Friday, December 8, 2017

Over 51 Million People Flying Domestically this Holiday Season


Each year, especially leading up to the month of December, people across the country frantically scour the internet for the best airplane tickets to make it home in time for the holidays. Many people want to visit with family and the 21-day Christmas travel season is when millions of Americans choose to do so. Some people choose to drive or take a bus or train, but each year, the number of fliers continues to rise. According to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, this season's number of fliers increased by 3.5% from the same measurement last year.

Analysts expect that there will be over 51 million people traveling via plane throughout the upcoming holiday season. Over the last four years, airplane travel has been growing, especially in the month of December, and especially during the few days leading up to and following Christmas. Research shows that the increasing prevalence of the mode of transportation is likely due to improvements in the economy and competition between airlines, which make flights more affordable for the common consumer.

The law of supply and demand states that supply and demand tend to be inversely proportional, which means that as the supply of a good or service increases, the demand for it decreases. The same concept applies to the proportionality of demand/price or the inverse proportionality of supply/price. In other words, the more consumers demand a product, the more a company can charge for it. Because there are so many companies that offer the service of airplane transportation, the competition drives the price down. As more and more consumers choose to fly because of the lower prices, however, those same prices will likely be driven back up until the price reaches an equilibrium.

Economic analysts predict that this trend will lead to a total of more than $16 billion in profit split among the various domestic carriers, 5% more than last year. Additionally, over the past three years, airlines throughout North America have earned over half of the profit in the industry as a whole. Analysts expect that things might change quickly if the airlines aren't careful. Between rising costs, taxes, and governmental security laws, the various airlines may have to quickly adapt to successfully meet growing demands and keep their competitive edge.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, November 17, 2017

New FCC Rules Can Help Phone Companies Block Scammer Calls



No one likes getting dozens of calls a day from people they don't know. Whether from robocallers, telemarketers, or scammers, it can be annoying or even costly to deal with unwanted callers. Millions of Americans have placed themselves on the national Do Not Call registry, which makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you, but scammers don't care if they're breaking the law. Fortunately, according to an article by the Associated Press of the L.A. Times, the Federal Communications Commission passed a set of rules this week that will give phone companies greater ability to block unwanted phone calls from reaching their customers.

Before this week, phone companies could already block some unwanted calls. They were able to prevent scammers from using some types of technology that trick callers with fake Caller ID numbers. With the help of the FCC's latest update, they can also block calls that are likely to be from scammers. Some examples are calls from 911 area codes and calls from phone numbers that haven't yet been assigned to any customers. So, by leveraging the rules and some relatively simple computer programming, the phone companies can develop an automated way to block the worst of the scams from reaching you.

Tens of millions of robocalls are received throughout America each day. Some of those calls are legitimate, from pharmacies alerting you about a prepared prescription or from your local congressional representative trying to garner support in an upcoming campaign. The calls that people have more of a problem with are those that claim to be the IRS or tech support. Those calls can be annoying at best, and in many cases, can lead to identity theft and other costs, especially among elderly targets.

Some phone companies have developed databases where users can input information about calls received, which over time, can help future recipients to avoid and quickly block scam calls. They are also working on other technology that can determine if a call is actually coming from the person they're claiming to be. Either way, there is no definitive way at the moment to make 100% sure that you can't be contacted by a scammer. That being said, you can reduce your risk by avoiding answering the phone to numbers you don't recognize. You can also hang up immediately if a call sounds like a scam, and avoid giving any personal information. Be careful. Scammers can do a lot with any information you give them, so don't give them that opportunity.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, November 3, 2017

Millions of Kidde Fire Extinguishers Being Recalled



Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, both at home and at work. From earthquake kits to fire extinguishers, having the right equipment available can help you keep a bad situation from becoming disastrous. However, having a fire extinguisher won't do you much good in an emergency if it doesn't work properly. According to an article by the Associated Press of the L.A. Times, your fire extinguisher may currently be subject to recall.

Over 40 million extinguishers made by a company called Kidde are being recalled and replaced. This Thursday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a notice regarding safety issues with 134 models of Kidde's plastic handle fire extinguishers. Over the years, various customers have reported issues with the extinguishers. The extinguishers didn't function properly for emergency personnel dealing with a car wreck in 2014, and since then, others have reported clogging of the nozzles.

