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Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Call of Digital Duty: Key Questions and Actions for Securing Your Own Files

Have you ever wondered about the value of a single document or digital asset to your work, your livelihood or even life? Maybe the file contains a contract or evidence to support a claim, a deed or last will and testament, an insurance policy, years of research, or a business plan. Perhaps interview notes from anonymous sources for an investigative article. Is the file worth protecting? Is it worth keeping confidential?

Stop Taking Security for Granted Because of Tech Convenience 
The marvels of technology make nearly every digital action we take more convenient. Yet, when it comes to security, “easier” can often mean lazier and an open door for attacks that could threaten your business. The same level of effort that went into creating your document or digital asset should also apply to how files are protected when they are stored, accessed and shared. And it’s not only a technical job. Time spent training users, changing behavior or bad habits, managing the process and monitoring compliance can fall on your shoulders.

A few years ago, TechRepublic ran a great article called “Chasing the elusive approval for an IT-security budget.” The piece talked about inherent and residual risks and how IT managers can make a business case to help non-tech management understand associated costs. The article also shed light on: “When is the cost of reducing risk more than the cost of having the risk occur?”

That reminds us about how digital risks, consequences and occurrences apply not only to enterprise IT but also more granularly to files and to every file creator or collaborator. While tech security is vast and complex, the answer regarding costs for reducing risk at the file level should never exceed costs of having the risk occur. Part of the solution is finding a security-equipped application to protect your files. And some of those costs equate to seeing how that application can complement work flow and get used regularly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Here's To The Rejects!

Driving on country roads in northern Illinois a couple of weeks ago, my wife remarked, as we passed the sparsely-placed farm houses, how lonely it must have been, many years ago, with no phones and no internet.


The area had been settled about 175 years ago and here we were, wondering what would compel someone to move to such a remote location to make a living.  The short answer, for probably most of them, was, "They had no choice."

Building a better world


For the most part, the United States was settled by people who were rejected by the their home
country.  Many were rejected because of the religion they practiced.  Others were rejected when they tried to get a job that paid enough to feed and shelter themselves or their families.  Still others, migrating from the eastern seaboard, saw the good land and jobs gobbled up by the wealthy and well-connected.  So, they were rejects.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beware of Digital Grave Digging: Guard Deceased Identities

Do you ever wonder how the deceased are able to receive social security checks,  vote or open new credit card accounts?  It's happening more and more.


According to the Internal Revenue Service, nearly 2.5 million deceased American's identity is stolen every year.   Although the deceased person isn't affected (of course) their survivors are.  Stolen identities can result in financial obligations that the surviving family is responsible for covering, or at a minimum, spending a lot of time and energy fighting.

So how are these identities stolen?


According to the ID Theft Center, Identity thieves obtain information about deceased individuals in
various ways.  They may watch the obituaries, steal death certificates, or even get the information from websites that offer the Social Security Death Index.  These web sites are supposed to be used for genealogy research but are sometimes used to steal identities.  It's not necessarily a stranger you have to worry about either. The ID Theft Center reports that as much as 30 percent of identity theft may be committed by a family member or friend! This scenario may be more likely if the deceased person suffered from lengthy illness, mental confusion, or if there is disagreement among family members prior to the death.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An Epic Digital Scare: Prepare to Lose Your Laptop

I had a scare earlier this week at Epic Burger in Chicago that was not a result of food poisoning or poor service. Quite the opposite, in fact, occurred. While waiting for a late afternoon take-out order, I set my backpack in a nearby chair. After filling a drink from the self-serve fountain, I walked out of the restaurant without returning to the chair and backpack. Partially due to battling a migraine headache, I did not realize the bag was gone until late in the evening. Even more painful, inside the backpack was my laptop containing more than 10 years of data.

Digital Detachment
“Lost Laptop” Photo via Flickr
There is a feeling of free-fall vertigo that comes with a lost or stolen device. On my laptop were many local files related to work and my livelihood, personal matters and mementos, and graduate school. The cost of the laptop was one thing, but the value of the accumulated stored documents and assets was quite another.

After retracing steps, I concluded that the backpack and laptop had to be at the restaurant. Later that evening, I went to look at location and deactivation options through Apple. Unfortunately, their service is of little use for devices not connected to the Internet and not powered on. My login offered some prevention for unauthorized access but files inside were not encrypted. I thought about identity theft and someone pulling personal account information. Would I have to change all of my credit cards? I also envisioned someone wiping the serial number and data to sell the computer. I visited Epic Burger’s website where I found an after-hours service number to call, as well as email to contact the location.

