because of a security breach at a company, the company will pay for the person’s enrollment in the best credit monitoring service possible so that the person will be able to access their free identity theft report to make sure that their information is not being used by the criminals.

People should be wary of any website offering a free identity theft report because sometimes these websites are created by criminals that are looking for personal information about the person. The person believes that they will be able to access a free identity theft report by typing their personal information into a form on the website, but what they are really doing is giving the identity thieves all of the information that they need to open accounts in the person’s name. It is very important that you make sure that you are using one of the authorized websites to obtain your free identity theft report so that your personal information will remain secure.

How To Report Possible Identity Theft

It is important for every person in the nation to know how to report possible identity theft. Identity theft is a terrible offense that causes a great deal of financial problems for the people that are affected by the crime.

Child Identity Theft Statistics Are Alarming

child-identity-theftI’ve got 3 kids of my own. Two of them just expe­ri­enced that dreaded first day of a new school year and one has just recently made an appear­ance in this world. If you’ve got kids of your own, then you under­stand the mean­ing behind my state­ment that they mean the world to me. I would do any­thing for them. Yet many of us, as par­ents, don’t even give a sec­ond thought to the idea that iden­tity thieves might actu­ally go after our chil­dren instead of us. After all, we’re the adults. We have the estab­lished credit his­to­ries, right? There’s more to gain from steal­ing from us… right?

Unfor­tu­nately that is wrong. Did you know that iden­tity theft rates have dou­bled for chil­dren who are aged 5 or younger just in the past year? That is a very dis­turb­ing trend. Why are iden­tity thieves going after the youngest among us?

Because they have a clean slate. They are not marred by bad finan­cial deci­sions, a bad econ­omy, past judge­ments, or any other neg­a­tive infor­ma­tion. Though there is no infor­ma­tion because the aver­age kinder­gart­ner is not going to apply for credit, that is bet­ter to the iden­tity thief then run­ning the risk of get­ting an adult’s iden­tity that has a credit score below 600 and very lit­tle prof­itabil­ity from it. You can monitor your credit score for free at Credit Sesame.

Iden­tity thieves also know that there is a very low risk of being dis­cov­ered when the theft of a child’s iden­tity occurs because let’s face it - how many times do we as par­ents actu­ally check our kid’s Social Secu­rity num­bers for activ­ity? We’re too con­sumed with all the other activ­i­ties in life that hav­ing young chil­dren brings, such as potty train­ing, deter­min­ing how to con­vince your picky eater that din­ner is actu­ally good for them, teach­ing let­ters and num­bers, or going out to the park to expe­ri­ence the sim­ple joy of a slide. We don’t think about the fact that some­one might want our child’s iden­tity to profit from it, and so some child iden­tity theft events remain undis­cov­ered until our chil­dren turn into adults and apply for stu­dent loans or their first car loan.

The prob­lem is the sys­tem. When an iden­tity thief gets a child’s Social Secu­rity num­ber, they know that there will likely not be an activ­ity on that num­ber until they turn 18. All they must do then is estab­lish their own credit his­tory on the stolen account. They can do this because when a poten­tial lender runs the SSN, they’ll find it to be valid. All a thief must do is pro­vide their own infor­ma­tion on that num­ber with the proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and that’s really all it takes for the infor­ma­tion to be added to the credit file on that SSN and a new credit line to be issued.

Then what do the iden­tity thieves do? They build up debt and then dis­ap­pear, leav­ing you and your child to deal with the prob­lem. For one child, that meant $1.5 mil­lion in debts run up in 10 years because an iden­tity thief used her SSN from the time she was 9 and she only found out about it at the age of 19 when she went to apply for what she thought would be her first line of credit. For another child, six dif­fer­ent iden­tity thieves were using her iden­tity to their benefit.

Iden­tity thieves use a child’s iden­tity to get a job, to stay out of trou­ble from an arrest, or to even just open up new bank accounts. The costs can be high for both you and your child because a poor credit report could mean not get­ting a job, not get­ting a stu­dent loan, or even not get­ting into col­lege. With stakes that high, we as par­ents really can’t afford to just sit back and do noth­ing… but just check­ing their credit reports doesn’t really do any good. That’s because the action is on the SSN.

Don’t think it will hap­pen to your child? IdentityGuard reports that over 10% of peo­ple who check their child’s iden­tity through the KidSure report find sus­pi­cious activ­ity occur­ring. Over 10%! That means 1 out of every 10 fam­i­lies that read this post have a child that has likely had an iden­tity stolen.  Time to start taking your childs identity protection a bit more seriously.  A credit monitoring plan that includes child protection can help.

Working and Social Security Benefits

Many older Americans who are underemployed due to the current state of the economy may consider applying for social security benefits to supplement their income.  Continuing to work while also receiving benefits may cause those benefits to be reduced more then they think.  If you are not on disability and currently under the full retirement age of 66, you will be impacted.

An earnings test is the easiest way to determine how you might be impacted.  Generally the earnings test is based on income earned during the year as a whole, not month by month.  The Senior Citizen’ Freedom to Work Act mandates the retirement earnings test is eliminated in the calendar year in which you reach your full retirement age.  You do not have to worry about an earnings test after you reach 66, however, the earnings test still applies for the time period before you reach full retirement age.

Currently, social security benefits are impacted by earnings at a rate of $1 for each $2 earned over the exempt amount, which is currently $14,160 annually.  The year that you reach your retirement age, your earnings are impacted at a rate or $1 for each $3 earned, and the exempt amount increases to $37,680 (currently for 2010).  The month you reach full retirement age, earnings are no longer affected.

