Monday, November 18, 2013

SC Credit Monitoring Update

If you were affected by last year’s South Carolina Department of Revenue security breach (SCDOR), be sure to enroll in the free credit monitoring service that opened enrollment on October 24th. The State of South Carolina has signed a year contract with CSID, a leading provider of comprehensive identity protection. 

All eligible SC Taxpayers may enroll at www.scidprotection.com or by calling 855-880-2743.

Once you enroll yourself, be sure to add your minor child or children. As a courtesy the state is offering Child Monitoring coverage through CSID for children under age 18, for up to 12 months. This coverage allows you to monitor any addresses and aliases associated with your child’s Social Security Number, and see if your child’s personal information is being bought or sold online.
Be sure to watch out though; last year’s provider of ID protection, Experian, is still sending offers to extend their identity protection services to SC Taxpayers for 99 cents a month, despite the free protection offered by the state through CSID. Experian would make about $18 million if all of the 1.5 million affected taxpayers who signed up last year with them took the offer.
Check with SCDOR at http://www.sctax.org/security.html for updates. The state is anticipating that it may have to pay for taxpayer protection for years.

Further Security Tips

As a preventative and an effective layer of security, our experts here at FSI advise not to pay out for protection, but rather freeze your own credit report and self-monitor. Credit freezes are one of the most effective tools against ID theft available to consumers.  And it is completely free!

Make sure any online websites where you input sensitive information is secure. A good indicator of a secure website is an https versus http web address. If you're just browsing the web and not entering any sensitive information, http is fine. However, on pages where you enter your password, credit card number, or other financial information, you should always look for the https prefix. Additionally, never store your information, specifically passwords or Social Security Numbers, on Internet browsers.

Identity manipulation and theft victimizes more than 15 million United States residents each year. That is SEVEN percent of all adults, with financial losses totaling near $50 billion. ID and credit protection is important. By taking the time to secure your credit, you will save yourself from the havoc, time, stress, and expense it takes to resolve ID theft.

Written by: Sarah Cornwall, Marketing Resources, at Family Services, Inc.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bargains for a Happy Halloween

Halloween is expensive and although it is over, the immediate week after is perfect for taking advantage of steep discounts. Decorations and all other overpriced Halloween accessories are priced for cheap; which usually reflects the quality of Halloween-themed products.

Think about stocking up for the following year. With decorations and costumes already purchased you will have more time and money next Halloween for carving pumpkins and enjoying hayrides.

If you miss the window for after-Halloween sales, there are plenty of other ways to save big. Purchase candy after other big holidays such as Easter or Valentine’s Day. Make the decorations yourself—this pairs as a great Halloween activity for kids.

Shop online to price compare and be sure to check reviews. Many reviews will not be great, but if it’s a cheap price, then you’re getting the expected value.

Avoid those Halloween-themed retailers that appear every October. Their items are almost always over-priced.

There are many ways to save money on costumes, which, once purchased for the whole family, can add up to a hefty price. Try to reuse or repurpose costumes from previous years. Swap costumes with friends or relatives. More and more funny costumes tend to be the simple but clever ones.

For more ideas, check out this list of easy, cheap, and humorous costumes: http://www.essortment.com/halloween-costume-ideas-50-funny-ideas-52248.html

Trick or treat!

Written by: Sarah Cornwall, Marketing Resources, at Family Services, Inc.