Smartphone Security

Most of us live on our smartphones. Our whole lives are connected to them, from social media to online banking and more, so keeping them secure is more important than ever. I found a great article I wanted to share with you that has some tips on keeping your smartphone safe.

https://socialnomics.net/2017/05/10/7-best-practices-for-ensuring-smartphone-security/

I hope you find these tips useful!

Samantha

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Notary Services

Don't forget that if you're ever in need of notary services, we offer them free to our clients. Give me a call at 714-827-5794 to set up an appointment.

Have a great weekend!

Melani

 

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Go Bag for Emergencies

After witnessing the devastation from the recent hurricanes and California wildfires I thought it was a good idea to send out a reminder about having a “go bag” or emergency kit ready. In the case of the wildfires the residents had little to no notice. This gave them no time to collect any of their belongings for themselves or their pets. Having this “go bag” ready and easily accessible is extremely important. On the FEMA website I found a comprehensive list of what you should have in your emergency kit as well as some additional tips to help you prepare for an emergency.It is attached below. Take some time to look over the list and get your "go bag" ready.

Emergency_Kit_Checklist-_FEMA.pdf

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Healthcare Emergency Planning for Adult Children

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, my daughter is now a college freshman. We also recently celebrated another milestone with her, the 18th birthday. Though, Ashley is technically an adult, I know she has some years ahead before she is truly an adult with real responsibilities and maturity. With that in mind, I knew I didn’t want to be caught in an emergency situation where I was unable to help my daughter because of her “legal” adulthood. I once experienced a medical emergency nightmare with my unmarried adult brother whom was hospitalized in an incapacitated condition. Due to HIPPA privacy laws and no established health care directives, we could not see him, get any information, nor make any decisions about his care.

To be prepared in a healthcare emergency, a HIPPA release and Healthcare Directive are two forms that can be prepared in advance by your adult children or any adult. A signed HIPAA release permits healthcare providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A stand-alone HIPAA form does not have to be notarized or witnessed.

An Advanced Healthcare Directive form allows you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. You can also specify your wishes regarding life support. Each state has different laws and forms governing these legal documents. If your child is out of state, complete the away and home state forms. Here are the links to the state of California’s standard forms. Also be sure to check with your insurance company or Medical Provider if they have their own form to sign as well. I know Kaiser does.

https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/consumers/ProbateCodeAdvancedHealthCareDirectiveForm-fillable.pdf

http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/Documents/Authorization%20for%20Release%20of%20Protected%20Health%20Information%20DHCS%206247.pdf

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Credit Freeze

It seems like everyday we are hearing about yet another major company being hacked and our personal information getting exposed. It's frightening to think of all the harm that could come from a criminal using that information to wreck havoc on your finances. If you haven't done so already, putting a freeze on your credit is something that you should strongly consider. A credit freeze restricts companies from seeing your credit report which would prevent them from opening new accounts in your name. If you want to open a new account or apply for a loan you will have to call and have the credit freeze lifted to do so. This may seem like an inconvenience but it's definitely better than trying to clean up the financial mess that fraudulent activity creates.

To place a freeze on your credit you will have to contact the credit reporting agencies directly at the numbers below:

Equifax 800-349-9960

Experian 888-397-3742

TransUnion 888-909-8872

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Medicare Reminders

With today being the first day of autumn I thought it would be a good time to send out a reminder about Medicare open enrollment that happens every year from October 15th- December 7th. If you would like to make any changes to your Medicare plan now is the time to do it. If you are currently working, most companies also have their open enrollment times as well and it is a great time to review your current benefits. Be sure you are taking advantage of a flexible savings account for healthcare or childcare. Also, you may want to increase your 401k contributions because of a recent raise in pay. Those are just a couple things to consider when reviewing your benefits.

Another important reminder is if you've received a medicare premium increase due to a higher annual income but you have had a major lifestyle change that has decreased that income you can appeal the higher premiums. Life changing events such as retirement, divorce, death of a spouse, or work reduction are a few examples of a basis for an appeal.

Here is a link to an article that gives you step by step instructions on how you can make an appeal.

https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/omha/the-appeals-process/part-b-premium-appeals/index.html

 

 

 

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Grab and Go Folder

With the recent hurricanes we thought it was a good time to send out a reminder about keeping an emergency folder with important details such as account numbers and passwords. We like to call this your "Grab and Go folder". Here is a list of information you should have in the folder.

