Community Corner: SURF Center

picture2In the last 21 years, the SURF Center has worked to aid our community by providing support to those working to overcome addiction. SURF stands for Service, Unity, Recovery and Fellowship—and suitably so. The center hosts around 80% of Tippecanoe County’s recovery meetings, including 12-step programs. Their staff has created a nurturing environment that promotes sharing and growth.

SURF Center is responsible for many saved jobs, relationships, and lives within our community. By sharing their passion, they make Tippecanoe County stronger as a whole.

Whether you’re in need of help, have questions about addiction services, or are looking to volunteer, the SURF Center is a great place to start.

SURF Center
307 N. 10th St.
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 742-1033

 

Community Bank: Clay Critters

clay crittersLocated in West Lafayette, Clay Critters was founded in 1978 when Rebecca Bollinger turned her hobby into a business. The twenty craft workers create Handmade in the U.S.A. “critters” from polymer clay. Many of the products offered have a one-of-a-kind “swirled” appearance. Other designs feature metallic, fluorescent, faux granite finish, or a new feature- airbrushing iridescent finishes.

Clay Critters offers free laser-engraved name-drop service for their items. Most of the products are sold to gift shops all around the United States and in the Caribbean, and can be found in many airport gift shops. Other features include refrigerator magnets and the ability to order a critter as a key chain or ornament.

Clay Critters
4866 N. 9th Street Rd.
West Lafayette, IN 47906
800-327-5893

How do I improve my credit score?

credit-scoreThis little three digit number can really affect your budget. Lenders use this score to determine the terms of credit they may extend to you. Auto and homeowner’s insurance companies, and phone companies use credit scores to decide to do business with you.   The higher the credit score the lower your costs may be. The credit score is also called the FICO score after the company, Fair Isaacs Corporation, which developed the system of analyzing the information contained in your credit report.   The information analyzed includes your payment history, the number of delinquent debts you may have, your total existing debt, and the length of time you may have had the accounts opened.

If you want to improve your score, your journey begins with obtaining a copy of your credit report. Review the report for accuracy and immediately dispute the errors. Get current on all of your accounts and stay current on all your accounts. Past due amounts and late payments negatively affect your score. Pay down revolving accounts such as credit cards so that the balance of the account is no more than 30% of the credit limit. Do not close inactive accounts. Do not pay for your credit report (you are entitled to one free each year) and do not pay someone else to improve your credit score for you. Do visit www.consumer.ftc.gov and click on the “Money and Credit” tab. You will find instructions on how to obtain your free report and how to dispute any errors you find.   There is a wealth of information on this consumer protection site that can help you improve your credit score.

Identity Theft: Things to do to protect yourself

identitytheft

Identity theft affects millions of people every year, but there are several simple things you can do to help protect yourself.

  • Shred your bills, receipts, financial statements or any record with your name address or birthday with a crosscut shredder.
  • Review your bank statements, annual social security earnings statement and your annual credit report for abnormal activity or changes.
  • Your wallet and purse are a big target for thieves. Empty your wallet of all extra credit cards, social security cards, birth certificate, passport, identification cards you don’t need on a weekly basis, as well as receipts and credit card statements.
  • Be careful using an ATM’s or prepaid phone card. “Shoulder surfers” can get your “pin” and get access to your accounts.
  • Protect your mail. Identity thieves are always on the lookout for incoming mail just sitting in your mailbox. Have your checks delivered to the bank or pick your checks up at the bank. Do not put checks in the mail from your home mailbox. Drop them off at a U.S. Mailbox or the U.S. Post Office. Get your mail as soon as possible. If you are going away, arrange for a trusted friend to pick up your mail.
  • Always log out of websites you shop or bank on.
  • Erase financial programs and stored information from your computer’s hard drive and your old cell phone before you dispose of them.
  • Create strong passwords that use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and avoid using the same password and username for multiple accounts.
  • Cancel all credit cards that you do not use or have not used in 6 months. Thieves use these very easily—open credit is a prime target.
  • Do not put your telephone numbers on your checks.
  • In conjunction with a credit card sale, do not put your address, telephone number, or driver’s license number on the statement.
  • Make a list of all your credit card account numbers and bank account numbers with customer service phone numbers and keep it a safe place. (Do not keep it on the hard drive of your computer if you are connected to the Internet.)

While Identity theft is a growing and serious problem, you will never completely eliminate the risk. These are a few suggestions that will help you significantly reduce your exposure and risk to Identity theft.