How to Choose a Good Estate Sale Company

Can you provide some tips on how to choose a good estate sale company who can sell all the leftover items in my mother's house? 

The estate sale business has become a huge industry over the past decade. There are roughly 22,000 estate sale companies that currently operate in the U.S., up nearly 60% from just 10 years ago. But not all estate sale companies are alike. 

Unlike appraisal, auction and real estate companies, estate sale operators are largely unregulated and are not required to adhere to licensing or standard educational requirements. This leaves the door open for inexperienced, unethical or even illegal operators. Therefore, it is up to you to decipher a good, reputable company from a bad one. Here are some tips to help you choose.

Make a list: Start by asking for recommendations from your friends, a real estate agent or an attorney. There are various estate sale websites that let you search for estate sale companies in your area. 

Check their reviews: After you find a few companies, check them out on the Better Business Bureau's website, Angie's List, Yelp and other online review sites to eliminate ones with legitimately negative reviews. 

Call some companies: Once you identify some reputable estate sale companies in your area, select a few to interview over the phone. Ask them how long they have been in business and how many estate sales they conduct each month. Also, find out about their staff, the services they provide, if they are insured and bonded and if they charge a flat fee or commission. The national average commission for an estate sale is around 35%, but commissions vary by city and region.

You may also want to ask about visiting their next sale to get a better feel for how they operate. Also, consider requesting a list of their past clients who you can contact as references.

Schedule appointments: Set up two or three face-to-face interviews with the companies you felt most comfortable with after conducting the phone interviews. 

During their visit, show the estate liquidator through the property. Point out any items that will not be included in the sale. If you have any items where price is a concern, this would be a good time to discuss it with them. Many estate companies will give you a quote after a walk-through of the home.

You should also ask questions about their pricing, including how they research prices, whether every item is priced, how they track what items sell for, what credit cards they accept and how and where they will promote and market your sale. 

Additionally, ask how many days it will take them to set up for the sale, how long the sale will last and whether they will take care of getting any necessary permits.

You should also find out how and when you will be paid and what types of services they will provide when the sale is over. You will want to ask whether they will clean up the house and dispose of the unsold items, and whether there is an extra charge to do so. Also, make sure you get a copy of their contract and review it carefully before you sign it.

For more information on choosing an estate sale company, you may want to visit the National Estate Sales Association's online guide, which includes a "Find the Right Company" feature.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published May 18, 2018

Washington County Community Foundation Donors Award over $27K

  

Grants totaling over $27,000.00 were awarded to several organizations serving Washington County by donors of the Washington County Community Foundation for the Spring 2018 grant cycle.  Grants are awarded from the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow funds.

The Campbellsburg ballfields will be a safer place due to a $2,005.95 grant to purchase an AED machine.  Many people will be trained on the use of the AED and it will be housed at the ballfield.

A $6,000.00 grant has been awarded to Awareness Washington County.  They will use the funds to repair the lights on the walking trail as well as installing infrared security cameras for the trail.

Blue River Services is updating their software and will be receiving a $2000.00 grant to assist in offsetting the cost for that.

United Way 211 is the recipient of a $1,532.87 grant to continue 211 referral service in Washington County. 

Lifeskills prevention programming will be coming to Washington County fifth graders with a $3,198.00 grant to Our Place Drug and Alcohol Education Services. 

Pied Piper Productions is receiving a $2,450.00 grant for the royalties, sets, and advertising for four performances of “Godspell”. 

A $10,100.00 grant has been awarded to the Washington County Family YMCA for their high-quality full-day preschool program being implemented at Bradie Shrum Elementary School. 

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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The Wall That Heals Volunteer Orientation May 16th at 6:00

There will be an orientation on May 16th at the WCCF/Ivy Tech/YMCA Campus at 6:00 pm for all that have signed up to volunteer at The Wall That Heals. The orientation will be led by the site manager for The Wall That Heals. At the orientation, you will be given instruction on your volunteer duties and will be able to pick up your volunteer t-shirt to wear when you are working at The Wall.

If you are unable to attend the volunteer orientation, you will be given written guidance when you arrive for your shift at The Wall That Heals. You may pick up your t-shirt on Monday, May 14th between noon and 6:00 pm or Tuesday, May 15th between noon and 6:00 pm if you are unable to attend the volunteer orientation. If these times are not convenient for you, please call Judy or Lindsey at 812-883-7334 to make other arrangements. Thank you, in advance, for volunteering for this wonderful opportunity in Washington County.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

What can people do to protect themselves from identity theft? My brother-in-law recently had his identity stolen and I want to make sure it doesn't happen to me.

