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Holiday Planning Series with the Squash Brothers, part III, debt management

Watch our Holiday Planning Series, Part II, as Steven and the Squash Brothers discuss debt management so you do not overspend and end up with credit card debt you can’t pay off.

Thanks for watching our series!

Holiday Planning Series with the Squash Brothers, part II, cash management

Watch our Holiday Planning Series, Part II, as Steven and the Squash Brothers discuss cash flow planning so you have more to spend (or to save!).

Next time, debt management.

Holiday Planning Series with the Squash Brothers, part I, tax planning

Watch our Holiday Planning Series, Part I, as Steven and the Squash Brothers discuss taxes, “starting backwards with tax planning now so you pay less next April.”

Next time, they discuss cash management.

How to stay safe after the Equifax data breach

Equifax disclosed last week that the personal financial information of up to 143 million users had been exposed in a massive hack last July. This represents roughly two-thirds of all credit card holders, so you may be affected.

The delay in disclosing is troubling, and the hack raises questions about oversight of the credit bureaus and even about the impact on their management. We can see the impact on investors: the Equifax share price has dropped over 20%

While we can discuss these issues and more, the priority is shoring up your personal credit.

Impact

Was your data taken? There are links from Equifax, Norton and others where you can attempt to determine the impact on you personally. However, these sites seem to default to “you may be affected,” even if you put in bogus information.

The good news is that Equifax has responded to consumer pressure to make certain services free.

Act now

You will want to act as soon as possible to keep your financial information safe.

“There are so many entities who need to check your credit: when you’re renting an apartment, getting insurance, a new cell phone, utilities,” Liz Weston, a financial planner and columnist at NerdWallet, told BuzzFeed News. “But at this point the breach is so great” that taking measures to safeguard your identity is worth it. She recommends instituting credit freezes.

Equifax free service – sign up on line for the complimentary service being provided by Equifax, which provides the following:

  • three-bureau credit file monitoring with alerts,
  • credit report lock,
  • scanning of suspicious sites for use of your social security number,
  • Equifax credit reporting, and
  • $1 million identity theft insurance covering certain out-of-pocket expenses.

Monitor your cards – review your monthly credit card, bank and loan statements for suspicious activity. You have a right to free credit reports so obtain them and review for unauthorized activity.

Also, watch for unexpected calls or mail, such as debt collectors or people posing as IRS agents, because these may be signs that your information may be in the hands of thieves.

Credit freeze – request a freeze on your credit from all three agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Equifax will not charge you but the others will.

Requesting a credit freeze prevents thieves from using your identity to get loans or credit cards in your name, even if your personal information was compromised by the hack. You essentially pay to bar each of three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian — from providing a credit report without both your explicit permission and a personal identification number (PIN) that temporarily lifts the freeze. (Freezes do not affect financial institutions or companies you have an existing relationship with, only new ones.)

Make sure to place the freeze with all three bureaus and to keep your PINs for unlocking the freezes in a safe place.

“A credit freeze with only one bureau is incomplete protection,” Mike Litt, the consumer program advocate at the US Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group, said. Consumer experts recommended getting a freeze with all three agencies.

There are companies such as LifeLock that provide bundled services. If cost is not an object, that may be the best course of action. Here is the Lifelock response on Equifax.

Fraud alert – if you are certain that your information has been taken, place alert all three credit bureau websites. You can access the TransUnion site here. Some protection is free, but their premium package costs $9.95

If you are the subject of identity theft, there are many resources now that help you report and recover. The Federal Trade Commission website can help devise a recovery plan to implement.

PINs and passwords – the passwords and PINs you use could be the next issue. You may want to change what you use now and update annually, if not more often.

Updates – Equifax continues to provide updates on the status of the hack and their response.

And news sites continue to report on the hack – see this NY Times article.

Summary

There are many steps to take, and the information taken may not be used for some time. So, you will want to take some if not all the steps outlined above. If you have trouble doing so, or if you have questions, let us know.

And for more reading, the Better Business Bureau is one resource for tips on avoiding scams. And, the FTC is a good resource for identity theft.

Good luck and stay safe!

Team THANKS Rides Again – 2017 Pan-Mass Challenge message

Hello all

As promised, I wanted to let you know the outcome of the 2017 Pan Mass Challenge ride that took place last weekend. Team THANKS rode for the second year and had a 2017 goal of raising $40,000. Thanks to you all, we’re on track for hitting our stretch goal of $50,000 – every cent of which will be on its way to Dana Farber to help spark innovation in cancer treatment, save lives, and actually do something about cancer.

This year, my nephew and two daughters took a year off but we added two new team members Kathy Carlson and Nancy Serpa.  We met Kathy on the ride last year through the PMC Pedal Partner program. Her daughter Maddie was battling Ewing’s Sarcoma and is now cancer free.  We encouraged Kathy to join our team this year and she did!  Nancy has been a long time sponsor of our team, and lost her sister to cancer last year.  We also encouraged Nancy to ride with us to do something about cancer and she joined in for the Sunday leg from Bourne to Provincetown.  I crashed while training and had to sit this one out with a broken collar bone, but Jonathan Lilienfeld returned to ride with Kathy from Wellesley to P’town, while Steven Branson and Kevin Lewis rode from Sturbridge.  The five of them met up in Bourne at the end of Day One to continue on to P’town Day Two.

Here’s Kathy with daughter Maddie – our Pedal Partner – at the Lakeville stop on Day 1 with Kevin, Jonathan, and Paul Kennedy of Team PwC.

Here’s Kathy posing with Maddie’s sign at the Pedal Partner stop – what an amazing turn of events to see Maddie beat cancer, graduate from high school, and be getting ready for college in September – all with the help of Dana Farber, her family and friends, and generous people like you.

In Bourne, riders get a chance to share the many personal reasons they ride – Nancy’s post for her sister Sue is below the “D” near the bottom:

Next morning started before dawn, Nancy was ready to ride her first PMC…

But she hit a road grate in the dark that gave her a flat, and the team had to take over the rescue.

Here’s Steven working on the tire:

With that small bump in the road behind them, team THANKS took on the 20 mph winds of Wellfleet and finished strong at P’town!

This victory picture has become a tradition for every PMC ride.

Though I didn’t have a bike to hoist, I was able to join them all – together we did the hard part – raising nearly $50,000 (so far).

Celebrations followed at our favorite P’town beach bar…

Jonathan, Kathy, Kevin, and Steven were treated to a hero’s welcome on their way back into Boston Harbor on the slow ferry.

Thanks again for joining us – we couldn’t have done it without you.

For Team THANKS with much appreciation,

Mark, Captain

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We’re fighting cancer with Dana Farber by supporting the Pan Mass Challenge

Team THANKS