Beware of Jewelry Scams

‘Tis the season for giving and often it is jewelry. But, unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for warning jewelry buyers to beware of scams when choosing a special gift for a loved one. Many buyers may overlook important details while getting caught up in the excitement of purchasing the perfect gift. To help avoid getting caught in a scam, here are a few things to remind you about:

  • Get a report from a reliable lab, such as AGL (American Gemological Laboratories), or GIA (Gemological Institute of America. Buyers should be cautious accepting reports from other less reputable labs as they could misrepresent the stone quality or origin.
  • It’s important to obtain a detailed description of their purchase and read the fine print about the return policy.
  • Be careful about who cleans or repairs jewelry. With synthetic or lab-made stones looking very similar to natural diamonds at much cheaper prices, there have been many cases of diamonds being swapped during cleaning or repair.
  • Hide the purchased jewelry when you leave the store. There is no more obvious target than that fancy logo bag from a jeweler. Make your purchase inconspicuous by putting it into another shopping bag or even a grocery bag.

If you have any questions, please contact us today!

How Will Connected Cars and Autonomous Driving Impact the Future of the Automobile Industry?

While advancement of connected cars will be one of the greatest transformational forces in the automotive industry, the evolution of the connected car also represents one of the greatest unknowns for the industry.

The connected car has the ability to transmit as well as receive data and information from its surroundings, making autonomous driving possible and potentially offers great benefits to drivers, the automotive industry and society as a whole.  The growth of connected vehicles will dramatically improve safety for consumers, lower insurance and warranty costs and reduce traffic congestion. Connected cars will create new opportunities for the automotive industry.

Connected cars, and autonomous driving, will create market uncertainties. How and who will deliver connected cars and services? Will the current auto industry be able to navigate all of the uncertainties ahead or will new players emerge into the scene?

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Getting You Ready for the Storm

We are currently tracking the movements of Hurricane Irma. It is currently expected to reach southern Florida later this week and we are watching to see if it will shift toward the Mid-Atlantic States. As we have all seen with Hurricane Harvey in the past week, once a storm has been downgraded; it can still cause severe damage and flooding. We sincerely hope you, your business, and your family do not suffer a loss in this storm.

Now is the time to prepare and to remind you we will be here for you. The information below provides guidance for assistance should you sustain loss or damage from the hurricane. While we certainly hope for the best, we will be closely monitoring this storm and will be available to assist you should the need arise.

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When you know a storm is coming, take steps to prepare.

When a hurricane or tropical storm turns inland, it may diminish in strength, but the potential remains for severe damage from winds and heavy rain. When you know a storm is coming, take steps to minimize damage and speed recovery.

First and foremost, take whatever precautions are necessary to protect yourself and your family. While property preparations are important, they’re not worth risking life or health. If you need to evacuate, do so, as long as you have time to reach a place of safety. Don’t be caught on the roads in your car or attempt to drive through water-covered streets. Once the storm reaches your area, stay inside, away from windows and possible flying debris.

If you have sufficient time, here are some simple things you can do to prepare your home or business:


Clean out your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris, first by hand to get rid of the large particles and then with a scraping tool and water hose. This helps to prevent overflows that could cause interior damage.

Make sure downspouts and window drains properly guide the water away from the structure. Direct downspouts at least 6 feet from the foundation. Clear any obstructions.

Clear your yard of potential flying debris. Store lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles, trash cans or other loose items.

Protect your windows and glass doors. If you have functional shutters, secure them.

Move business and construction vehicles to higher ground. Keeping vehicles and other movable property out of harm’s way can shorten the downtime faced by your organization and get you back in business sooner after the storm has passed.


Test your generator or battery backup. Be prepared for an extended power outage, especially if you have electrically powered medical equipment. Store extra fuel safely and only in approved containers. Don’t operate portable gas generators indoors or in enclosed spaces where it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Charge your cell phone and any extra batteries. Adjust settings to eliminate non-essential apps and preserve battery life. Store emergency phone numbers in your contacts, including family members, your doctor, your insurance agent and your insurance company’s claims phone number. Keep a paper copy in case you lose power.

Stock up on flashlights, spare batteries, food and water. Keep your emergency kit supplied with provisions for each family member. Don’t forget your pets. Keep extra diapers on hand for little ones.

