Identity Theft: How Do We Protect Ourselves?

Identity theft has taken center stage as the details unfold from one of the largest data breaches to date. Affecting more than 143 million Americans, Equifax explains that hackers invaded their system from mid-May through July, stealing sensitive information such as names, social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. It is estimated that credit card numbers for 209,000 people have been compromised. If you have ever applied for a new account or line of credit (or done anything else that requires running a credit report), then it is likely that Equifax has your information in their system since they are one of the three major credit reporting agencies.

What can a fraudster actually accomplish with the information they gathered from Equifax’s system?

  • Open accounts in your name
  • Open credit lines in your name – mortgages, refinancing, etc.
  • Purchase items with your credit card number
  • File false tax returns on your social security number

Tips you can take to protect against identity theft:

  • Check your credit reportshttp://www.annualcreditreport.com/
    1. If there are any accounts or activities listed that you do not recognize, it may indicate you are a victim of identity theft.
    2. An annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies is available for free.
    3. Visit https://identitytheft.gov/ if you believe you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files.
    1. This will only prevent thieves from opening new accounts, but will not protect your existing accounts.
    2. Credit freezes must be done separately at each of the three major reporting agencies.
    3. Take this step with great care! This locks your credit report files to all applications, so it is not a good option if you plan to shop for an auto or home loan in the near future.
    4. There are varying costs per state and per credit reporting agency for freezing your credit and temporarily lifting the freeze. However, it is always free to remove the freeze.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your files.
    1. This warns creditors that an applicant may be an identity theft victim, requiring them to verify that the applicant is the correct person before obtaining the credit report.
    2. Fraud alerts must be done separately at each of the three major reporting agencies.
    3. There are a few types of fraud alerts available:
      • Initial fraud alert: 90 day alert available for non-identity theft victims whom have lost or compromised personal information or account information.
      • Extended fraud alert: 7 year alert available for victims of identity theft.
      • Active duty alert: 1 year alert available for deployed military personal.
  • Monitor your existing credit cards and bank accounts at least weekly, if not more often.
    1. Thieves tend to start with smaller purchases to ensure the account is valid. They can rack up significant purchases very quickly once they know it works.
  • File your taxes as early as possible.
    1. Once a return has been filed under your social security number, it is less likely that a false claim will make it through.
  • Consider a membership to Identity Theft Protection.
    1. Click link here for the comparison chart for more details.
    2. Equifax is offering one free year of credit monitoring, but it is very likely that thieves will retain your information and begin to use it once that time has expired.
  • Avoid accessing your accounts while on public computers or networks (such as airport Wi-Fi, hotels, etc.).
  • Do not reply to an email asking for account information or sensitive personal information.
  • Avoid clicking on embedded links or attachments in emails from unknown senders.
    1. Generally, you can hover over a link to see the true URL.

At Rowland Carmichael, we strive to take the necessary precautions to keep your personal information safe. Some of the ways we do this include:

  • Password protection on our technology interfaces (and dual authentication where available) such as computers, network, custodial sites, contact manager system and internet portals.
  • Password protection when sending sensitive personal information through email, as well as further use of transferring sensitive documents through our secure Client Portal.
  • Only acting on email instructions after verbal verification with you by phone or in person.
  • Shredding all papers that contain sensitive personal information.

Our custodians also have procedures in place to help reduce the likelihood of a breach or fraudulent activity. Some of the ways they do so include:

  • Never sending you emails requesting account numbers, usernames, passwords, or other personal information.
  • Utilizing firewalls to keep unauthorized parties from obtaining personal information and to alert of any unusual behavior in the accounts.
  • Offering dual authentication for login credentials (Charles Schwab).
  • Security Guarantee: 100% coverage for any losses in your Charles Schwab account due to unauthorized activity (Charles Schwab).
  • Blocking access to the account until client or advisor verification has been obtained if suspicious activity is detected (TD Ameritrade).

Identity theft is rising. Though inconvenient, we strongly urge you to take precautionary steps to avoid becoming a victim. If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please feel free to reach out to your wealth manager.

Joy in Inconvenient Places

Most people I know, myself included, would agree that if they were taking a shower with cold water out of a bucket, boiling water to hand-wash the dishes and trying to make it through dinner without the sporadic electricity shutting the lights off, they are having a pretty rough week. I had the opportunity to willingly step into a culture for 11 days where most people yearn for the lifestyle described in the typical American’s “rough week.”

To sum up my trip to Nigeria in one word: inconvenient. The stories of inconvenience range from being detained at a “police stop” on the side of the road in the pitch dark for a half-hour while they awaited a bribe from us (we did not give one), to stopping at four gas stations before finding one that had gas – right before our driver took us on a “short-cut” home that ended up being a four-hour route instead of the original two.

