4 Warning Signs of a Hoarder

4 Warning Signs of a Hoarder - Ann Again and again Reviews

~~~Guest Contributor:  H.G. McKinnis

In my early twenties, I lived with a hoarder I’ll call Mae. When I moved in, I saw she had loads of stuff, and I knew instantly she was a poor housekeeper. It wasn’t until I moved out, however, that I realized Mae wasn’t just a person who had a neatness deficit and a high tolerance for roaches. She was a classic example of a genuine hoarder.

We all like our stuff. We chose it, love it, and become attached. Any empty nester can tell you how difficult it is to move from a big house to a smaller one. It’s a challenge to throw out mementos and get rid of things that represent milestones, success, or investment. Not every person attached to their possessions is a hoarder, not even prodigious collectors. Hoarding, like other addictions and mental disorders, can’t always be recognized by outward appearances. Huge piles of clutter may be a symptom, but they aren’t enough for a diagnosis without supporting evidence. Here are a few ways to recognize a hoarding problem and begin to find help.

1) Inability to part with worthless, useless items
A serious problem often starts out small. As I look back on my experiences with Mae, the warning signs were all present. Her tables and chairs were stacked with worn-out books, paper bags, and old mail. She bought food in bulk “to save money.” The food often spoiled in the refrigerator, but Mae refused to throw it out. Instead, she created a “compost pile.” While she claimed she was improving the soil in her backyard, she was really only creating a burgeoning problem with bugs. When I noticed she had three copies of the same book, I suggested she get rid of the copy with loose, brittle, and missing pages. She said she was afraid the tattered version might be hurt or destroyed if she didn’t protect it. I now know that rationalizations for holding on to useless items—and even garbage—are classic signs of a  disorder.

2)  Insatiable desire for more stuff
Mae made monthly donations to a neighborhood thrift store, usually consisting of clothing her children had outgrown and items she had recently acquired and with which she had not formed a bond. Whenever she made a donation, Mae also shopped at the thrift store for stuff she felt was “too good to stay in the store.” She usually came home with slightly less than she had left with and elated that she had “pared down.” Then she would order things from catalogs as a reward for good behavior. The result? More stuff. I now know that hoarders often have some awareness of their problematic relationship with possessions, but they can rarely make substantive changes without intervention.

 

4 Warning Signs of a Hoarder - Ann Again and again Reviews
3) No problem getting rid of other people’s stuffMae couldn’t part with her own junk, but she had no trouble at all giving away my belongings. “Oh, my friend needed it,” she said when my clock radio went missing. At the time, I couldn’t understand this behavior. Now I know that it’s quite typical of most. Studies on the brains of hoarders have shown that ownership is a key factor when they make decisions. The disorder stems from their unhealthy relationship with their own possessions, but not those of others. Mae was unable to get rid of her old books and trash but had no trouble parting with her children’s belongings—and my stuff.

4) Issues that threaten health and safety
Hoarding problems tend to get worse over time. While stacks of newspapers or boxes of possessions may at first seem innocuous, tall stacks are a hazard. Hoarders have died in fires caused by their accumulations and suffocated under toppled piles. In Mae’s case, her papers and books housed a cockroach infestation. She could see that the bug problem was out of hand, but threw a fit if I mentioned getting rid of any of the clutter. She had a story about the value and use she might get out of each and every item. It is always difficult to intervene, but if health and safety are at risk, remember that hoarders are incapable of making necessary changes on their own.

Because hoarding is a behavior but not a disorder in itself, it is wise to look into possible issues that contributed to it and seek appropriate therapy. Depression leads the list of underlying causes of hoarding, but trauma, family background, dementia, and many other factors may also be responsible. For help with hoarding itself, consider programs like Clutterers Anonymous or Buried in Treasures, twelve-step programs that are run and maintained by its members and uses the mentor approach. If the hoarder herself realizes that change is necessary, and she makes the effort to work with the program, she can develop a tolerance for bypassing unnecessary purchases. As a friend or family member, remember that understanding and compassion can go a long way to helping a hoarder improve.

