Monday, February 11, 2013

Dow Above 14,000: Market Peak Or New Leg Up?

[Financial Safety and Privacy Services commentary: the nice thing about USA Today's article title:"Dow above 14,000: Market peak or new leg up"  is it's revealed uncertainty about the future condition of the stock market- is it a peak { suggesting a decline from here,as "expert" Chris Martenson predicts}, or is it the start of some large move upwards? 

This particular articles implied uncertainty about future conditions in the stock market is a good thing. 

All markets are inherently uncertain, as are all future market  conditions, regardless of whether one is talking about stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate, or some other market within "the market" for all goods/services. 

Therefor, it makes sense to only risk money you can genuinely afford to lose on any bet on whether or not the stock market will actually go up or down from here - to in fact treat your "investment" in the stock market as a pure speculation, in other words. 

Speculation Rule#1 is to always only use money to speculate with that you can afford to lose should things go wrong. Meanwhile, money that you cannot afford to lose should be kept in a fully diversified long term savings plan that does not try to predict the future state of any "investment" market within "the market", that is, within the general market for all goods and services and all classes of assets {i.e. stocks, bonds, real estate, cash, precious metals etc.} .Regards, onebornfree. ] : 

USA Today 02/02/13:

Original article: "Dow above 14,000: Market peak or new leg up? : 

 Excerpt:.... "When it comes to big, round numbers with major investment significance, 14,000 is as big as it gets for the Dow Jones industrial average.

Indeed, Dow 14,000 is back in play and in the headlines after the iconic 117-year-old blue chip index topped that lofty milestone Friday for the first time since October 2007.

The move pushed the world's best-known stock gauge up 149.21 points to close at 14,009.79, for its best level since the 2008 financial crisis. The benchmark index is not far from its Oct. 9, 2007, all-time high of 14,164.53 and the move is prompting talk of a new peak, and even Dow 15,000.
The Dow is now up 6.9% in 2013 and has rallied 114% since the bear market low in March 2009...."


Financial Safety Services is NOT an investment advisory service. Financial Safety Services is an educational service that teaches the interested individual non-original [i.e. invented by others far more intelligent than myself], time-tested safe methods/principles that might be successfully used by the individual for relatively low risk speculations in various financial markets.



More About Financial Safety Services

[Free phone consultations via "Skype". To set a time/date email: onebornfreeatyahoodotcom ]
Financial Safety Services is a private , mostly off-line, international, person to person consulting service that attempts to show its real-time [i.e. non-internet derived] clients how to speculate safely with money that they can afford to lose. Money that the client cannot afford to lose should never be risked in these speculations

For more than 20 years, nearly all of Financial Safety Services clients to date have been found via direct [i.e off-line, in-person] referral from previously satisfied clients only.

No attempts are made to procure clientele via the selling of the sporadic, deliberately incomplete online information posted at this site. All valuable information is sold to clients, via e-mail, or preferably in person, on a "need to know" customized basis, depending on their specific speculative wants/needs.

Therefor any/all posts at this site are for the reference and possible benefit of pre-existing , real-world, paying clients only as part of my services [and to perhaps help emphasize a particular point I make to them in private], and never for the benefit of the general reading public and casual internet reader at large.

Internet posts arer not made on a regular schedule in order to build an on-line audience; only when I feel that so doing is beneficial to my actual existing clientele.

I have no interest in gaining clients first hand from any posts made either here or elsewhere [if it happens, it happens!] - as I previously stated, to date [20 years+], nearly all of my previous clients have come to me via direct, in-person referral from other satisfied clients- that is, [1]an existing client personally recommends my services to a close friend, [2] the friend contacts me, [3]we discuss their wants/needs, [4] I make a decision as to whether or not I can really help them, [5] We come to a financial agreement- or not :-) .

None- Client Questions?

Should a casual reader/none client have a serious question about an assertion I make on this site, they must write to me at: onebornfreeatyahoodotcom and I will do my best to answer their question. Their first question will usually be answered for free. After that, fees may apply.

Current Client Questions.

All existing, paying client questions are of course, answered for free [usually via private e-mail]- it is part of the service!

Regards, onebornfree 

Strategic Speculation: How To Enjoy Huge Profits Without Losing Your Shirt

Successful Speculations- The Need For a Clear Strategy.

Most speculators do not have a specific strategy. Current holdings are therefore the result of individual impulsive buy decisions  of anything that seemed good enough at the time.

10 Common Symptoms You Might Suffer For Having No Clearly Defined Strategy For Your Speculations

If this [no strategy] is true for you, you might well be subject to the following "symptoms" .

1]  Because you have no consistent standard for buying in, you are likely to be subject to the call of any/every new scheme, system or proposal that soungs reasonable at the time. Without a specific strategy you are unable to go through an individual new scheme and evaluate it as to whether it really makes sense and will suit your own needs at the time.

