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U.S. Consumers Lose More Than $7 Billion to Online Threats, Consumer Reports Survey Finds

Yonkers, NY (PRWEB) August 6, 2007

The online threats associated with using the Internet remain high according to Consumer Reports’s latest “State of the Net” survey. Consumer Reports projects that U.S. consumers lost more than $ 7 billion over the last two years to viruses, spyware, and phishing schemes.

Additionally, the “State of the Net” survey shows that consumers face a 1 in 4 chance of succumbing to an online threat and becoming a cybervictim, a number that has slightly decreased since last year.

The number of consumers responding to e-mail phishing scams has remained constant at eight percent. Consumer Reports projects that one million U.S. consumers lost billions of dollars over the past two years to such scams.

Many underage youngsters are at risk on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, the survey found. In households surveyed with minors online, 13 percent of the children registered on MySpace were younger than 14, the minimum age the site officially allows, and three percent were under 10. And those were just the ones the parents knew about.

Based on the survey, Consumer Reports projects that problems caused by viruses and spyware resulted in damages of at least $ 5 billion replacement over the past two years.

The 2007 “State of the Net” survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center among a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 households with Internet access.

Consumers can visit http://www.ConsumerReports.org/security to access the full “State of the Net” report including free tips related to online protection, avoiding viruses, and reporting cybercrimes.

Among CR’s key 2007 “State of the Net” findings:

Based on survey projections, computer virus infections prompted an estimated 1.8 million households to replace their computers in the past two years and 850,000 households to replace computers due to spyware infections in the past six months. Additionally, 33 percent of survey respondents did not use software to block or remove spyware. And CR projects that 3.7 million US households with broadband remain unprotected by a firewall.

Spam: Consumer Reports’ survey respondents have reported a lower proportion of spam reaching their Inbox than in the past, which CR believes is a result of better spam-blocking. Survey results indicate that about 650,000 consumers ordered a product or service advertised through spam in the month before the survey. Additionally, in 5 percent of the households surveyed that had children under 18, a child had inadvertently seen pornographic material as a result of spam.

Viruses: Computer virus infections held steady since last year according to CR’s survey. CR notes that this is actually a mark of progress for consumers and software makers, because the threats have become more challenging. In the latest survey, 38 percent of respondents reported a computer virus-infection in the last two years. Seventeen percent of respondents didn’t have antivirus software installed.

Spyware: In the past six months, 34 percent of respondents’ computers were exposed to a spyware infection. CR’s survey also reveals that although spyware infections have dropped, the chances of getting one are still 1 in 3, and of suffering serious damage, 1 in 11.

Phishing: Eight percent of respondents submitted personal information in response to conventional phishing e-mails in the past two years, a number that has remained unchanged over the past two years. The median cost of a phishing incident is $ 200. Yet scammers’ tactics are improving – e-mail looks like it comes from a reputable business such as a bank and features better grammar, more believable stories, and more authentic-looking Web addresses.

Consumer Reports rates internet security suites

Consumer Reports tested nine internet security suites, four of which are Quick Picks that protect against viruses, spyware, and spam as effectively as the best stand-alone products.

New Study: Americans Say Recession, Declining Stocks and Soft Home Values Less Financially Disastrous Than Death of Spouse

Windsor, Conn. (Vocus) May 15, 2008

While current headlines and political rhetoric focus on the publics fears of broad financial challenges such as economic recession and Social Security going broke, Americans in every demographic group say that their death or the death of their spouse would be a much greater threat to their familys future financial situation, according to a new survey from ING, one of the nations leading financial services and life insurance companies.

The new survey further clarifies the savings and wealth protection needs of Americans. The insight into consumers perceptions about their financial future and the wide-ranging reasons for saving money and having adequate life insurance may even seem contrary to popular assumptions about people and their money, said Catherine Smith, CEO, ING U.S. Insurance. The wide-ranging survey by Ipsos Public Affairs of more than 1,000 adults revealed Americans contemporary attitudes and thinking on protecting their financial future and on life insurance, traditionally part of working peoples financial plan.

The survey demonstrates the central role life insurance plays in a comprehensive financial plan, including the important role of wealth protection. Financial-planning experts say that inadequate life insurance can be swiftly disastrous to families that dont properly anticipate and assess the impact death of a spouse or partner can have on short- and long-term finances.