The various extinguishers being recalled have been on the market for the past 4 decades, since 1973. Over 300 reports have been made of the extinguishers clogging or the nozzle coming off in emergency situations. Because of those issues, over a dozen injuries, nearly 100 reports of property damage, and a death have occurred. Kidde is offering replacement extinguishers to anyone affected by the recall. Their contact information is: (855) 271-0773 or at www.kidde.com.

Be safe. Emergency preparedness can go a long way toward protecting yourself and your loved ones (as well as your property) from irreversible damage. If you have a Kidde fire extinguisher, make sure to get it replaced ASAP. Even though the issues listed above were uncommon versus the number of extinguishers that worked properly, your safety is not worth the risk. Safety first!

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Thursday, October 26, 2017

"Honey" Browser Extension Automatically Inputs Coupon Codes for Online Shoppers



Many consumers prefer to do their shopping online as opposed to in brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping online, especially when you know exactly what you're looking for, can be cheaper, easier, and more expedient than taking the time to go to Wal-Mart or Target and pick up the latest device. Still, consumers want to get the best deal possible, especially when shopping online. Research shows that consumers are often hesitant to place an order online due to a feeling that they may be paying too much. In his L.A. Times article, David Pierson describes an innovative browser add-on called Honey that automatically finds discount codes for many shopping websites.

The extension is free for download on all Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome browsers, and requires absolutely no effort on the part of the user. Simply by installing the add-on, the discounts will immediately begin popping up when a user goes to check out on thousands of shopping sites. The extension uses user-inputted data (like Waze) to determine which discount codes work best and which don't work at all, so each consumer using the app helps to make it better for the next user. Honey has over 5 million users, who have saved an average of $32 per month on items that they were going to purchase anyway.

This browser extension seems to be a win-win-win for everyone involved. Consumers get to find discounts that they wouldn't have otherwise been able to use on items that they were planning on purchasing anyway. The shopping sites tend to make more money because shoppers are 55% more likely to finish checking out when Honey has checked for potential discounts. Honey itself makes money because certain merchants pay to have their discounts made more visible, to increase customer traffic. Everyone is making money, without much of a risk to any one party.

About 9,000 of Honey's 21,000 affiliated merchants pays the company a commission for driving customer sales. One of their biggest issues, however, is that they have so far been unable to convince Amazon to get on board. Because Amazon has such a large share of the online shopping market, that could pose problems for Honey in the future. They hope that consumers will choose to use other websites, to keep the Seattle-based company from monopolizing the market and raising prices, but time will tell whether their efforts will be successful. Until then, Honey has an integrated feature for Amazon shoppers to let them know when prices of items in their cart have fluctuated. That feature may be enough to help Honey stay relevant in the Amazon-saturated market.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, October 20, 2017

Key Reinstallation Attacks Can Allow Criminals to Hack Your WPA-2 Wireless Communication



Technological advancement, which can be greatly beneficial in many ways, can also make it more difficult for you to protect your personal information. Years ago, before the advent of the internet, rates of identity theft were far lower than they are today. Identification documents and private data were not nearly as available before the era of the internet. However, now that hacking is so prevalent, we must do what we can to improve our cybersecurity and prevent hackers wherever possible. According to Samantha Masunaga's recent L.A. Times article, the latest vulnerability to address lies in WPA-2 protocol, the current industry standard for Wi-Fi protection.

WPA-2 is the fundamental protection built into most wireless communication available around the world. Until recently, it was considered the best way to protect your online information, but researchers in Belgium found a vulnerability in the WPA-2 protocol that can allow a hacker to use "key reinstallation attacks" to intercept wirelessly transmitted information, even over encrypted networks. The hacking technique, also known as "Krack," is able to target systems powered by operating systems including Windows, Apple, Android, and Linux. From computers to modems to Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators; anything on your network could potentially be hackable.

The researchers found that Kracking is most effective against computers running Linux and devices running the latest version of Android OS. The hack could be used to capture information in sent emails, credit card numbers, browsing data, and even photos and videos sent to contacts. The hacking technique, while powerful, may not be as great a cause for worry as might be expected. According to the analysts, the hacker would have to be highly skilled and in close proximity to the targeted device. Therefore, any hacker looking to use Krack would likely target large corporations, where they might find a better payout.

