Gunning Daily News

Top 3 Tips to Protect Yourself from Mobile Malware

February 14, 2012 4:48 pm

Mobile malware is becoming a bigger problem every day. Especially now, considering some Americans use their phones more than their computers. Putting a stop to mobile malware isn't that easy.

What is malware? It's essentially viruses or programs that can wreak havoc on your phone. Malware can cause lags and system errors, and can introduce worms and trojans to your system. In short: you don't want malware on your phone.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you fight malware problems.

Malware Tip No. 1: Check app reviews before you download.
If you're an Android user, you should be cautious. There seems to be a growing number of malware targeted toward Android devices. That means you should be wary about downloading or installing applications that you've never heard of, or that don't have good reviews. See what other customers are saying about the app before you download. It can help you avoid a virus.

Also try to avoid clicking on suspicious links when browsing the web.

Malware Tip No. 2: Disable Bluetooth when you're not using it.
Be careful if you use Bluetooth on your phone. If you're walking around with Bluetooth enabled, your phone could be ripe for a hacker to swoop in. In some cases, individuals can find all the information on their phone stolen due to an open Bluetooth connection. So it may be prudent to simply remember to turn your Bluetooth off when you're not using it.

Malware Tip No. 3: Update your phone's OS.

Sometimes updating your phone's OS can help you combat malware. This is because developers are often trying to upgrade features with new releases. They are also probably trying to work on fixing any security loopholes.

Knowing that mobile malware exists is an essential first step. The next step is to take preventative measures to stop mobile malware from infiltrating your phone. With these steps in mind, hopefully your phone will remain virus-free.

Source: www.findlaw.com

Auction Etiquette: Bidding on Government-Owned Property

February 13, 2012 5:10 pm

In our previous segment, I began focusing on the availability of government-owned real estate opportunities. Did you know that the fed is the single largest owner of real property in the United States?

If you are a citizen looking to purchase Federal real estate, the federal Government Services Administration (GSA) Office of Real Property Utilization and Disposal stands ready to handle your Federal real estate acquisition, utilization and disposal needs.

According to the GSA, there are several ways consumers can begin bidding on government-owned real estate. The agency has three commonly used methods for conducting public sales of surplus Federal real property: online auction, public auction, and sealed bid.

In each, if the highest bid is acceptable and represents the fair market value of the property, an award is usually made. GSA reserves the right to act in the Government’s best interest when reviewing all bids. Therefore, the highest bid may not always be accepted.

Properties available via online auction are advertised on the Internet at www.realestatesales.gov and www.govsales.gov. An online auction allows the bidder to conduct all bidding activities, including submitting the bid deposit and increasing bids, online. Bidders bid against each other on the website until a designated date. The highest bidder is declared once the auction officially closes.

Public auctions are conducted in a conventional “live outcry” auction setting with an auctioneer at a specific date and time. Bidders register, submit the bid deposit, and bid openly against each other until the highest bidder is declared.

Sealed Bids and bid deposits may be mailed in to the specified GSA regional office prior to the designated bid opening date and time. All bids are publicly opened on the bid opening date. After the public opening, no bids may be modified. The highest bidder is declared shortly after the auction officially closes.
The Invitation for Bid or IFB package distributed for a particular property will indicate all bidding procedures and any special conditions that apply regarding the sale of the property. Bidders should carefully inspect the property being offered for sale prior to bidding.

And let the buyer beware—all properties are sold on an “as is, where is” basis, and all bids are final once submitted.

Last Minute V-Day Tips Keep Your Wallet and Your Valentine Happy

February 13, 2012 5:10 pm

Been so busy you haven’t had a chance to get a gift for your sweetie? Is your budget cramping your romantic style this year? The following tips can help.
1. Buy a single rose instead of a dozen. It’s just as beautiful on its own. Accompany it with a heartfelt note.
2. Skip the restaurant and cook for your sweetie. It’s more thoughtful, and intimate.
3. Skip the pricey store-bought sweets and whip up cookies or cake yourself.
4. Create a playlist of meaningful music and present it to your Valentine, “mixed-tape” style.
5. Write your own card. Store-bought cards may seem appealing, but creating your own card takes genuine thought and effort, and that’s what romance is all about.

U.S. Tax Payers Have Low Awareness of Identity Theft Risks during Tax Season

February 13, 2012 5:10 pm

PrivacyGuard, a leading identity theft and credit management product of the Affinion Security Center, recently announced the results of its annual tax and identity theft survey. The survey found that while consumers remain concerned about identity theft, there are some common misconceptions about the risk of preparing and submitting their tax documents, and many are engaging in risky behaviors online that could lead to identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission's 2010 Consumer Complaint Report, listed tax or wage related fraud as the cause of 15 percent of identity theft claims, higher than credit card fraud, employment fraud, bank fraud, or loan fraud.