Each year around 17 million people fall victim to identity theft, which happens when someone gets access to your Social Security number, bank or credit card account number or other identifying information and uses it to steal from you. Here are some free steps you can take to reduce your risks.

Guard your personal information: Never give your Social Security, credit card, checking account or savings account numbers to anyone unless you initiate the contact. Do not carry your Social Security card around in your wallet or purse. You should also avoid carrying around your Medicare card unless you are going to the doctor.

Remove yourself from mailing lists: Put a stop to preapproved credit card offers, which is a gold mine for identity thieves. To do this, visit optoutprescreen.com or call 888-567-8688. You will need to provide your Social Security number and date of birth. You can stop other junk mail at dmachoice.org, and reduce telemarketing calls at donotcall.gov.

Use strong passwords: To safeguard your personal data on your smartphone or tablet don't use a password that is easy to hack, like 1234 or 0000. Make your computer passwords more than eight characters long, with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols like # and %. Tech experts recommend using different passwords on different accounts. If it is hard to remember them, try a password manager service.

Be wary of unknown emails: Never click on links in emails from strangers or those that claim to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS or other government agencies. Also avoid clicking on links in emails that appear to be from your bank, phone or credit card company warning of a "problem." This can result in identity-stealing malware being installed on your computer. To protect your computer from malware, install antivirus software and set up automatic security updates and full weekly scans.

Secure your mail: Empty your home mailbox quickly or buy a locked mailbox to deter thieves. Also, if you are sending a payment in the mail, use a U.S. Postal Service mailbox or go to the post office, rather than mailing the payment from your more vulnerable home mailbox.

Get safer credit cards: If you don't already have one, get an EMV chip card from your credit card provider. These are much more difficult for fraudsters to hack than magnetic strip cards.

Shred unneeded documents: Buy a crosscut paper shredder so you can shred all unneeded records, receipts, statements, preapproved credit offers or other papers you throw out that contain your financial or personal information.

Monitor your accounts: Review your monthly bank and credit card statements carefully, and see if your bank or credit card issuer offers free alerts that will warn you of suspicious activity as soon as it is detected.

Watch your credit: Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. You can receive one free report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so consider staggering your request so you can get one free copy every four months.

Set up security freezes: If you don't plan to apply for new credit, loans, insurance or utility services, freeze your credit reports so crooks cannot open up new accounts in your name. Rules vary by state, but the $5 to $20 fee is waived if you are 65 or older or show proof of past identity theft. Security freezes are set up at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published May 4, 2018

Ron Clark Academy Coming to Washington County; Parent Night June 12th

Washington County Community Foundation, through its generous donors, is bringing the Ron Clark Academy to Washington County. The Ron Clark Academy (RCA) is a highly-acclaimed, nonprofit middle school located in Southeast Atlanta. The Academy has received both national and international recognition for its success in educating students with academic rigor, passion, and creativity balanced by a strict code of discipline. The Academy seeks to extend its reach beyond its student body by having an impact upon students everywhere to learn better ways to engage students, promote academic rigor, and create a climate and culture that promotes success.

Kim Bearden, one of the RCA co-founders, will be presenting to Washington County educators on June 12th. Educator training will be at East Washington. Educators can sign up with their respective school corporation.

There will be a Ron Clark Academy Parent Event at 6:00 pm on June 12th at the SHS Presentation Room. Parents will learn about the Ron Clark Academy method. Door prizes of several $50.00 gift cards will be given at the end of the session, but participants must be present to win.

All Washington County parents are invited to attend this special evening.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer

Is skin cancer hereditary? My 63-year-old brother died of melanoma last year, and I'm wondering about my risks of developing skin cancer. What can you tell me?

Long-term sun exposure and sunburns are the biggest risk factors for melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. If you have a sibling or parent who has been diagnosed with melanoma, your risk of developing it does increase by two to three times.

Each year, approximately 75,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma and around 10,000 people die from it. While anyone can get it, those most often diagnosed are Caucasians, age 50 and older. Those with the highest risk are people with red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, fair skin, freckles, moles, a family history of skin cancer and those who had blistering sunburns in their youth.

Skin Exams


The best way you can guard against melanoma and other skin cancers (basal and squamous cell carcinomas) is to protect yourself from the sun. If you are over age 50 it is recommended that you get a full-body skin exam done by a dermatologist every year, especially if you are in the high risk category.

