Friday, December 17, 2010
Protecting Your Online Identity,
Read Between the Lines: Important Documents You Must Read Before Signing,
Congratulations to This Month's Winner,
Participate in Orion's Transition Corner,
Flow of Funds Report,
Connect with Orion
Protecting Your Online Identity
Perhaps you are a professional concerned about your online identity, or a mother or father concerned about your child’s online reputation. Either way, understanding how to protect your online identity can help promote or damage your success in the workplace, or your child’s happiness at school and their ability to get a job.
Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are accessed by millions of viewers across the world. Even with privacy settings, your personal information is easy to find with a simple Google search. Children are getting kicked off sports teams and other intramural organizations due to the content of their networks. In addition, workers are being terminated based on the content of their personal pages. It is now more critical than ever to protect your online name and be sure that the information in cyberspace is correct, appropriate, and belongs to you.
First of all, if you are a parent, it is critical to be “in charge” of your child’s online information and to be sure that privacy controls are set on their pages. It is also wise to occasionally do a Google search of your child’s name to see what comes up. If there is anything suspicious or inappropriate, be sure to address it immediately.
Second, limit your exposure. Don’t post inappropriate pictures, and definitely don’t put your e-mail, home phone, birthplace, and employers without recognizing that this will become public information. It is especially important not to include your location or if you are going on vacation on live feeds like Twitter. This opens the door to dangerous predators finding you or home burglaries. Remind your children never to post this information.
Also remember that privacy controls aren’t necessarily automatically in place and that in many instances the user must set their own. For example, a Facebook user must go to Privacy Options in the upper right corner of their Facebook page in order to control their privacy settings.
Be sure to be wary of who you accept as a friend. If you aren’t really sure if you know someone, even if you have mutual friends, don’t accept the invitation. Remember if you do accept them, that the person now has access to all of your information.
The best advice to protecting your online identity is to be vigilant and trust your gut. If you think something might be construed negatively, don’t post it. Always err on the side of caution.
Read Between The Lines: Important Documents You Must Read Before Signing
With the advent of “robo-forms” and computer signatures, now more than ever, it is important to look over everything that requires your signature. Even if you don’t speak “legalese”, it is important to be sure you understand everything that is printed in a contract or legal document before you sign it. Here are some of the most important documents to watch out for:
1. Real Estate Agreements: It has become clear during the housing crisis that signing any real estate agreement must be done with extreme caution. Whether dealing with a lease, title/deed, purchase, or sale, it is critical to understand every word of these important documents. One of the most common complaints during the housing crisis was that people didn’t know they had an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).
2. Medical and Health Insurance Paperwork: Medical and health insurance paperwork should be reviewed with an “eagle eye”, as well. Almost all doctors’ offices require patients to sign Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) agreements. Though this was designed to protect patients’ rights, many of the forms contain clauses that waive privacy protection. If you want your medical records to stay with your physician and go nowhere else, be sure to review the HIPPA document, and let the office know you won’t sign it unless you are positive your records won’t go anywhere.
3. Gym and Cell phone Contracts: Gym and cell phone contracts are shoe-ins for sneaky fees. Many have high cancellation fees and long contracts. Also, with cell phone contracts, there are many details to pay attention to. And be sure to know what your data plan includes, or you might end up exhausting your savings account paying off the balance.
4. Credit Card Agreements: This is an obvious one, but be sure to know what your interest rate is, how long that rate is in effect for, and what happens if you go over your limit. Another thing to check is if your credit card has a monthly fee for not using it.
5. Warranties: Warranties on big-ticket items should be read with care. Some home and car warranties are invalidated if you don’t use their service provider first. Some car warranties are invalidated if you don’t service the car according to the seller’s guidelines.
Something to keep in mind is that the people that are typing the document are human and are capable of making mistakes. A simple number on the end of an interest rate can make an enormous difference. This thought should be kept at the forefront of anyone’s mind who is signing any legal paperwork.
Congratulations to This Month's Winner
Participate in Orion's Transition Corner
Flow of Funds Report
The Federal Reserve released their Flow of Funds report in early December that indicated Americans got richer during the third quarter of 2010. The report, which is an examination of a country's financial flows conducted by the central bank, stated that net worth for households and individuals climbed $1.2 trillion, or 2%, to $54.9 trillion. This is even after home values slowed after a year of increases. Simply speaking, the report stated that stocks rose and home prices fell.
Household wealth had fallen in the second quarter of 2010 by $1.5 trillion (between April and June). This was after it had climbed for four continuous quarters. The increase during the third quarter was attributed to higher stock values. The S&P rose 11% following a 12% decrease in the second quarter. In addition, corporate equities rose $939 billion, and mutual fund shares gained $378 billion. This overshadowed the $698 billion fall in real estate assets.
Liabilities fell $7.6 billion in the third quarter as a $22 billion gain in consumer credit offset a $64 billion fall in home mortgages.
The Flow of Funds report is showing that most households are balancing out their finances and beginning to increase net worth. Most economists agree that net worth is predicted to continue increasing as overall economic activity increase and the employment outlook improves.
Connect with Orion
Are you LinkedIn to Orion International's Alumni Group? Our LinkedIn group allows Alumni to keep in touch with Orion and fellow alumni that have been placed through Orion International.
Click here to join Orion International's Alumni Group today.
Become an Orion fan on Facebook! Check out our page for links of interest, pertinent discussions, Orion news and stay in touch with Orion and other Orion Alumni.
We’d love to have you as a fan!