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Avoid COVID Scams and Identity Theft

It seems like crisis either brings out the best in people… or it brings out the worst. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in scams and  Best Identity Theft Protection that play on people’s fears about COVID and our new environment and guidelines.

The good news is that many of these scams have the same warning signs that other identity crimes have, so you can watch for these red flags and avoid becoming a victim.

What are some of the most common scams today, and how can you identify them? Let’s take a look.
Threatening You with Jail, a Large Fine, or Criminal Charges
The biggest scam indicator? Someone trying to scare you into revealing information by saying that you are facing jail time, a significant fine, or other legal action.

Real police do not demand personal information in return for not arresting you.

There are no laws requiring you to share information about your health or vaccine status over the phone or internet, so don’t fall for it!
A Request for a Photo of Your Vaccine Card
Your vaccine card has a lot of personal information on it, and scammers are using this data to steal your identity. Your name, birthdate, address, and other information is available on this card, so you don’t want to post it anywhere online.

You should also ignore any requests to take a photo of your vaccine card and send it to someone. No legitimate business or government agency will request this information.

Remember, any threats of legal action are fake. The authorities do not threaten legal action over the phone.
Offering COVID Testing in Return for Personal Information
If you receive a phone call or email offering you COVID testing or other COVID services in return for personal information, do not respond. Unfortunately, these scammers are targeting Medicare beneficiaries and then using your Medicare information to commit medical identity theft.

If you make an appointment for COVID testing or vaccination online, be sure you are directly accessing the approved testing site’s website. Ignore social media ads and go directly to the pharmacy or provider’s website instead.

If you receive a call that claims to be from a doctor’s office, thank them for their time and tell the caller that you will call the doctor’s office directly. That way you know for sure that you’re talking to a legitimate person and not a scammer.
An Offer of Government Money
The stimulus checks that the government issued during COVID-19 helped many people make ends meet. Unfortunately, scammers saw this as an opportunity to commit identity theft and steal information from unsuspecting consumers.

If you receive a call that claims to be from the IRS or another government agency asking for your personal information in return for government assistance, do not give the information out. These are scammers.

Keep in mind that as of March of 2022, there is no new stimulus money coming. If things change, any payment will be processed the same as previous checks. You do not need to give out personal information over the phone or online to get your payment.
Stay Safe from Identity Theft
Anytime someone asks you for personal information over the phone or online, you should immediately end the conversation. No government agency or doctor’s office works that way. If you have any concerns, you can always hang up and call the official phone number for that organization to double-check.

Don’t let the fear of COVID scare you into becoming an identity theft victim. And if you’d like more help protecting your identity, contact us today!

 

Tovább

How to Fix Your Credit After COVID

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on personal finances. In fact, 10% of Americans feel like they’ll never recover from the financial damage.

The good news is that most consumers have the ability to improve their credit rating, replenish their savings, and more. Even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, over the long term there are strategies and Best Credit Monitoring Services that you can use to improve your situation.

Let’s take a look at how to get back on your feet after the financial impact of COVID.
Assess Where You Are Now
Sometimes the stress of a crisis, combined with the money we lose, makes it hard to take a realistic look at where we are now. We might mourn the fact that our savings aren’t where they once were, or that our retirement account has been lessened.

However, the first step to getting back on track is understanding where things stand now. You might find that the truth isn’t as dire as you expected!

Try to set aside your previous expectations of what your future would hold so that you can understand your position today and create a new plan for the future.
Reduce Debt
Many people struggled with job loss, lower income, or reduced hours during the two years we’ve been dealing with COVID. That means you might have racked up additional credit debt to make ends meet.

As the economy and job situation stabilizes, it’s time to start reducing your reliance on credit and creating a plan to pay down your debt. Set aside the emotions of this difficult time and focus on creating a logical, clear plan that you can follow.

As you reduce your debt, invest in a credit monitoring service that can help you keep an eye on your credit as you rebuild your finances.
Trim Waste From Your Budget
A lot of us bought things, subscribed to things, and invested in new hobbies to get us through the pandemic. There’s nothing wrong with finding coping mechanisms in a crisis, but it’s important to know when to pull back.

Now that you’re focused on getting your finances back on track, it’s time to look through your current subscriptions and expenses to see what you can get rid of. Can you shop around to get a better cell phone plan, eliminate a gym membership, or find a less expensive streaming service?

Many people are surprised at how many ways there are to save money in their budget. These changes will help you stay on track not just now, but over the long term as well. You can take the savings and put them toward your debt, which will help you fix your credit.
Replenish Your Emergency Fund
Once you have your immediate spending under control, it’s time to replenish your emergency fund. Many Americans used this money to get them through a period of job loss, fewer hours, and other economic problems.