H.G. McKinnis is the author of the forthcoming novel A Justified Bitch: A Las Vegas Mystery [Imbrifex Books, August 8, 2017], a twisted tale of murder, hoarding and redemption. Learn more about H.G. McKinnis at AJustifiedBitch.com, on TwitterFacebook and at Imbrifex Books.

5 Easy Ways to Safeguard Kids’ Tech Devices from Predators

5 Easy Ways To Safeguard Kids' Tech Devices From Predators - Ann Again and again Reviews.com

 

New apps pop up almost every day, and instantly every single one of your kid¹s friends and classmates are using this bright and shiny new toy and, you find out, so is your kid. The app looks age appropriate and harmless, but predators find ways to infiltrate and exploit. Yes, you check your child’s phone, computer or tablet on a regular basis to make sure no inappropriate content is being sent to them. However, there are other steps parents need to take to safeguard their children. See below: 5 easy ways to safeguard kids’ tech devices from predators.

One common mistake parents make is allowing their children to create a username that incorporates their name, information about their age and location or interests. These small pieces of data are enough for a predator to start piecing together a profile of a child and give predators tools that can be used to find more information to manipulate kids. By following these simple guidelines, parents can help make sure online predators are not targeting their children.

  1. Stop Kids from Duplicating Usernames – Just like recycling a password is a bad idea kids should not use the same username to log into different online accounts. Having one common username across accounts just makes it easier for criminals to search for and find details about a child’s life.
  2. Keep Personal Details Private – If an app or website requires kids to fill out a profile do not let them enter personally identifying details like their full name, birthdate, age or address. If they cannot use a site without supplying these details either supply a false answer to the questions or do not allow your child to use that site/app.
  3. Email Addresses and Usernames Do Not Mix – Linking a username with an email address can simplify a predator’s search for personal information. Using trial and error a criminal can add common email providers to a username, run a search and pull up social media accounts and any other sites where an email address was used to create a profile.
  4. Create Unique Email Addresses for Each App/Site – Some email providers including Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo allow users to alter their email address into infinite number of disposable addresses. For example if your child’s email address is shauntips@gmail.com and he/she wants to sign up for a new gaming site you can alter his/her email address just for that site by adding an identifier to it such as shauntips+ABCGamingFun@gmail.com. This keeps your child’s actual email address private and can help stop criminals from being able to track online history simply by searching for an email address.
  5. Stay Vigilant – Regularly checking what apps your child is using and what websites are being visited is the first line of defense. If anything looks suspicious or if you are unsure what something is, ask your child. If he/she cannot explain to your satisfaction what the app is then delete it and block it.

 

This information from SNDR.com was shared by permission.  

  

About SNDR

SNDR.com gives parents tools to stay up to date on latest threats. For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit: www.sndr.com. SNDR™ is a new app that combines all the ways you already communicate into a single platform. You can text, email, share files and use social media all from one app. And, every message is encrypted and completely secure. 

5 Easy Ways to Safeguard Kids Tech Devices from Predators

5 Easy Ways To Safeguards Kids Tech Devices From Predators - Ann Again and again Reviews
photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

 

New apps pop up seemingly out of nowhere.  Although my job is working with social media, I find myself caught unaware. My daughters will be laughing at something they’re sharing on their phones and when I glide over to check out what it’s all about I discover they’re on an app I’ve never heard of.  What the heck! Being vigilant is a busy job, but when it comes to social media and our children, it’s a necessary job.  So, what about this app that has my daughters cracking up?  The app looks age appropriate and harmless, but predators find ways to infiltrate and exploit. It is important to check your child’s phone, computer or tablet on a regular basis to make sure no inappropriate content is being sent to them. But, there are other steps parents need to take to safeguard their children.

