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How to Protect Yourself From Computer Identity Theft

 

The FTC estimates that over nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. This crime has a huge potential to disrupt your life, you might be denied a loan for education or housing, you may miss job opportunities, or in extreme cases, you might be arrested for a crime you did not commit.

 

One of the most common types of comput identity theft is called phishing. This is when you receive an email requesting your personal information from someone pretending to be a financial institution. The email appears to be from a business or agency that you may have had a reason to do business with in the past, such as the IRS, a credit card company, or EBay. The email explains that there has been a problem with your credit card, or there is a pending audit, and you need to reply to the email with the correct credit card information, or social security number to correct the problem.

 

As soon as you respond with the requested information, the computer identity theft begins. Your information could be sold online, or the thief may use your identity to make online purchases, apply for loans, or to clear out your bank account. They might have the bills sent to a different address, so you won't even realize there is a problem until your good credit is ruined. They could use your name to get utilities such as telephone, heat, cable TV, or use your information to access your wireless internet account, and run up your charges. Your name could be used to file a fraudulent income tax return, or to obtain government benefits. The list of ways that computer identity theft can affect your life appears to increase daily.

 

Awareness is the most effective way to fight online identity theft. Share the knowledge that you need to protect your personal information and the potential for this type of crime with your friends and family. You should become familiar with anti-spy software programs for your computer. Research different types, and invest in one that works best for you. Run the program before you do any online financial transactions.

 

Never open emails from people you don't know. If you receive an email from a financial institution that you do business with, go to their website, and check for any warnings about unauthorized emails being sent. You could also phone the institution to see if the email is legitimate.

 

Lastly, only do business online with secure sites. They will usually have a small symbol in the bottom right corner of your browser to show it is secure. Never use your social security number on the internet.

 

Following these tips will help you to protect yourself against computer identity theft. Unfortunately, it is becoming far too common; don't let yourself become the next victim.

 

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Converts Climb Aboard Clean Energy Bus

 

Bill Clinton's getting downright green.

 

And he's not the only one. A whole slew of corporate magnates, political leaders and members of the establishment are buying into the economic benefits of energy savings and renewables.

 

In an interview in which Clinton discussed clean energy, jobs and how the two could resurrect the stagnant economy, he suggests increasing energy efficiency retrofits of government buildings and universities and decentralize energy generation by adding renewable sources.

 

"Big centralized power stations would be used for things like manufacturing," he says.

 

Making it work

 

Clinton advises approaching clean energy from a capitalist perspective with the questions: "How can we make a dollar out of this?" and "How can we put people to work?" He spoke with Aaron Task on Yahoo's Daily Ticker.

 

But the former president appears to be pointing out the obvious. The green clean energy movement looks as if it will rocket ahead without any assistance from the White House or Congress. Not that a nod from a jobs package would hurt.

 

In an interview with Smart Grid News that appeared on cleantechies.com, economists Ahmad Faruqui and Doug Mitarotonda of The Brattle Group predict U.S. electricity demand will decline between 5 percent and 15 percent over the next decade. This despite an increase in personal electronics use. The two economists cite a "new wave of energy efficiency" where building managers and electricity consumers monitor energy use and adjust accordingly via new technology.

 

Solar bounds past setbacks

 

And despite the setback of Solyndra's bankruptcy and federal investigation, solar doesn't look to be slowing down. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's latest quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report, the domestic photovoltaics market grew 69 percent in second quarter 2011 from the same period a year earlier.

 

"The U.S. remains poised to install 1,750 megawatts of PV in 2011, double last year's total and enough to power 350,000 homes," writes solarpowerenergies.com.

 

In a followup story, Ricnorcreative.com's Eric Wesoff reports that the United States has surpassed the 1 gigawatt, or 1 billion watt, mark for installed solar and looks to pass the 2 gigawatt threshold next year.

 

Industry posts growth

 

Not too shabby. And prospects look good for that trend to continue. The Solar Foundation's latest study finds 100,237 jobs in the industry as of August 2011 and growth of 6.8 percent in August 2011 from the same period a year earlier.