Now that things are more stable, it’s time to start saving again. How does this impact your credit? An emergency fund allows you to handle unexpected expenses without having to go back to your credit card, so you can continue to build up your credit score.
Get Your Credit in Check
The COVID-19 crisis has lasted much longer than anyone expected. That means the economic impact has been worse as well. However, don’t give up hope — there’s a lot you can do to improve your credit.

Credit monitoring services can make a big difference as you get back on your feet. Learn more about IdentityIQ and sign up today!

How to Fix Your Credit After COVID

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on personal finances. In fact, 10% of Americans feel like they’ll never recover from the financial damage.

The good news is that most consumers have the ability to improve their credit rating, replenish their savings, and more. Even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, over the long term there are strategies and credit monitoring services that you can use to improve your situation.

Let’s take a look at how to get back on your feet after the financial impact of COVID.
Assess Where You Are Now
Sometimes the stress of a crisis, combined with the money we lose, makes it hard to take a realistic look at where we are now. We might mourn the fact that our savings aren’t where they once were, or that our retirement account has been lessened.

However, the first step to getting back on track is understanding where things stand now. You might find that the truth isn’t as dire as you expected!

Try to set aside your previous expectations of what your future would hold so that you can understand your position today and create a new plan for the future.
Reduce Debt
Many people struggled with job loss, lower income, or reduced hours during the two years we’ve been dealing with COVID. That means you might have racked up additional credit debt to make ends meet.

As the economy and job situation stabilizes, it’s time to start reducing your reliance on credit and creating a plan to pay down your debt. Set aside the emotions of this difficult time and focus on creating a logical, clear plan that you can follow.

As you reduce your debt, invest in a credit monitoring service that can help you keep an eye on your credit as you rebuild your finances.
Trim Waste From Your Budget
A lot of us bought things, subscribed to things, and invested in new hobbies to get us through the pandemic. There’s nothing wrong with finding coping mechanisms in a crisis, but it’s important to know when to pull back.

Now that you’re focused on getting your finances back on track, it’s time to look through your current subscriptions and expenses to see what you can get rid of. Can you shop around to get a better cell phone plan, eliminate a gym membership, or find a less expensive streaming service?

Many people are surprised at how many ways there are to save money in their budget. These changes will help you stay on track not just now, but over the long term as well. You can take the savings and put them toward your debt, which will help you fix your credit.
Replenish Your Emergency Fund
Once you have your immediate spending under control, it’s time to replenish your emergency fund. Many Americans used this money to get them through a period of job loss, fewer hours, and other economic problems.

Now that things are more stable, it’s time to start saving again. How does this impact your credit? An emergency fund allows you to handle unexpected expenses without having to go back to your credit card, so you can continue to build up your credit score.
Get Your Credit in Check
The COVID-19 crisis has lasted much longer than anyone expected. That means the economic impact has been worse as well. However, don’t give up hope — there’s a lot you can do to improve your credit.

Credit monitoring services can make a big difference as you get back on your feet. Learn more about IdentityIQ and sign up today!

Tovább

Tools for Effectively Selling Timeshares

Selling timeshares: Bermudian style condominiums along the shore
Maybe your timeshare was fun for a while, and it's time to move on. Maybe you're just sick of the ever-increasing annual maintenance fees. Or maybe you just want to have real freedom in deciding what to do with your limited vacation time. Whatever the reason, vacation ownership is no longer offering you value, and you've decided that your timeshare needs to go.

 

If you're a homeowner, you may have already experienced the real estate process with regard to your residence. As you are no doubt aware, though, a timeshare is a very different kind of real estate. When you sell your home, you are typically selling property fee simple - that is, you're selling the right to use and exclude others from a certain piece of property forever.

 

Timeshares, on the other hand, are a much narrower (some would say lesser) form of property ownership. The traditional system of timeshare ownership splits properties into “weeks,” with different owners taking possession on specific weeks. More modern systems, such as the Marriott Vacation Club, use a point-based system to reserve time for different timeshare properties.

 

However, your timeshare works, selling it can be a hassle. In this article, we'll talk about different tools you can use to sell your timeshare. First, we'll look at the decision many people make to try selling their units themselves, which often leads to frustration. Then, we'll talk about a better option: finding a qualified realtor with experience in the timeshare resale process. 

 

Of course, all of this discussion assumes that there is not another way to legally and ethically exit your timeshare based on your specific situation. If you cannot sell your timeshare, you should consider other methods of exit. Whatever route you choose, Centerstone Group is here to offer advice and guidance to make the experience as easy as possible.