Encrypted Precautions
Beware which files you save where!
I did have the foresight to upload many of my critical files—closing documents to my house, passport and social security scans, tax returns, legal agreements, retirement and financial accounts, graduate school research and more—to rest encrypted in the cloud. For what I could still recover, I figured that file-wise I’d be ok. And the absence of clutter might even be cathartic. I also reminded myself that I did not use file synch applications for the vulnerabilities associated with this exact scenario. Losing a device that opens access to cloud storage through synchronization can put everything that you’ve stored there at risk.

Afterward, I pulled back and paused. In the scheme of things, the loss maybe wasn’t as big of a “fall” as I had made it out to be. Yes, losing a device such as a laptop was a big expense. Yes, I could be exposing my personal information. And yes, alerting bank and credit accounts, along with ID monitoring agencies was more than a hassle. Fortunately, I had already taken some precautions by storing important assets in the cloud (you can probably guess where) before this accident happened.

When Epic Burger opened the next morning, I contacted them. I described what the bag looked like and the first employee who answered said they did not have it. A second look from the manager, however, confirmed that they received my messages and had already placed the backpack in their office for safekeeping. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked them for their honesty and diligence. In picking up the backpack, a simple thank you would not suffice, so I shared a nominal tip for doing such an honest deed.

Unexpected Outcomes
Learning from the experience I acknowledged that loss of laptops and devices happens—we are only human. I also decided that there are a few more files on my laptop that should be encrypted and put behind multi-factor authentication at-rest in the cloud, not on my laptop. Similarly, there are some files on my laptop that should not be saved there long-term at all. And passwords for both can always be longer, more unique and changed. The world can be an unforgiving place and we need to take steps to batten down the hatches, defend against data leakage, loss, misuse or worse. At the same time, even in the age of ubiquitous digital danger, let’s not lose sight of the “Epic” goodness that exists in humanity. Prepare for the worst, indeed, but do not stop appreciating or hoping for the best.





Friday, October 2, 2015

Help! A Dog Hit Me While My Waterskis Were On Fire!

Yesterday, the United States joined the rest of the world with its adoption of the International Classification of Disease codes, Revision 10.


Originally designed for statistical purposes, the ICD is now the de facto database organizing protocol for the US medical billing system.  Medicaid, Medicare and now all private insurers are transitioning to the new system. There is a one-year grace period.

How dangerous is this world, anyway?


This change is very important, and even before it is in full use, it provides some important insight into the dangers we face.  So as a public service, we at SafelyFiled want you to know some of the potential dangers you face.  We didn't make these up.  The ICD must actually consider these a risk, otherwise there would be no code for them.

For example, you could be injured and if your injuries were coded as V54.1XXA and V91.07XA, it was because you were struck by a dog and burned while on water skis.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at these screenshots below.  My questions are, "How did the dog hit you?  Did he jump out of the boat?  And what did you use to get your skis to burn?"
































Friday, September 18, 2015

You Are Responsible For Your Health Care

You have an absolute obligation to help your doctors and medical staff provide you with the best care possible.  You simply can't get good care if you don't do your part.  Remember, you are your best healthcare advocate.


Here's What Doesn't Help


If your doctor asks you what medication you are taking and you tell her you are taking three white round pills a day, you are not much help.

If you are asked if you are allergic to any medications and you say yes, but you don't remember which ones, you are not much help.

If you list your prior injuries, but neglect to mention the concussion from the auto accident you were in 10 years ago, you are not much help.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Check is Not in The Mail? A Life Hack for Digital Person-to-Person Payment


Secure Payment via Encrypted, Permitted & Shared Storage

Trying to get your son or daughter a check quickly? Need to pay back a friend for a small loan? Late on a payment to a contractor? We are always on the lookout for unique ways to utilize SafelyFiled’s signature blend of enterprise-grade security measures and simple, yet tight and effective permission controls for completing tasks. Here is a new life hack to avoid incurring wire and overnight delivery charges, and deliver payment from a personal check faster than you can say the U.S. post office's unofficial creed.