 

Brian Keane, president of nonprofit SmartPower, says policymakers would be wise to study those numbers carefully. He says Solyndra's demise is outweighed by "countless industry success stories" and cites SolarCity's contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to install 160,000 rooftop solar installations on military housing complexes at 124 military bases across 34 states.

 

"The company hopes to fill many of those jobs with veterans and military family members," Keane says in a piece on Huffington Post.

 

Corporate buy-in

 

The corporate end is also making renewable waves. Behemoth Walmart, the No. 1 U.S. employer, has announced a plan to install solar panels on about 60 more stores in California, which means more than three quarters of its outlets in the state will be so equipped.

 

Kim Saylors-Laster, Walmart vice president of energy, says in a statement: "California presents a great opportunity for Walmart to make significant progress toward our sustainability goals."

 

Just can't beat that.

 

The Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps, a crew of 96 graduate students, worked this year with 78 companies, cities and universities to find energy efficiency measures. The corps found installed savings of 600 million kilowatt hours annually and total lifetime energy savings of $650 million.

 

Green crossing party lines

 

And on the political spectrum, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is shooting to the head of the green column with his policies and practices as he works to make one of the nation's most important cities relevant in an age of climate unrest. Shawn Lesser of the International Business Times says Bloomberg "has been instrumental in motivating a number of other large cities to make changes."

 

The New York mayor's top 10 list of clean energy initiatives has received a lot of press and likely will be scrutinized by other cities across the globe. Bloomberg severed his ties with the GOP in 2007 to become an independent.

 

And I'm not sure on this account, but I believe the wise investment in energy efficiency and energy management in buildings and manufacturing will attract other high-ranking members of the Republican Party into the ranks of green believers. And as solar and wind energy costs continue to fall, more likely will adopt a friendlier public posture to renewables.

 

Sean Patrick Hazlett of slogreenbusiness.com says other clean energy friendly folks in the GOP include presidential candidates Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and George Schultz at the Hoover Institution.

 

Lighting up the grid

 

Expect dramatic change in how electricity is produced, marketed and used in the next decade. a Boulder, Colo.-based research group says in a recent report that "the past decade has seen tremendous growth in competitive electricity procurement by commercial, industrial and institutional purchasers." It also lists electricity as a $360 billion per year market in this country.

 

Everybody's looking for the best deal. Combine that with mandates like California's Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for a third of energy generation to come renewable sources by 2020, and opportunities for purveyors of green energy will benefit. Investments made now could pay off in spades down the road.

 

They could tank too. Everything depends on the art of the deal, and that's why the entry of shrewd business people is a good thing for clean energy.

 

Clean energy worth billions

 

The evidence, however, mounts that this clean energy stuff may be worthwhile. Justin Gillis of the New York Times reports that a business consortium that includes Lockheed Martin and Barclays bank plans to invest about $650 million to install energy efficiency retrofits to buildings in Sacramento and Miami.

 

Gillis writes that many people believe the program could be worth billions. He says the consortium was formed by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit environmental group set up by British corporate heavyweight Richard Branson of The Virgin Group "to tackle the world's climate and energy problems in cost-saving ways."

 

I plan to monitor this industry closely and collect additional anecdotes that illustrate trends. I hope to see continued expansion, especially in employment. I tell colleagues to think positive thoughts.

 

Mike Nemeth, project manager of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, spent 24 years working as a newspaperman editing and reporting from Alaska to California. The SJVCEO is a nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life through increased use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO is based in Fresno, Calif. and works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley. For more information, go to http://www.cleanenergymiami.com.

 

5 Smart Business Tips for Men to Remember When Prospecting A Woman

 

I'm often asked by men, "how do I approach a woman from a business perspective without her thinking that I am coming on to her personally?" The answer is, "it's a fine line and you must be prepared to walk it with confidence and finesse."

