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The Palm Beaches' News & Talk
 
 

Brian Mudd

How campaigns get your email address, Simple step to save more than $500 on your vacation, What to do with an old HSA account & more:

 

Cheat Sheet Q&A:

Today’s Topic:  Unwanted campaign emails

The question: 

Don't know how, but I now receive daily emails to contribute to Crist's campaign. Somehow they have snagged email addresses from where ever (state vendor lists, registrations, licensing, etc) and the unsubscribe feature is not active.  A new annoying level of advertisement…

 

Bottom Line:  Well you were on to something with your hypothesis about where the information was obtained.  It most likely was information taken, potentially purchased, from the state.  Here’s a somewhat alarming stat:

 

  • 47 of 50 states sell voter registration to third parties (including Florida)

I can’t tell you with certainty that’s how Crist’s campaign but it’s likely.  On Florida’s (and virtually all states’) voter registration form you’ll find a box for your email address.  Most people feel as though they have to fill in all boxes on the form so they provide the information for email.  Providing an email address is not a legal requirement of registering to vote – so you can leave it blank. 

 

In your case you can’t unpop the cork so what should you do?  It’s a legal requirement to be able to unsubscribe from emails.  Ordinarily you shouldn’t respond to spam email because you’re just confirming that you have a valid email address.  In the case of Crist’s official campaign you know that’s it’s an accountable party sending the email.  So I’d suggest responding to the email with the heading “unsubscribe me”  keep a copy of the sent email as evidence you did this.  They should opt you out on their end. 


Audio Report:

 

 

Do this and save an average of more than $500 on booking summers vacations:

 

Bottom Line:  If you’re already inclined to book your vacation and related travel plans via an online travel site you’re likely already saving some money on your travel plans.  But right now there is a way to save significantly more.  Look to bundle. 


According to Expedia.com the average cost of a summer vacation is between 3-4% more expensive than last year.  However when you book your hotel & airfare together the deal gets much better.  Right now the average bundle on a summer vacation on one of these sites is coming out to more than $540 vs. booking the same hotel and the same airfare on the same site.  It’s a simple step if the hotel that you’d like to stay at is available through site in addition to the airfare.  Btw, many travel sites now include resorts and even B&B’s (generally the preferred choice of Ashley and me when we travel). 

 

Audio Report:

 

 

What to do with that old Health Savings Account:

 

Bottom Line:  This year more we have more people who are with new health insurance companies than at any previous time.  Related to ACA many employers and individuals have switched provider options as cost and plan options have been considered.  That also means that millions of people have open HSA accounts with the bank their former provider used.  If you didn’t use all of the money in your HSA account last year and now you have a new provider it’s easy for one of two things to happen…  You may forget about it altogether and the money is wasted or you may not think to use it and the bank may eat away at it with fees.  There is another way… 

 

You do have the ability to roll over an old HSA account into your current HSA account.  The only consideration is that you can’t exceed $3300 in contributions for 2014 or $6550 for a family account.  So don’t forget about the old HAS roll it over instead. 

 

Audio Report:  

 

 

iPhone app in beta that could revolutionize dermatology:

 

Bottom Line:  I’ve followed the progress of a few app attempts to use a picture taken by a smart phone to determine whether a skin abnormality is potentially harmful.  None of the attempts have proven to be accurate enough to be brought to market…  Until perhaps now. 

 

A professor from the University of Houston has created an app for the iPhone that’s in beta called DermoScreen.  Like other attempts at the technology all you do is open the app and take a picture of your skin on your iPhone.  Unlike the others the results he’s reporting are not only significantly accurate.  They’re more accurate than dermatologists. 

 

I looked for research on the accuracy rate of dermatologists in determining dangerous skin abnormalities.  It was hard to find a study on the accuracy of dermatologists but I did find one that’s about 20 years old (so the numbers may be somewhat different today).  The study identified the accuracy rate of dermatologists to be 64%.  With that in mind the DermoScreen app is sporting an accuracy rate of 85%.  That’s statistical significance. 


The app has been submitted for medical accreditation and if approved could become an extremely significant step forward in detection and accuracy in dealing with serious skin conditions.  I’ll keep you posted. 

 

Audio Report:

 

 

Amazon's Sunday delivery is moving east:

 

Bottom Line:  Amazon.com’s game changing 7 day delivery service is making its way across the country.  Yesterday Amazon announced 15 new cities that are going to be included in the seven day a week delivery service.  This means that the next step is the East Coast.  I suspect that at the long end we’re only months and at the most a year away from having same and next day delivery options through Amazon Prime seven days a week.  This will significantly disrupt many typical consumer habits and patterns once it does.  From a business standpoint if you sell at retail you need to figure out how to either sell through Amazon or have a competitive strategy that can compete with the ultimate level of convenience and price comparison shopping. 

 

Audio Report:

 

 

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