  • First, make sure whoever is receiving the check has digital remote deposit set up through their bank. Most major banks offer the service through account features or mobile applications and they are typically quite secure, simple and fast. Double-check to see what file types the bank accepts—jpg, tif, png, gif—and any special size or dimension requirements for the image.

  • Second, scan the check that you want to send for payment, front and back. We are ScanSnap fans, however, other high-quality scanners will do. You also may be able to get by with taking close-up photos with your smart phone camera. After capturing the images, temporarily save the files to your device in a format and size that agrees with your bank’s uploading requirements.

  • Third, upload the check images to your SafelyFiled account where you can title, tag, make notations and even set a reminder for the check if you want to take action later. You will also want to add your intended recipient’s email and set document-level permissions in your account before sending a secure link to access the check. Rest assured, your files are encrypted when they are sent and stored (see our note below for additional information). Also, don’t forget to delete the local files of your scanned check images saved on your device.

And that’s it for sending! Receiving the check is just as simple ...

  • First, your recipient should have temporary access to your scanned check since you added their email for sharing and set permissions in SafelyFiled, along with expiration for access. The recipient should receive a link to the scanned and encrypted files, which they can then grab and download locally.

  • Next, after downloading, your recipient should print out the two files—the front and back of the check. Importantly, they should make sure that the banking and routing numbers do not smudge so their bank can read the information clearly. Then add a restrictive endorsement on the back of the check with corresponding signature and “For Deposit Only” to prevent fraud.

  • Last, recipients should place the printed front and back of the endorsed check in a well-lit area, like a kitchen table or home office. They can then upload the front and back through their bank’s remote deposit application, via their website or mobile. Once accepted, void the check and delete the local files of the scanned images.

We think this life hack is a bit like check delivery at the speed of the Internet through your own "armored vehicle." SafelyFiled has many other uses beyond facilitating person-to-person payments too. But cost for this postage, not to mention speed of delivery, beats bank wire transfer fees, the U.S. Post Office and other postal services, FedEx, UPS and PayPal by a wide margin. Plus, your recipients will know exactly when and where to expect payment. 

Additional note on security: we respect your need for confidentiality and work hard to protect your privacy. SafelyFiled maintains expertly designed algorithms (using AES and RSA) at the core of our security architecture. SafelyFiled ensures that your files—including checks—are protected both when they are stored in the cloud through 256-bit encryption and while they are transmitted over the Internet.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recovering from a Natural Disaster Requires Advance Preparation: Tips from Professional Organizers

Surviving a natural disaster is one thing.  Recovering from it is another.


On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall with wind speeds of 127 mph.  By the time it was over, 1,833 people had died and damages were estimated at $108 Billion.  An additional $75 billion was paid for in disaster relief.  According to Data Center Research.org,  Katrina was the third
deadliest hurricane in American history and the deadliest since the introduction of the weather satellite.   It was the costliest hurricane in American history.  The pain that accompanied the loss of family members, homes and prized possessions is immeasurable.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: How to Manage Identity Theft Recovery

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

Each year, about 10 million people become the victim of identity theft. Many more have unauthorized charges made on their credit cards or have to deal with some other form of fraud. Unfortunately, a do-it-yourself identity restoration can take weeks or months and require dozens of hours of your time. In this, the third and final installment in a series on using digital document management to protect yourself from identity theft, SafelyFiled and Control Your ID will cover ways in which digital document management can help you recover from identity theft.

For most people, dealing with identity theft means dealing with organizations like credit bureaus, the IRS, your bank or your insurance company. Some of these organizations will want paperwork from you, others will provide you with paperwork, and in many cases you’ll have conversations you want to log for future reference. Let’s go over the basics.

First, no matter who you deal with you will likely need a fraud affidavit and a police report. Both documents are important, not because the government is likely to investigate your identity theft case, but because organizations that have been defrauded want you to swear out an official statement before they will recognize your claim of fraud. These organizations know that true victims don’t mind filing a police report while those simply trying to avoid paying their bills are very hesitant to perjure themselves.

You can download a standard fraud affidavit form from the FTC and after you complete it you may need to get it notarized. Make sure the notary stamp is in ink and not simply an embossment, so that it will show up in digital copies. Police reports can be filed with any police department including campus police. There is no need to travel to the jurisdiction where the fraud was committed. You can usually obtain a copy of your police report within 24 hours; sometimes you can get a copy immediately.