To protect yourself, you should download any patches released by manufacturers as soon as they are released. For Windows devices, leaving "automatic updates" selected will let your computer take care of the threat for you. Many Apple devices have already received fixes for the vulnerability and others will receive software updates within the next couple of weeks. Google is working on releasing patches for Android devices as quickly as possible. Until that's all wrapped up, you can protect yourself by sending encrypted emails, being careful with online transactions from certain devices, and adding passwords to shared files that contain sensitive information.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ikea Acquires TaskRabbit App, Helping Customers Connect with Furniture Assemblers



Tens of thousands of Americans have tasks that they don't want to do themselves. Either the jobs are physically impossible, or require skills that they don't have, or are simply not worth their time. In an effort to address that common problem, in 2008 Leah Busque founded a company called RunMyErrand, which later evolved into the app known as TaskRabbit. People around the country can use the app to hire "Taskers" to run errands or do odd jobs, and TaskRabbit keeps a percentage for connecting users to workers. According to Tracey Lien and Samantha Masunaga's L.A. Times article, Ikea recently acquired TaskRabbit in order to pair up furniture-building Taskers with Ikea's customers.

TaskRabbit was one of the very first on-demand apps, where users could pay a fee or an hourly rate to get a job done. Since then, many other companies have come in to fill the market, from Uber to Postmates and everything in between. The acquisition of TaskRabbit was a logical one for Ikea because their customers generally already outsourced the job of putting together their furniture anyway. Many customers can't figure out how to assemble Ikea furniture, so it is often simpler for them to hire someone to do it instead. By acquiring TaskRabbit, Ikea is able to get the business on both ends.

From another perspective, Ikea acquired TaskRabbit as an investment, given that the app has been pretty successful over the years since its conception. The company provides a smartphone app that allows Taskers to connect with users looking to hire help. In exchange for providing the service and convenience of their app, TaskRabbit receives 30% of the hourly payment being given to the Tasker completing the job, which is a pretty large chunk of money when movers and furniture assemblers can be making anywhere between $30 and $80 per hour. Neither company has released a public statement about how much the company sold for, but it can probably be assumed that Ikea made a sound investment.

Other on-demand service companies like Uber and Lyft or Sprig and Homejoy have either had to rely on millions of dollars in venture capital and debt financing or have failed to raise enough money and have had to go bankrupt before ever obtaining success. TaskRabbit is different in that it's been profitable for quite a while. The company's acquisition by Ikea is probably a good thing for its future growth. Now that they are connected to the largest furniture company in the US, they have the resources to expand more rapidly and reach a larger, international base of customers.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, September 15, 2017

California has Potential to be a Strong Contender in Amazon's Search for New Headquarters



Last week, an exciting opportunity arose for cities throughout North America. Amazon Inc. announced its plans to expand further by building a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Since the announcement, mayors and governors across the United States have been submitting proposals and offering tax incentives to the giant company, trying to get Amazon to choose them. According to Andrew Khouri's L.A. Times article, California won't be offering quite as much as other states when it comes to tax incentives, but instead, will be relying on its inherent attractiveness as a metropolitan area with good weather, education opportunities, and skilled laborers.

In some states, like Wisconsin or Nevada, billions of dollars in subsidies and tax incentives are offered to manufacturing and tech companies looking to make a move. They hope that the tax incentives they provide initially will be paid off in the future by thousands of more jobs in the area and an improvement in the housing market. Wisconsin is in the process of working out a $3 billion package with television producer Foxconn. In 2014, Nevada's $1.3 billion package earned them Tesla's lithium-ion battery factory, a factory that Governor Jerry Brown has been vying for.

The amount of money being offered may not matter as much for landing the Amazon deal. Amazon is one of the wealthiest companies in the world, and they have made the parameters of their new headquarters well known. They are looking for a metropolitan area with skilled workers, desirable housing, good distribution routes, and a strong base of customers. With its shipping ports, high quality of life, and many prestigious public universities, California could be a strong choice for Amazon's second headquarters.

Analysts believe that Amazon's main purpose in being so public about their search is to try to get competing offers from different cities so that they can use them to leverage a better tax incentive package from whichever city they actually want for their headquarters. That's why they believe that California has a good chance. Research shows that around 90% of the time, companies would choose the city they chose whether they got the same incentive package or not. It really seems to be up to California itself to shine. Either Amazon wants to build HQ2 here or the company doesn't. The amount of money being offered is unlikely to make much of a difference.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card That's Right for You



Credit cards can have many uses to different consumers. For some, it is a convenient way to keep their finances organized: spend money on the credit card all month, then pay one bill at the end. Others use credit cards to spend money that they don't currently have so that they can pay off the bill later when they have the money to pay it. Still others use credit cards for the sole purpose of building credit, to help them get lower APR when buying a car or getting a mortgage on a house. For many users, according to Chanelle Bessette's L.A. Times article, it's the rewards and extra bonuses that interest people in various credit cards.

