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RE/MAX 440
Stuart Dubbs
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 484-239-0950
Fax: 267-354-6247 
sdubbs@remaxcentralinc.com
Stuart Dubbs

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Real Estate with Perspective

Yes, You Should Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

January 27, 2017 1:18 am

Many grown Americans take necessary precautions to protect themselves from identity theft. However, not everyone thinks about protecting their child from the same situation.

While child identity theft is not as common as identity theft among adults, it is still a risk. One in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised, according to the most recent survey by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research group (2012).

All it takes is a Social Security number – often applied for at birth – which can be paired with a different name, birth date and address to apply for credit. This is called a synthetic identity. And, for nearly 18 years, there is typically little risk of detection.

According to PNC, other warning signs your child may be a victim include:

- Notification by the IRS of unpaid taxes in your child's name.

- Notification that a child's Social Security number was used on another tax return.

- Receiving collection calls for a minor child

- Receiving bills in a child's name for products or services not ordered or delivered.

- Declined for government benefits because benefits already are being paid to another account using the child's Social Security number.

Parents can be proactive in protecting their child from identity theft:

- Never carry your child's (or your) Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place, where it is not at risk of being stolen.

- Pay attention to forms from schools, doctor offices and others asking for personally identifiable information about your child. Opt out if you can or use the last four digits only.

- Shred all documents that show your child's personally identifiable information before throwing them away, just as you do for your own documents.

Most importantly: Request a credit report for your child annually, using the child's Social Security number for reference. Every individual is entitled to one free copy of their credit report once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. If there is no credit history on record, then typically the child has not fallen prey to identity thieves.  If there is a credit history for a minor child, he/she has mostly likely become a victim.

Source: http://www.pnc.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Do Generations Work Differently?

January 26, 2017 1:18 am

As more millennials enter the workforce and boomers choose later retirements, multi-generational work teams are the norm. But do workers of different ages work differently, and if so, how?CFOs in a Robert Half Management Resources survey said they see the greatest generational differences in employees' communication skills, ability to adapt to change and technical abilities. Only 7 percent of executives noted there are no differences.

Communication style: Baby boomers tend to be more reserved, while Gen Xers favor a control-and-command style, the research indicates. Conversely, Gen Yers prefer a more collaborative approach to communication, and Gen Zers prize in-person interactions.

Change management: According to the research, Gens X and Y tend to see change as a vehicle for new opportunities, while Gen Z is accustomed to change and expects it in the workplace.

Technical skills: When it comes to building their abilities, employer-backed training is expected by all workers. Baby boomers and Gen Xers most value traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools; millennials, which include Generations Y and Z, prefer collaborative and technology-centric options.

Robert Half Management Resources offers five tips for managing a multigenerational workforce:

- Don't overthink it. Start with the understanding that everyone wants to do a good job and help the company. This commonality lays a strong foundation for relationship-building.

- Customize your style. Staff possess common attributes, but they also have individual needs. Tailor your management for each person's strengths, personality and aspirations.

- Go off-site. Host team-building events outside the office to give employees a chance to get to know each other in a different setting.

- Let newer professionals take the lead. Institute reverse mentorships, where less-seasoned staff advise and share their insights with veteran colleagues. Also invite team members from all generations to share their unique areas of expertise.

- Mix and match project teams. Put together groups with complementary skills and diverse perspectives. This can prompt innovation and new problem-solving techniques.

Source: Robert Half Management Resources

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Black Ice, Snow and More: How-to Stay Safe on Winter Roads

January 26, 2017 1:18 am

Winter is often the worst time to be on the road. From freezing temperatures to hidden patches of ice and flurries of snow, driving in a winter wonderland can be dangerous. In order to help drivers appropriately weather the winter storms, Meemic Insurance has compiled a list of five safety tips to help avoid accidents and keep the roads safe:

Keep your gas tank at a safe level – preferably half-full or higher. Because the roads are so unpredictable, you never know what you might come across. The last thing you'd want is to run out of gas with below freezing temperatures.