Second, if you’ve taken our advice from our first two articles, you will have digital copies of your personal identification and your bank, credit card, utility and tax statements. The identification will be needed to verify your name, date of birth, your mailing address and your appearance. If you have credit card accounts that you need to cancel, this will provide you with the contact information and the account numbers to do so.

Third, you’ll want to log all your correspondence by mail or telephone with anyone you talk to, especially the credit bureaus, collection agencies or any organization that was defrauded. You don’t need to create anything fancy – a simple spreadsheet or a text document will suffice. Just make sure to log the date, time, organization and person you corresponded with, any documents you sent or received from them, the purpose of the correspondence and the next steps, if any. An organization might commit to sending you a confirmation letter, or removing a derogatory item from your credit report within 30 days. Make a note of these commitments so you can follow-up as needed.

If you follow these steps and use encrypted digital document management tools like SafelyFiled to maintain your personal records and a log of your correspondence, you’ll be well positioned to manage your own identity recovery. SafelyField blog subscribers can get $25 off Control Your ID's Comprehensive Level (regularly $99.90 per year) identity protection service with no credit card required. To get the offer, just subscribe to SafelyFiled's email list to the right by: submitting your name, email address and entering 'CYID3' in the message box. Subscribe by August 31, 2015 (11:59 p.m. PDT) to qualify.

Friday, August 14, 2015

College, Your Child's Health and a Parent's Right to Know

Over 18 million undergraduate students will be attending college in 2015.1  The majority will be women. And just about all of the students will be over 18.


This means more than you might realize.


It's a New World


Years ago, at a parent orientation for college freshman, my wife and I were advised that even though we may be paying the entire cost of our son's education, we would not be entitled to see his grades.  That seemed a bit unfair, but the moderator at the orientation told us about the privacy laws and how it not only affected grades and any disciplinary actions, but also health records.

That same year, my son changed his doctor from his pediatrician to the same internist I had had for 25 years. When I asked our internist how my son was doing, he gave me a blank stare and reminded me that my son had not given him permission to discuss any aspect of his health with me. "HIPAA," he explained.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: Storing Critical Identity Records


By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

Have you gone paperless with your banking, utility and other documents or are you hanging on to physical copies to review each month and store in case you need them? Whether you’ve gone paperless or are keeping it old school, are those important documents handy? Because if you can’t access them when you need them, they aren’t doing you much good. In this the second in a three part series by SafelyFiled and Control Your ID, we will discuss the importance of digitizing paper documents and transferring digital documents for safekeeping and archival purposes.

There are many reasons why you might need your medical, insurance, banking or utility records. Perhaps you will need to dispute an error with your bank or utility account. You might also need these records for tax preparation, especially if you operate a small business out of your home and want to deduct a portion of your home expenses. Less common, but very important, you might also need these documents to respond to an identity theft incident.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Put Your Credit on Ice

Freezing your credit is a great way to help protect your identity. It's easy, free in most States and can be lifted when YOU want it to be.

 

We recently learned of this great tip from Lisha Shinolt, CEO of BlessingBox.com LLC and wanted to share the information with you. 

When Lisha told us about this, we had questions.  We weren't buying a house, needing a new credit card or applying for a business loan at the moment, but what if we needed to?  How would freezing our credit reports affect that and our credit (FICO) score?   

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: Scan Identity Documents from Your Wallet

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it may feel like you’ve lost your life. What’s worse, you know that you have a lot of work to do to cancel your credit cards and get new copies of your identity documents. But fear not, you can avoid a major headache by following a few simple steps. In this, the first of a three part series presented by Control Your ID and SafelyFiled, we will cover some easy yet important steps to help you use digital tools to protect your identity.

First, take a quick inventory of your wallet. We recommend you take everything out, and force each item to earn its way back in – you might be surprised that you are still carrying around a coupon that expired five years ago. Even if you don’t take everything out, take out the things a criminal might be interested in. Take out credit and debit cards, government identification, and perhaps even gift cards or other valuable items that you wouldn’t want to lose.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cancer - A Personal Story

Millions of people have gone through what I have just dealt with. And each of us has a story. Here's mine. Maybe it can help someone you love.


The Bad News


On the afternoon of April 28th, I received a call from my primary care physician.  I had seen him earlier that day for a pre-surgery physical for cataract surgery and in response to very gentle and open ended question, I told him about a minor pain in my left side.  He was confident in his diagnosis of diverticulitis, but decided to order a CT scan just to be safe. That was how the "mass" was discovered in my right kidney.