As Baby Boomers financial needs have evolved, we see the heightened importance of risk protection combined with wealth creation, Smith said. Insurance products can help provide an important protective wrapper around retirement savings. This insurance wrapper effectively manages a diversity of risks and allows consumers to enter their retirement years with more confidence. Bottom line life insurance has become the forgotten foundation of a long-term, comprehensive financial plan.

Among the most interesting findings of the survey:

Rain Bird Crowns Winners of the 2008 Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition : Glass Half Full and Water Thicker Than Oil Take Home the Environmentally Focused Competition’s Top Awards for their Insightful And Clever Take On The Need for Water Conservation

Azusa, Calif. (PRWEB) October 12, 2008

“All of the finalists in the competition have taken on the world’s water issues through a personal lens that will undoubtedly encourage discussion on the efficient, effective and responsible use of Earth’s most precious resource,” said Dave Johnson, Rain Bird’s Corporate Marketing Director. “In sponsoring the 2008 Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition we aim to provide filmmakers like these six finalists with a forum to exercise their influence, and actively raise awareness of this important issue in a manner that will inspire others to take action in their own way.”

As the winner of the Jury Prize, David Sutera was awarded $ 6,000 for his film entry, Glass Half Full, a mockery of the film noir genre that drives home an important message of water conservation in an entertaining and comedic manner.

Michael McGuire, the Audience Choice Prize winner, was awarded $ 3,000 for his film entry titled Water Thicker Than Oil, a simplified approach to water conservation as seen through a child’s eyes.

This year’s Jury Award was chosen by a panel of judges consisting of Gary McVey, executive director of the American Cinema Foundation, documentarian Jim Thebaut and Timothy Brick, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Shalini Kantayya, director of the 2007 Audience Choice Award Winner “A Drop of Life,” served as the master of ceremonies for the evening’s event.

Prior to the screening of the finalists’ films, the evening’s guests were treated to a special showing of The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?, critically acclaimed writer, director, producer and competition judge Jim Thebaut’s definitive look at how the water crisis is affecting the American Southwest and its escalating economic toll.

In addition to this evening’s awarding of the film competition winners, Rain Bird presented Christopher S. Gray Sr. with a check for $ 10,000 in recognition of his being selected as the winner of Rain Bird’s 2008 Intelligent Use of Water Award for his role in the development and implementation of an innovative wastewater recapture program as Superintendent at Marvel Golf Club in Benton, Kentucky.

The Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition is part of a range of programs and initiatives to boost awareness of the need for water conservation. Rain Bird devotes significant resources to its Intelligent Use of Water public initiatives, which include The Intelligent Use of Water Award; biannual Intelligent Use of Water Summits; a series of white papers; public service announcements; membership on the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the steering committee advising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its WaterSense product labeling program; partnerships with nonprofit organizations; development and support of elementary and middle school curriculums; and participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade

Austin Texas Mothers and Daughters Contribute More Than 9,000 Hours to Local Philanthropies Through the National Charity League

Austin, TX (PRWEB) April 28, 2010

The Austin Chapter of the National Charity League (NCL) is proud to announce today that its members have contributed more than 9,000 hours to local philanthropies during the most recent NCL calendar year, which ended March 31. A national-nonprofit group, NCL brings together mothers, referred to as Patronesses, and daughters grades 7-12, referred to as Ticktockers, committed to leadership development and training, and building cultural awareness through community service on a local level.

This announcement follows the chapter Ticktocker Awards Ceremony, which was held this past Saturday, April 25, honoring the time and effort donated by all current ticktockers, and welcoming 32 new members into the chapter as the Class of 2016. The Ticktocker Class of 2010 consists of twenty-one young women who collectively served over 4,300 hours benefiting 26 different Austin-area philanthropies over the course of their six years with the Austin Chapter.

And the future looks even brighter for the Austin NCL with this past years 9th graders, Class of 2013, contributing the highest total charity hours in the year, at over 1,000. As these girls complete their next 3 years of high school, their community service contributions will benefit the entire Austin area.

We are so proud of our girls, and the overall mission of NCL, said Lisa Sikora, NCL Austin President. This has been a great year, very rewarding for local philanthropies, but equally so for our mothers and daughters.

Im proud to have been part of NCL these past years and look forward to the next two. I really believe in giving back to the community, taking time to help those in need. Its even better that I get to do this good work along side my Mom said Sarah Brown, Westlake High School sophomore, who received this years Merci Award, given to the Ticktocker with the highest philanthropy hour count for the year. Sarah contributed a total of 207 community service hours in the past year.

