Thursday, May 24, 2018

Financial Emergency Preparedness

When disaster strikes you always hear about what you should do prior to any emergency or natural disaster. Such as make sure you have plenty of fresh batteries or make sure your cell phone is charged in case of loss of power, having an emergency kit and plan. But you very rarely hear or even consider financial preparedness prior to any emergency.  There are many agencies ready to render assistance after a major disaster or emergency situation but they take time to set up.  So in the meantime it’s all up to you to take the necessary steps to have some temporary finances in place until you are able to get back on your feet. 

The first thing you must do is secure your important documents. I would highly recommend scanning your documents and keeping them on USB drive if not then secure your documents in a safe that you can access. Some documents you want to consider securing are your birth certificate, social security cards, insurance policy, tax statements and photos of all family members. You will need this in order to gain long term access to your finances. You must have a copy of your emergency contact list which should have your bank, health and home insurance providers’ information.

I would highly recommend setting up an emergency savings account strictly for emergencies this way you do not have to use your primary savings account to cover any expenses as a result of an emergency. However in cases of a major natural disaster you want to have cash on hand. So consider having cash secured in a safe at your residence in cases when ATM access or credit card access may not be working. This safe is another area where you could secure other important documents like homeowners/renters insurance, health and life insurance policies as well.

I hope this information is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Small business scam

Well I thought because I take great measures to protect my business from scammers but even I am not immune. I received a mail from a company called the Business Compliance service the language in the mailer was very convincing. They stated I am to file an annual report with the state every year or my company would be closed. The letter was labeled the Business Compliance service so of course I was concerned. Since I had already filed my annual report way before this letter was sent to me so I found it very out of place they would be asking me again for my filing. In very small print it stated “we are not affiliated with the state” so I did some research and apparently there are entities like this posing as legitimate companies attempting to take advantage of small business owners.  I am fortunate that for the most part with few exceptions I file almost all my paperwork with the state but not all business owners have the time to do that so there are a few signs to be aware of when you receive letters like this.

What is very alarming about this type of mailer is that it has a very official looking. You may see FINAL NOTICE or SUSPENSION OF COVERAGE on the mailer. My mailer had the state code on it telling me that an annual report must be filed every 2 years. Other mailers may use stronger language they will say you could face fines if you do not have compliance poster at your location for example. The compliance poster is a very popular scam which targets small business owners. 

However there are very reputable agencies which are in business to help small business keep up with certain compliance requirement but just like with anything else you have to do your homework.
I found that it is very easy to get your business information they may purchase a list from your state registry on newly open business or they may purchase your information form a service provider you use which is why you have to read the fine print on all contracts you sign with other providers you use for your business.

Some warning sign you should look for with any mail you receive about compliance regulations. If there is no address listed on the letter or just a P.O. box, no contact information like a phone number or name, a non-corporate email address or an ask for an upfront charge for any services. If you see this combination of warning signs you should just tear it up and discard it in a secure manner.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gardening safety tips

So it’s that time of year when you want to go out into your garden and clean up after a long winter. The weeds are there and I am sure some areas of your garden you want to clear up and make beautiful again. If you are like me safety is the last part of gardening you think of because like me I just want to get it out of the way and get it done. But you have to prepare make sure you are safe. You must have the proper protective equipment you need to landscape your garden.

So what should you wear? This is often something you do not put too much thought in prior to gardening but it is important. The first thing you need is a great pair of safety glasses and gloves; you should wear long pants and long sleeves to prevent you from getting scratched or injured. Remember you are in the outdoors you could get poison ivy or worst poison oak they are not hard to get either.

You may want to use sunscreen to protect you from sunburn and use and insect repellent as well. You are exposed to the elements you want to be prepared for anything so you want to take as many steps as possible to protect yourself. You want to consider the heat as well so drink plenty of fluids no alcohol and rest in shaded areas. Listen to your body there is no need to rush these types of activities especially as this is hard work no matter how large or small your project is. I normally space out my projects over a days or weeks.

There are many benefits you get from working in the outdoors or gardening such as the sun the satisfaction of completing a project but the best benefit it’s the physical activity. When you are working in your garden for 2 hours or longer it helps strengthen your muscles and heart.  So enjoy it !
I hope this was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Motorcycle Safety

I love motorcycles however it’s been a while since I have ridden one. So as I start shopping for my new ride I thought it would be a good idea to post something about motorcycle safety.  Let be honest they are great to have gas an insurance are cheap and let face it the wind on your helmet, the speed... it just such a great feeling.  But we want to be safe while we ride and this is kind of a mixed post on safety and purchasing your first bike.

When you are considering your first bike or your next bike keep in mind the technology on bikes continues to improve. You may not be aware of all the new safety features on your bike and if you been off a bike for a while (like me) the performance of newer bike has changed. So take your time you want a bike that fits you. When you sit on the bike your feet should rest on the ground securely. The handlebars controls should be very easy to reach. Engine size is something to think about as well a smaller engine 250-300cc is good for city driving. A 500-750cc is better for highway driving.

