How to Protect Yourself Against Credit Card Skimming

Jan 26, 2019 by

If you’re not entirely sure as to what credit card skimming is, it can sound like something mischievous. Someone “skimming” your credit card? That sounds dicey. And it is. It’s also illegal. In fact, it can lead to your personal information being stolen and used by thieves to buy things fraudulently.

Credit card skimming usually happens when an illegal device is fitted on top of a real credit card reader at self-service sale terminals. This can be done at a store, ATM or the gas pump when you slide your credit card to pay. The card skimmer reads the magnetic strip on the card and stores the card number. Your PIN can also be captured if a fake keypad was placed over the real one.

Along with gas pumps, ticket kiosks and other places where you pay for things with a credit card—but without a salesperson present—credit card skimming can be done at restaurants or department stores where an employee can copy your credit card number.

How to avoid credit card skimming. The easiest way to avoid skimming is to avoid paying for items at machines that aren’t set up next to a clerk.

Instead of paying outside at the gas pump, go inside the station and use the point-of-sale terminal that’s either right next to a clerk or requires a clerk to swipe your card at the cash register. Criminals are more likely to attach skimming machines to outside pumps than they are at the register inside a store.

If you can’t go inside, check the terminal for tampering and something extra put on it, and don’t use it if it looks funny. You may not be able to tell if a skimmer is attached. Look around for hidden cameras that could record you typing your PIN. Cover your hand while typing.

Pick the machine that’s closest to the front door, where clerks are more likely to see people trying to attach a skimmer—and are thus avoided.

Use a credit card with a chip. Use a credit card and not a debit card when paying at a card reader. If your debit card information is stolen, the thief can drain your bank account within minutes. If you report it missing within two business days, you’re only liable for up to $ 50 in debit charges. But if you don’t report the theft of a debit card after 60 days, you may not be reimbursed at all. Between two business days and 60 calendar days of a loss or theft, your maximum loss is $ 500.

A credit card with a chip is your best defense. It can make it harder to skim data, and the most you can be liable for is $ 50. If you report the loss before your credit card is used, then you aren’t responsible for any charges you didn’t authorize.

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Focusing on Yourself Over the Holidays

Dec 3, 2018 by

There are so many things to love about the holiday season, but sometimes we forget that. We get caught up in coordinating events, stressing about hosting and trying to manage conflicts between family members. One thing that’s been proven to lessen this kind of stress is reminding one’s self to carve out “me time” on a regular basis. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Set your alarm.
While waking up when it’s still dark and cold out is not everybody’s favourite chore, even setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier can give you a chance to greet the day before the morning chaos has begun. Enjoy your coffee in peace and take this time to reflect.

Use your benefits.
If you have the luxury of a workplace that provides benefits, check and see if they provide you with coverage for a certain amount of massage therapy. Since most people’s benefits expire at the end of the year, this is an ideal time for you to book a relaxing massage and have it covered.

Scrap the desk lunch.
During a busy workday, it can seem like a better use of time to keep your workflow chugging along as you simultaneously scarf down a lunchtime sandwich or salad at your desk. The risk, of course, is that you end up exhausted at the end of the day.

Make a pact with yourself, if only for the season, to take a full break for your lunch. Whether you use the time to go for a stroll or find a quiet nook, use the time to let your mind recharge. As a bonus, you’ll feel refreshed when it’s time to tackle your afternoon tasks.

The holidays are all about thankfulness and gratefulness, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with taking some time for yourself. Your friends and family will notice the difference, and so will you.

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Pencil Yourself In for a ‘Most Exciting Two Minutes’ on May 6

May 5, 2017 by

When you think of greats in the sports world, for hockey, you think Gretzky. For football, it’s Brady or a Manning – maybe Lombardi.

Baseball? The list starts with names like Ruth, Aaron, and Jeter.

But when you hear the names Seabiscuit, American Pharoah, or Secretariat, most folks know exactly which sport AND which traditional sporting event those great athletes represent – the Kentucky Derby.

Staged annually at Churchill Downs, Louisville’s “Run for the Roses” or “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” celebrates its 143rd anniversary this year.

According to, the famed race is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and takes place annually on the first Saturday in May – typically drawing a crowd of 155,000 people.

“The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” is a reference to the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line – although the aforementioned Secretariat ran it in 1:59:40 back in 1973.

The “Derby” is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Self-proclaimed Derby expert Mali Anderson points out that the red rose is the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. And after winning, the victorious Derby horse is draped with a garland of red roses.

It is said New York sports columnist Bill Corum was the first to refer to Derby as “The Run for the Roses” in 1925. The floral blanket carries the same symbolism as a winning crown, Anderson says.

Here are a few points of Kentucky Derby trivia to dazzle your friends:

  • According to ESPN, former slave Ansel Williamson was the trainer of the Derby’s first winning horse, Aristides, in 1875.
  • That same year, the winning jockey, Oliver Lewis, was also African-American, the Kentucky Derby Museum notes.
  • In 1892, only three horses ran in the Derby, making it the smallest field in the race’s history, CNN notes.
  • In 1970, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the Derby.

The main event is the culmination of a weekend full of activities at Churchill Downs and happens this year on May 6. Since it’s an easy two minutes to miss, be sure you’re in your seat and tuning in to see this year’s excitement at post time – exactly 6:34 pm EST!