2]  Because, without a strategy there is no way to know in advance when you might get out/cut losses, there is no way in advance to know how much you might lose.

3] You hold on to a losing speculation "forever", forever hoping that it will turn around and you will recoup your losses.

4] You have no way to decide in advance as to whether margin buying would be wise in any particular case , or not.

5]  Lacking a specific plan,you are forced to trust your own, or an advisors ability to know if your latest speculation is in a rising or falling trend at any time, or whether it is close to a top, or a bottom, or whether one event will lead to imagined event two and then three, and so on.

6]  You are easily frightned into frantic impulse buys by catch phrases such as "once in a lifetime oppurtunity", or "cannot afford to miss the boat" and similar.

7]  Every past speculation is in need of daily attention, so that your life is taken over by those prior decisions, and you are unable to enjoy other parts of your life because your plan does not take care of itself- every new change in the market needs to be considered in light of the latest announcement of the days news.

8]  You make choices that appear to actually work against previous buy/sell decisions.

9]  Your buy/sell decisions are being made using someone elses values and capabilities, instead of your own.

10]  You are always wondering whether or not you made the right buy/sell decision simply because you lack a clear standard for evaluating such decisions.

"Shot In the Dark" Speculations

Speculating without a firm strategy is like placing random bets at whim on a roulette wheel, or  the proverbial "shot in the dark" - although you might win on occasion, unless you are blessed with more than your fair share of good luck, in the long run you will lose more than you gain.

No system will can prevent losses, but a good one will limit them, and , at the same time make for opportunities to enjoy gains that greatly overshadow the losses you must inevitably endure every now and then.

Book Details: "Strategic Speculations: How To Enjoy Huge Profits Without Losing Your Shirt"

My short book "Strategic Speculations: How To Enjoy Huge Profits Without Losing Your Shirt", is a short "how to"  book that exposes the unvarnished truth about the differences between "investing" and "speculating" , and shows the interested person how, by following various fundamental, clear, easily understood principles for speculation, they might safely profit from timely, prudent speculations [bets]  in various markets, and in certain cases be able to make/enjoy huge profits/gains. 

The book covers the following topics: 

1] Why a well defined strategy is needed

2] Defining your motive for each investment

3] Why losses can often turn out to be much bigger than seemed possible.

4] How to limit losses.

5] Estimating potential gains.

6] How to judge whether or not the reward justifies the risk involved [reward/risk ratio]

7] Why speculations should only be undertaken when the potential for large gains is there.

8] Large gains- the necessary conditions

9] Determining stop-loss placement

10] Problems with stop-losses

11] When to forget a stop-loss

12] Buying at the right price to reduce risk

13] Using support-resistance levels as a buying guide.

14] How to buy into arising trend

15] Improving chances with limit orders.

16] When to sell at a profit

17] How to let profits run and cut losses short

18]  How to decide whether or not to hold on to an investment you would not buy under present conditions

19]  How to evaluate options

20] How to decide how much to alloate to a particular speculation.

21] When is buying on margin safe?

22] What  investment catergories work best for speculations?

23] The role of intuition

24] The difference between losses and mistakes.

25] Starting in speculation

26] Using other strategies and systems. 


Book [pdf file]: "Strategic Speculations: How To Enjoy Huge Profits Without Losing Your Shirt" 

Price:  $ 195 

To Order: 

"Strategic Speculations: How To Enjoy Huge Profits Without Losing Your Shirt" is available as a pdf file sent via email after your payment of $195 has been received [Paypal, or cash, no checks] .

To order email : onebornfree at yahoo dot com 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Personal Privacy:Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data

[Onebornfree's Financial Safety Services commentary: I agree with J.J. Luna's comment on this: "The only remedy: Quit your job and work for yourself." and remember, if you think this news below is bad, please remember that the Federal government has far more on you than even Equifax, and virtually none of that information is safe and secure from prying eyes, and all of which will be used against you if and when "necessary" with no regard to your "constitutional rights" or whatever! Please take the time to read this article and then grab a copy of Luna's new {2012 updated} book "How To Be Invisible" regards, onebornfree]:

A good-looking "corporate ties" demo model- or,"I can't quit my job  and work for myself"

"The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults. Some of the information in the little-known database, created through an Equifax-owned company called The Work Number, is sold to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities.

"It's the biggest privacy breach in our time, and it’s legal and no one knows it’s going on," said Robert Mather, who runs a small employment background company named "It's like a secret CIA."

Despite all the information Americans now share on social media and websites, and all the data we know companies collect on us, one piece of information is still sacred to most people: their salaries. After all, who would post their salary as a status update on Facebook or in a tweet?

