Consumers Corner # 21


The numbers say we’re wrong

By Jim Murphy

A young swimming instructor I know recently went hiking and decided to jump into a pond. Bad idea. She broke her leg in two places and is now out of work.

I don’t know if she has disability insurance or not. But if you rely on income from a job to provide for your family, says AARP, disability insurance is critical.

No one believes they could ever be disabled. In fact, Americans put their chances at that of 1 in 50.

But here are the real-life, very sobering statistics:

  • 1 in 8 Americans will become disabled for five years or more during their careers.


  • More than one quarter of today’s 20-year olds will be come disabled before age 67, the Social Security Administration estimates.


  • Only about three in 10 workers have any long-term disability coverage.


I’m not an insurance expert, and don’t claim to be. But I do suggest you consult an insurance professional you trust to look into short-term and long-term disability insurance. You can also check to see if you are eligible for coverage through your employer.


If you can’t do without a regular paycheck, getting this
insurance could be the best advice you and your family ever get


Between ages 25 and 65, your chances of becoming disabled are much higher than your chances of dying.

Disability insurance is not cheap, though. And most of us don’t believe we ever will need it. But a number of the people I worked with for years at a major ad agency are now disabled. And they’re far younger than I am.

My advice: talk to someone knowledgeable about disability insurance and see what coverage you can get. You never know when you might need it.


Sources: AARP, Consumer Reports


Be sure to wash your
reusable grocery bags

It’s nice to feel you’re helping the environment by reusing grocery bags. But remember to wash them, too.

A 2011 study by scientists at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the University of Arizona found bacteria in 99% of reusable bags tested. About half carried coliform bacteria and 8% carried E. coli, says USA Today.

In 2012, the paper says, a different study pinpointed the cause of a nasty norovirus outbreak on an Oregon girls’ soccer team to a “reusable bag stored in a hotel bathroom used by an ill team member.”

What to do: wash the bags regularly in hot water with a detergent and disinfectant, advises Ryan Sinclair, Ph.D., of the Loma Linda School of Public Health.

This can reduce bacteria by more than 99%, even in bags stored in dark car trunks – where bacteria can thrive and multiply.

Sinclair also suggests using cleaning wipes on carts if your store has them and putting meats and vegetables in separate bags.

Source: USA Today, Parade Magazine


Equifax security spam
just keeps pouring in

If you’re like me, you are being bombarded by junk email about the Equifax security breach.

There is no letup.

One suggestion: go to a trusted source for tips about what to do. has covered the problem extensively, with suggestions about how to proceed.

Before you respond to any email solicitation ever, please be sure to do this: At a minimum, look at the full name of the sender. Some sleaze ball companies can even disguise that. But for many, you will see right in the top line that it is a fraud.

The subject line may say: Your Amazon Reward Check. But the name after the @ symbol will be something very different. Instead of, it will be something like

That’s a dead giveaway – and a quick and easy way for you to just mark that email as junk.

I hope this info helps protect you against scammers. There are a lot of them out there.

By the way, Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, ripped Equifax in an op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Daily News on Sept. 26. He was incensed that Equifax: delayed notification of the breach affecting 5.4 million Pa. residents, duped consumers into waiving their rights and then tried to profit from its own mistake. He was also not happy that several execs sold $1.8 million of stock before the company disclosed it was the target of the largest breach so far in our  country’s history.  Go get them, Josh!




That’s how old ATMs (or Automated Teller Machines) are. Hard to believe. The one I remember best was Philadelphia National Bank’s Money Access Center or MAC. The advertising call-to-action: “Meet Mac for your money.” To me, it worked. The slogan made this unusual new machine warm and friendly. And I’ve been using ATMs ever since.

# 1

The first ATM was installed in a suburb of London by Barclays Bank. There were no cards with magnetic stripes then. The machine gave fixed amounts of money to customers with special vouchers.


3 million

That’s about how many ATMs are in the world today. The U.S. has about 425,000.


Sources: Associated Press, Barclays



Depending on what source you believe, the PSFS building at 12 S. 12th St. was either the world’s first or second air-conditioned building. But the public, calling the new technology “weather in a box,” believed air conditioning was harmful to their health.

To allay those fears, the building’s engineer spent every minute of one full week living in the 36-story structure. Evidently the experiment was convincing. The PSFS Building became a commercial success and is still renowned today as one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century.

I’m glad the air conditioning was a hit. I can’t imagine being in a high-rise building today without air conditioning. Or anywhere in Philadelphia summers without it.

Photo Credit

“I didn’t mean too…” flickr photo by tim ellis shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license


Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. He also is a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guide and writes historical articles for the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





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