Tuesday, February 15, 2011
GCF Bank is helping you eliminate clutter! Beginning with your next statement, you'll receive a digital image of your cancelled check instead of the actual document. Learn more.
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Don't Track My Cookies
It's the golden age for online advertisers. The simple act of surfing the Internet provides them with enough information to deliver targeted ads only to those interested in their wares.
The practice is construed as being invasive by some, prompting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider investigating the practice of ad-tracking cookies. You may soon see a "Do Not Track" registry similar to the successful "Do Not Call" version.
Browser developers aren't waiting for government intervention. They're already taking matters into their own hands.
First, a little background information. Cookies are a small file placed by a Web site on a visitor's computer that contains identifying information in order to conduct the session.
For example, when you login to GCF Online Banker, a cookie is set that allows you access to your account information. When you leave the checking section to pay your bills or look at your savings account, you don't have to login for each transaction. We already know what information you are seeking. The cookie is deleted as soon as you logout.
Other sites leave their cookies on your computer to allow you quicker access when you login the next time. You can check a "Remember me" box on the login screen for your user name to automatically appear. These cookies are only cleared when you do your manual browser cleanup.
You do periodically clear your cache, browsing history, temporary files and cookies to improve performance, don't you? You've probably noticed that you need to enter information that was previously saved each time you performed the ritual.
This type of cookie, between yourself and the entity you are doing business with, is a necessary function in providing the service you are seeking.
But problems can arise with third-party cookies. That is, cookies that are delivered by an advertisement that appear on a page you are visiting.
Web sites that provide a free service depend on advertising to cover costs associated with operating the site. Yahoo!, Google, and blogs are laden with advertising. Resource sites such as Bankrate.com or Realtor.com depend on ad revenue to keep offering tips and advice to those interested in their expertise.
So you're performing a search on Google and an ad appears from one of their paid sponsors. The ad places a cookie that identifies you as "visitor #243,789."
You follow a link to your desired article on Bankrate.com where an ad recognizes you as "visitor #243,789." Information is sent back to the ad network, letting them know that the same visitor that uses Google to search is also interested in financial information. The next time you visit Google, you'll see ads trying to drive you to financial sites.
Similar practices may link motorcycle enthusiasts with racing interests, or gardeners with environmental causes. They don't really care about you as an individual. There is no threat to your personal information being compromised.
Yet they are trying to separate you from your hard-earned cash by plastering ads targeted to your likes and dislikes right in front of your face where you can't miss them.
The advertisers must be in the same network to pass this information along. Advertisers from one group cannot communicate with those in another.
This is where the plot starts to thicken.
Browser extensions are now available for Chrome that would allow a user to stop this type of ad-tracking cookie. They will be available for Firefox Version 4 and Internet Explorer Version 9, both now in beta.
Chrome was the first to announce an ad opt-out function. Users who select this option only have to do so once, it's set permanently. The aforementioned browser cleansing does not remove your preference.
Yet the largest ad networks are operated by Google, Adobe, Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL. Chrome is a product of Google. Internet Explorer is Microsoft's browser. Will we really see an end to the practice that has kept them in business? Both products block ads by stopping those coming from a list of ad networks. It's not yet clear which networks will appear on their block lists.
Firefox may offer the strongest ad opt-out utility. It actually sends a signal when a visitor accesses a Web site, prohibiting those that use ad-tracking cookies. But it will be of little use until advertisers actually support it. For now, the exercise is merely a test.
The National Advertising Initiative (NAI) is a cooperative of online marketing companies that adhere to specific standards in delivering ads that address consumer concerns and protect your privacy. You can opt out of receiving targeted ads from their member companies by selecting them from an expansive list on their Web site. You will still receive ads, but they will not track your browsing patterns. Opting-out will not affect any other service relationship you have with that company, such as email or photo sharing. Find them online.
We had particularly bad storm seasons in 2004-2005. Where I live, that means hurricanes. It seemed as if every weekend brought a new storm. Still today you'll see a car bearing the bumper sticker "Another Weekend, Another Hurricane".
Right now, you're likely thinking this sounds a lot like the wintry storms that have plagued the northeast this year. Every weekend you're digging out of yet another blast of the white stuff.
The frequent storms have their advantage. You're already well-stocked with milk, bread and other essentials. Your shovel is at hand, you don't have to trudge through knee-deep snow mounds to unbury it.
Our hatches remained battened down, coconuts were trimmed from the trees and deck chairs tucked inside to prevent them from becoming projectiles in the high winds. We didn't have to perform these exercises each time a storm threatened. We were prepared.