 

Selling Timeshares by Yourself
selling timeshares: eBay signage on a post
Anyone who wonders about where to buy a used timeshare - or how desperate people can be to sell timeshares - should take a look at eBay or Craigslist. You can find timeshare units there for a few thousand dollars, or in extreme cases even $ 1. Someone who doesn't understand how timeshares work may think this sounds like the deal of a lifetime. 

 

The truth is, though, that many owners consider these timeshares a disease that they can't get rid of. The rock-bottom sale prices are all that owners can get on these websites. Without any targeted marketing or professional listing, a few thousand dollars is probably the best that a timeshare owner on eBay or Craigslist can hope for.

 

And if you do decide to go this route, don't expect to sell your unit right away. These deeply discounted units can sit on auction websites for years before they sell - if they ever do. During all that time, who do you think is going to pay the annual maintenance fees and other charges associated with the unit? That's right, you. 

 

To put a finer point on it, listing through eBay, Craigslist, or some other website is likely going to involve waiting a long time for a very low offer if one ever comes. And the timeshare will be draining you of money the whole time. Not even the wealthiest person wants to throw good money after bad. There are better options that are far more likely to actually work.

 

Selling Timeshares With a Real Estate Agent
Timeshares are tricky beasts, and it's not a sign of weakness to admit that you need help with selling one. After all, most of us wouldn't try listing our homes on eBay. Get a professional real estate agent to help you with your timeshare resale. You still aren't going to make a ton on the deal, but the transaction can be more efficient and save you money in the long run.

 

Watch Out for Timeshare Resale Scams
When you list your timeshare with a real estate agent, you still need to be careful about who you trust. The fact that a company advertises itself as a timeshare resale company doesn't mean they are qualified to help you. 

 

Many of these companies run timeshare scams, taking advantage of desperate owners by promising they have buyers at the ready. Then they take thousands of dollars in upfront fees and vanish, leaving the owner high and dry. The problem has become so bad that the Attorneys general of Florida and other states are fighting back and pursuing these companies.

 

Get a Qualified Realtor
While all licensed realtors have the same basic competencies and adhere to the same code of ethics, not all of them are the best choice for timeshare sales. As you may have gathered from the discussion above (particularly the fact that so many owners are desperate to sell their units at online auctions), the timeshare resale market and pricing are a very niche specialization.

 

Your realtor may be the best there at selling beach homes, but if they don't have experience with marketing and selling fractional ownership properties, they may not be a great fit for this particular project. 

 

While selling a timeshare should happen as quickly as possible to save you money, you do need to take the time to interview potential realtors and make sure they have the experience and track record you need to get the job done. 

 

Getting Rid of Timeshares Without a Sale
Person ripping a contract
If you can How to sell a timeshare without too much difficult time or cost, that's great. But selling timeshares is neither easy nor profitable. Because of this, it is worth your time to consider whether you have any other legal and ethical options for exiting your timeshare.

 

Unlike some other timeshare exit companies, Centerstone Group is a BBB-accredited business with an outstanding reputation. We're dedicated to helping timeshare owners find solutions to their problems. Sometimes the best solution might in fact be a resale. Other times, however, there are more desirable options.

 

Maybe a resort will take timeshare units back but will not implement the policy unless it is forced to do so by knowledgeable people. Or maybe there is a timeshare cancellation commission in your contract. Or perhaps there is a more complicated legal exit strategy that a lawyer can help with. 

 

Centerstone Group offers free consultations so they can get to the bottom of your specific problem. We can help you weigh all of these possible solutions and more. We can also refer you to qualified, trusted professionals who will help you take care of your timeshare problem with as little expense and trouble as possible.

 

Once you have made up your mind that you need to get rid of your unit, be careful not to become fixated on one particular option. Keep your mind open and allow us to help you find the least stressful exit plan for your timeshare problem.

 

Freedom Feels Wonderful
When you are shackled to an unpleasant, expensive timeshare contract, it can seem like your troubles will never end. The good news is that they do end. The better news is that, just by being here, you have already started taking steps to free yourself from the headaches and expense of your timeshare mistake.

 

Let us take a look at your case and see what we can do for you - whether that's helping you understand the process of selling timeshares or finding you another option. Contact Centerstone Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Tovább

What to Look For in the Best Credit Monitoring Services

 

In 2020, there were over 1.3 million identity theft reports made to the FTC. Credit card fraud was the second most common type of theft with 28% of the complaints.