Telling My Wife and Getting Ready for Surgery

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Embarrassing Consequence of Synching all Your Devices

Sometimes it's not a good idea to synchronize all your devices.


My nephew Paul, is married to a wonderful woman named Amy.  Last year, they moved to a new home and were trying to get to know the parents of their children's friends.  Amy
wanted access to the school directory with the names and phone numbers of the parents. She was asking around and got an email from one of the members of the Parent Teacher Organization, a woman she had never met.

Amy has a highly-developed (? - you be the judge) sense of humor and plays practical jokes on her husband. Here's one that had some unintended consequences.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Floods and Your Vital Documents

There are many areas of the country experiencing much higher than normal rainfall right now.   We're under yet another flash flood warning ourselves here in central Indiana today.

According to Fema.gov, floods from excessive rain are one of the most common hazards in the United States.  Not all floods are alike. Some develop slowly, while others can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain.  The damage could be centralized to a small neighborhood or community, entire towns and even multiple states.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy 4th of July



Happy 4th of July!

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on  4, 1776.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's our 3rd Birthday!

On June 11, 2012 SafelyFiled officially opened the doors.  In some ways, we can't believe it's been 3 years already.  In others....well it seems more like 10 years.  But in all ways, it's been exciting!

 


When we first started and talked to other entrepreneurs,  we were told, "However hard you think it's going to be to start a company from the ground up, it's going to be even harder and take a lot longer than you can imagine."  That didn't deter us though.  Of course, looking back now, it indeed was a lot harder and is taking a lot longer than we thought it would. It also takes a lot more dedication, time, money and faith than we thought was possible.  In hindsight, we are very glad that we didn't know then what we know now!   

We don't want to bore you with details of what all has happened since we opened our doors but we would like to highlight some things since our blog last year announcing our second birthday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Preparing Your Child For Summer Camp

Hot days and warm nights.  Fireflies, campfires, smores and wiener roasts.  Tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and bug spray.  Don't you just love summer?

 

Did you go to summer camp as a kid?  I did.  I remember the excitement building up to leaving for camp.  Packing summer clothes, swimsuits and sun block. Stocking up on favorite snacks for after lights out.  I always had to have my diary and a couple of pens so I could capture the highlights of every day on the pages.  How did I know that in my adult years I'd need those diaries to remember much of my childhood?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Before You Ask Someone To Be Your Executor

About 30 years ago, our best friends asked my husband and me to be executors of their estate and take custody of their children if something happened to them. We gladly accepted. Afterall, we loved them and wanted to help.  But we had no idea what was being asked of us.

 

We're so very thankful that nothing did happen.  Their kids are fully grown adults now and our friends are still alive a well.  Thank God for that!


Friday, May 8, 2015

An Entrepreneurial-Minded Mom's Advice

Most everyone I know has had that "aha" moment when they think of a better way to do something or has a great new idea.  For those who've taken something from a thought and made it a reality, congratulations!  Give yourself a pat on the back...you're an entrepreneur.


Nick Marino
My youngest son has entrepreneur written all over him. He keeps a pad and pen next to his bed for those moments when he wakes up to write down an idea.  He uses his smart phone "notepad" to jot down ideas he has during the day.  While he has some really wonderful ideas, until recently he's either been unable to act upon them fast enough and someone else beats him to it or he's been unsure how to go from idea to realization.  That can be very discouraging and make one want to give up on their dreams.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tips For Parents From Firefighters

Today we saw a tip from Jackson Fire Department's Facebook page that was so good we wanted to share it with our readers. 


Here is the tip they wrote for parents copied directly from their Facebook page:

"Too often firefighters come upon a vehicle accident where the parent(s) are unconscious and there are children in the car who are too young to communicate useful information. Here is a tip for all you parents out there: place a sticker on each child's car seat providing firefighters and emergency personnel valuable information such as child's name, DOB, parents names, emergency contact information, any medical conditions the child may have and medications. Also, please remember to update this information as needed. As first responders, we do thoroughly look at the car seats after a traffic collision, they can tell us a lot about the damage suffered and the impact itself. We will find these stickers if you place them in a spot where the information is not easily seen from the outside of the car if you are worried about others having that information."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Personal Health Record

Many of us in the sandwich generation are trying to manage our own health as well as helping our elderly loved one's health and children's too.  It can be very overwhelming.  So overwhelming that often times we forgo keeping our own health on track.  

