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Only Superheroes Need Alter Egos: Keep Your Identity Safe
If Superman used Clark Kent's credit card to buy a new cape, Clark wouldn't mind. If Joe Theft bought a new jacket with your credit card, you would definitely mind. You would mind even more if Joe decided to assume your identity and not only use your credit card but steal from your bank account, open an unauthorized credit line, and establish phony policies in your name. This is identity theft. Joe isn't your alter ego. He's a thief.

How can you protect yourself from Joe?

Insurance: Your homeowners or renters policy may provide coverage for theft. However, this coverage typically has a fairly low limit. Identity theft must be listed specifically in your policy for you to get the proper coverage for the scope that the situation may entail. You can also obtain a stand-alone policy or an add-on to your homeowners or renters policy. This coverage will reimburse you for the cost of repairing your credit score and restoring your identity. Expenses might include lost wages, mailing costs, phone bills, and attorney fees.

Caution: Recovering from identity theft can take years. While insurance will help, it's best to avoid the situation entirely. Try these tips:
  1. Don't carry credit cards, your Social Security card, or your passport with you unless they're necessary.
  2. Never throw credit card or ATM receipts in public trash receptacles.
  3. When shopping online, use only authenticated websites.
  4. Never give out passwords or personal information via e-mail.
  5. Install antivirus and firewall programs on all devices.
  6. Check your credit report annually.
  7. Use strong passwords for all accounts.
  8. Shred documents that contain sensitive information.
  9. Keep an eye on all accounts and report suspicious activity immediately.
  10. Contact your insurance provider for proper coverage, in case tips 1-9 fail to stop Joe Thief.

Quick Cacao Facts for Chocolate Lovers
Chocolate Bars
Did you know February isn't chocolate's biggest month for sales? Close to 90 million pounds are purchased the week before Halloween. That's nearly double the 48 million pounds sold during the week of February 14.

If you plan to be part of that 48 million, you can further impress your sweetheart with the following knowledge about your Valentine's Day gift. The alluring treat has a history both dark and sweet:

- The Latin name for cacao trees means "food of the gods."
- The word chocolate comes from a Mayan term that means "bitter water."
- Mayans used it in baptisms and marriages.
- Mayans also sacrificed children to ensure a good cacao crop.
- Between 40 and 50 million people are involved in cocoa farming and production.
- The Industrial Revolution made chocolate available to the masses.
- Chocolate drinks can boost energy more than sports drinks.
- Dark chocolate's benefits include increasing memory and attention span.
- The "buzz" from eating chocolate can outlast the highs produced by kissing.
- To get the benefits of dark chocolate, make sure the top ingredient isn't sugar.

What Meaning Is Hiding Behind Your Bouquet?
Roses don't just smell sweet; their colors also communicate messages. Most people know the basics. Red means love. White means purity. Yellow means friendship. However, those meanings change depending on the flowers. A red carnation means flashy. A red chrysanthemum means sharing. Yellow carnations stand for cheerfulness, but secret admirers should send yellow chrysanthemums. Red tulips may declare love, but yellow ones show the sender is hopelessly in love.

It takes more than the proper petal hue to send the best message. Different flowers have their own meanings. Gardenias express joy. Jasmine stands for grace and elegance. Ivy expresses fidelity. Use lilacs for your first love. Be cautious about sending orange blossoms; they stand for fertility.

Keep in mind: bouquets aren't just for romantic lovers. Zinnias, for example, express thoughts of friends.

Condo vs. Townhome: What Insurance Do You Need?
When you think "condo," what comes to mind? Many people envision an apartment-style building with multiple floors and units. "Townhome," on the other hand, conjures up images of a two-story home attached to two or three other homes in a row.

These pictures aren't entirely inaccurate: the exterior style of your home is not what determines its status as a condo or townhome. The determining factor is ownership. In a condo, you own the inside of your home. The exterior, land, and common areas are owned by an association. In a townhome, you own the land beneath your unit.

This distinction becomes significant when selecting insurance coverage. Because you only own the interior of a condo, this is all you need to insure. Coverage may vary depending on your association bylaws, but you typically do not need insurance for anything beyond your four walls. With townhome ownership, you need coverage for the structure and the land it is on.

Generally, condo insurance covers items such as carpeting, plumbing, counters, and cabinets. Townhome coverage extends beyond these items to include the roof, frames, exterior walls, foundation, floor, and property.

In either situation, you need insurance for your personal belongings. You should also obtain liability coverage in both settings.

As you set up your policy, confirm with your association which types of disasters, theft, etc., are covered by their policy. With this information established, your insurance agent can help you determine what you should include in your own coverage.

Are You Making a Mistake with Your Homeowners Insurance?
Buying a home is the biggest investment you'll ever make. With that kind of commitment, you owe it to yourself to protect it. Before you make a decision on which policy to buy, it pays to be informed. Get up to speed by requesting my free guide, "What You Need to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.

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Who said: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?"

Recipe: Decadent Rosewater Brownies

A simple treat to make your Valentine's Day sweet
1 ? cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons rosewater (to taste or optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x9-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat in a double boiler. Let sit 10 minutes to cool. Whisk sugar, eggs, vanilla, and rosewater together until pale, about 5 minutes. Slowly add chocolate mixture to egg mixture while gently whisking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry flour mixture until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour batter into greased pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool, then cut out pieces with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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