Throughout the year the chapter hosts programs, presentations and field trips for the members with the goal of providing opportunities for the girls to learn the beauty of giving of themselves to others; to develop and practice leadership and social skills within their peer groups; and to have an awareness and appreciation of the various forms of culture in the community. Two annual events are the time honored NCL tradition of Tea, to train the daughters in proper etiquette to serve as hostesses, and Ticktocker Day, which brings together all of the ticktockers in the Austin chapter to collaborate on a single philanthropic project.

About the National Charity League

National Charity League, Inc. (NCL) is a non-profit national organization of mothers and daughters grades 7-12 who join together in community service in chapters throughout the United States. The purpose is to foster a sense of community responsibility in the girls as well as to strengthen the mother-daughter relationship through participation in philanthropy, educational activities and cultural events. Founded in 1947, NCL members currently total more than 40,000, with 156 chapters in 16 states, including three chapters in the central Texas area.

The Austin chapter currently works with 19 local Non-Profit Organizations including the Austin Childrens Museum, Austin Museum of Art, Austin Pets Alive, Austin Public Library, Capital Area Food Bank, Caritas of Austin, Child Protective Services, Childrens Hospital of Austin, El Buen Samaritano, Family Eldercare, Habitat for Humanity, Lifelong Friends, lifelong Friends, Lifeworks, Manos de Cristo, Marbridge, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Ronald McDonald House, Westbank Library and YMBL Sunshine Camps.

For more information on the National Charity League, please visit http://www.nationalcharityleague.org.

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AllFancyDress reveal nativity plays are more popular than ever

Wickford, UK (PRWeb UK) December 24, 2010

Nativity plays are growing extremely popular in schools, as teachers believe it is a great way to teach students drama, religion and life skills. With this increase in popularity, there is a growing demand for nativity costumes.

Nativity plays have been receiving a lot of media attention, with most believing parents should be able to take photographs during the performance. The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham has said that such photography is not in breach of the Data Protection Act as long as the pictures are taken for personal use.

Despite the ongoing debate about photography at school nativity plays, the demand for fancy dress costumes are soaring. Children want to take part and teachers and families are more than willing to organise the event, creating sets and buying costumes for the children.

All Fancy Dress are seeing the positive side of this trend, with nativity costume sales on the rise. In their Nativity collection, families can find such items as the Mary Costume and the Shepherd Costume.

Barn animal costumes are also proving a very popular choice with parents, as most find it easier to buy the costumes rather than make them. All Fancy Dress have seen the Little Donkey Costume becoming one of their best sellers along with their Child Camel Costume.

Mark Heaton of All Fancy Dress.com commented; Whilst hand made costumes are wonderful, in reality many parents and schools do not have the time and resources to make them. We have found that parents increasingly need affordable nativity costumes on a tight timescale. In fact many parents call us a day or two before the nativity play itself, and this is where our next day delivery service really comes into its own. There is such a breadth of characters in Nativity plays nowadays, and its great that more and more children have an opportunity to be a part of them!

About AllFancyDress

http://www.allfancydress.com is one of UKs leading online discount fancy dress retail outlets that not only supply an enormous range of costumes and accessories including Christmas Costumes for adults and children, but also a personal party organising service.

The company has an outstanding reputation for quality of products and excellent customer service, offering fancy dress costumes for all ages and sizes. Their extensive range includes babies, toddlers, kids, teens, adults, plus sizes and even pets.


Tax Relief, Rather Than Hikes a Reality : Liberty Tax Outlines Top Tax Changes and Expiring Benefits

VIrginia Beach, VA (PRWEB) January 07, 2011

Americans are ringing in 2011 with an immediate pay increase rather than tax hikes. Social Security taxes (FICA) will be cut by 2 percentage points for 2011 so employees will pay 4.2 percent of wages earned to Social Security instead of 6.2 percent. For every $ 10,000 of wages, the yearly increase in the paycheck will be $ 200. With that good news, Liberty Tax sizes up some of the recent new tax changes and expiring tax items to keep in mind for 2010 filing and 2011 tax planning:

The 2010 Tax Relief Act provided another patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT exemption amount has increased to $ 47,450 for individuals and $ 72,450 for joint filers.

Taxpayers can also deduct nonrefundable personal credits in 2010 such as the child tax credit to reduce their AMT liability, added John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service. Without the patch the, AMT exemption amount would have decreased to $ 33,750 for individuals and $ 45,000 for joint filers.