 

The thought of keeping a personal health record for ourselves and others in the family falls way down the priority list...until something happens.  But in this blog by the Mayo Clinic, they highly recommend that everyone keep a personal health record and make sure that record is available even in an emergency.  That's easier said than done.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tax Records - How long do I have to hold onto them?

It's tax time.  And when we finish the taxes, many of us pack away the records we kept for the past year.  But what about those old records from years ago?  Do we still have to keep them in the basement or in the back of a closet? Can we throw them away?


If you perform an online search for "document retention guidelines" you'll find a lot of information regarding document storage periods, but you have to dig pretty deep to find hard and fast rules.  Even then you may come up empty-handed.

Even the irs.gov site has an "it depends" clause. So how long should you keep documents?  Well, we did some of that research for you and included our findings in a checklist that we provide to anyone who might find it useful.

Friday, March 27, 2015

National Healtcare Decision Day - Part 3

April 16th is National Healthcare Decision Day.


For the past two weeks, we've discussed Healthcare Powers of Attorney, their importance and the family benefits they and other similar documents provide.  This blog discusses a few practical matters.

Do Something - Now


Estate planning is one task that is very easy to avoid.  There is always something else that is more
urgent, more interesting and more fun.  I know.  I delayed for years, myself.  But a little cardiac scare was my catalyst.

My wife and I went to a respected local attorney who specializes in estate planning.  He looked at what we had done and though we had put all of our assets in joint tenancy with right of survivor-ship, that was less than half of what we needed to do  It seems that if my wife and I died in a common accident, mostly everything would be distributed through the wills, which must be probated to let the kids sell the house and distribute other assets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

National Healthcare Decision Day - Part 2

April 16th is National Healthcare Decision Day.


Last week, we brought up the benefits of a Healthcare Power of Attorney, not only for yourself and your elderly parents, but also for your adult children.  This week, we will explore the family and psychological benefits of having not only a Healthcare Power of Attorney but other documents that will speak for us when we no longer can speak for ourselves.

Those We Leave Behind


Thursday, March 12, 2015

National Healthcare Decision Day - Part 1

April 16th is National Healthcare Decision day.  It's a day to remind us to plan ahead and make sure that if we can't speak for ourselves, that somebody has the authority to speak on our behalf and make sure that our wishes about healthcare are known.


www.nhdd.org
When this topic comes up, most of us automatically think about the elderly and "Do Not Resuscitate" directives.  Certainly that is a part of the topic, but the subject is much broader.  It impacts both young and old, family relationships and the psychological health of family members or friends who have to make decisions for a person who isn't able to express his or her wishes at a critical time.  This blog and the next two after will explore these issues.

It's Not Just For the Old


Friday, February 27, 2015

Is Your Personal Data Worth $35K?

When we hear about security breaches of big businesses, we understand immediately that there must be some value to the data they store, even if it's only email addresses the hackers get. But we rarely think about the value of our personal data sitting on our own digital devices.


To be quite honest, I've never really thought about it myself.  I know the information and Apps I use on my devices are very valuable to me personally.  I love the fact that I can access information at the push of a couple of buttons and love the convenience of being able to access information from anywhere.  But you have to wonder, with the rise in malware and viruses on phones and tablets, what is it that hackers find so valuable?  Why and how can so many companies and individuals afford to offer free Apps and push us to download the latest mind numbing game?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Getting to a Better Digital Estate via Facebook's Legacy Contact Feature


Post-death access to digital assets is a hot topic due to the unresolved tensions between online service provider privacy terms that users agree to and their heirs’ rights and access to their remaining digital “footprints.”    


Last week, Facebook made headlines with its launch of an additional feature that allows members to designate other members as beneficiaries for—partial—postmortem account access. Most media outlets and pundits agreed that the additional controls are a step in the right direction. The announcement adds poignancy to the broader growing issue of claiming digital assets after death. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Life Events & Records - Divorce

Divorce isn't something that I've experienced personally--thank goodness!  But sadly, many people have.

 

Elissa Goldberg, a divorce attorney in Bucks County PA, recently shared with us that there are many documents that people need to provide during the divorce process.

