Prevent Identity Theft

Tis the season for holiday shopping, but it’s also the season for holiday thievery. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, Calif., estimates that 15 million people are victims of identity theft every year. The not-for-profit group reports that it gets more calls about lost and stolen wallets and purses during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. To make sure identity theft does not spoil your holidays, the ITRC has several tips for safeguarding your personal data.

1) Never share your social security or credit card numbers in a public environment. Instead of verbally sharing requested sensitive information, write it down for the clerk, then take the slip of paper home with you. Also: when talking on your cell phone in public, don’t give out any personal information that could be overheard.

2) Keep store receipts in your wallet, not inside the bag with your purchase.

3) Carry only what you need when shopping, and keep purses, backpacks 
and bags zipped or fastened shut to deter pickpockets.

4) Use debit cards judiciously or leave them at home — they are a direct 
link to your bank account. By using credit cards instead, you can review the billing statement afterward and dispute any suspected fraudulent activity.

5) When shopping online, print out the Web page describing the item(s) you ordered, as well as any email messages and contact information for the online seller.

6) Do not provide your social security number, birth date or mother’s maiden name in an email or within a website.

7) Make sure the latest anti-virus software is installed on your computer before shopping online.

CRS Your Home Newsletter, December 2013

Home Sweet Second Home

Sometimes a vacation can be so good that it makes you want to move to your vacation destination permanently — or at least visit more often. If your recent getaway has you thinking about buying a second home, consider these pointers from Frontdoor.com and CNN Money before taking the plunge.

Ultimately, your lifestyle will determine the kind of second home you buy. How much time will you spend in your second home? A few weeks a year? Are you looking for a weekend getaway? Be realistic: Consider how long it takes to travel there and how often you’ll really be using it.

Will you rent it out when you’re not there? Homeowners who rent out their home for fewer than 15 days a year don’t have to pay taxes on rental income — rental expenses, how- ever, aren’t deductible (and vice versa). Whether or not you choose to rent it out, it’s important to add in extra costs, such as maintenance and insurance — which will be higher in risky weather areas, such as beach proper- ties — and then decide whether the upkeep and costs still fit within your budget.

Know the rules of renting. Some towns don’t allow short-term rentals, so make sure your chosen locale does, and read up on landlord laws for tenants. If your home will be primarily for rental income, opt for a family-friendly home in a popular location with easy access to airports or other modes of transportation for a more desirable rental option.

Last, consider long-term goals when choosing a second home. If you’re thinking of the home as a good place to retire, it’s important to check out local hospitals and other resources, and factor in costs associated with making a home compatible with senior living.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – July, 2012

Prevent Identity Theft

Tis the season for holiday shopping, but it’s also the season for holiday thievery. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, Calif., estimates that 15 million people are victims of identity theft every year. The not-for-profit group reports
that it gets more calls about lost and stolen wallets and purses during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. To make sure identity theft does not
spoil your holidays, the ITRC has several tips for safeguarding your personal data.

* Never share your social security or credit card numbers in a public environment. Instead of verbally sharing requested sensitive information, write it down for the clerk, then take the slip of paper home with you. Also: when talking on your cell phone in public, don’t give out any personal information that could be overheard.

* Keep store receipts in your wallet, not inside the bag with your purchase.

* Carry only what you need when shopping, and keep purses, backpacks 
and bags zipped or fastened shut to deter pickpockets.

* Use debit cards judiciously or leave them at home — they are a direct 
link to your bank account. By using credit cards instead, you can review the billing statement afterward and dispute any suspected fraudulent activity.

* When shopping online, print out the Web page describing the item(s) you ordered, as well as any email messages and contact information for the online seller.

* Do not provide your social security number, birth date or mother’s maiden name in an email or within a website.

* Make sure the latest anti-virus software is installed on your computer before shopping online.

CRS Your Home Newsletter December, 2013

The Great Outdoors

If you’re thinking about taking a late summer trip with your friends or family, camping offers an affordable and fun option. It not only gives everyone a chance to unplug from their devices and spend some time focusing on each other and nature, but it has even been shown to help children deal with stress and decrease restlessness. This advice from Parents.com will help ensure your camping trip is fun and safe.

No campsite is complete without a fire, so get your whole family involved by sending them to collect wood. Smaller children can help by picking up small sticks and twigs or bark, while teens and adults can collect larger logs to be used as fuel.

Once the fire is roaring, you’re going to want to cook up some fun and delicious campfire treats. Beyond the classic s’mores, try skewering an unpeeled banana and cooking it on the fire the same way you would marshmallows. Once it’s soft, slice it down the middle, add your own treats like chocolate chips, and use a spoon to eat it. Quesadillas are another easy option: just wrap the uncooked quesadilla in foil and throw it in a cast iron pan or directly on the grill.

Of course, any time you’re in the wilderness and around fire, there is a chance for injury. Make sure you’re prepared to deal with these situations when they arise by packing an emergency supply kit. Items you will want to include in the kit include first-aid supplies, blankets, batteries, water, medication, flashlight, maps, and a compass or GPS.

CRS “Your Home” Newsletter – July/August 2014

Home Away From Home

Renting a vacation house offers a lot that hotels or other accommodations often don’t provide: keeping your large group together, cooking out and eating family style, and unique amenities such as a private pool or hot tub. Finding the right rental for your group isn’t always easy, however. Here are some tips from The New York Times and Frommers.com to help you make a decision on a rental this summer.

DO YOUR RESEARCH: These days, there is no shortage of information about available rentals. Sites like VRBO.com , FlipKey (which is run by TripAdvisor), and HomeAway.com list thousands of rental homes in North America and across the world. Once you’ve located a few rentals you like, make sure what you see is accurate. Check the owner’s website, online reviews and comments from past users on sites like Yelp or Facebook.

IDENTIFY WHAT YOU WANT: Determine your priorities before you start looking. A beachfront place may be more expensive, but if your family loves the water, it may be worth it. If you know your group is more likely to be out and about and just use the house as a place to sleep, you probably want to go for a less expensive option.

DECIDE EARLY … OR DON’T: Good rental properties are tough to find, and that is doubly true if you’re heading somewhere during popular vacation times such as Christmas or spring break. So if you locate a place you’re particularly fond of, book it as soon as you can finalize your plans. However, if you’re the spontaneous type, you can sometimes find big discounts by waiting until the last minute because discounted renters are better than no renters at all for property owners.

CRS ‘Your Home’ Newsletter — May/June 2014 Issue