  • Assets: checking and investment accounts, private business interests, location of safety deposit boxes, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s, trust agreements, real estate, vehicles, collectibles 
  • Liabilities: credit cards, mortgages, car payments, cell phone bills, other recurring bills
  • Social media/online accounts: passwords and login information for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Netflix, Hulu, iCloud or other cloud storage accounts, online photo storage accounts 
  • Miscellaneous subscriptions/memberships: airline rewards programs, Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco memberships, toll tag accounts, magazines, newspapers 
  • Insurance: life insurance, long-term care, disability, home, auto 
  • Home maintenance: water, gas, electricity, telephone, alarm, lawn care, cable television, Internet service 
  • Medical: medical conditions, medications, emergency contacts 
  • Personal: burial/cremation preferences, funeral plans, pre-paid funeral expenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security card 
  • Key contacts: financial and legal advisors, doctors, family members, close friends

No one likes to think that something bad will happen to them but it's always good to be prepared in case it does.

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Equifax Cybersecurity Breach

Equifax has announced that they were hacked between May- July 2017. This is very scary because the personal information for millions of people has been exposed. This data includes all of your sensitive information such as; birth date, social security number, drivers license number, address, credit card numbers etc.

Equifax has a tool that lets you check to see if you may have been exposed to the hack and is offering a year of free credit monitoring through their Equifax TrustedID Premier Service for those who were.

Follow the link below to read all about the breach, see if you were affected and to sign up for the free credit monitoring.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

 ****UPDATE- Before signing up for the free credit monitoring service that Equifax is offering please read the fine print that goes along with the terms of agreement. You may be giving up your rights to a law suit if you take advantage of their offer.****

 

 

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Happy Labor Day

In observance of the Labor Day Holiday we will be closed on Monday, September 4th.

We will be returning to normal business hours on Tuesday, September 5th.

We hope that everyone enjoys their holiday weekend!

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Hurricane Harvey

Our thoughts are with those in Texas who have been impacted by the devastating flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. For those of you who are looking for ways to help, TD Amertitrade is matching donations dollar for dollar. This is a great way to make your contribution go even further to help more people. If you would like to donate please click on the link below.

TD Ameritrade Disaster Relief Donation

 

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Block Those Annoying Robocalls

Nothing is more annoying then getting numerous calls a day from unknown or out of the area numbers. They never leave a message and tend to be unwanted robotic sales calls. I was starting to see an increase in these calls and I was getting frustrated with the constant disruptions in my day. Luckily for me Sandy came accross a service called Nomorobo. Nomorobo is a service that automatically detects phone calls from illiegal robocallers and blocks them from going through to your phone. Legal robocalls, from schools and doctors' offices for example, are allowed through. The service is free for VOIP landline phones and they recently released an app for iPhones, the Android app is coming soon. Sandy and I each started the free trial for the iPhone app and are really pleased with how it has been working so far. I have not received a single unwanted call since signing up. Another great feature of the app is that if a robocall accidentally gets through you can report it directly on the app and they will add it to their blacklist right away. This is by far better than the Do Not Call Registry that doesn't seem to do much to deter scammers from calling. I have included a link to the Nomorobo website below with a screen shot of some features it offers. If you are annoyed by these calls it's definitely a service to check out!

https://www.nomorobo.com/

Nomorobo

Have a wonderful weekend!

Melani

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API Ice Cream Event

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We would like to say thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate National Ice Cream month at our ice cream event last week. We all had a great time and truly enjoy events where we're able to relax and have some fun with our clients. I have some great pictures of everyone and will be posting them on our Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next one!

Sandy

 

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Asset Planning is recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine

We are pleased to announce that Asset Planning has been recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA rankings. Click the link below to read the full article and see the rankings.

Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA ranking

 

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I Scream...You Scream...We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Come help us celebrate National Ice Cream month this Thursday, July 27th from 1pm-3pm at Churned Creamery in Cypress. We would love to see you!

Ice Cream Event Flyer 2

 

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Big Changes in the Somoano Household

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I am an official empty nester: Kimberly graduated with her Masters in Communicative Disorders and accepted a job as a Speech Language Therapist with the Rialto School district! My other daughter, Kathleen is engaged! She is still living in Australia but will be married in California in 2018. And Kyle has transferred to UC Santa Barbara to complete his last two years of college. I am very proud of all their accomplishments.

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Happy 4th of July!