Self-examinations done every month or so are also a smart way to detect early problems. Using mirrors, check the front and backside of your entire body, including the tops and undersides of your arms and hands, the soles of your feet, your neck, scalp, buttocks and even between your toes. Be on the lookout for new growths, moles that have changed or sores that do not heal.

Follow the ABCDE rule when examining suspicious moles.
  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole does not match the other.
  • Border: The border of the mole is blurred or ragged.
  • Color: The mole has uneven colors, often shades of brown, tan or black, with patches of pink, red, white or blue.
  • Diameter: The lesion is new or at least a quarter-inch in diameter.
  • Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
There are a variety of places that offer free skin cancer screenings. Check with the American Academy of Dermatology, which offers screenings done by hundreds of volunteer dermatologists across the U.S., and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

Sun Protection


Even though you cannot change your skin or family history, there are some proven strategies that can help you protect yourself.

For starters, avoid tanning beds. When you go outside, apply water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen on both sunny and cloudy days. If you do not like rub-on lotions, try the continuous spray-on sunscreens, which can be easier to apply and less messy. Also, seek the shade when the sun's rays are most intense, typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

You can also protect your skin by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants when possible. The best clothing options are tightly-woven fabrics that help prevent the sun's rays from reaching your skin. You can also buy laundry additives to wash in an invisible shield sun protection into your clothes. You can even buy a variety of lightweight clothing and hats that offer maximum UV protection in their fabric.

Treatments


If melanoma is found and treated early, it is almost always curable. But if it is not caught early, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body where it becomes harder to treat and can be fatal. Standard treatment for melanoma is surgical removal. In advanced cases, however, chemotherapy or radiation may also be used, along with a variety of new drug treatments.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 27, 2018

Local Firefighters and Law Enforcement Personnel Receive Grants

Thanks to generous donors, the Washington County Community Foundation was able to host a reception on Tuesday, April 24th at the Senior Citizen Center to honor and thank our local firefighters and law enforcement personnel.

Approximately 145 people were in attendance at the event.  Each department present received a $1,000.00 grant.  Additionally, Gibson Township FD, Salem FD and Pierce-Polk FD received an additional grant for having the highest representation.  In total, $17,000.00 was awarded. 

Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation, stated, “We just wanted to recognize and thank these men and women who are willing to risk their life to keep us safe.  I am thrilled at the turnout! Attendance exceeded our expectations.  We have such wonderful donors and our community is rich with the spirit of giving.  We are grateful that the Washington County Community Foundation was in a position to hold such an event and award these grants.  We could not do these things without our donors.  We know the money will be put to good use to make our community safer.”   

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook. 

How to Replace Vital Documents that are Lost or Stolen

Can you tell me how to go about replacing important lost documents? My wife and I recently downsized and at some point during the move we lost our Social Security and Medicare cards, birth certificates, marriage license and passports.


Replacing important documents that are lost, stolen or damaged is pretty easy if you know where to turn. Here are the replacement resources for each document you mentioned, along with some tips to protect you from identity theft, which can happen if your documents end up in the wrong hands.

Birth certificate: If you were born in the United States, contact the vital records office in the state where you were born. This office will explain what you need to do to order a certified copy and how much it will cost you. Birth certificate fees typically range between $9 and $30.

Social Security card: You can replace a lost or stolen Social Security card for free. Residents of certain states may request a replacement card online at ssa.gov/ssnumber.

If you live in a state that does not permit residents to apply for a new card online, you will need to fill out Form SS-5 and bring it to your local Social Security office, along with your driver's license, state-issued non-driver ID card or U.S. passport (photocopies are not accepted). You may also submit these documents to your local Social Security office by mail. Any documents you mail in will be returned to you. To find the Social Security office that serves your area, call 800-772-1213 or visit ssa.gov/locator.

Be aware that losing your Social Security card puts you at risk for identity theft. If you find that someone has used your Social Security number to obtain credit, loans, telephone accounts or other goods and services, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov (or 877-438-4338). The FTC will also give you specific steps you'll need to take to handle this problem.

Medicare card: To replace your Medicare card for free, you can call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office. You can also request one online at ssa.gov/myaccount. Your card should arrive in the mail in about 30 days.

If you lose your Medicare card, you need to watch out for Medicare fraud. Check your Medicare Summary Notice for services you did not receive and, if you spot any, call the Inspector General's fraud hotline at 800-447-8477 to report them.