One common mistake parents make is allowing their children to create a username that incorporates their name, information about their age and location or interests. These small pieces of data are enough for a predator to start piecing together a profile of a child and give predators tools that can be used to find more information to manipulate kids. By following these simple guidelines, parents can help make sure online predators are not targeting their children.

Stop Kids from Duplicating Usernames – Just like recycling a password is a bad idea kids should not use the same username to log into different online accounts. Having one common username across accounts just makes it easier for criminals to search for and find details about a child’s life.

Keep Personal Details Private – If an app or website requires kids to fill out a profile do not let them enter personally identifying details like their full name, birthdate, age or address. If they cannot use a site without supplying these details either supply a false answer to the questions or do not allow your child to use that site/app.

Create Unique Email Addresses for Each App/Site – Some email providers including Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo allow users to alter their email address into infinite number of disposable addresses. For example if your child’s email address is shauntips@gmail.com and he/she wants to sign up for a new gaming site you can alter his/her email address just for that site by adding an identifier to it such as shauntips+ABCGamingFun@gmail.com. This keeps your child’s actual email address private and can help stop criminals from being able to track online history simply by searching for an email address.

Stay Vigilant – Regularly checking what apps your child is using and what websites are being visited is the first line of defense. If anything looks suspicious or if you are unsure what something is, ask your child. If he/she cannot explain to your satisfaction what the app is then delete it and block it.

Email Addresses and Usernames Do Not Mix – Linking a username with an email address can simplify a predator’s search for personal information. Using trial and error a criminal can add common email providers to a username, run a search and pull up social media accounts and any other sites where an email address was used to create a profile.

If you have advice on how to keep our children safe while using tech devices please share in the comments below.  Thank you!

 

(*SNDR.com gives parents tools to stay up to date on latest threats.  For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit: www.sndr.com.  This information was shared, with permission.)

Tips For Safe Shopping Online

Tips For Safe Shopping Online - Ann Again and again Reviews

Online shopping is becoming a progressively larger part of our lives – no wonder with the irreplaceable convenience and great discounts!  I love it! Reductions in many popular stores are only available when purchasing on the Internet, and grabbing some Nordstrom coupons or other promo codes has never been easier with a large selection of coupon services online nowadays. However, the fear that our personal financial information will fall into the wrong hands has never been more real. How can we ensure our safety during an online shopping trip and have safe shopping online? Read on to learn more:

1. Know Your Retailersmoneyinfolder

There are numerous online retailers who have taken the time and effort to build a name and reputation for themselves. But what happens when you decide to stray from the beaten path and offer your business to a newer company? It’s fun to find a new store and share your discovery with your family and friends.  Just make sure you are sufficiently careful and aware. Packaging costs, delivery costs and any additional billing after purchases should be included in a manner that is evident before buying.

You’ll also want to know if you can track the item and if the product comes with any sort of warranty or guarantee.

3. Don’t Use a Site That Is Not Secure

Once you’ve chosen an item, it is time to make sure that the site you are using has been properly secured. Secure Sockets Layer is the most common form of encryption and SSL ensures that your credit card details are not shared with any other party. When you see an extra “s” being added to the http address you’re using, this means that you have entered a secure area. Some browsers will provide a padlock symbol as well.

4. Take The Time To Read The Privacy Policy

In out rush to get the purchasing process over with, we often neglect to read the privacy policy in full. But once you have clicked on the “yes, I agree” box, there is very little recourse if an issue happens to take place. Companies often sneak agreements into these privacy policies that allow them to share your information with third parties. If you have used online shopping retailers in the past and ended up with an inbox full of spam for your trouble, these policies are typically the culprit.

5. Record The Details Of Your Purchase

Once you’ve made a purchase, take a screenshot of the confirmation screen, so that you have proof in case of any future difficulties. You can also print this page off, so that there is no confusion if you need to contact a company representative.

 

The above tips should help ensure that you not only enjoy your “shopping trip” but also have safe shopping online.