Its back in for some extender tax measuresagain. The state and local sales tax deduction, the higher education tuition and fees deduction, the $ 250 classroom expense deduction for educators, and charitable contribution of IRA proceeds were all extended again for 2010 and 2011.

The new law continued the temporary increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) through 2012. Prior to 2009, the credit percentage for the EITC for a taxpayer with two or more qualifying children was 40 percent of the first $ 12,570 of earned income. The percentage increased to 45 percent of the first $ 12,570 of earned income for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children. The EITC phase-out range has also been adjusted upward by $ 1,880 for joint filers to eliminate any marriage penalty.

Without action, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) would have decreased from $ 1,000 per qualifying child to $ 500 per qualifying child in 2011. The Tax Relief Act also continued to allow the CTC to be used against AMT. and continued the refundable portion of CTC (additional CTC) threshold to be 15% of the earned income above $ 3,000. Without action the threshold would have returned to $ 10,000.

The inheritance tax returns for tax year 2011. The first $ 5 million of an estate can pass tax-free to heirs, anything over will be taxed at 35%.

Conversions to Roth retirement plan. Beginning in 2010, the modified AGI and filing status requirements for converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA were eliminated. For any 2010 rollover from an IRA other than a Roth IRA to a Roth IRA, any amounts that would have been included as income will be included in income in equal amounts in 2011 and 2012. A taxpayer can choose to include the entire amount in income when filing a 2010 tax return.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brought on some immediate health care changes for individuals for filing a 2010 tax return. Lifetime limits on benefits and restrictive annual limits are now prohibited. The adoption tax credit and assistance exclusion has increased by $ 1,000 to $ 13,170. The bill makes the credit refundable and extends it through 2011. Theres a 10% tax on tanning services that started July 1, 2010.

The First Time Home Buyer Credit is among some expiring tax measures. But also as a reminder, if a taxpayer claimed the first-time homebuyer credit for a home purchased in 2008, they generally must begin repaying it in 2010. Some other tax measures that have just expired are the $ 2,400 exclusion from income of unemployment payments, the government retiree credit, and the extra $ 3,000 IRA deduction for employees of bankrupt companies.

About Liberty Tax Service

Liberty Tax Service is the fastest growing income tax preparation company in the industrys history. Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, a pioneer in the tax industry, Liberty Tax Service has prepared over 8,000,000 individual income tax returns. With 41years of tax industry experience, Hewitt stands as the most experienced CEO in the tax preparation business, having also founded Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

Liberty Tax Service (http://www.libertytax.com) provides computerized income tax preparation, electronic filing, refund loans, and online filing through eSmart Tax at http://www.esmarttax.com. Each office offers customers audit assistance, a money back guarantee, and free tax return checking.

eSafetyAlert Announces an Alarming 81 Drowning and More Than 70 Near-Drowning Incidents Have Been Reported in First Five Months of 2011

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 31, 2011

With summer in full swing, more than 150 drowning and near-drowning incidents have been documented in media reports in 30 states coast-to-coast. According to eSafetyAlert, this figure is up by 32 incidents reported only three days prior to Memorial Day, on May 27, when there had been 55 drowning and 63 near-drowning incidents confirmed nationwide.

At this pace, water safety advocates, first responders, and healthcare professionals are bracing for these tragedies that annually claim the lives of nearly 400 children, most of whom are under age of five, said Todd Appleman, president and founder of eSafetyAlert.com. As a long-time advocate of public education campaigns about pool and spa safety, we fully support the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives 2011 public service announcements campaign.

Since January 2010, the Pool Safely campaign has tracked more than 530 media-reported drowning, near-drowning, and entrapment incidents. Steps such as staying close to children at all times, learning water safety skills and having the appropriate equipment, can help families have a safer experience in and around pools and spas. To learn more about the campaigns simple, but effective water safety steps, click here and Pool Safely for more details.

We laud the CPSCs first-of-its-kind national public education effort to reduce child drownings and near-drownings in public and residental swimming pools and spas. After many years of work between public and private organizations, a grassroots effort is now serving as a central resource for a clear and consistent message about drowning prevention, said Mr. Appleman.

As a Pool Safely supporter, eSafetyalert.com is dedicated to helping to promote the Pool Safely campaigns safety messages to the public which includes distributing materials, posting information online, holding events, and incorporating the campaign into existing public safety outreach programs.