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Asset Planning wishes all of our clients and their familes a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Our offices will have limited staffing on Monday, July 3rd and will be closed on Tuesday, July 4th.

We will return to normal business hours on Wednesday, July 5th.

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Fireworks and Your Dog: Keeping Your Dog Calm

The Fourth of July is a fun and festive time to celebrate America. Fireworks have become a natural part of these celebrations. While it is great fun for us it's not always that way for our dogs. Personally, my golden retriever Roxie, is terrified by them. I came accross a really good article that I wanted to share with you with tips on how to keep your dog safe and calm during the fireworks. Follow the link below to read the article.

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/hyperactivity-overexcitement/how-to-keep-your-dog-safe-and-calm-during-fireworks

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July!

Sandy

 

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Summer is Here!

The weather is getting warmer, it’s staying lighter later and there are tons of graduations happening. This can only mean one thing, summer is here. With the official start of summer being next week and this being the time that most people leave for vacation we thought it would be a great time to send a reminder about increasing your home security while you’re away. Unfortunately petty theft and home break-ins have been running rampant lately. Doing a little to protect yourself now can help you avoid this happening to you. Here are some reminders for when you’re away. (These tips can even help if you aren’t planning on taking a vacation)

  • If possible, have someone stay in your home while away. This is the best option and gives you the peace of mind that your home and pets will be well taken care of.
  • Make sure that the outside of your home is well lit, especially your porch and side yard/gate areas. Criminals are getting braver but most do not like to be conspicuous and bright lights may deter them.
  • Put a stop on your mail and newspaper deliveries. Leaving these things to pile up is a sure sign that no one is home.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor about your vacation and ask them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
  • Don’t post about your trip on social media. While it’s fun to share with your friends you never really know who is seeing the posts and it may alert the wrong people that you are away from your home.
  • Install a security system. An alarm system or cameras are a great option to help deter criminals. A few of us in the office use the Ring doorbell that has a camera and is connected to Wi-Fi. It also has an intercom so if you are home and you receive a knock from an unwanted solicitor you can politely tell them no safely from inside your home.

With the BBQs, beach days, bike rides and bon fires, summer is one of my favorite seasons. Hope you all enjoy yours as much as I do!

Melani

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Fake Check Scams

I came across an article about fake check scams and what to look out for if you receive an unexpected check in the mail. Unfortunately, these types of scams are happening more and more frequently. The following are some really good tips on what to do and what not do if you find yourself in this situation.

To avoid fake check scams, follow these tips:

Don’t “keep the change”- No legitimate company will overpay you and ask that you wire the difference back to the company or to some third party. Be extremely wary of any offer-in any context- to accept a check or money order in an amount greater than you are owed.

Don’t cash the “unexpected” check- Companies rarely if ever send checks that don’t include some explanation of why the check was issued. Unless you are expecting the check- and you are absolutely certain it is meant for you- do not cash it.

Call the company directly to verify the check- Remember that some fake checks will have a legitimate company’s actual account number with the correct bank routing number. Call the company directly to verify the check, using a telephone number you obtain on your own from directory assistance. Do not use any telephone number that appears on the check or any instructions you receive.

Know the hallmarks of fraud- Fake check scams typically have a number of red flags, such as:

-Typos: Watch out for online postings or emails that are riddled with typos and poor grammar.

-Mismatched names: Compare the name of the person or company posting the opportunity with the name on the check you receive- and beware if they don’t match.

Pressure to act quickly- Be aware that it can take 10 days or even more for your bank to determine that a check is a counterfeit. Don’t wire or transfer funds until you have verified with your bank that the check has cleared- even if the bank allows you to withdraw the money sooner.

If you do receive a suspicious check, contact one or more of the following organizations right away: local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), or the U.S. Postal Inspections Service (if the check arrived by U.S. mail).

Source: Compliance E-News, May 31, 2017, Published by The Consortium®

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Identity Protection Update

In February I posted blog about websites that exposed your personal information and how to opt-out of them. I have recently been alerted to a few new ones I wanted to make you aware of so you can make sure your sensitive information isn't out there for identity thieves to grab. I have listed the webisites below. As I mentioned in my previous blog these websites do have an opt-out option. It only takes a couple minutes to visit these sites to protect yourself.

Truepeoplesearch.com

Stalkscan.com

Aboutthedata.com

If you missed my original blog on this subject you can read it here https://www.assetplanninginc.com/new-blog/entry/protect-your-information-on-the-internet

Have a great weekend!

Melani             

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