There are over 170 privacy settings to consider. By the time you wade through them all, new ones would appear. Yet certain ones are critical to your online safety. Pay them proper heed and you can weather any storm.
Access your Privacy Settings from the Account menu at the top right corner of your profile page. Choose Connecting on Facebook to designate what basic information will display to those who may be looking for you.
Sharing on Facebook dictates what can be shared, and by whom. Choose Custom to designate different permission for specific pieces of information. Anything left available to Everyone is there for the entire viewing public to access. That means any stranger trolling through cyberspace. Or your boss, a potential employer, your clergy, your child's teacher.
Create Friends Lists to include those with a similar interests. Set different policies for each List. Keep your work friends separate from your weekend buddies.
Don't post that party picture. Even if you realize your mistake and take it down, someone else could have tagged it. Pictures you post online never go away.
From the Account Settings page, choose which actions prompt an email alert from the Notifications tab. Make sure you know who is tagging you in a photo by making the proper selections in the Photos section.
Posts that may be taken as derogatory against your employer can be basis for termination at most companies. A co-worker may appear chummy but wouldn't hesitate to report your transgression if it can move him a step up the corporate ladder.
The apps, games and quizzes you play remain in your profile until you remove them. That gives them access to whatever you post, your friends and any other personal information provided. From Privacy Settings, choose Apps and Websites, then Apps You Use to either remove apps you no longer use or edit their privacy settings assigned.
Instant Personalization enables sites partnered with Facebook to access your profile the moment you arrive to deliver you custom information. Visit Pandora and your favorite music plays. TripAdvisor displays images of the last place you vacationed. Turn it off from the Apps and Websites selection under Privacy Settings. Click on Instant Personalization and uncheck the box at the bottom granting these sites permission.
It isn't enough to protect your reputation within your local community. Your online reputation dictates how you are viewed around the entire world. Safeguard it properly.
If spending is any indication that the economy is continuing to improve, then we are continuing the growth albeit just a little slower this month. Consumer spending improved in January, though at a slower pace than during the holiday season. The moderate gain in sales in January was largely due to higher gasoline prices. Overall retail sales gained 0.3 percent, following a 0.5 percent boost in December and 0.8 percent jump in November. The latest gain was short of the forecast increase of 0.5 percent. Excluding autos, sales showed a 0.3 percent improvement, as in the month before.
As consumers, we spent 1.4 percent more on gasoline with food & beverage stores up 1.3 percent and non-store retailers up 1.2 percent. Other increases were a 0.8 percent advance for general merchandise (which includes department stores) and a 0.5 percent boost for motor vehicles and parts. The areas where spending dropped were building materials & garden equipment, down 2.9 percent, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, down 1.3 percent. Food services and drinking places also fell 0.7 percent.
Overall retail sales on a year-ago basis in January advanced to 7.8 percent from 7.6 percent the previous month. Excluding motor vehicles, sales were unchanged at a year-ago 6.2 percent. A slow growth is what we continue to hope for!
GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.
For more comprehensive information, visit our Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com or call (856) 589-6600 Ext: 337 (Timothy P. Hand)GCFLASH PRIVACY STATEMENT
GCF maintains your e-mail address in a confidential and secure database along with much of your other account information, such as mailing address and telephone number, etc. Before aggregating our e-mailing list each week, we filter out any duplicates. In most cases, this inhibits the unintended e-mailing of multiple copies of GCFlash to a single e-mail address. However, because these account records are kept by both individual and account, there is a chance members of the same household could each receive a copy of GCFlash or any other transmission at the same e- mail address - resulting in multiple copies. For example, a husband and wife that both have accounts with GCF may both receive a copy because the names are different but listed at the same e-mail address. This is similar to the manner in which each individual may share a common telephone number. To handle this situation, GCF recommends you simply delete any extra copies of GCFlash as this will ensure that ALL individuals receive any future promotional mailings, which might only be targeted or offered to specific accountholders meeting certain criteria. GCF has the capability to suppress customer e-mail addresses so they are omitted from our transmission list. If you would rather have a specific household memberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s e-mail address suppressed in our electronic database, simply send us a reply, as stated below, and indicate the accountholder for which you would like to have e-mail suppressed. Please keep in mind that this suppression will mean that NO future e-mails are sent, including special promotional offers. If you have any questions about this process or need additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be removed from this electronic mailing list, please hit reply and place the word REMOVE in the subject line. Please note, removing your name from our electronic mailing list means GCF will send NO FUTURE NEWS or SPECIAL OFFERS.
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