If used properly, rewards credit cards can help users to get cash back, airline miles, and other perks. However, as with anything, there are both pros and cons. The best rewards cards give thousands of points as a signing bonus for charging a certain amount of money in a designated amount of time. Then, they offer points (or miles or cash back) for every dollar charged to the card in the future. Users can often get a flat amount of cash back on every purchase or can get special rates like 5% cash back on gasoline purchases. Some cards offer miles on airlines, which can essentially let you fly almost anywhere in the world as a reward for spending on the credit card.

On the downside, many of the best rewards cards have annual fees. The better your benefits from a rewards card, the more likely it is that the annual fees are high. For some cards, the annual fees can be hundreds of dollars, so they are more beneficial for people who will use them a lot in the year, gaining as many rewards as possible. Also be aware that some rewards cards extra fees when used overseas, or may not even be accepted by overseas vendors.

So, when deciding if a rewards card is right for you, there are several factors. Do you have great credit? Better cards require higher credit scores.  Do you often carry a balance on your credit card? Rewards cards tend to have higher APR, so the interest you pay could outweigh the rewards. If you travel a lot, a rewards card that offers mileage could be a good choice. If you spend a lot of money in certain categories each month, like gasoline or groceries, you can choose the right rewards card for you to maximize your benefits. All in all, there is no right or wrong answer. Rewards cards should be obtained only after careful consideration, on a case-by-case basis.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, September 1, 2017

FreedomPop Cell Phone Service Focuses on Providing Customers with Lowest Prices



In the United States, from the wealthiest entrepreneur to the poorest student, from teenagers to retirees, almost everyone has a cell phone. While cell phones were once a conveniently mobile alternative to landlines, to allow people to make calls outside of their homes, from almost anywhere in the world, they have now become much more than just phones. With the advent of text messaging and smartphones, many users now rarely use their phone for calling, opting instead to text or surf the internet using their mobile data or surrounding Wi-Fi signals. Most cell phone providers, especially the "Big Four" carriers, charge upwards of $40 per month for a cell phone plan. According to Paresh Dave's L.A. Times article, there's a smaller company, called FreedomPop, that is able to provide users with cell phone plans for less than $5 per month.

FreedomPop isn;t the ideal cell service provider for everyone. In fact, they only have about 2 million customers, compared to the hundreds of millions of subscribers at companies like Verizon or AT&T. About half of their users have service for "free," although they do have to pay a monthly fee of $7.99. The "free" portion of their service has limits on data usage, calls, and texts, and their customer service hasn't been rated very highly, but for many people, their low prices make the switch a no-brainer. Some of their most all-inclusive plans include unlimited talk, text, and data for around $20-30 per month, which is significantly less than their larger competitors. Users mainly have to have a credit card attached to their account, and they get charged extra fees for going over their allotted usage, but users seem to feel that the low prices make it worthwhile overall.

The company is able to keep prices so low by going against common industry practice. At its inception, the main focus of FreedomPop was to provide everyone with access to the internet. To do that, they chose to accept lower profit margins, which means they can charge less for their service. Even though the company's user base is small, it has had enough of an impact on the industry that large competitors like Verizon and T-Mobile are lowering their prices in response. The goal of FreedomPop is to gain as many customers as possible, around the world, both to achieve their vision statement and to maximize revenue. The more revenue they take in, the more room they have to cover their fixed costs and provide service at a low price. Besides the lower profit margins, FreedomPop cuts costs by minimizing the amount they spend on marketing and by doing careful research on exactly which potential customers they choose to target.

FreedomPop has received over $100 million in venture capital investment to keep doing what they're doing. They are also looking at an acquisition offer, but investors don't seem interested in selling the company. FreedomPop is different from other cell service providers. They handle customer service efficiently by providing refunds when they receive complaints (modeled similarly to larger companies like Google Express) because they have found that giving a $5 reimbursement immediately makes a customer more likely to stay with the company and provide good reviews. However, as would be expected with a company that provides service at an average of $15 per month, customer service and quality sometimes have to suffer to some extent. It's really a choice that each customer has to make. Do you pay more for service through a "Big Four" company (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile), or do you pay less for a up-and-coming company like FreedomPop?