But salary information is also for sale by Equifax through The Work Number. Its database is so detailed that it contains week-by-week paystub information dating back years for many individuals, as well as other kinds of human resources-related information, such as health care provider, whether someone has dental insurance and if they’ve ever filed an unemployment claim. In 2009, Equifax said the data covered 30 percent of the U.S. working population, and it now says The Work Number is adding 12 million records annually.

How does Equifax obtain this sensitive and secret information? With the willing aid of thousands of U.S. businesses, including many of the Fortune 500. Government agencies -- representing 85 percent of the federal civilian population, including workers at the Department of Defense, according to Equifax -- and schools also work with The Work Number. Many of them let Equifax tap directly into their data so the credit bureau can always have the latest employment information. In fact, these organizations actually pay Equifax for the privilege of giving away their employees' personal information.

Equifax turns around and sells some of this data to third parties, including debt collectors and other financial services companies.

Equifax declined to be interviewed, but in an emailed statement to, it confirmed that it shares "employment data" with debt collectors and others, and said it does so in compliance with Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines.

"In all cases, these entities must have a permissible purpose to request employment information," Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein said.

He also said consumers give these third parties the right to access the data "at the time of application" for credit.

"A consumer grants verifiers (creditors) and their assigned debt collectors the right to verify employment should the consumer default on their account," he said.

Data for debt collectors

Companies sign up for The Work Number because it gives them an easy way to outsource employment verification of former workers. Firms hate taking these calls, which usually come when a former employee is applying for a new job, because they are a costly distraction for human resources departments and open the firm up to lawsuits if someone says something disparaging about the former employee. So they contract with The WorkNumber, which automates the process. In exchange, firms upload their human resources data to The Work Number, which was part of an independent St.Louis-based firm named TALX until it was acquired by Equifax in 2007 for $1.4 billion.

The Work Number offers consumers some benefits. It provides an easy way for prospective landlords to verify an applicant's income, for example. Consumers tell the Work Number they want a one-time access code, which they then give to a landlord so he or she can verify that the potential tenant can really afford the apartment.

But The Work Number serves dual purposes. It’s also a massive database that Equifax monetizes in a variety of ways, despite the reassuring-sounding messages found all over

"Can just anyone get my income information from The Work Number?" reads one passage. Answer: "No. You have to give someone authorization to get your income information from the service."

Employers who sign up for the service go to great pains to reassure workers that their data is safe and secret. Columbia University, when it explained to employees it was transitioning to The Work Number, posted this on the school's website:

"You are the only person who can authorize access to your salary information."

But Kathy Sandy of Sommerville, N.J. was surprised to find that a debt collector had accessed information from her report two years ago, something she learned only when she obtained her "consumer disclosure" from The Work Number. Because the data is considered a credit report, consumers are entitled to one free report every year. The report shows what data the report contains, and what entities have seen it.

Sandy's Work Number report, which she shared with NBC News, is 22 pages long -- an amazingly detailed history of every paycheck she had received for years. The first page of the report lists "verifiers who have requested your data in the past 24 months." On the list is "Pressler and Pressler," a law firm that specializes in debt collection. The firm had sued her in small claims court over a credit card debt that she says she was already repaying. It is not clear from Sandy’s report what employment data was shared with Pressler and Pressler; Equifax says it does not provide salary information to debt collectors, but it does provide other information.
                                                      Another fine "corporate tie" model!

"I found out debt collectors can access this information, which is strange," Sandy said. "I assumed with The Work Number, for that information, you had to have a (passcode) … but they got in, and got it somehow without my consent."

In brochures where Equifax advertises sale of the data, it's not shy about the source.

"The Work Number specializes in employment and income verification. It's direct from the source: the employer. It's current, as of the last pay period. It's delivered quickly -- on demand," says one brochure, titled "Portfolio Monitoring."

In his statement to NBC News, Klein confirmed that "pay rate" information is shared with third parties, including "mortgage, auto and other financial services credit grantors," as authorized under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

He denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors, however.

"Debt/Collection agencies may request employment information -- which may be nothing more than verifying that a consumer is working where they say they are – if it qualifies under permissible purpose," he wrote. "Collections agencies are not provided salary information."

That contradicts an assertion made recently by Equifax CEO Richard Smith in 2009, when he talked about how detailed The Work Number data is.

"With FirstSearch and TALX we can provide information about a debtor’s location, income and employment," said Smith in an interview published on NYSE Magazine’s website, referring to The Work Number’s former parent company. "That can help prioritize which accounts to pursue first. If they’re employed, that business has a better shot at collecting what is owed to them."

Klein said Smith misspoke when describing TALX’s services, and reiterated that salary information on consumers is not sold to debt collectors.