 

Women can be confusing creatures and often times we can be a challenge to get a good read on, especially for the male species. There really is no secret way in which to approach women about your products, service or business opportunity however there are definitely some do's and don'ts to keep in mind.

 

Be Professional: This would seem to be an obvious "no brainer" but sadly, it isn't always practiced and both genders can be at fault when it comes to lacking professionalism. It's important when approaching a woman to set the tone for the meeting right up front and to avoid sending out a "mixed message."

 

An opening line might be something like this: "I represent a rapidly growing USA based company and we're always on the look out for sharp, motivated professionals whom may be a good fit to assist our team, with the expansion currently taking place here in our local area." "I couldn't help but notice that, at a glance, you seem to have many of the qualities we are looking for in our potential business (choose one) representatives, partners, marketing executives." If she appears to be open or receptive to your approach... continue on with, "I would like to give you one of my business cards and exchange contact information with you so that I may send you some information about our company, my name is ____________________ by the way. (Smile and extend hand to shake hers)

 

The example above, is a great approach to use say on, the teller at the bank or a woman or man, for that matter that you met in a business setting, maybe a Chamber of Commerce meeting or Networking Mixer.

 

Communication is Key: Women and men have different communication styles and this can create confusion and miscommunications in a business setting. Women like to tell stories and scenarios, in order to get their message across. Women give details and ask lots of questions and they like to gather all of the information together before making a decision. Men, on the other hand are often "cut to the chase," skip the story telling... just get the job done type of communicators! So... patience is key here fellas.

 

If you're goal is to get this woman to purchase from you, partner in business with you or hand a chunk of money over to you - you're gonna have to communicate with her from her perspective! A woman will typically (there are exceptions to every rule) talk about things that are important to her, in a story telling or illustration style. For instance, her family, children, spouse or significant other, and her home and she will use these analogies to get her point across. Using a similar analogy will assist you to "close the gap" between you, so in other words, avoid the sports analogies here because chances are she isn't following the hockey teams or football scores.

 

You might speak in terms of something neutral and gender friendly, such as there is "blue skies ahead" or even "as simple as learning your A, B, C's!" Tell her stories of other successful women on your team or in your company, give her a true story of a dynamic woman she will be able to identify with. Better yet, introduce her to THAT woman as soon as possible, maybe with a 3-way conference, phone conversation.

 

Respect: Avoid coming across as condescending or disrespectful. I was in my fiancé's business office the other day, his secretary was out so I answered the phone by the company name and an added, "how may I help you?" The male on the other end of the phone line asked for the owner of the company and when I told him that the owner was unavailable, was there something I could perhaps help him with, he had this response, "no sweetheart, I need to speak to the man in charge!" You can probably imagine my immediate thought to his comment; it went something like this... "pompous jerk!"

 

Until you know someone really well and even then, you would still want to use caution in a business setting, before calling a woman names such as sweetheart or honey. In today's business world, its estimated that 50% of all small businesses are either owned by or run by a female so the fact the gentleman on the phone with me said he needed to "speak to the man in charge" was laughable really and incredibly disrespectful.

 

Avoid Making It Sound Or Look Like "The Good Ole Boys Club: Women like to associate with other women and they feel comfortable knowing that other women are involved with the products, services or business you are offering to them.

 

I have a good example to share with you on this one; recently a top income earner and the owner of a direct sales company (both males) phoned me to see if I would be interested in joining their successful business venture, as a marketer. As they were 3 way dialed over to me, I noticed they both were guilty of using such phrases as "our guys are kicking butt over here" and "our top earners are being taken out to a Nascar track and they get to drive some really amazing cars and on top of that, we just returned from a trip to Alaska and some outrageous hunting experiences!" I thought to myself, "wow, hunting and race car driving - gee, where do I sign up - NOT!" I'm sure that when they have conversations with other industry professionals whom are male, this would be an enticing dialogue designed to make them get excited to partner with this group of free-spirited, life living guys but honestly, it didn't do a darn thing to spark my interest in them, their company, products or the "manly" rewards they were offering their top producers!