Example of the earnings test:

A man age 62 makes $3000 per month at his job.  Based on past earnings history, he expects his social security benefits to be about $1400 per month or $16,800 annually.

Since his annual salary is over the exemption amount of $14,160, he is subject to the earnings test.  His annual salary is $36,000 so he would reduce that by the exemption amount of $14,160 leaving $21,840 above the exemption.  His social security is decreased by $1 for every $2 over the exemption, so you basically divide the figure by half.  Thus, his social security benefit would be reduced by $10,920 ($21,840 divided by 2).  Therefore he will only be receiving social security benefits of $5880 per year ($16,800 - $10,920).  Much less than the original amount of $16,800 he originally expected.

As you plan your retirement, remember to factor the earnings test in the picture if it applies to you.  It might affect if you choose to receive partial social security benefits or not.  In the long run it might not be the best decision.

How is Business Credit Reporting Different from Personal Credit Reporting?

stat_smpl_FSSum_20111114There is a good deal of information available about personal credit, how to maintain or improve it, and what you can do to prevent identity theft. However, there is not a lot of information readily available on business credit reporting and how it can affect your personal credit. There are a variety of business entities available and some specifically do not interfere or intersect with your personal numbers. However, sole proprietorship does. For that reason, this article looks exclusively at that entity.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is a business entity that is run by one person, and there is no legal distinction between the business and the personal assets. When you sign up for a sole proprietorship account, you will most likely use your own social security number as the Employer Identification Number, which means that any transactions you do as the business will also show up on your personal credit report. The credit bureaus will create a business credit report for the business name, and they are separate than that which you have for your personal credit report, but they do intersect.

What are the Differences between a Business and Personal Credit Report?

For sole proprietors, the differences between the business and personal credit reports are very minor. In a personal credit report, you can find the following:
  • Identifying Information
  • Account Information
  • Public Record Information
  • Inquiries
  • Dispute Instructions
Business credit reporting works much the same way; however, there are a couple of different pieces of information gathered. Business credit reports contain the following:
  • Identifying Information
  • Payment Information
  • Public Record Information
  • Inquiries
  • Company Background Information
  • Business Credit Score
Personal credit reports do not contain the credit score as part of the report. If consumers want their score, they will have to purchase it separately. However, business credit reports come with the business score. The scores themselves are different, as well. Although what makes up the score is roughly the same, the business is scored on a scale of 0-100, while the personal score will run between 350-850.

Will Lenders Look at Personal Credit When Applying for Business Loans?

Many small businesses have little to no business credit for lenders to evaluate, so as long as the business is a sole proprietorship, lenders will look at personal credit for reference purposes. It gets more complicated when the business is run independently, because in this case business and personal assets are completely separate. However, for a sole proprietor, personal credit can help establish business credit. As a new business, you will build relationships through vendors such as wholesalers, suppliers, leasing companies, and even financial institutions. Once these relationships are established, you can use less of your personal credit, and more of your business credit. When starting a sole proprietorship, you may not have any business credit established. In that case, lenders will often look at your personal credit as a reference. Over time, your business will establish the credit it needs to be looked at on its own merits, but until that happens, it is important to keep both your personal and your fledgling business credit in good order.  Monitoring your personal or business lines of credit is an important method of detecting errors or even fraud.  Learn more about this process here.  


Life Insurance Basics & Benefits

The obvious main benefit is to provide financial security for your family or loved ones after you are deceased.  Life insurance is not for you, it is for other people you care about.

Life insurance comes in two types.  Term life insurance and whole life insurance.

Term life insurance is just what the name implies - it is for a set term or period of time.  Rates vary depending on several factors such as health of the insured, age, etc.  However, term life insurance is cheaper than whole life insurance because you are not accumulating any value in the policy itself.  If you stop paying the premium and walk away, the term life insurance policy is over and what you have paid is the insurance company’s profit for insuring you.

Term life insurance can be particularly beneficial for younger families because it is generally a cheaper way to have life insurance.  At this stage the family may not have much else in the way of security such as a home that is paid off or a healthy 401K.  The school of thought is that later in life, you have other instruments that decrease the need for life insurance somewhat.  These instruments include savings accounts, retirement accounts, land, a house, etc.

It is typical that a young person can find term life insurance for several hundred thousand dollars for less than $20 per month.  Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck, you should be able to budget this amount per month.  I believe it is extremely important to have some type of life insurance especially if you have a family with children.

Whole life insurance is different than term life in that the policy also accumulates cash value.  Whole life insurance can be used as a savings vehicle in addition to providing life insurance benefits. The policy is viewed as an asset, and the holder of the policy can borrow against the policy or even withdrawal money out of the policy.  The downside is that the monthly or yearly premiums are usually higher.  Also, there is usually a fee if you cash in the policy.

In the past whole life insurance policies were common instruments used for savings or retirement.  Whole life policies lost some luster with the emergence of mutual funds, discount brokerage companies, and the internet information age.  People had information at their fingertips and no longer had to depend on their local insurance agent being the one to advise them they need whole life insurance and the benefit was that it accumulated value.  However, in the last several years, with our economic downturn, this writer thinks whole life insurance will look more attractive.  Usually the rates you earn or money you accumulate is steady and guaranteed (obviously as long as the insurance company is solvent). Diversification is important, and personally I am glad I have my whole life insurance policy - its value has not decreased any in the last 12 months, plus, I still have the security of knowing my family has life insurance as well.

In this internet age, I encourage you to evaluate your life insurance needs.  Find a good company and put a plan in place if possible.