Maintain slow speed when accelerating and decelerating. This is the best method to use in order to avoid unpredictable sliding and regaining traction with your tires in slippery conditions.

Make sure your vehicle servicing is up-to-date. Regularly checking your vehicle for any potential problems will keep everything in tune and running properly amidst wintery conditions. Focus on parts of your vehicle that are typically affected by cold weather such as tire pressure, battery life, break lines and more.

Bundle up and prepare your vehicle for the elements. In case your vehicle would break down in the winter, it's crucial to keep useful materials on hand. Stow away blankets, hats, gloves and warm clothing to ensure safety from biting temperatures. Snow brushes, flashlights, jumper cables and shovels are also important tools that can keep you out of danger in the event of a slide off or accident.

If you don't need to be somewhere, stay home. This is ultimately the best decision to make in the middle of a winter weather advisory. It's always better to be safe than take unnecessary risks on dangerous road conditions.

Source: Meemic Insurance Company

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Do You Know Your Generator Safety?

January 26, 2017 1:18 am

Many homeowners have a backup generator in case of power outages. If you’re the proud owner of a genny, or are considering making a new purchase, Gilmore offers tips on how to practice safe generator use during power outages.

Buy the right generator. Make sure to get a generator rated for the amount of power you need. Pay attention to the electrical loads shown on labels of lighting, appliances, and your equipment that you plan on hooking up to the generator.

Hire an electrician to set up a generator safely. Hooking up a generator to the home can be challenging. Consider calling a professional that can set-up the appropriate equipment in the appropriate place at your home.

Beware of generator hazards. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic exhaust, electrocution, and fire. Never use a generator inside a house.

Install battery-operated CO alarms or plugins. If CO gas enters your home and poses a serious health risk, the alarms will sound to alert you.

Never use portable generators indoors. This includes an indoor garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or any other partially enclosed areas of the home. Opening doors and windows will not prevent CO buildup inside of a home. The CO from generators can lead to death.

Keep generators away from openings. If you want to keep your windows open during a power outage, be sure to place portable generators at least ten feet away from windows, vents, and doors to prevent CO entering the home.

Let the generator cool down before refueling. If gas spills on a hot generator it could potentially ignite and cause a fire.

Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power all appliances from a small extension cord that runs from the generator. If you use an extension cord, make use of a heavy duty, outdoor-related cord that is (in watts or amps) equal to the connected appliances.

Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet. A hazard known as "backfeeding" can occur. It presents extremely dangerous electrocution risks to any nearby utility workers and neighbors on the same transformer.

Source: www.gilmoreair.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Sleep Tips for the Boss

January 25, 2017 1:18 am

Running a company or managing a fleet of employees is no easy task. Whether you’re up late working, or up late thinking about work, compromising your sleep is no way to be an effective leader.

To help combat work-related stress, Robert Half Finance & Accounting offers five tips for CFOs to mitigate work challenges and rest easier:  

Address issues as they arise. Workplace conflicts only get worse when ignored and avoided.

Set goals and timelines. Make the results you need to see from your staff clear, with deadlines and expected outcomes.

Recognize your team. Different people respond to varied motivational techniques, but everyone likes to hear when they're doing a good job. Don't hold back on genuine praise.

Evaluate your hiring strategy. In addition to having the necessary skill sets and fitting in with the corporate culture, great employees share a few qualities, including a can-do attitude, right-sized ego and sense of humor. Periodically refresh your recruiting plan to ensure you're attracting the right people.

Drive employee acquisition and retention. Finding skilled professionals when you need them can be stressful. But if you nurture a talent pipeline year-round, you'll be better equipped for the future.

Source: roberthalf.com/finance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are You Being Threatened by Collection Callers?