PrivacyGuard's survey of 500 people revealed that respondents were aware of the possible risks of sharing personal information during a transaction. Additionally, 88 percent reported that they worry that the organization they are sharing their personal information with could suffer a data breach. Retailers were chosen overwhelmingly (46 percent) as the least trustworthy institution, followed by credit card companies and government agencies. When a data breach occurs, respondents are more likely (38 percent) to blame the institution that was breached than the thieves that stole the data (34 percent).

Although respondents expressed concern about data breaches, the survey reflected some carelessness among consumers when protecting their account information. Only 31 percent had a unique password for each site they use, which could increase the risk of identity theft.

Leary of Tax Preparers; Taking Risks with Online Tax Submission
Respondents expressed mistrust of their tax preparers, with 53 percent feeling concerned or very concerned about identity theft when choosing a tax preparer. This number is up from 41 percent in 2011.
Postal mail continued to be the most trustworthy of delivery options with most respondents (60 percent) listing it as the most secure way to file their taxes. However, the majority of respondents (53 percent) assumes the risk and submits their taxes online.

Low Awareness of IRS Contact Methods
Respondents have grown increasingly ignorant about the methods the IRS uses to initiate contact with tax payers, with many selecting the wrong option: 40 percent believe the IRS can contact them via email, mail or phone and 4 percent believe that the IRS will contact them through email. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through email. Last year the survey results showed a similar trend, with 50 percent selecting the email, mail or phone option.

"Americans have become increasingly concerned about the risk of identity theft over the past few years," says Christine El Eris, Director of Product for PrivacyGuard. "However, taxpayers need to be aware of the unique risks they face during tax season."

The following tips can help prevent identity theft during tax season:

When Preparing Your Return
1. Be Aware of Suspicious Emails and Phone Calls Regarding Your Tax Refund, Tax Filing or Any Stimulus Checks – Check the IRS website for tips on how to spot scammers and thieves posing as the IRS and a list of known phishes.
2. Be Diligent When Choosing Your Tax Preparers – Ensure that you are working with a credible firm and be extra cautious about new or seasonal offices. Check the IRS website for more tips on how to choose a tax preparer.
3. Secure your computer – If you file taxes electronically, be sure to install updated firewalls and anti-spyware protection to help keep your personal data out of the hands of thieves.

During and After Filing
1. Mail securely – If you file via mail, be sure to mail your return directly from the post office – do not leave your tax return in your unlocked mailbox or at the curb for pickup by your local mail carrier. Your personal information will be vulnerable until it is retrieved by the postal carrier. It is wise to send tax information by first class mail with a tracking number.
2. Safeguard Sensitive Information in Home and Outside – Frequently the greatest threat to personal information comes from service providers or in-home workers or acquaintances. Keep paperwork in a safe location. When carrying this information out of the house, be sure to keep it on you or make sure if you leave it in the car, it is not visible.
3. Micro-Shred Your Documents – Cross-cut shredders just don't "cut" it these days. Use a micro-cut shredder for maximum security. The shred size on micro-cut machines is much smaller – documents are literally turned into dust, offering the highest level of security. And since even a seven year- old receipt can be used by a thief, shredding is still one of the simplest ways to prevent identity theft.

Source: www.affinionsecuritycenter.com.

Word of the Day

February 13, 2012 5:10 pm

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Mortgage loan on which the interest rate falls and rises with changes in prevailing rates. The mortgage rate is tied to a selected index and may be adjusted annually. Also called a variable rate mortgage.

Question of the Day

February 13, 2012 5:10 pm

Q: Once I choose a contractor, what items should be covered in the contract?

A: According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, a well-written contract should contain the following information:

• The contractor’s name, address, telephone and license number, if applicable;
• Details about what will and will not be done;
• A detailed list of materials for the project, including model, brand name and color.
• The approximate start date and substantial completion dates.
• A written notice of your right to cancel a contract within three business days of signing, without penalty – provided the contract was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premise.
• Financial terms that are spelled out clearly, including payment schedules and any cancellation penalties.
• A one-year minimum warranty identified as either “full” or “limited” to cover materials and workmanship, as well as the name and address of the party who will honor the warranty.
• A binding arbitration clause, in the event a disagreement occurs.

You may also want to include a statement that you will not be responsible if payment to the contractors’ subcontractors and suppliers are not made. You may also want to establish that the contractor should obtain all the necessary permits and that all blank spots in the contract be filled in with phrases like “does not apply.”

Word of the Day

February 10, 2012 6:30 pm

Zoning. Procedure that classifies real property for a number of different uses: residential, commercial, industrial, etc. in accordance with a land-use plan.

Question of the Day

February 10, 2012 6:30 pm

Q: Are shared equity and shared appreciation mortgages the same?

A: No. With a shared appreciation mortgage, or SAM, a borrower receives a below-market interest rate in return for the lender receiving a share, usually 30 to 50 percent, in the future appreciation of the property upon its sale.

Introduced in the early 1980's, when interest rates were high enough to make qualifying for a mortgage a real challenge, the SAM has never really caught on. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) proved more attractive.

Toothpaste Matters: What’s in Your Tube?

