RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Traveling? How to Thwart Vacation Scammers

June 10, 2015 1:45 am

(BPT) – Fact: Scammers, identity thieves and fraudsters rarely take a vacation, even when you do.

"When people plan vacations, they let their guard down," says David Barnhardt of Early Warning, a fraud prevention company. "Fraudsters know this, and they have a whole bag of tricks created specifically for people in a vacation frame of mind."

Enjoy your vacation, he says, but exercise good judgment. That suggestion mirrors similar advice offered by both the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Their websites each devote pages of precautions about potential travel scams - some of which can happen long before you pack your suitcase.

Many pre-vacation scams, the FTC warns, can begin with unsolicited vacation e-mails announcing amazing travel deals. The agency says if an offer sounds too good to be true, be wary.

Barnhardt agrees. "If you get an e-mail announcing you have won a 'free' vacation, be careful," he says. "Chances are before long you will be asked to provide someone with a credit card number to confirm your reservation. You would be surprised how many people fall for that scam."

Credit card numbers are the gold-standard for many fraudsters, and one way to protect your card, Barnhardt advises, is to place a travel flag on your credit and debit cards. Those flags can help card issuers quickly identify suspicious charges.

"If charges are swiped outside of your vacation dates, it can signal a compromised card," he says.

That said, Barnhardt recommends travelers use credit cards instead of debit cards.

"Simply put, credit cards draw on credit lines, whereas a debit card hack means your money is actually withdrawn from your account," he says. "That can cause an overdraft, which means overdraft charges. You may get your money back, but it often means you may need to file a police report, which can be a huge headache, especially if you're overseas. Plus you may have to explain to your creditors why your payments were returned and work with your institution to get penalty fees reversed as well."

Credit cards are also the safer method of payment when you're asked to put a deposit on a vacation rental.

"If a website advertises a gorgeous house or condo and the property owner asks that you wire a deposit, a red flag should immediately go up," says Barnhardt. "Don't do it. Money wired is money gone. Unlike a credit card deposit, once you wire money, you cannot get it back."

And after you have arrived at your destination, it pays to stay alert. "Hotels and motels can be breeding grounds for fraud," says Barnhardt.

One prevalent travel scam the FTC warns about involves a late-night phone call to your room allegedly from the front desk at a hotel, motel or resort. The caller claims there is a problem with the credit card and asks the guest to read the number over the phone. The obvious solution: make a trip to the front desk to speak with someone in person.

Barnhardt also warns of another lodging-related credit card scam currently in vogue: fliers slid under hotel-room doors offering pizza delivered right to your room.

"This sounds great to a hungry traveler, but if you call and they ask for your credit card number, it's better to hang up the phone and ask the front desk to recommend local eateries," he says.

Don’t forget to exercise caution when logging onto the hotel's free Wi-Fi network, says Barnhardt.

"Just about every hotel and motel provides free Wi-Fi," he says. "But fraudsters have perfected the art of mimicking legitimate networks. Logging onto a fake Wi-Fi network can put all the data stored in your tablet or phone in jeopardy."

Once again, he says, the best solution is to ask before acting.

"Check with the front desk," he says. "Make sure you are using the hotel's authorized network and they've supplied you with a secure Wi-Fi password. A bogus Wi-Fi can be outsmarted just by being cautious. Vacation time is about relaxing, but don't relax your common sense."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Great Debate: Saltwater vs. Chlorine Pools

June 10, 2015 1:45 am

(Family Features) For many families, some of the most anticipated summertime activities happen around the pool. Both chlorine and saltwater pools are common in homes today, but there are distinct differences between the two. In a saltwater pool, chlorine is produced by a salt chlorine generator, rather than adding chlorine to the pool directly. A saltwater pool is still being sanitized by chlorine.

Before you dive into the fun, remember that saltwater pools require the same maintenance functions and still must be checked and balanced regularly, just like a traditional chlorine pool. Here’s how to do it.

Test the Water Daily

Whether your pool uses traditional chlorine or is equipped with a salt chlorine generator, make testing it a top priority, especially when your pool is used frequently.

Make sure to read and follow the product label instructions closely when dealing with pool chemicals. Proper dosing of pool chemicals is important for swimmer comfort.

Always test the water and make sure the free chlorine level never falls below 1 parts per million (ppm). Chlorine is the main sanitizer of your pool (and drinking water), and the more people in your pool, the more chlorine you may need.

Keep Water Balanced


If your eyes are irritated and the pool water is cloudy or looks green, the balance is probably off. Here's how to test it:

- Use strips that show chlorine, alkalinity, pH and cyanuric acid levels.
- Follow instructions on the package for how to submerge the strip.
- Compare color readings on the strip to the range on the product bottle.

Ideal water balance ranges for chlorine are 1-4 ppm; alkalinity, 80-120 ppm; pH, 7.2-7.6; cyanuric acid, 20-50 ppm.

Source:
SaltorChlorine.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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