Marriage certificate: Contact the vital records office in the state where you were married to order a copy. You will need to provide full names for you and your spouse, the date of your wedding and the city or town where the wedding was performed. Fees may range from $10 to $30.

Note: Divorce certificates can also be ordered from states' vital records offices (fees may range from $5 to $30). Divorce decree documents can be obtained from the county clerk's office for the city or county in which the divorce was granted.

Passport: A lost passport also puts you at risk for identity theft, so you will need to report this as soon as possible to the U.S. State Department. Go to travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/lost-stolen.html and fill out Form DS-64. You will receive an email acknowledging that your report was received. Within a couple of days, you will receive another email (or letter, if you request one) confirming that your passport has been entered into the Consular Lost or Stolen Database.

You can apply for a replacement passport at a Passport Application Acceptance Facility. Many post offices, public libraries and local government offices serve as such facilities. You can search for the nearest authorized facility at iafdb.travel.state.gov. The fee for a replacement passport is $135.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 13, 2018

The Wall That Heals Committee Encourages Businesses and Residents to Decorate for Procession

The Wall That Heals will be making its way through Washington County beginning at 9:00 on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The Wall That Heals procession with motorcycle escort will be leaving from John Jones Police Pursuit Vehicle Lot at that time and will be travelling at approximately 15 miles per hour through the route. The route will be going past each of our county schools and around the Square before assembly begins at the YMCA/Learning Center/Senior Citizens Complex. The full route is as follows:

Left turn on to IN 60 traveling East to Pekin, Indiana. Turning left onto Main Street to Eastern School Road to circle Eastern High School campus and back to IN 60 heading back to Salem. Returning to John Jones and continue traveling south on Jackson/IN60 to IN135N (Main Street) North appx 1 mile around eastern half of Salem Square to Intersection IN 56/60 and IN 135, turning West on to IN 56 to Right turn onto IN 60 West to Campbellsburg. Left turn onto West Washington School Rd. straight thru to IN 56 turning left heading East back to Salem.

Continue East on IN56 turning left on Shelby street heading North to Destination YMCA

Residents and businesses along the route are encouraged to decorate their business or yard in a patriotic manner or just wave to the procession as they go by.   For information about The Wall That Heals or the procession, please contact the Washington County Community Foundation office at 812-883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

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What to Know About the New Medicare Cards

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What can you tell me about the new Medicare cards? I've heard there are a lot of scams associated with these new cards and I want to make sure I protect myself.

The government will soon be sending out brand new Medicare cards to 59 million Medicare beneficiaries. Here is what you should know about your new card along with some tips to help you guard against potential scams.

New Medicare Cards


Starting this month (April 2018), Medicare will begin mailing new Medicare cards to everyone who receives Medicare benefits. These new Medicare cards will no longer include Social Security numbers. The reason for this change is to help protect your identity and to reduce medical and financial fraud. The new cards will have a randomly generated 11-character Medicare Number. The issuance of these cards will occur automatically. You will not need to do anything or pay a fee to obtain your new card.

Medicare will mail your card—at no cost—to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online Social Security account at SSA.gov/myaccount or call 800-772-1213. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.

If you have relatives or friends who live in other states who receive their cards before you, do not fret. The cards will be mailed in waves to various parts of the country over a 12-month period starting in April 2018 and ending in April 2019.

Medicare beneficiaries in Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia will be the first to receive their new cards sometime between April and June. The last wave of states will be Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

When you receive your new Medicare card, do not simply throw your old one in the trash. Instead, put it through a shredder or cut it up with a pair of scissors to ensure that the section that shows your Social Security number is destroyed. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep it because you will still need it for treatment.

Watch Out For Scams


With the issuance of these new Medicare cards, be on the lookout for Medicare scams. Here are some tips:
  • Do not pay for your new card. It is yours for free. If anyone calls and says you need to pay for it, it is likely a scammer.
  • Do not give out your personal information. If someone calls claiming to be a Medicare representative and asks for your Social Security number or bank information, that is a scam and you should hang up. Medicare will never require you to provide your personal information to get your new number and card.
  • Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance card or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you will still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to obtain medical services.
For more information about changes to your Medicare card, visit go.medicare.gov/newcard. If you suspect fraud, report it to the FTC (FTCcomplaintassistant.gov), AARP's fraud help line at 877-908-3360 or your local Senior Medicare Patrol program. Go to SMPresource.org for contact information.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 6, 2018

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