February 10, 2012 6:30 pm

Most parents are careful about learning what’s in the stuff their kids eat and drink. They avoid artificial dyes, preservatives, chemicals, and sweeteners. Yet ask just about any of those same folks if they have ever looked at what is in their toothpaste and you’ll likely get blank stares.

Considering the fact that children—and adults—ingest toothpaste twice a day every day, it’s probably the most frequent thing we put in our mouths other than water or other beverages. And still, most people have never looked at what is in their toothpaste.

Dentist and national oral health care expert Harold Katz, suggests that needs to change. Many ingredients in some commercial toothpastes are of questionable benefit and some are just plain bad for you.

Consumers have become increasingly aware of the hidden toxins in foods, beverages and eating and drinking utensils, he says. They avoid high fat and high sodium foods, sulfates in their personal care products, aerosol sprays, and toxic chemicals in their household cleaners.

“They’re taking no chances, and rightfully so. Remember the rush to replace plastic baby bottles with glass ones after the BPA scare in 2008?” he asked.

However there has been a surprising lack of attention to toothpaste, Katz says. The dentist suggests that all consumers – but especially parents – take the time to read their toothpaste tubes today. Effects of potentially unhealthy toothpaste ingredients are multiplied in the smaller bodies of children.

Here are a few ingredients to stay away from:
• FD&C blue dye No. 2: This commonly used toothpaste dye is one of several on the list of additives to avoid, maintained by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It’s said to be linked to learning, behavioral and health problems, severe allergic reactions, and headaches, among other problems.

• Sodium lauryl sulfate:
The American College of Toxicology reports this ingredient in cosmetics and industrial cleaning agents can cause skin corrosion and irritation. Doses of .8 to 110 grams/kilogram in lab rats caused depression, labored breathing, diarrhea and death in 4 out of 20 animals.

• Triclosan: An anti-microbial ingredient, the federal Environmental Protection Agency lists triclosan as a pesticide and regulates its use in over-the-counter toothpastes and hand soaps. According to the agency’s fact sheet, “Studies on the thyroid and estrogen effects led EPA to determine that more research on the potential health consequences of endocrine effects of triclosan is warranted. … Because of the amount of research being planned and currently in progress, it will undertake another comprehensive review of triclosan beginning in 2013.”

• Saccharin and aspartame: Both of these artificial sweeteners are on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s list of additives to avoid.

Toothpaste buyers should look for natural ingredients, such as aloe vera juice, which cleans and soothes teeth and gums and helps fight cavities, according to the May/June 2009 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's clinical, peer-reviewed journal. Aloe vera tooth gel is said to kill disease-causing bacteria in the mouth, Katz says.

Also, avoid all toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh detergent that has been linked to canker sores. Toothpastes that are free of sulfates include Weleda’s Salt Toothpaste, TheraBreath and Tom’s of Maine.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day and get children into the habit from a young age, Katz says. You’ll have fresh breath, avoid painful dental problems, and be far more likely to have your teeth in your mouth when you go to sleep at night as you age.

Just be sure to check what’s in your family’s toothpaste and avoid buying anything with problematic ingredients. And when it comes to brushing kids teeth use a pea-sized drop of paste on the brush—no more—and oversee brushing to ensure young children don’t swallow their toothpaste, says Dr Katz.
Source: www.therabreath.com

Buying Federal Real Estate

February 10, 2012 6:30 pm

If you are a citizen looking to purchase Federal real estate, the federal Government Services Administration (GSA) Office of Real Property Utilization and Disposal stands ready to handle your Federal real estate acquisition, utilization and disposal needs.

According to the GSA, there are three easy steps to finding and buying surplus Federal real estate through their Office of Real Property Disposal. As in any real estate transaction, bidders participate in an open, competitive market for the best purchase price.

PBS serves as the Federal Government’s builder, developer, lessor, and manager of government- owned and leased properties. And PBS is the largest and most diversified real estate organization in the world—responsible for managing the utilization and disposal of Federal excess and surplus real property government-wide.

There are three relatively easy steps to get started if you want to consider acquiring a PBS property:

Step 1 – Find Available Real Estate
Property Disposal Websites GSA publishes current and upcoming public sales information on its free website: www.propertydisposal.gsa.gov.The website features a U.S. map, which allows users to search for properties by state and type. Additional federal properties can also be found at www.govsales.gov, the official site to buy U.S. government property from various Federal agencies.

Step 2 – Obtain an Invitation for Bid
GSA provides all the information necessary to bid on a particular property in the Invitation for Bid (IFB) package. You can obtain an IFB for a specific property by clicking on: propertydisposal.gsa.gov - or by calling the applicable GSA regional office.

If you don't have access to the Internet, the regional GSA office responsible for available property in your state can provide additional information. IFB packages generally include the following information:

• location of the property
• property description
• maps
• pictures
• zoning and land use regulations
• environmental conditions
• general terms of the sale
• directions to the property
• Inspection guidelines

The final part of the process—acquiring your government-owned property—will be covered in a future segment.