Posts made in June, 2011

Be Smart with Your Smartphone’s Security

»Posted by on Jun 27, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

Smartphones and other mobile devices have transformed our use of the Internet,
which now touches nearly every aspect of our lives. Nearly half
of all Americans
are expected to own a mobile device by the end of this
year. While these tools provide users with convenient access to information and
communications, they also carry risk.

Mobile users have recently
captured the attention of cyber criminals who seek to take advantage of everyday
citizens. In fact, experts predict that within
three years
, smartphones and mobile devices will surpass computers as the
primary target for cyber crime. If a hacker can gain access to a mobile device,
they can easily find e-mail addresses, stored passwords, banking information,
social media accounts, and phone numbers – allowing them to steal your
information, your money, and even your identity. That’s why practicing good
cyber habits is so important.

You can protect yourself from cyber
criminals by following the same safety rules you follow on your computer when
using your smartphone. These include:

  • Access the Internet over a secure network: Only browse the
    web through your service provider’s network (e.g., 3G) or a secure Wi-Fi
    network.
  • Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or
    text message:
    Do not click on unknown links or answer strange questions
    sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to
    be.
  • Download only trusted applications: Download “apps” from
    trusted sources or marketplaces that have positive reviews and
    feedback.
  • Be vigilant about online security: Keep anti-virus and
    malware software up to date, use varying and strong passwords, and never provide
    your personal or financial information without knowing who’s asking and why they
    need it.

 

STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web
a safer place for everyone. For more information on Stop.Think.Connect., please
visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

 

Source: http://blog.dhs.gov/2011/06/be-smart-with-your-smartphones-security.html

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Habitat to Rehab Evansville Neighborhood

»Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

The city of Evansville plans to grant $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity of
Evansville Inc. to put together a plan to revitalize the historic Jacobsville
neighborhood. As part of the plan, Habitat will build new homes and rehabilitate
existing homes in the area.

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is pleased to announce the City of
Evansville’s intention to grant $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Evansville,
Inc., to lead the development of a comprehensive community development plan for
the revitalization of the Jacobsville neighborhood, which is roughly bordered by
Division St., Diamond Ave., Garvin St., and First Ave. The grant will come from
County Option Income Taxes and is subject to approval by Evansville City
Council, with the first reading this evening.

“The Jacobsville neighborhood has a deep history; proud, hard-working
residents; and, judging by the number of people coming together on this
initiative, a very bright future,” said Mayor Weinzapfel. “I know that Habitat
has the leadership, manpower, vision, and passion necessary to bring the
Jacobsville community together to make this initiative a resounding
success.”

Both the City of Evansville and the Jacobsville Area Community Corporation
(JACC) approached Habitat about serving as the lead convener for this project,
in part due to the success of a similar planning effort in the Glenwood
neighborhood. JACC, a 501(C)(3) formed in 2002 to improve the physical, economic
and social environment of the Jacobsville area, has already done extensive work
toward developing a comprehensive development plan.

As the lead convener, Habitat will work closely with JACC and other groups
actively pursuing the goal of a revitalized, sustainable Jacobsville area to
bring key stakeholders together to help ignite the process to push existing
revitalization efforts forward. Habitat will facilitate the planning process;
conduct a needs assessment, community engagement activities, market analysis,
neighborhood surveys, and focus groups; and promote capital investment. In
addition, Habitat will build new homes, rehab existing homes, and weatherize
existing homeowner-occupied homes in Jacobsville.

After information regarding needs and wants of key stakeholders has been
gathered, community discussions will then be held in an effort to frame the
primary issues. These community discussions will be held quarterly and will take
place over the next two years.

Playing lead convener fits well into the scope of Habitat’s work. In 2010,
Habitat International invited Habitat for Humanity of Evansville to join its
Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). Habitat is one of about 40 Habitat
affiliates working on procedures that will guide neighborhood development at the
national level. The initiative involves expanding its housing solutions in an
effort to serve more families.

Source: City of Evansville & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=48192

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Two-Thirds of Americans Think Now is a Good Time to Buy a Home

»Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

Americans are more optimistic about their home buying prospects than
residents of other countries, with nearly two-thirds of Americans saying now is
a good time to buy a home, according to the new Genworth International Mortgage
Trends Report.