You don’t want to have to deal with credit card fraud — it can cost you thousands of dollars and countless hours of heartache. Instead, sign up with a high-quality credit monitoring service so that you can rest easy knowing that your information is secure.

How do you know you’ve found one of the best credit monitoring services? Here are three criteria to look for.

Regular Credit Reports and Scores

Consumers are entitled to one credit report every three years from each of the three major credit bureaus. That means if you rotate which one you request from, you can get a credit report each year. However, this does not include your credit score, so you’re still in the dark about how you might look to a lender.

The best credit monitoring services understand that a lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to Best Identity Theft Protection. That’s why more regular credit reports — and your credit score — are included in the best plans. For example, with IdentityIQ Secure Max you can get your credit report and score every month.

Monitoring of the Dark Web

When thieves steal your credit information, they don’t set up a public website and sell it to whomever comes along. That would be a recipe for getting arrested by the police! Instead, they go to the dark web, which is the internet equivalent of a black market.

The dark web can only be accessed using a specific browser and the users take care to completely hide their identity and location so they can’t be caught. It’s a place where illegal activity happens often and it’s easy to get hacked or taken advantage of.

Because thieves use the dark web to sell personal information, high-quality monitoring services will monitor the dark web to ensure your data doesn’t appear there.

Reimbursement for Stolen Funds

One of the most frightening things about identity theft and credit card fraud is that it can financially ruin you. Not only do you have the chance that you’ll lose money directly to a thief, but the amount of time and money it takes to solve the problem can be significant.

If you’re looking for the best credit monitoring services, find an option that gives you financial protection as well as peace of mind. IdentityIQ products include up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement to help with stolen money, legal fees, and miscellaneous expenses.

How Safe is Your Credit?

Your credit rating is an essential part of your life, affecting everything from buying or renting a home to how much you pay for car insurance. It pays to protect yourself from scammers and thieves looking to steal your personal information.

If you want the best credit monitoring services, look for regular credit reports and scores, a service that monitors the dark web, and direct financial protection. We make it easy for you — simply sign up with IdentityIQ today!

Tovább

How to Choose a San Diego Rheumatologist

 

Arthritis affects nearly 37% of the American population, and the best way to get care for aching joints and sore ligaments is to see a rheumatologist. However, it can be challenging to find the right San Diego rheumatologist or even to know what you're looking for.

 

Here are three things to consider as you contact rheumatologists in the San Diego area. When you find these attributes, you can rest assured that you're in good hands. You deserve the best when it comes to managing your pain and keeping your mobility strong throughout your life.

Find a Riverside Rheumatologist  With Strong Experience

One of the things about joint paint that makes it so frustrating is that it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It's not an open-and-shut textbook case, especially when you're dealing with arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, or another similar condition.

 

It's important to find a San Diego rheumatologist that has experience working with patients over a number of years. That kind of specialist will be able to combine book smarts with common sense and what they've seen in the past to get you the best available treatment options.

Look for a Listening Ear

When you're dealing with complex bone, joint, and tendon systems, everything in your body can impact how another part of your body feels. 

 

You want to find a rheumatologist that doesn't make you feel rushed in and out of your appointments. They should listen to the details of what you're going through because in those details they could discover the clue to an effective treatment.

 

Feeling comfortable with your rheumatologist is also important because you'll need to share a lot of details with them about your physical condition. You need to feel like you can talk about how your medication and treatment are going and any concerns that you have.

 

Our team is compassionate and ready to help you with all of your rheumatology concerns. Our doctors are highly qualified and also have personal pursuits, whether that's spending time with family, jet skiing, or birdwatching. You can see either a male or female rheumatologist in our clinic, whichever makes you feel most comfortable.

They Are Happy to Explain Everything

As a patient, rheumatology can be intimidating. You know that you hurt, but understanding all of the systems that play into that pain and limited mobility can be challenging. It's hard to talk up in a doctor's office if your rheumatologist is abrupt or overbearing.

 

As a result, it's vital to look for a rheumatologist that takes the time to carefully explain everything, from test results to recommended medications. Being able to ask questions between appointments is also helpful.

 

At Southland Arthritis, not only do our clinicians take the time to go over your care program and results, but we also have a patient portal that makes it easy to see test results, ask questions, and view upcoming appointments. We proudly focus on making the patient experience as easy and, yes, painless as possible!

Make an Appointment With a San Diego Rheumatologist Today

If you're looking for a San Diego rheumatologist, Southland Arthritis is here to help. We have a number of clinicians and they all have knowledge and experience that you can trust. We're excited to help you address your medical needs, reduce pain, and improve mobility.

 

Contact us for an appointment today!

 

Tovább

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