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The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article yesterday on tips for 2009 or any year for the purpose of watching out for your safety and pocketbook. I thought they were very good tips for anyone so I wanted to share.

Here are the tips:

Tip One: Because the economy is getting worse, you need to be “wary of businesses failing.” This affects us consumers with gift cards, service contracts and other arrangements that are long-term. If you do receive gift cards for the holidays, don’t wait to use them.

Tip Two: Watch out for drug reactions. Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group says that if you develop a new symptom after taking a prescription drug, you should assume it could be a side effect and not your illness. Symptoms you should be especially aware of are depression, dizziness, falls, loss of appetite, hallucinations, nausea and diarrhea.

Tip Three: “Guard personal information.” Many scam artists come out during times we are going through now with the economy. Watch out for suspicious e-mails, phone calls, and people going through your garbage attempting to steal your identity. A good idea is to purchase a shredder and shred person documents, bank statements and other papers before throwing them out. Beware of e-mails saying they are from the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration trying to get your social security number.

Tip Four: “Check credit reports.” You need to make sure they are accurate. You as a consumer are entitled to free copies of your credit report at least once a year from each of the three major credit reporting firms—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Additionally, Georgia residents are entitled t copies of their credit reports twice a year. Go to

Tip Five: “Consider a freeze.” If you put a freeze on your credit information, it makes it difficult for identity thieves to attempt to open lines of credit under your name.

Tip Six: Be aware of recalls. Dangerous products such as toys, baby cribs, and clothing are recalled, the response rate from consumers is only 15 to 30 percent. What does this mean? It means that many of the recalled products remain in homes. For more information on recalls, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at For recalls on food, medications, cars and boats, go to

Tip Seven: “Give wisely.” Experts advise in our current economic conditions to give to the charities that will make the best use of your money. Sources include or

Tip Eight: “Stop smoking and get active.” Well, we usually hear this all the time. Being active is important in a healthy life.

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