The local economic outlook, concerns about property
affordability, and worries about future unemployment are among the issues listed
by survey respondents as obstacles to their purchasing a home.

 

Yet these economic concerns have not translated into excessive mortgage
stress among U.S. home buyers. According to the survey, 87% of Americans who
bought their first home in the past 12 months expected to easily meet their
mortgage repayment obligations in the coming year, a slight improvement over the
85% who comfortably met their mortgage payments in the 12 months prior to the
survey period.

 

Due to affordability issues — high home prices, higher costs of living, or
fear of rising interest rates — the average age of first-time home buyers has
risen in all countries except India over the last 40 years. The average age at
which a person in the U.S. was able to purchase a first home rose from 27.3 in
the 1970s to 31.6 in the 2000s.

 

“The U.S. is the most optimistic among all the markets surveyed about buying
a home,” said Kevin Schneider, Genworth U.S. Mortgage Insurance president.
“Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed believe now is a good time to buy a
home … We hope that federal and state lawmakers recognize this pent-up demand
and enact policies that foster prudent home ownership.”

 

Some key findings from other nations surveyed:

 

  • Consumer confidence is a major factor in home buying. Developing countries
    are especially optimistic. India was the most positive country, with two thirds
    of Indian respondents feeling good about their national economy, followed by
    Mexico, where 42% of respondents were optimists.

 

  • Indebtedness colors how households around the world view their financial
    situation and how they approach buying a home. Western countries tended to have
    higher levels of debt, but were also more comfortable taking on debt.

 

  • In almost all of the countries surveyed, housing affordability is keeping
    first-home buyers out of the property market. The reasons for affordability
    challenges range from the rising costs of living, a fear of interest rate rises,
    lack of housing availability to high house prices.

 

Source: Genworth Financial

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/two-thirds-americans-think-now-good-time-buy-home/#ixzz1P5Wvfrzb

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How to Keep Your Passwords Secure

»Posted by on Jun 22, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

What makes a good password vs. a bad password? You
undoubtedly have several passwords that you use to protect your important
business information
so how do you make sure those
passwords don’t become easy guesses for would-be hackers or make you a victim of
cybercrime?

Here are some tips from security experts.

Make your password 10 characters in
length:
Security researchers have found
that a password with 10 characters would take a hacker, on average, 19.24 years
at a hundred-billion-guesses-a-second rate to try every combination of those 10
characters to guess your password.

Make sure your passwords are encrypted:
If you use a password service to store
all of your passwords so you can keep them straight, make sure the company does
not store actual passwords but only the encrypted forms of it on the cloud. For
example, the password bank LastPass only stores encrypted passwords on the
Internet, and the information is only decrypted when you’ve retrieved
it.

Don’t use common words: Steve
Gibson, a security expert and chief executive of the Gibson Research
Corporation, suggests avoiding commonly used passwords as well as any words
found in the dictionary. Instead, he stresses one of the strongest passwords you
can make is a bunch of gibberish characters

again, at least 10 characters long.

Source: “Guard That Password (and Make Sure It’s
Encrypted),”
The New York Times
(June 11, 2011)

http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011061305?OpenDocument

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What to Do if You Get a 1099-C

»Posted by on Jun 21, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

If you defaulted on a debt, negotiated a reduced pay-off with your lender, or
lost a home or other property due to foreclosure or repossession, you may have
received a Form 1099-C Cancellation of Debt in the mail. Since the IRS expects
you to include in your gross income any forgiven debt—and pay taxes on it
(unless you qualify for an exclusion or exception)—this is a form that requires
your careful attention.

If you have received one of these forms, you’re not alone. The IRS projects
that it will process 2.8 million 1099-Cs for the 2010 tax year, up from nearly
2.7 million for the 2009 tax year. Thus, this week’s infographic is dedicated to
the Form 1099-C, the new tax-time mascot of the Great Recession.

For more on the Form 1099-C, see Gerri Detweiler’s article, 1099-C
In the Mail? How to Avoid Taxes on Canceled Debt
.

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