feeling INsecure? …BE proactive!

If you read blogs then I am going to assume you are hardly “under a rock” and thus the term Identity Theft is (sadly) not new to you.

idtheftAdditionally, unless you are totally delusional, I am also going to assume you are aware that there is at least One person or system (more likely) or database that has some form of your identity that you did NOT give them (e.g. your birthday, full name, address… maybe the last 4 of your SSN… maybe your full SSN…)

The point to this post, and a theme that I believe is necessary to Live My (your?) Ass Off, is:
Be Proactive.

I realized (after my identity was stolen in early May of 2015) that I *thought* I was being proactive.  Until I started getting numerous emails about weird charges on a credit card.  A hallway conversation with a buddy where he just mentioned, “yeh… bummer, maybe you should check your credit [rating/score] with that free credit report thing…” prompted me to do just that.  I first contacted the credit cards in question and reported fraudulent charges.  The cancelled the cards, and got new ones (with new account numbers) issued.  Additionally at this time most companies were switching to the “chip” cards.

So, I thought, OK, the cards that were compromised seem to be the ones that don’t have the chip… Coincidence?  Yeh, maybe but it was a simple pattern to label to three cards that were compromised.

THEN, about a day later some jackass bought $600 worth of paint from some paint store in northern California.  Fine… called AMEX, charges reversed, new card issued. Done.

Hummm… what’s the pattern now?  AH HAH!, I’ve got it.. these are all cards that I’ve used at a Home Depot in the last year or so..!!!  Whatev.  Ok that explains it.

As part of my “checking my credit reports” they made it quite easy for me to agree to pay them $19.99.year for some monitoring and notification service.  Fine.

About 24 hours later. Blam! Notification.  A credit card had been opened in my name for a gas card.  Sigh.  At the time I was on my way to meet friends in Las Vegas for a convention.

Two things to note:  1) Dealing with credit card companies and Fraud prevention services means spending time on the phone.  2) There is no place in Vegas that is quiet enough to be on the phone to take care of business like this EXCEPT in your hotel room.
Since I did not go to Vegas to spend time in my hotel room, I cut the trip short and headed home to deal with this.

I wanted to share this link to a great post my friend Colette shared with me from the NY times.

On this page you’ll note that if you click on the buttons for specific credit card companies or businesses (e.g. Home Depot) the left hand side of the page will highlight the type data that was stolen.  Click on HOME DEPOT and EBAY and viola:

AddressBirthday, Credit or debit card, Email, Employment historyPassword (encrypted), and Phone number…

Click on “..applied for a job with the Federal Government..” and WHAMMY, add Social Security Number to the list.  Ugh…

So, because ID theft is so common, sadly, I didn’t have to tell but 2 buddies and one said,
“Oh yeh, that happened to me… it sucks.. do {this}…”

The {this} for me was:
1) put a Fraud Alert on your accounts with all three credit bureaus.  (lasts 90 days then you have to re-do)*
2) put a Credit Freeze on all your accounts with the three credit bureaus (this costs $10/agency and lasts 7 years).  This is pretty thorough and not ever YOU can open up a new credit account… unless you remove the Freeze before hand.

* you can also subscribe to a Fraud Prevention type service and they will renew that for you… like every 89 days… and I would submit this should be your Minimum level of proactive credit protection.  If you need to open up a credit line (e.g. buy a car) the credit inquiry will be halted and the fraud prevention service will contact you (e.g. call your cell phone) to verify that you authorize this.  if you agree then within a minute or two, you’ve got your approved credit.

3) There are actually FOUR credit reporting agencies.. Yep!  INNOVIS is another one.  They are around to provide mailing lists for those “you’ve been pre-approved” offers.  Contacted them too and put a credit Freeze on that account.

4) Speaking of “pre-approval offers”.  Here’s how you opt out of those:  https://www.optoutprescreen.com and it lasts for about 5 years.

So… NOW, I guess I feel like I’m being proactive.  There are NO negative NOR (probably more importantly) unknown items in any of my credit reports.  I have excessive monitoring and reporting on all of my credit files as well as a service that continuously scans “the Internet” to make sure there is no published information about me that could be used to compromise my identity.  I’ve notified my local police department and the opened case is very close to finding the bozo that used one of my cards to charge $44 on a UBER ride in San Francisco…. SPOILER ALERT you moron: UBER drivers have cameras in their cars… (rolls eyes)

I’ll keep you updated but the NY Times article that was sent to me prompted me to want to share with ID Theft / Cyber Security story and hopefully a fairly simple, step by step solution to proactively preventing any credit card fraud or ID theft from spiraling out of your control.\

Finally I wanted to make sure I share another GREAT resource for ID theft victims:
The ID Theft Resource Center
.  It was started by a good friend here in San Diego and offers a TON of free advice; not just in the form of a PDF document but also humans who answer phones or Live Chat to help you through the sometimes frustrating phone tree credit card companies can often force you to wade through before getting to a solution.  They provide Many tips with one simple one being always make sure you are talking with the RIGHT PERSON… seem simple but I can tell you, leading off the conversation with a customer service rep by saying, “I need to speak with your fraud investigator / fraud investigation department” can save you from wasting a TON of time talking to someone who is not qualified to help you.

Hope this helps!

Now, go Live the Dream!  Remember, if you’re not Living the Dream, you’re doing it Wrong!  Being proactive about protecting your Identity and Credit… that’s Dream Living!

~mikes

Mai Pen Rai… #serenityPrayer?

Of the 12 or so words/phrases I know how to say in Thai, Mai Pen Rai is a great one.  Loosely translated into colloquial US english I suppose it could be the equivalent of our “whatever”… the more proper translation I seem to here is “whatever will be, will be”… Pretty Buddhist, eh?