January 25, 2017 1:18 am

There's few things more embarrassing and troubling than a collection call. I recently learned an increasing number of those receiving collection calls are being bullied and intimidated by agents on the other end of the line.

In mid-January, a first of its kind Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) survey revealed  more than one-in-four consumers contacted by debt collection agencies felt threatened, and one in seven were sued in state court.

Shockingly - the CFPB found the about 75 percent of those sued do not go to their hearing, - generally making them responsible for the debt.

Melissa Stegman, Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Senior Policy Counsel recognized that an overwhelming majority of those in debt and being pursued by collectors are not in debt by choice, but due to unexpected job loss or serious illness.

Debt collectors generate more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), CFPB, and many state Attorneys General than any other industry. And sadly, Stegman says, communities of color, lower-wealth families, service members, and older Americans are more likely to be harmed by these unscrupulous collection practices.  

CRL recently found that debt collectors frequently use state court to pursue Colorado residents, even when debt wasn't owed or where they lacked information to support a lawsuit. And 71 percent of these cases brought by four large debt buyers ended in a default judgment, meaning the consumer did not respond to the lawsuits and were legally stuck with the bill.

Lisa Stifler, CRL Deputy Director of State Policy said in a release that she has seen debt collectors lawsuits in state courts filed against the wrong person or for a debt not owed.

The CFPB also released a study of potential risks in the online debt marketplace, where consumer debts and personal information are for sale. This study found that most debts sold are at least five years old and 75 percent of those debts had previously been collected TWO or MORE times.

Review the entire CFPB study at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_Debt-Collection-Survey-Report.pdf

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Can You Master the Art of Multitasking?

January 25, 2017 1:18 am

We’ve all done it: Finished an email while watching TV, doing chores while catching up with family on the phone. Multitasking can be an effective way to plow through your to-do list. Nearly 2 in 5 Americans (38 percent) feel they don't have enough time to complete household tasks, according to a recent Moen survey, conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. Adults. Below, Moen tells us how to multitask effectively.

Practice Prioritizing
More than half of Americans (59 percent) wish they could manage their time better throughout the day. Step one – learn how to prioritize. Determine the most important items on your list, then create a schedule that pairs complementary elements together. For example, while laundry is in the washer, use that time to vacuum, dust and mop. By the time you switch your clothes to the dryer, all your chores will be complete.

Use Your Mind and Body
While at home, nearly three quarters of Americans (71 percent) stated they usually multitask while watching TV and two thirds (67 percent) say they do so while cleaning.  By combining a physical task, like cleaning, with a mental one, such as making phone calls, you easily can check items off your list. Loading the dishwasher can be a tedious job, so why not make it an efficient chore by turning on your speaker phone and letting the conversation flow as you pre-rinse and load? Or, maximize time in the shower to make mental checklists or contemplate a challenge you're facing at the office.

Tap Into Technology
We live in the digital age, so it's no surprise that nearly three in five Americans (58 percent) use technology to multitask at home. Whether we're answering emails on our smartphones while stirring spaghetti sauce, or tapping away on our laptops during family movie night, tech tools make tackling several tasks at once super simple.

Don't let a busy schedule get the best of you. With a little effort, you can multitask your way to a completely crossed off to-do list.

Source: MOEN
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tax Tips For Personal Injury Settlements

January 24, 2017 1:18 am

Like it or not, tax season is just around the bend. If you received a personal injury settlement or award this past year, it is important that you understand all the tax ramifications before filing your tax returns. Read the following helpful tips from Zanes Law.

Money for Pain and Suffering

The best way to look at the money that you are being paid for "pain and suffering" is that this is the actual money being paid to you for your physical injury.  Currently, according to the IRS compensation that a person is paid for physical injury is federal-income-tax-free. Compensation for emotional distress is also tax-free because it is considered to be part of your physical/personal injury.