Also, having been a reseller of the Safety Turtle water immersion alarm for nearly 10 years, we have come to understand that drowning in residential pools and other water hazards is a year-around concern in states like California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, where drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five and the second leading cause of accidental death for children under 14, added Mr. Appleman.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that for every child that drowns, six more children are involved in “near-drowning” incidents that often lead to permanent neurological damage, life-long disabilities, and catastrophic medical costs.

“Parents and guardians need to be extra vigilant in protecting children around water hazards,” said Mr. Appleman. “The family swimming pool is supposed to be a source of fun and recreation. The problem is swimming pools are also very dangerous.”

The gap in awareness and lack of action among parents became acutely apparent when eSafetyAlert.com, and Terrapin Communications, the company that designed and markets the Safety Turtle pool alarm, commissioned a national Harris Interactive poll. The study results revealed that only 41 percent of parents with swimming pools said they had installed one or more layers of protection recommended by the CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Our message to parents and children is simple: stay safe in and around pools and spas by practicing as many safety steps as possible, said Inez M. Tenenbaum, Chairman of the CPSC. We encourage everyone to have fun in the water this summer, but we also remind parents and caregivers to stay close to children at all times, know water safety skills like CPR, and ensure anti-entrapment drain covers are installed in all pools and spas. Every drowning and near-drowning incident represents a family tragedy.

Young children usually drown with a caregiver close by. Contact with the child was lost during the seconds an immersion accident takes to unfold. Rescue, though moments away, is usually too late. The silence of drowning doesnt give second chances. Our goal is to break the silence of immersion accidents, to give parents that last chance, added Bob Lyons, of Terrapin Communications.

About CPSC

CPSC is an independent federal regulatory agency created by Congress in 1972 to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. The Pool Safely campaign is CPSCs national information and education program associated with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act). The Pool Safely campaign is designed to raise public awareness about drowning and entrapment prevention, support industry compliance with safety standards, and improve safety at pools and spas. The Pool Safely campaign is proud to partner with leading organizations, including American Red Cross, The YMCA of the USA, Safe Kids USA, National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), World Waterpark Association (WWA), USA Swimming Foundation, National Swimming Pool Foundation, National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO), Abbey’s Hope and Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP). For more information, visit the website at http://www.poolsafely.gov/ and follow the campaign on Twitter @poolsafely.

About Terrapin Communications

Terrapin Communications manufacturers Safety Turtle, the world’s leading personal immersion alarm system. Introduced in 1998, as a last layer of protection for parents, Safety Turtle has been adapted to protect adults as well as children, and pets, near hazardous water, pools, ponds and open water. Pool lifeguards now wear Turtles to automatically alert the front desk of a water rescue. High risk patients such as stroke victims wear Turtle visors during [supervised] water exercise. For more information, visit the website at http://www.safetyturtle.com

About eSafetyAlert.com

eSafetyAlert.com is an official reseller of the Safety Turtle alarm. The Safety Turtle alarm consists of one AC-powered Base Station that supports one or more Turtle wristbands of the same color which lock snuggly on a child’s wrist with a “child-proof” key. If the child falls into the water, the Turtle sensor sends a signal to Base Station which sounds a siren. Safety Turtle sensors can be placed on a pets collar too. It is estimated that 5,000 dogs drown in swimming pools annually in North America alone. Additional information about purchasing Safety Turtle is available at http://www.eSafetyAlert.com.

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More than 45 Million Protected: IDentity Theft 911 has the LOCK on Identity Theft Consumer Services

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (PRWEB) October 03, 2012

IDentity Theft 911, the nations premier consultative provider of identity and data risk management resolution and education services, proudly announced today that it now provides coverage for more than 17.5 million households (more than 45 million individuals) and more than 600,000 businesses in the United States and Canada. As Wall Street buzzes around the topic of identity theft and the growing need for consumer protection, this marks an important milestone for the company.

Identity theft is a life-altering crime, said Adam Levin, Chairman of IDentity Theft 911 and former Director of Consumer Affairs for New Jersey. It is no longer a question of if, but rather when, each of us will fall victim to some form of identity theft. IDentity Theft 911 was founded with the mission to help consumers minimize their risk of exposure, offering them monitoring products as well as educating them as to the procedures necessary to help them better detect whether they have been compromised, and ultimately be their damage control program.

With a nearly 100 percent satisfaction rating from consumers and a solid track record of success with no resulting litigation or regulatory action, the company works to educate consumers and businesses first and then works on their behalf to manage and restore their name when fraud has been determined. Its LifeStages