'Unbelievably scary'

With or without the income data, The Work Number data is incredibly valuable to debt collectors -- and it may come as a surprise to many workers that their employers, directly or unwittingly, help debt collectors.

Equifax markets The Work Number specifically to student loan issuers. In another brochure on the firm's website, Equifax brags that The Work Number makes debt collectors' jobs easier.

"The Work Number produced a 5.5 percent lift in Right Party Contact and a 7.3 percent lift in Collections Resolution versus current skip-trace methods," the "case study" brochure says.

Equifax’s resale of The Work Number data doesn’t stop there. It also offers "portfolio monitoring" to financial firms who might want to market their products to consumers … or to get early warning on someone who might soon land in financial trouble. It calls this "proactive managing of risk."

"The Work Number is part of our employment and income verification service. It provides continual track of changes to your customer or client portfolio, delivered on demand per your schedule," it says. "Simply submit a portfolio of customer or client accounts and The Work Number does the rest. ... Using The Work Number to stay abreast of employment changes can expand your ability to mitigate risk while maximizing product and service potential."

Mather has been in the employer data business for more than 20 years, and he says that if Americans suspected their employers were giving away their personal information to a credit bureau, they'd be shocked.

"The story here is how (The Work Number) is getting this information," he said. "When people find out, no respectable employer will continue to do this."

Larry Ponemon is a privacy expert who operates The Ponemon Institute, a consulting firm. He said he’d never heard of companies selling employer data to debt collectors.

"Are you joking? Oh my god, I'm shocked," Ponemon said when the business was described to him. "This is unbelievably scary. I consider payroll information very sensitive and private." In studies he's conducted, salary data is always among the information consumers say is most private.

"If the public knew about this, there would be such outrage," he said. "It's just ... really depressing."

Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, had heard of The Work Number, but only because some consumers have complained to his agency that the data in its database is inaccurate. Some workers find that when they try to use the information for employment verification, their titles are outdated or otherwise misrepresent their work history, which can be embarrassing for a job applicant.

When told that the data is sold to third parties, he said he was under the impression the data was not shared.

"I think it is something that would be offensive to many people. One typically considers salary information to be shared by your employer just with IRS," he said.

A glance at the language on The Work Number's website suggested to Stephens that the firm is legally within its rights to share the information, however.

"You get into the 'permissible purpose' doctrine," he said. "Debt collectors have a permissible purpose to look at your credit information. It was my impression that the data was only being given out when employees released it."

'Secret' process?
Data brokers are under heightened scrutiny in Washington, D.C., lately. There are two separate congressional investigations of the industry, and the Federal Trade Commission announced in December that it had begun an inquiry into how brokers obtain their information. Equifax received an inquiry letter from the FTC, but only for the data broker portion of its business involving non-financial data, such as criminal background records and address information.

Credit reporting agencies, such as The Work Number, are distinct from data brokers and are governed by special rules. Ironically, those special rules may open the door for Equifax -- and the credit-reporting side of its business -- to resell the salary information, says Katrina Blodgett, a lawyer with the Federal Trade Commission. She is one the agency’s experts on the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The FTC filed a case against TALX and Equifax in 2008 for allegedly failing to provide employers with sufficient notice about their disclosure responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Equifax admitted no wrongdoing and paid a small fine.

Blodgett said the Fair Credit Reporting Act and subsequent updates give consumers specific legal rights, such as the ability to dispute errors in credit reports. But it also creates permissible purposes for access, including giving financial service companies the right to review credit reports of consumers they do business with.

"It’s not as easy as it should be to say whether debt collectors can get your consumer reports, because it depends on the circumstance," she said, adding that she believed Equifax could have the right to sell the salary information to debt collectors because it is part of a credit report.

Much attention has been paid to the use of credit reports by human resource departments in recent years, and Congress gave job applicants special rights when a credit report is used during the job interview process. The reverse isn’t true, however, Blodgett pointed out.

"There are special restrictions on how credit reports can be used in hiring decisions, but there are no special restrictions on how employment reports (such as salary information) is used for non-employment purposes," she said.

She said she wasn’t surprised that Equifax is selling the information in The Work Number.

"They are a credit bureau. They sell credit information to lenders," she said.

Mather wants the sale of employee information halted. His firm also performs third-party employment verification, but he does not resell the data he collects.

"I strongly believe there is no reason to resell employee information to debt collectors without the permission of the employer and employee," he said. "This 'secret' process needs to stop. I hope eventually a simple law is passed making it required to get the permission of the employee BEFORE his information is resold. It simply should NOT be used for any other purpose except for employment purposes without permission. In my view, it is a betrayal of trust."

Consumers who want to see what information The Work Number has on their employment history can visit this page on the While reports are available online, consumers may have to fill out a form and mail it to The Work Number in some cases."