When you provide personal information to your health insurer or healthcare professional, you naturally assume it’s confidential and will be stored securely. But if an unscrupulous person gets their hands on it, they could use it to get medical services or prescriptions in your name or even to make false claims. In a worst-case scenario, the details they steal could be used to commit broader identify theft. Stolen health information could even be used for blackmail. This isn’t just a vague possibility. Around half of healthcare organizations are victims of medical ID
theft every year, costing them around $40 billion. To protect yourself, follow these steps:
- Protect your Medicare and Social Security numbers and don’t lend out your cards.
- Check all your medical bills, insurance statements, and summary notices.
- Be wary of anyone offering supposedly free medical services or equipment.
- Ask for and read the privacy notices that every medical service provider is required by law to provide.
- Challenge anything that doesn’t look right. If you think you’re a victim of ID theft, contact the Federal Trade
Commission (1-877-438-4338) For more on medical ID theft see: http://tinyurl.com/M-ID-theft
Although exercise (along with diet) holds the key to personal fitness, there’s less agreement about how much you actually need and when is
the best time to work out. Of course, you should always seek advice from a medical professional before starting your regime. And the
amount you do – and when – may be dictated by your personal circumstances. However, if you can, the American Council on Exercise suggests you
should exercise when your body hits its warmness peak, which you can identify by taking your temperature throughout the day for a week
or so. For most people this usually occurs in the late afternoon. And according to the National Institute of Health guidelines, children
and teens need an hour of physical activity daily, while adults require around 2 to 2-1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every
week – subject, as we said, to guidance from your physician.
In the old days, a spike or drop in the power supply used to just mean a change in the brightness of our lights. But with so many sensitive electronic devices now connected to our power supplies, a surge can mean the difference between a working computer and a useless piece of junk!
Putting a surge protector between your PC or TV and the power outlet can eliminate the risk by blocking or shorting out those spikes. For a few dollars, you can buy either a surge-protecting power strip or a plug-in adapter – but don’t make the mistake of thinking that all power strips have this
ability. It should be labeled as such. When you buy one, check for these features:
- The “UL” seal, which means it’s certified to required standards.
- The number of outlets. Ensure there are enough for all devices you’ll attach.
- The surge protection rating, usually measured in “joules”, which indicates how much power it can absorb – 8,000 joules and up is good.
- The “trigger” voltage – the level at which it’ll kick into action. Four hundred volts or lower is best.
Now you’re set to plug in safely!
Computer-mounted webcams and networked surveillance cameras – built in or as plug-in accessories – have revolutionized the way we communicate with family and friends, and keep an eye on our property. But who’d have thought they could also be used to spy on us. This sneaky trick has been highlighted by a couple of recent incidents:
- A rent-to-buy store chain was found to have installed a camera spy program on PCs it leased out to unsuspecting customers, supposedly so it could keep track of the machines.
- A camera supplier failed to adequately protect devices used for security monitoring, enabling hackers to gain access to the video feeds.
But that’s not all. Clever computer hackers also have developed viruses and other malware that can switch on the cameras on “infected” devices without users knowing. They can even block the camera light that usually signals it has been switched on.
You might have read a few months ago about how this nasty trick was used to spy on people, including a beauty pageant queen. The crooks recorded the video and then demanded payment to stop them from posting it online.
It’s easy to protect yourself against this danger in three simple steps.
First, install a reputable Internet security program that will scan your system for the spying malware.
Second, keep the lens covered when not in use. Many have built-in covers but if yours doesn’t, make a simple one yourself. If it’s a laptop, close the lid when not in use.
Third, control your behavior in front of the camera. Don’t undress or do anything else you wouldn’t want the world to see and don’t place the camera in “sensitive” places.