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Identity Theft News

Stuff like this is scary:

Hackers Breach Major Credit Card Processor

A major credit card processor, Heartland, revealed this week that hackers have breached its system, allowing up to 100 million illegal duplicate credit card payments to be made per month.

Heartland processes credit cards for about 250,000 companies. The company claims no social security numbers, encrypted personal identification numbers, addresses or telephone numbers were stolen.

Time to get some good identity protection that works before your identity is stolen.

-Tony

Free Suzy Orman Book Download

So I was watching Oprah last night… ok, I’ve only seen Oprah twice – once was when I was waiting for 3 hours to get my tires changed and it was on in the waiting room and the other time was last night while flipping channels. I saw Suze Orman on and decided to watch. I’m reminded of the scene in Ocean’s Thirteen (also on last night) where George Clooney was teary eyed when watching Oprah.

Suze did her normal thing of scolding people who were not spending wisely. They had one guy on with his wife. She asked him how much he thought it took a month to run their household. He said $2500. Suze did the numbers and they actually spent more than $8000 a month. They only had $200 in savings – yikes!

Another girl stopped contributing to her 401k because she saw the market doing badly… what???! Now is the time to invest - especially if you don’t need the money in the next 5-10 years. Keep it in. You’re now buying more than you could have a year ago. Invest all that you can. Stocks are cheap!

Schools do not educate us on money, that much is clear. A lot of parents don’t know how to teach finances to their kids either because they were never taught. Mine did a great job, thank God.

Suze Orman BookAnyway, there’s a free download of a short book that Suze wrote called Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan – Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound and it’s pretty good. Here’s an excerpt:

There is to be no curling up in a fetal position on the couch in 2009 hoping that when you emerge the crisis will have passed. No assuming that there is a government bailout or Wall Street rally right around the corner that will fix everything for you without any effort on your part. You will have to get off the couch and take control of your financial life in 2009.

She’s right – it’s up to us! Don’t expect the Federal Government to hand you money. They’re handing it out right now but to the wrong people. It’s not going to work. You’ll have to do it on your own. It won’t be easy. We’ve had it easy for a long time. Download this e-book now and then read it! (Oprah.com)

Another good book – written by kids is Pulling Weeds to Picking Stocks. You can get through it in about an hour. Basically, you need to run your own finances like a business and concentrate on your Profit and Loss statement. You need to turn a profit with your own finances. That’s how you do it.

Anyone can do this stuff. We can do it! We just can’t look to the government to do it for us. The American people make this country great – not politicians! We can pull together and get anything done once we realize this. Let’s do it!

-Tony

Winter Drivers / Driving Pet Peeves

#1: Brake lights: Ok, so I’m out today trying to get to Middleton from the east side of Madison this morning. It’s snowing a little, people are driving slow and that’s fine. This SUV pulls in front of me… great. Their back window is blacked out and I’m in a small sportscar, so now I can’t see too much in front of me anymore – just her brake lights. Then she’s hitting her brakes for every little bump in the road because she’s riding the tail of the car in front of her. BAD! Eventually I passed her and she looked clueless.

If you’re driving in winter weather, put more distance between you and the car in front of you. Duh!

And do NOT keep jumping on your brakes. You do that and wonder why the traffic is so slow… because of people like you slowing everyone down, causing more stress by tapping those brakes for every little stinking thing. It is possible to just ease off your gas pedal. You don’t need to always have your foot on a pedal. Maybe that wasn’t covered in driver’s ed, I don’t know. I’ve figured that much out though.

#2: Cruise control: I’m heading up to Cascade Mountain the other morning and I start to pass a car. No wait, they’re speeding up. They were not with me the whole time, but when I come up to them and they increase their speed. No wait… now they’re slowing down. Ugh, now the most annoying thing… they’re matching my speed and I’m stuck in their blind spot.

Why does the speed I’m driving affect your speed? If I wasn’t there would you arrive at your destination later? Why?

This has happened more than once in the last few weeks and I’m starting to understand why people do this. Since we had Presidential elections recently, some people still have their election stickers on their cars (here in Madison, the Kerry-Edwards stickers stayed on people’s cars for years and were just covered up with Obama ’08 stickers) and this tells you a little about their beliefs. Most of the cars that do not use cruise control and are affected by what speed other people are driving are Democrats. And that totally fits their M.O.: see which way the wind is blowing and adjust according to that rather than stand on something firm and consistent.

So my conclusion so far is that people’s values/beliefs affect both their driving and their voting. It of course affects other things but it’s interesting how these two are related. Do your own research and let me know if I’m right.

-Tony

Dump Credit Card Debt

Here’s a good article I found today:

Dump Your Credit Card Debt, But Keep Your House

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt — credit cards, medical bills, mortgage payments, etc.– and especially if you’re being hounded by collection companies, your best option is to make an appointment with a nonprofit credit counseling service. In exchange for agreeing to a budget plan, they’ll contact creditors for you and hopefully buy you more time to pay your bills.

That’s sound advice. I was able to use a credit counseling service after college to get rid of the debt I had. They brought my interest rates down to 0% in some cases and gave me 1 monthly payment that I could pay. It worked really well. I felt good about paying what I promised to pay and I got rid of that debt. I highly suggest using a debt counseling service like the one I used: CareOne.

-T