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Four Questions to Ask Yourself before Creating a New Social Profile

Jan 5, 2017 by

While social media is an integral part of our daily lives, learning how to strategically manage each social platform to benefit your business takes time and skill. By the time you finally figure out how to truly incorporate a particular site into your business, a new one magically appears out of thin air, making it difficult to keep your social strategy up to date.

As real estate professionals, time is money. In a perfect world, you would spend your time with prospects and clients; however, understanding the importance of having a strong social presence, you tell yourself, “Here we go again,” and learn to use each new social platform. We have come up with four questions you should ask yourself before creating yet another social media account.

  1. Is your target audience using this social network?

Social networks differ from site to site. For example, in the U.S., 68 percent of Facebook users are adults, followed by 28 percent on Instagram and 21 percent on Twitter. Each site has created its own style and niche of engagement and audience behavior. The key is to figure out where your target audience is and create a strategy to reach, connect, and engage with those individuals.

  1. Does it fill a need?

Each social platform has its own style to engage with its unique audience. For example, Twitter requires users to communicate in less than 140 characters, while Instagram is heavily image-based and Facebook is built around others’ comments and clicks. Each site is designed to keep users on-site and discovering new content to engage with. Before opening a new social account, determine if it will fill a need that an existing account does not, along with the audience base you’re targeting to reach (Tip: Most networks will either allow you to sync your list of followers across accounts or upload your email list if you already have a large following on a previously established social account.)

  1. Do you have the time?

Keep in mind that each account you have can easily require a couple of hours of your time weekly. Creating the initial profile can be relatively simple and quick, but you want to create and maintain brand cohesiveness with other accounts on different platforms. Additionally, content creation is a time-consuming aspect of any profile. Each profile needs to have a continuous flow of fresh content to stay top of mind. Furthermore, a profile that is left unattended is viewed upon negatively, because consumers often feel this is how you run your business and expect your social networks to be a source of communication.

  1. Do you have the budget?

In social media, just like everywhere else in this world, money is power; in this case, money could mean more engagement. Yes, you can organically grow your social presence online, but investing in your social accounts is the smartest and quickest way to see your fan base grow and engage with your brand. Each platform differs on how you can advertise with them. Before running any form of advertising, make sure you establish a goal; for example, are you looking to gain more followers, promote a listing, or increase traffic to your website? These are important questions you should be asking yourself before investing in any form of social ad spend. (Tip: Make sure to set aside a marketing budget just for social ads to avoid overspending.)

After answering these four questions and deciding that creating a new profile is beneficial, ask yourself one last question: Is it best to spend your time creating content, monitoring engagement, and frequently posting on all of these sites, or should you focus on other marketing tactics? It all comes down to what is best for you and your business.

If you decide you need help creating and maintaining your social accounts, has a solution for you. Our social media specialists take care of everything from account setup to creating engaging posts and managing your Facebook Ads. We will even manage your online reputation and monitor how your business ranks in search results, so you can focus on selling real estate.

For more information, please visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Trust Yourself

Jul 10, 2016 by

trust“Do you remember the conversation we had about…?”

No, past client, I don’t remember a conversation from ten years ago that involved your transaction. I remember you, I remember what you bought or sold, but I don’t recall a specific conversation. Since that conversation took place- if it actually did take place- I’ve had hundreds of deals and thousands of conversations. So, no, I don’t remember the details of that discussion.

Of course I don’t say that out loud. But it runs through my head because it’s my knee-jerk reaction to being questioned with sometimes accusing undertones. You see, when a client is asking this question it usually means a situation has arisen, and we need to go back in time to figure out what was supposed to happen and decide if that differs from what actually did happen.

Buyers and sellers often forget the bones of the transaction, just like we do. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to have a water heater break a year after closing, and upon checking paperwork for the home warranty information they thought they had, realize they actually waived it. Same thing with pest inspections, home inspections, surveys, mineral rights, everything.

Somewhere during all the negotiations and stress, buyers and sellers lose the details of the transaction, latch on to incorrect information, and then years down the road, blame us for slipping something through that they weren’t aware of.

My initial thought is, “Oh crap. What did I do wrong?” But then I think, “Wait a minute. I know ME. I would never do anything without my client’s permission. I may not remember how it all transpired, but I know I wouldn’t do anything shady or underhanded. I just don’t operate that way. “

And you know what? That is what gets me through that phone call every time: The belief in ME. Are mistakes possible? Of course. But nine times out of ten, when the clients are reacquainted with the offer they initialed and signed, and have it re-explained to them, they begin to see the situation in a new light.

I don’t cower from these conversations because I know that I always do the best I can in every transaction. I know that whatever misunderstanding there is now is not due to something I slid past them back then. It’s comforting to know that whatever it is that happened will have an explanation or remedy; whereas being ethically inconsistent is impossible to explain or fix.honest

We need to make sure that we work every deal to the best of our ability, and be as transparent as possible. We need to make sure that when being questioned about the forgotten details that we can, without a doubt, affirm that we were honest, trustworthy, and diligent in our efforts. At no time should we be able to second guess these traits within ourselves.

Sometimes when a problem arises and people are coming down on you with accusations and distrust, the fact that you can trust yourself and trust your actions is the saving grace to a tough situation. Take comfort in knowing that way back then, you did the best you could. And make sure that your actions today allow for that comfort in the future. Sometimes this is your only solid ground. Make sure you can rely on it.


Amy Gilpin Realtor


Amy Gilpin, Realtor, Associate Broker, Manager, ABR.

Fourteen years of helping clients. Six years of helping agents. All for this crazy thing we call real estate.
Production Realty 517-879-4141 Jackson, MI


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