Sometimes, depending on how difficult the divorce is, those documents are hard for one party in the divorce to provide because either the other person has (or had) them, the documents cannot be easily found, or the documents aren't provided out of spite. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

3 Rules for Communicating Securely with Your Tax Preparer

Justifiably Appalled


It's been quite a few years since this happened, but I remember getting my completed tax returns emailed to me by my accountant.  No encryption, no security.  Just my social security number, income, address and dependent social security numbers out there for any hacker to view.  You can imagine my reaction.

That will not happen again - at least to me.  But as most of the US population gets ready for the annual tax preparation extravaganza, and we get really rushed for time,  we might be tempted to cut a few security corners.  

Here is some advice.  Don't.

 

Here are 3 things to NEVER do and alternative ways to stay secure

 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

3 Steps to Security Diversification for Your Business

Do you keep all your eggs in one basket?

What is important for your finances is also important for your online security.

Every legitimate financial adviser will tell you that investing in only one stock or type of investment is a recipe for disaster.  Sure, if you only have to follow one stock, you can always and easily know your position, but knowing you're broke doesn't make you less broke.

So you diversify.  The actual way you should diversify is a function of your age, your tolerance for risk, your goals and special circumstances, like family medical needs, etc.  But diversification works and over time, diversification pays off.

You wouldn't have to diversify if everything always went just fine.  You diversify to mitigate the impact of things going wrong. And someday, things will go wrong. That's not being pessimistic.  It's being realistic.  We buy insurance, don't we? 

For the past 25 years, there's been quite a bit of press about hacking and online account information being stolen from businesses.  But for every Sony case, there are thousands of individual losses that we never hear about.  Just because we don't know about them, doesn't mean nobody was hurt.  So how can you make sure that if one of your accounts get hacked, the rest don't get hacked and you don't get wiped out?

Diversify


1. Passwords

2. Online storage accounts

3. Your servers


Here's how


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top 5 Read Blogs From SafelyFiled In 2014

We posted an average of two blogs a month in 2014 and plan to share more with you in 2015. SafelyFiled is excited to continue helping individuals, families and businesses solve the problem of $41 billion of unclaimed assets. We provide safe, effective and simple tools for organizing and accessing digital assets in the cloud. 

With spring break vacations and tax season approaching, and care for aging parents always a concern, we have compiled a list of our five most-read and related blogs from 2014.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Two Steps Everyone Should Take

With $41 Billion of unclaimed assets currently in the United States,  and that number growing each year, it's obvious that many Americans are either dying without plans in place for their assets or their plans cannot be found by those left behind.

 

We know that thinking of death, much less planning for it, is not pleasant.  That is why it's estimated that more than 51% of Americans don't have wills or estate plans. But let's face it, we're all going to die.  And while your problems may end there, your loved ones will have some cleaning up to do after you're gone.  If you've ever had to close out the estate of a loved one, you know first-hand how painful it can be.  And if there was no documentation or plan for you to execute, then you know the feeling of, "Why couldn't he (or she) have taken a few minutes to give me some direction?"  But if you take two simple steps now, you can make this whole subject much easier for your loved ones.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Estate Planning - A Tough Sell

It's extremely hard to sell services that make people think of death.  That's why it's tough to sell estate planning services.


It's the 21st century and many things have changed. But one thing that has not changed is death.  The death rate for humanity is 100% and will likely remain that percentage for the foreseeable future. Yet, although people should be knocking down the doors of professionals who can help them plan for their asset distribution when they die, the opposite is true.  Legalzoom.com states that approximately 55% of Americans don't have a will or an estate plan. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Calling all Pet Lovers!

We love families here at SafelyFiled. It is out of our love for families that we created SafelyFiled and SafelyMD.  It's not pleasant thinking of our mortality but we do need to be proactive about gathering, storing and sharing our important records and final wishes.

 

But there are members of the family that we've not taken into consideration to this point and have been encouraged to do so by our friends and families.  The family pets!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Time Capsules and Back to the Future

Over 200 years ago, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams buried a time capsule in Boston which contained five folded newspapers, a Massachusetts commonwealth seal, a title page from Massachusetts colony records and at least 24 coins. 

 

This time capsule was originally discovered in 1855 in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House while repairs were being done.  But it was left there and only recently opened and contents carefully gone through.

Do you wonder what Paul and Sam were thinking when they put the contents in that time capsule? Could they have even begun to imagine what technology would be in America today?