Despite the culture shock from those experiences, it was a different kind of inconvenience that weighed on me more heavily. This weight came from an inconvenient sect of people in their society– namely, disabled individuals. We learned on our first day in the Nigerian culture, the general perspective on people with physical or mental disabilities is one of shame and disgrace. It is commonly believed that a disability is a result of sin in a person’s life or sin in their family, and while they remain alive and disabled, they are to blame for any hardship in their family’s life. Therefore, most people will not come near, much less touch someone with a disability for fear that the curse will come upon them also. At best, disabled family members are kept in a back room, unknown and hidden from the community. More often, they are abandoned to the streets or even killed.

Seeing this belief first hand, I began to feel the gravity of my team’s mission for that week. We were there to spend time with, honor, and encourage that very group of people who are a marginalized inconvenience in the eyes of their community.

We took one afternoon at the beginning of the trip to host a party that involved playing games, riding a horse, face painting, an authentic Nigerian feast of jollof rice and chicken, and concluding the day with a dance party. Our team leader, arriving a month earlier than us, spent that time building relationships with families of disabled individuals in the community and invited them to our party. This proved to be a much harder task than anyone thought. Those that did claim their disabled children as family members did not want to publicize it. Even so, over 130 people (disabled individuals and families included) showed up to our party! We called this a Luke 14 Party, in reference to a parable Jesus told in Luke chapter 14 describing a master that holds a great banquet for the affluent people in his community. None of the invited guests show up, so he tells his servant to go the streets inviting the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. This is significant because Jesus tells this parable in response to a well-to-do man stating, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15).

Throughout our stay, we spent a significant amount of time with the children from Jesus Kids, exposing us to a whole new level of inconvenience. Upon entering the orphanage for disabled children, I was overcome with a deep sense of helplessness. We walked through the front door into a small, open room with a dirty floor. Though it didn’t take long to pick up that most of the children were non-verbal, the room was loud – filled with the sound of some children crying, others laughing, and others letting us know they were happy to see us through wordless squeals and smiles on their faces. The room was chaotic at best. After greeting and hugging all the children, we sat down to play guitar and sing worship songs. In pure excitement, they began to congregate around the guitar – those that could crawl, walk or scoot closer did so, while the others cried out to be carried near. I sat holding one young boy with cerebral palsy and could barely sing along; it took everything in me to hold back the tears. Through unrecognizable words, it was clear that these kids knew the worship songs we sang, and they were singing right along, praising Jesus with their whole heart.

My favorite part of the trip was the day we took twelve of the Jesus Kids to a place called Agodi Gardens, which is a big, grassy park with a public pool. Of course, it started to pour rain as soon as we got there, and we had already told the kids they were going to get to swim for the first time in their lives. Upon determining the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, we jumped in the pool. The rain turned out to be a blessing because we were the only ones there. Judging from the look on the workers’ faces, I doubt we would have been allowed in the pool if people from the community had been there. Seeing the kids’ faces light up as we carried them in the pool and down the slides filled my soul with joy. Though giant, the water slides didn’t scare these fearless kids. For two hours, we carried them up the long set of stairs to let them slide over and over until their skin was beyond the prune stage.

After an overwhelming week, feeling so sorry for what these kids had to endure, it hit me that they were filled with joy. In the depth of poverty, abandoned by their families, and a disgrace to society, they were full of life. As the trip came to an end, I began to understand the source of their joy. Mrs. Adamolekun, who founded and runs Jesus Kids, felt led during a successful business career in Nigeria to walk away and start the orphanage. She gave up her comfortable life to humbly seek out the lowly and despised in her community, to bring them into her home, love them as her own, and give them a full life when they were left to die. These children can’t repay her in any way and have nothing to offer her. In fact, they are an inconvenience to her life. Yet, out of great love for the poor, hopeless and helpless children, she laid down her own life so that these kids might live. To receive this wonderful gift, all they had to do was go with her. Mrs. Adamolekun not only tells these kids who Jesus is, but her daily life also reflects His life. Jesus left the throne of heaven to come live among the broken of this world, laying down His life so that those who follow Him will truly live. It is His love poured out through her that is the source of these kids’ unshakable joy.

It was an eye-opening and life-changing 11 days that I am beyond grateful to have experienced. On a mission to serve those kids and give them hope, they ended up showing me what hope really is.