Money for Medical Expenses

Money paid to you in order to cover your medical expenses is tax-free too. However, if you claim a tax deduction for accident related medical expenses and you are later reimbursed for those same medical expenses as part of your case, you must "recapture" that amount and will have to pay tax on it because you previously benefited from the deduction that you took.  If your settlement or award does not specifically allocate an amount for medical expenses and you previously took a tax deduction for your accident related medical expenses, the award or settlement is automatically considered to be a reimbursement for such expenses up to the amount of those expenses.  So the key here is the tax deduction.

Reimbursement for Lost Wages

Oddly enough, amounts paid for lost wages are federal-income-tax-free, even though the wages would have been taxable if you had received them.

What About Attorney's Fees?

You cannot deduct attorney fees incurred to collect a tax-free award or settlement for physical injury or sickness. In other words, no deductions are allowed for fees in order to collect tax-free compensation.

Source: http://zaneslaw.com/  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Brush up on Your Winter HVAC Performance Tips

January 24, 2017 1:18 am

The winter is the worst time to have your HVAC system fail. To keep everything running smoothly, follow the following five tips courtesy of Winstar Home Services.

Clean your home
Your home is a reflection of your ductwork, as dirt and debris in your air filter comes from dirt and debris in your home. Removing all dust, dirt and debris will help your air filters work more efficiently.

Change your air filter
A dirty filter can slow down airflow, causing your system to work harder to keep your home warm (which also means wasted energy and a higher utility bill). A clean filter will prevent dirt and debris from building up in the system, which helps limit expensive maintenance and avoid early system failure

Clean your outdoor HVAC unit
Take a few minutes to inspect the area around your outdoor unit. Leaves, shrubs and grass cuttings can build up on the outside of your HVAC unit, decreasing the system capacity and reducing airflow.

As a general rule, keep trees, shrubs and other outdoor elements at least two feet away from the unit so it is free to pull in air.

Seal any gaps in your home and ductwork
Inspect both the interior and exterior of your home's windows, air ducts, and exterior doors for any cracks or gaps and seal any exposures. Even a small gap can lead to warm air escaping your home, which translates into more wasted energy.

Examine your thermostat
Check to make sure your thermostat is working properly and keeping your home at the right temperature. If you still have an older mechanical thermostat, it is recommended to upgrade to digital, programmable model, as switching to a programmable thermostat can save you upwards of $200 a year.

Some new models even allow for remote operation via a cell phone, which are perfect for extremely low temperature days, since you can save energy by setting the temperature lower during the day (when your family is out of the home) and then changing it to a higher temperature before heading home.

Source: Winstar Home Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Creating your Get-out-of-Debt Plan

January 19, 2017 1:09 am

Consumer confidence is on the rise, which is great for our economy, but may mean more debt for many over-enthusiastic buyers. A recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) revealed that 80 percent of respondents have placed debt repayment at the top of their goal list this year. That’s encouraging news, but the question is where to start?

The NFCC offers these strategies for taking on the daunting task of paying down debt:

- Knowledge is power when it comes to managing debt, so start by examining every detail related to each debt: balances, transactions, interest, fees, terms and conditions. Don’t leave any stone unturned, and be sure to ask questions along the way. This will empower you to put the right plan in place.

- Pick up the pace. High interest rates and lengthy repayment schedules are a costly combination, so make plans to accelerate the payoff of balances so they cost less over time. The key is to pay more than the minimum whenever possible.

- There is always a way.  If there is no extra money to be found for paying down debt faster, reach out to trusted sources who can help you uncover some solutions. Start with the lender to see what programs they may offer, but also work with a nonprofit credit counseling agency to help you brainstorm possibilities for affordably managing your debt. These experts will have ideas that you never thought of, so take advantage of their services.

Remember, repaying debt can be a very long process, especially when it involves a mortgage or auto loan, so devising a plan and quickly putting that plan into action is essential. Before long, you’ll begin to make progress and take back control of your finances.

Source: NFCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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