Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Avoiding Identity Theft,
Cutting Commuting Costs,
2008 Construction Industry Mid-Year Update
Avoiding Idenity Theft
If you think identity theft is only for online shoppers and the rich, you are wrong. Identity theft is a major issue facing people of all socioeconomic groups. Sadly, business owners, service providers, friends, and even family have been reported as identity thieves. The last Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study on identity theft reported nearly 8.3 million Americans had been victims of identity theft. And that number continues to grow.
Identity thieves are creative and resourceful and obtain your personal and financial information in a variety of ways. Thieves can steal records and information while on the job. They can hack the records and con information out of other employees. They go “dumpster diving” and steal your mail, including bank and credit card offers, new checks, and tax information. They pose as a landlord or employer and gain legal rights to your credit reports. Thieves practice “skimming” where they steal your credit and debit card numbers through a data storage device. They also steal wallets and purses, complete change of address forms to divert your mail to another location, and break into your home. Finally, they hack into web retail sites or send e-mails and claim there is a problem in which you respond and willingly give them your personal information.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
• Do not give out your social security number, unless absolutely necessary, and make sure you know what it is being used for. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet.
• Always shred the following: charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail.
• Use the Internet wisely. For more tips, refer to www.OnGuardOnline.gov
• Select passwords that are intricate and would not be obvious to someone you know (i.e. birthday, pet name, maiden name, etc.)
• Do not give out personal or financial information over the phone, the mail, or on Internet sources, unless you have verified them first.
• Store information in secure locations, such as password-protected safes and safety deposit boxes.
It is important to periodically check on your credit status. This important step can determine if you have been the victim of identity theft. Several large organizations such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can offer you a credit report for a minimal price. Please visit www.ftc.gov for additional information on these organizations, as well as what to do if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft.
Cutting Commuting Costs
The rising costs of gas and oil, coupled with long commute times, have really taken a toll on commuters’ habits. According to a recent survey by Robert Half International, four out of every ten workers surveyed revealed that high gas prices have affected how they commute.
One suggestion to combat high commute costs is to utilize public transportation. The same study suggests that higher gas prices have moved commuters to use public transportation more frequently. Most riders enjoy the freedom of brief “catnaps” and the ability to catch up on reading or work that would otherwise have to be done at home.
Another option is to carpool. Most people think of carpooling (or ridesharing) as that thing you did in grade school. But really, this option is intelligent for many workers and can cut commuting costs considerably. There are even options for workers who don’t live near another co-worker. The Internet offers sites such as www.eRideShare.com and www.dividetheride.com that help to locate other commuters in your area who are interested in carpooling.
Lastly, riding your bike or walking (if you’re close) costs nothing. So this is an obvious solution if it is possible. Also, telecommuting is an option for those whose companies and jobs allow for it. Check with your human resources department or supervisor for the telecommuting policy. Even telecommuting two days a week can save on gas costs.
Hopefully, with time, the price of gas will resolve itself, and more options will become available as technology advances. In the mean time, take advantage of these simple suggestions, and enjoy the cost savings.
2008 Construction Industry Midyear Update
The 2008 Construction Outlook Midyear Update is a report on industry trends and economic forecasts that affect the construction industry as reported by McGraw-Hill Construction. The report updates information on the construction industry, as well as an overview of the different markets and forecast tables. An overview, provided on the McGraw-Hill website summarizes the report:
“The shifting climate is reflected in the year-end balance figures for all fifty states, expressed as a percent of total revenue. The Fiscal Survey estimates that the year-end balance for fiscal 2007 was 9.5%, down from the record high of 11.5% set in fiscal 2006. For fiscal 2008, a year-end balance of 6.7% is forecast, which depicts reasonable health by the standards of recent years. However, the growing fiscal stress at the state level suggests that the 6.7% estimate may be too optimistic. The erosion in state fiscal health currently underway is likely contribute to a construction slowdown for institutional building and public works over the next few quarters.”
McGraw-Hill Construction provides project and product information, industry news, forecasts, and trends for the construction industry. McGraw-Hill Construction serves more than one million customers within the $4.6 trillion global construction industry.