We are trying to help raise $20,000 more for the Jesus Kids Building Fund before the end of August so they can add on 4 bedrooms for the kids before construction of their new building starts. I realize this may sound like an inconvenience, but I can personally attest to the fact that joy is more often found in giving than receiving. Jesus Kids appreciates all your prayers and support, as do I!


Manley Baptist Church has graciously agreed to receive funds through their website, out of which they will be transferred to a monitored Jesus Kids account. To securely support the Jesus Kids Orphanage financially:

  1. Click the following link. https://secure.accessacs.com/access/oglogin.aspx?sn=90181
  2. Select the “Jesus Kids– Nigeria” Fund
  3. In the “memo” box, designate your preferred destination (“Building Fund” or “Monthly Operational Costs”)  

Thank you!!

 

A Different Adventure – My Nigeria Trip

By Lacee Floyd

I’ve noticed that as soon as the temperatures in Phoenix hit the 100-degree mark, the most common question becomes: “Where is everyone heading off to for vacation?” Like most Phoenicians I usually plan to escape the heat, but this summer I have a radically different adventure in mind…

From June 28th – July 10th I am heading to Nigeria to experience a way of life drastically different from what I have ever known. We often hear from our clients that Africa is on their top ten list (if not 1st) of places they’ve traveled. My itinerary will be slightly off the beaten path of sight-seeing or a safari; I have been invited by a dear friend to work side by side with her in an orphanage for disabled children. My friend, Lee Anne, lived in Nigeria for three years after graduating college. She volunteered at the orphanage, called Jesus Kids, taught at a school and served the community through various other ministries. Before returning to Nigeria this summer, she invited a small group of friends to join her for the last two weeks of her stay. We will serve the children and the community in many capacities and have our own hearts transformed in the process.

I have been blessed to work at a company that supports this kind of endeavor, graciously allowing me to step away for eleven days and focus on this opportunity to dive head-first into discomfort and more deeply experience what I believe to be the true source of joy. A joy that doesn’t come from “stuff” or circumstances, but from serving as the hands and feet of our Creator to those who are marginalized by their society.

Likewise, I am beyond grateful to have clients like you, who have shown just as much support! If you need anything while I am gone, please don’t hesitate to contact Kristin Greenleaf – she would love to take care of any of your needs. I’d like to invite each of you to be a part of our team by praying for us as we prepare and head over to Nigeria! Our desire is for safety in our travels, unity maintained among our team members, soft hearts malleable to God’s leading, clear direction in where He would use us as His servants, and to return home with transformed hearts.

We will be spending most of our time at Jesus Kids, so I wanted to share two of the children with you (below) so you may be praying for them as well. Recently, enough funds were raised to buy a piece of land where a two-room school house has been built which will be used once a residential facility is complete. If you would like to support them in any way financially, you can do so at:

Manley Baptist Church’s website: https://secure.accessacs.com/access/oglogin.aspx?sn=90181

  • Select the “Jesus Kids–Nigeria” Fund
  • In the “memo” box, designate your preferred destination (“Building Fund” or “Monthly Operational Costs”)
  • Continue through the payment process. These donations will be tax-deductible.

Thank you so much for any and all of your support, prayerfully or financially! I look forward to sharing all our pictures and stories with you upon returning!

6th Annual Young Life Troy Gray Legacy Golf Tournament

Kelly Bird, Garrison Gray, Corey Bird, Bryan Bird

As many of you know, the Troy Gray Legacy Golf Tournament is a special event for Corey Bird and his family. Rowland Carmichael is proud to partner again this year with clients and members of our community to support Scottsdale Young Life and the 6th Annual Young Life Troy Gray Legacy Golf Tournament. Nearly $113,000 was raised for Scottsdale Young Life at this year’s tournament. Many young lives in the Scottsdale area will be positively impacted by the efforts and generosity of the individuals and national companies that donated their time and money.

Bob Kohnen, Lacee Floyd, Ernie Modzelewski, Jim Crews

Young Life is an international organization that works with middle school and high school youth in over 90 countries.

We would like to thank those who joined Lacee Floyd, Corey Bird and his family in this year’s tournament, as well as all who participated in the 2017 Young Life Golf Tournament and for everything you do in your philanthropic endeavors.

Every Box of Food Has a Face

17bWednesday morning, May 10th we were able to see the deep impact that one box of food leaves in the lives of hungry children. Rowland Carmichael along with several of our clients and family members volunteered at Feed My Starving Children, (“FMSC”). FMSC is a non-profit Christian organization, founded in 1987, dedicated to feeding God’s children in over 60 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North, Central and South America. FMSC aspires to reach everyone until ALL are fed.