Here’s a cool site and description of some other Thai phrases and a bit more discussion on Mai Pen Rai

I went for a walk this morning at a beach south of where I live in San Diego: Imperial Beach and I started really appreciating the simple content that is available when I (maybe you too) are in acceptance of “whatever will be”.  Its comforting.  Powerful almost.

As with most posts, I try to share some of my experience, strength and hope so just wanted to do a quick check in after my walk.  I’m posting and uploading from Katy’s Cafe in Imperial beach.  I love this place.  I *highly* recommend the Vietnamese Latte.  When you come, tell Katy, Mickey says, “Aloha” 🙂

Welcome to Saturday morning.  stay tuned…

Live the Dream!  cuz if you’re not Living the Dream, you’re doing it wrong.

~mikes

The “next Five years”

Greetings… its 5:14 PST.

Living the Dream at my mini maui mansion

Living the Dream at my mini maui mansion

One of the things you learn about me if you don’t know already is that my OCD shows up in my obsession with numbers. SO. I set my alarm clock to a time whereby the minutes add up to the hour.  For example, if I needed it get up at 6am-ish, I’d set the alarm for 6:06 or 6:15 or 6:24…  you get it…  WHICH brings us to 5:14am.

Good morning from Coronado California and my little slice of heaven.

I’ve been on this kick lately about “the next 5 years“… and I’m curious what your thoughts are on YOUR “next five years”  ..:: Please Reply/Post Below ::..

I’m putting the “next five years” in quotes because your responses can be your plans, dreams, goals, etc for whatever time frame you’re thinking about. (e.g. the next 3 years, 9 months, 4 years.. whatever…)

This started in late June (2015) while I was at a convention in Atlanta… This convention happens… you guessed it… every five years.  I thought to myself:

  • “I was at this conference 5 years ago when it was in San Antonio… I’ll be at the next conference in 2020 when it’s in Detroit.  What have I done in the last 5 years ?  and what am I going to DO in the next 5 years that will be significant??  what should I do in the next 5 years to Add Value to people’s lives?

Right now, I’m thinking that in the next FIVE YEARS, almost the whole world will be connected to the Internet and because of that, the countries that are not currently connected (e.g. Cambodia) are ripe for growth opportunities.

My trip to the Philippines over December and January may involve a trip over to Cambodia BUT the recent announcement I came across about how Cambodia is getting their first undersea fiber connection… and how this will connect Cambodia with up to 30Tbps (30,000 Gbps) of bandwidth is Very exciting.  Not Too Shabby!!!!

I just Shipped my Glasses…

I switched to contact lenses a few years ago simply because the last time I went to get prescription sunglasses they were $750.  Faaaaaawwwk That!.

noteGlass

So far, so good with the contact lenses BUT I came across an eye glass company with a pretty sweet solution to ‘try before you buy’.    The company is called Warby Parker and it was founded by an entrepreneur I respect and follow, Jeff Raider.  You may or may not know Jeff.  He’s the founder of the wildly successful Harry’s  Shaving Products for men.

Check it out.
Live the Dream!

~mikes

When in doubt: “do Buddha”

I woke up around 5am today and after a bit of a mental check in with my higher power (more discussion/blogging/vlogging on that in another post For SURE) I checked my phone.

A friend of mine sent me a message: “I go do Buddha for about 3 days… I stay at temple now”

Clearing the mind... and still being a bit goofy.

Clearing the mind… and still being a bit goofy.

If you aren’t familiar with the Thai culture (and I am only a novice) “do Buddha” means the person is going to go to a Thai Buddhist temple and stay there (day and night) for prayer, reflection, meditation, chanting, and quiet time.  Sure, there is a bit of work that also happens sometimes but for the most part this is a time for prayer, to clear the mind, and also Get some clarity on what to do.  Many Thais I speak with wish they could spend a LOT longer at temple “doing Buddha” but there is a conflicting battle with doing this and needing to provide for their family: for Mama, Papa, and children.

I often wonder, What is my “Buddha”?  What’s your “Buddha”?

I know that I love going back home to where I grew up: Hingham, Massachusetts.  Provided its in the summer and its WARM! 🙂

So, I guess, while I do not claim to be as spiritually centered as my Thai friends…

YET!…

I definitely seek out a place that is comfortable and allows me to get quiet, reflect AND look to toward the future.  I hope you’re join me an learn with me as the discovery of awesome continues!

Let’s do this!

#LiveMAO

Aaaand it begins. Start by walking.

Welcome to LiveMyAssOff.com  This site is as much about me Living the Dream as it is about YOU!
I’ve often thought that it would be great to have a place to share stuff that I am doing, ideally adding value to your life, and I would also love it if you’d share your experience, strength, hope and successes!

That way, we can all, live our asses off!

I’m hoping that by starting this site it will help me to articulate and journal in a simple format (theme) all the gratitude I have for being able to wake up in the morning (or whenever) and life One More Day.

We all know of people who are seemingly healthy and then one day, BLAM, they “lose the lottery” and get doused over the head with a big bucket of lame sauce (e.g. { insert bad news here }

I have certainly had to drink a few tall glasses of “sit the F*** down” to wash down my “shut the F*** up” sandwich.  But through all life’s imperfections, I believe that having a focus on a positive solution and then being able to make some type of gratitude list really helps me keep on walking… some refer to it as trudging the road to happy destiny.  Fine.  Call it whatever  you want.  Bottom line for me is I am VERY GRATEFUL for every day I get one more day.

Life is NOT a dress-rehearsal so, along the way, why *not*, Live My Ass Off!

Lets Do This!

…stay tuned!