Check your first aid kit. Keep it stocked with the basics to treat minor scrapes or injuries; in the case of a disaster, emergency medical services may be limited to life-threatening cases. Keep several days’ supply of prescription medications on hand.

Know where your emergency shutoff valves are located. In the event of damage, you may need to cut off electricity, water or gas.


Understand the coverage provided in your insurance policy. No one should be surprised that things like “flood” and “earth movement” may be limited or excluded under some insurance policies. If something isn’t clear to you, contact your agent and get an explanation of exactly what your policy will provide for you.

Store a copy of your insurance policy. It’s best to keep a copy offsite, in a safe deposit box or digitally in a location you can access from anywhere. If you must evacuate, take copies of key papers with you, including birth certificates, marriage records, property deeds, bank accounts, etc.

Identify the safe places in your home. Know where to go away from windows, skylights and glass doors in case the storm spawns a tornado.

Keep a home inventory. If a storm is imminent, it may be too late to thoroughly document your belongings, but even taking cellphone photos of each room can help if you need to file an insurance claim later.

For more information please contact us today!


How Ambient Intelligence is Changing the Future of Eldercare

Artificial intelligence (AI) and ambient intelligence (AmI), along with affordable sensors and wearables, are offering innovations in senior living that would have been unheard of a few years ago. Today these innovations are becoming practical and cost effective.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of family caregivers and a looming shortage of doctors. People are living longer than ever before. Many people alive today have a good chance of living to be 90 years old or older. Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of the world’s population. It is projected that there will be 3.7 million centenarians in the world by the year 2050.

AmI is a new paradigm in eldercare. Digital environments that are aware of the presence of human and context will empower people to be self-reliant. AmI is sensitive, adaptive and responsive to the needs, habits, gestures and emotions of humans.Low cost ambient technology (sensors) is being developed and made available at a reasonable price point. All of this is leading to more self-reliant eldercare. Regardless of the location of the care (home, hospital, senior care center, etc.), people will be more self-reliant.

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A Sea Change in High-Net-Worth Philanthropy

Philanthropy is changing, at least among a certain class of donors and founders.

On Dec. 1, 2015, this shift was cast into stark relief when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced the creation of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a new philanthropic organization, to which they pledged 99 percent of their Facebook shares. Public reaction was mixed, as the billionaire couple were simultaneously lauded as paragons of generosity and attacked as cynical manipulators of public opinion.

The reason for the controversy is that, instead of a traditional charitable vehicle, Chan and Zuckerberg have chosen to organize the Initiative as a privately held limited liability company (LLC) and aren’t seeking tax-exempt status.

Their choice is a dramatic illustration of the changes that philanthropy is currently undergoing, and it exemplifies new trends that are especially prevalent among high-net-worth founders and donors and may potentially signal a strong new current in charitable practices, if not a fundamental alteration of the status quo.

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Summer Tips for Homeowners

Whether you choose to spend summer months relaxing in the backyard, traveling to your favorite destinations or a combination of the two, there are steps you can take to ensure protection at home. Some of these may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to let safety and security slide in the midst of fun summer activities.

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How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Once you have decided to purchase life insurance, the next question to answer is how much to purchase.

Some people select coverage based on an arbitrary amount: $100,000 or $200,000. Others purchase enough to pay off a home mortgage or other major bill. And some stick to the tried-and-true measure of 10 times salary.

But there are other methods to consider. You can complete a fact finder/needs list or use a life insurance calculator.

Using a fact finder ̶  something you would complete with your agency ̶  is a fancy way of saying making a list. The list would include things you would want the life insurance proceeds to cover in the event of an untimely death: car note, college tuition, income replacement, etc. Then prioritize the list based on need and importance.

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Will We Be Using Bitcoin To Buy Our Morning Coffee?

What is blockchain and cryptocurrency, and what does it have to do with buying a cup of coffee? Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions that can be programmed to record financial transactions, as well as almost any transaction of value. Some think it will do for money what the internet did for information by making it faster, cheaper and more pervasive.

One blockchain example is called cryptocurrency, the best known of which goes by the name of bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency, and verify the transfer of funds. Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrency operates independently of a central bank. But why have cryptocurrencies emerged, and rapidly escalated in value?

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Exotic Cars That Are Expected to Increase in Value

Wondering what models of high-value, exotic cars will be appreciating the most in the next few years? There are plenty of exotic cars out there, but if you’re looking for fun and a return on investment, these may be the some of the best vehicles to purchase.

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