Our morning began with an introduction to the organization and their facility. Then we each chose the area where we wanted to work: the loading dock, making boxes and labels, filling food bags, or packing and sealing boxes. Working alongside so many volunteers and getting to know them was great fun and caused the morning to pass quickly. Many of the Rowland Carmichael staff volunteered to work in the assembly line helping fill MannaPacks. MannaPacks are packed with rice, soy, dried vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Once filled, we weighed, sealed and packed the bags into shipping boxes.

During the two hours Wednesday morning, we helped pack 186 boxes to be shipped to El Salvador. The MannaPacks will provide 40,176 meals for 110 children to have food for a year.

OmarBefore leaving FMSC, we were introduced to Omar, from El Salvador. Our speaker showed us a picture of Omar and asked us to guess how much he weighed. None of us were able to guess exactly. When Omar was brought to FMSC as an 8 year old, he weighed only 19 pounds. After 6 months of medical attention and MannaPacks, Omar began to transform into a healthy, growing, smiling little boy, and weighed 73 pounds.Omar after

At the very end, FMSC staff offered an invitation to join them in praying over the boxes we filled that morning. We were told that every box of food and pallet is prayed over before it leaves the FMSC warehouse. 93% of the food boxes reach their final destination. FMSC attributes the high delivery rate to prayer. Tim led the group in a prayer for provision of a successful delivery of the food boxes and visible results for the efforts of FMSC.

We are so grateful to the staff and volunteers at FMSC for all the work they do to serve hungry children around the world. We are very thankful for all our clients and family members who donated their time to volunteer with us at FMSC. Rowland Carmichael is planning to volunteer again this fall at FMSC – we hope you will be able to join us!

Education Topics: Reaching Your Goals

By Lacee FloydFamily with spyglass looking toward ocean

“Wealth” is not the end-goal, but rather a helpful tool in reaching your goals. Our main objective as your wealth manager is to help you articulate your financial goals and educate you on possible solutions that will guide you toward achieving those goals.

Think about it this way: if you are going on a road trip and you have a few places along the way that you want to make sure you see, it is important to map out your route. Without understanding the reasoning behind your route, it would be easy to convince yourself in the moment to stay on the highway (passing by sights you wanted to see), or to detour in the spur of the moment (at the expense of the sights you wanted to see). However, when your route is mapped out ahead of time and you understand why you have chosen that route, it makes it easier to stick to it along the way.

As you begin to define your financial goals, we encourage you to take some time to consider the following education topics and notify your wealth manager of any that catch your interest.

  • Financial Independence
  • Cash Flow Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Charitable Giving
  • Gifting Strategies
  • Insurance Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Tax Planning
  • Education Planning
  • Business Planning
  • Behavioral Finance
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • Survivor Income Planning
  • Planning for Decline of Memory

Building from Within

The future for Rowland Carmichael and our clients is enhanced by an expansion of the firm’s ownership.

group

David Carmichael and Tim Rowland are proud to announce that Corey Bird and Jaron Carmichael have become principals and co-owners of Rowland Carmichael Advisors.

Bringing Corey and Jaron into ownership provides a long-term strategic plan that seeks to meet three essential objectives:

  • perpetuating the firm’s culture and values into the next generation;
  • preserving Rowland Carmichael’s independence; and
  • providing our clients with ongoing financial guidance and management of their investment assets.

Just as our clients have a long-term outlook, Rowland Carmichael continues to structure our firm to ensure that our philosophy will continue to build family wealth and financial independence for our clients, their children, and future generations.

We hope you share our enthusiasm for these positive changes as we position our firm to meet your needs long term.

Virtual Food Drive Provides More than 23,400 Thanksgiving Meals

st-marys-packingIt is often said that giving is more satisfying than receiving. Last month, Rowland Carmichael Advisors, joined by some of our clients, experienced the truth of this statement.

We set out to raise money for St. Mary’s Food Bank and then spent an afternoon packing food boxes in St. Mary’s Food Bank warehouse. Not only was it a joy to spend time serving together, but it was an even greater gift to know that we had the opportunity to provide struggling families with food for the week – a blessing that we so often take for granted.

We are thrilled to report that $845 was given to St. Mary’s Food Bank through the Rowland Carmichael Advisors sponsored Virtual Food Drive. Rowland Carmichael donated $2,500 more, which brought the total to $3,345, or 23,415 meals.

In the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, St. Mary’s Food Bank staff and volunteers distributed turkeys and other food items to 12,661 families.

We are so thankful for the generosity of time and money by those who donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank last month, and we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Rowland Carmichael Advisors plans to volunteer again in the spring, and we invite you to join us! – Lacee Floyd

st-marys-group