Another recommendation I could not stress enough is taking a bike class. They work on how to turn how to handle your bike on the highway all the safety checks you should complete before you ride. The course covers how to be a defensive driver how to plan for bad weather and much more. The class cost is about 200 to 300 dollars but it is well worth it in the long run. You do not need a bike to even take the class they provide all you need to take the class. This is a perfect opportunity to hone your skills on bike riding by taking a course like this. You can go to the Motorcycle safety foundation website to find a class in your area.

Lastly, having the correct gear you want to have leather or a reinforced jacket with padding to protect yourself from road rash. You want the correct helmet as well you want to try it on before you buy it of course. I will be writing a post soon on how to choose the correct helmet in the future.

I hope this post was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Fake News

Lately I have seen many articles on social media outlets claiming to report aspects of the news from questionable website. My concern with active shooter events, reporting on natural disasters and terrorism it is important to get the correct information to the public. We need this accurate information on these events so we can be informed and take the proper precaution to protect ourselves from such events. I find it unfortunate that there are fake news outlets on social media sites looking to be first rather than to be accurate with news information.

An example is the Las Vegas shooting according to a social media Puppet String News there was a connection to the Vegas shooter and Antifa this was posted to Facebook ultimate taken down. So we need to start as being more critical of the news organization we follow on social media. When you see an articles or posts which seems to be questionable then you must start your fact checking. You would first see if there are other news articles from more reputable news organization reporting on it.  See what they are saying and reporting on the topic, see if the information matches between both articles. I would even take the time to check see if you can find at least 3 articles on the same topic before reposting on your media feed or taking in as real news.

My personal rule on news on social media is to take at least 2 minute if not longer to check sources. However, when it comes to Homeland security topics nothing is more reliable than the Department of Homeland security website. They may take some time to post information but they will provide accurate information as it becomes available and you can find some useful tips as well.

I hope this post was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Facebook Privacy

We have seen the coverage on the Facebook scandal involving the Cambridge Analytica and whether you are still an avid user or have elected to #deleetfacbooknow you still need to understand how to protect your information from anyone who may want to use your personal information without your knowledge.  The most alarming issue about this controversy is that no matter what platform you use these social networks applications will use your data how they want to without your knowledge. I often talk on this blog on what information you should and should not share because once it is out online it will be there forever.  I personally do not share everything I do especially not at the time I am doing it. I share only what I am comfortable with and nothing that would benefit a company or a fraudster.  We have to be more careful on the information we use to open up an application and what we share on a daily basis.

However Facebook is the tip of the ice berg. There are many 3rd party apps which have already accessed your information either by when you signed up or through Facebook.  So right now go on to your Facebook setting and under apps and websites dashboard you will see a list of apps which are linked to your Facebook account.  You will see an option underneath each application which states “View and edit” this will allow you to control how much information or data the app is allowed to use.  Some app may require information in order to function properly such as your name and age. 

Then you have to make a decision on how much do you need this application and whether to continue to use the application or not.

In an effort to fix the problem and gain trust again Facebook has provided an option to download a copy of your Facebook data. You would go into your setting select which will bring you to the overall settings page. On the bottom left you will see the option to “Download a copy of your Facebook data” once you have selected this option they will email you a link to your email. Once you see the link in your email you have to enter your password in a few times then you will be allowed to download your report. I encourage you to do this so you can see what information Facebook has on you.

The best advice is to be careful about the information online. The rule I follow is less is more. You do not need to know what my birthday is, where I went to school, and what my current job is. Bottom line there is no need to tell the whole world everything about your life, furthermore the about you information you do not need to place everything about you on there either.

I hope this was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Real estate scam

When I was looking for office space to start my business I had to do heavy research to make sure that the location was good and the office space was well maintained. Prior to that I have purchased and sold property as a property owner. I understand one of the most rewarding and stressful experiences is renting or purchasing property. Especially as a new property owner or renter unfortunately there are scammer waiting to take advantage of your inexperience when dealing with property.  So besides checking out the location, the price and how much you need to get started in your renter/home owner experience let me offer a few suggestions to be aware of when a scammer maybe trying to lure you into taking your money.

So there are a few property scams the most popular is the renting scam. So you are searching online for your possible rental property it look great clean good location all the closet space you need. The scam is that the property is not available. So with technology comes the advantage of downloading picture off the internet and being able to make a fake post online of the property. So you see the rental property on a website you make contact with the fraudster posing as the land lord. When you make arrangements to meet the landlord they are unavailable but will only deal with you through email or deal with you only over the phone. This is the first clue that something is wrong. You should be able to meet and see the property with the land lord at a given time. When they ask for a payment it may be to a place overseas or a P.O. Box this is your second clue. At no time you should give any money without meeting and seeing the property.

The other rental scam is a homeowner who is near foreclosure. They will show you the property take your money allow you to move in and before you know it the bank is asking you to leave the property and the fraudster now where to be found. There are online databases you can use to determine who the owner of the property is so you know you are not being scammed. There are free services you can use which will provide accurate information on the property and the owner. Any foreclosure properties have to be filed with the county clerk. So it would be a good idea to visit them when you are close to making a decision on our rental property or before any money is exchanged.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a message

Mark Carbajal