 

Women want to hear about other women having success and opportunities that offer incentives or rewards for everyone, including the ladies.

 

Lead - Don't Boss: Great leaders, lead by example. They never ask someone to do anything that they, themselves, wouldn't do. Authentic leaders listen and learn, they realize and appreciate that everyone is unique and different. Leaders are able to set their own egos aside for the good of the "Team." Good leadership motivates people to achieve their highest level of accomplishment without fear of ridicule or rejection. Studies have shown that all people, men and women thrive in an uplifting, recognition based team environment. Create opportunities for women to show-case their talents and abilities within the team. Women love to belong and to feel valued, especially to a group, team, or family environment. They can be tremendous multi-taskers' and are usually good organizers.

 

In order to take your business to the pinnacle of success, remember to balance the male testosterone with the feminine energies of a goal oriented woman and then step back and watch the magic happen!

 

Tips for Buying Rare Vinyl Records

 

People like to collect rare vinyl records for many reasons, including purchasing them for personal reasons and seeing them as a valuable investment of money. For those who are looking start collecting these kinds of items however, it can be difficult to know how to pick out a quality item and whether or not it will be worth the money.

 

The first thing to look for is the condition of the disc itself, as this will affect the value of the item. If you are investing in a collector's item, this will affect the usability of the record, and your enjoyment of it if you are simply looking to add a favourite record to your collection.

 

It is important to examine the record from various angles, as a dull surface will show that an item is well used. A shinier appearance is likely to indicate that the rare vinyl records you are looking at and thinking of buying have not been used so extensively, which can indicate a better investment of your money.

 

It is equally important to look for scratches on the record itself, as this will not only affect the value of the item but also its playability. It is the deep scratches that one should be most aware of, as these will significantly affect the sound quality the most.

 

A tip is to run your finger over the scratches, seeing if you can feel them in a major way. If so, chances are that these scratches are likely to affect the sound when you play your vinyl. If the scratches are unnoticeable when you pass your fingertip over them, you may consider them of less significance than deeper scratches.

 

The next thing to consider is the condition of the jacket of the vinyl record, as this can affect the value of your purchase too. Although not as important as the quality of the actual record itself, the condition of the sleeve should definitely be kept in mind.

 

You will need to see if the cover is torn, faded, has rings or marks on or has any other damage. If you are buying a record online and there is no image of the sleeve, ask the seller to send you detailed photos for your reference. This will help you make a decision on whether to buy or not depending on the condition of the jacket.

 

Another thing to bear in mind is how much the record you are buying is worth. This is important whether you are buying rare vinyl records for your own use or whether you want to invest in them for collection purposes and what the increase in value will be.

 

Obviously, you are likely to want to buy the item at the best price possible, and some rare records can actually be very costly, so this is of fundamental importance. For this reason, make sure that you check with dealers both online and offline to seek out the record that you are searching for. If you find several items, you will be far better positioned to understand the going price for that item.

 

If you find something that you like yet it is at a price higher that you want to pay, remember that with these types of collector's items the price is often negotiable. If you are buying from an online or offline seller, see if you can get them to match the price of an item that you have seen elsewhere, or point out any flaws that you believe honestly affect value.

 

These are just a few tips for investing in rare vinyl records. Whether you intend to listen to these records yourself or simply keep them for resale, following these pieces of advice can help you find a great deal on a fantastic vintage record.

 

The Records Vinyls Shop is one of the UK's leading collectable vinyl record and CD online stores. We are an organization of enthusiastic UK record traders displaying our large choice of UK pressing records, vinyl records and CDs online. We have got thousands of rare records across all conceivable genres of music past and present, with choices from from rock to punk, metal, reggae, indie, 60s, soul, post punk, techno, house, new wave, classical, industrial, leftfield, post rock and plenty more. The Records Vinyls Shop also offers a 100% no hassle satisfaction guarantee and fast shipping to each and every customer. Visit the store now at: http://www.extreemmusic.com