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, August 25, 2017

DriveShare Aims to Encourage Vintage Car Ownership



Inventors are continually innovating and making the world a better place. Some of their innovations include new medications or life-saving devices. Other inventions are to make life easier or more convenient, or just to allow people to have more fun. No matter how you look at it, though, most people would agree that technological growth has given people access to everything they might ever need. There's food delivery, transportation, short-term housing, and car rental, all available through apps on your cell phone. Now, Charles Fleming's L.A. Times article points out, there's even an online service designed specifically for lovers of vintage cars.

Airbnb, one of the most popular apps on the market, makes billions of dollars per year in revenue, by facilitating the rental of homes and apartments on a short-term basis. Apps like Getaround and Turo allow users to rent cars owned by other users in order to get around, but some users are looking for different styles of cars not usually offered by those ride-sharing apps. To address that demand, a group of innovators created an online service, dubbed “the Airbnb of classic cars,” called DriveShare, which allows users to rent (or rent out) vintage and classic cars.

Vintage cars are one of those commodities that just gain popularity as the years go on. In the modern day, where vehicles tend to be made of cheaper materials, with more electronic bells and whistles, some drivers prefer the experience of a sturdy, solid metal, classic car. They like the way they run, they like the way they look, and they especially enjoy how much more durable classic cars tend to be. Eventually, at some point in the future, "classic cars" won't be a thing anymore, because many of them are over 40 years old and only last so long, but for now, this business seems to be working.

The company was founded by a merger between a rental company called Classics&Exotics and one of the nation's largest vintage car insurance companies, Hagerty. The merger allowed for the company to gain access to a database of a million vintage vehicles, with around 300 types of car to choose from. The rental prices range from $99 to $3,300 per day for Porches to Lamborghinis and everything in between. According to the founders, this service has two goals: to give people the experience of driving a vintage car, to help them see if they might want to buy one themselves; and to help vintage car owners somewhat subsidize the cost of their vintage car by renting it out on a day-to-day basis. Both goals point toward one thing: the innovators who created DriveShare really seem to want people to have every opportunity to drive, or even own, a vintage car.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, August 18, 2017

Long Beach to Propose Stricter Enforcement of Noise Curfew Ordinance



Finding a great place to live can be a balancing act. It can be next to impossible to find a good building with affordable rent in a popular area. People often have to commute to work in order to find their dream home or sacrifice some of the items on their wish list and settle for something less than ideal. Living near an airport, for example, has both positive and negative aspects. Prices for homes in the area tend to be much lower than those further away, but residents have to deal with increased traffic and greater noise issues. Even with noise curfew rules, some airlines find ways to get around it. However, according to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, the Long Beach Airport has proposed a crackdown on noise violators in order to address some of the more blatant rule-breakers.

In response to excessive noise issues over the years, the City of Long Beach has a Community Noise Ordinance that makes it illegal for people to make loud noises that affect residents or visitors during certain time periods. Some examples include leaf blowers, construction equipment, and amplified music. Mainly, the ordinance addresses repeat offenders with disruptive behavior above certain limited standards. One such standard is that for the airlines operating out of the Long Beach airport. The airlines have a limited "noise budget" that they have to stay under or they will be fined.

While many of the airlines have followed the rules of the Noise Ordinance, some of the busier airlines have chosen to prioritize their business over the wants of the community. JetBlue has been the most flagrant offender this year, with over 94 violations in the five-month period at the beginning of 2017. Delta AirLines and SkyWest, next in line, have a combined total of only 3 violations. JetBlue claims that its disruption of the noise levels between 10 PM and 7 AM throughout the year was due to delays at busier airports on the East Coast and in Northern California. They claim that the noise was unintentional and are working with the city to solve the problem.

When the ordinance was enacted in 1995, it set the fines for first-time offenders at $100 and set the fine at $300 for any airline breaking the rules more than three times. While these fines may have once been a deterrent to some airlines, it makes more financial sense for JetBlue to operate as many flights as possible, and just pay any fines they may incur. In response to that, city officials are looking into updating the fines on the ordinance to thousands of dollars per transgression, with the option to terminate an airline's ability to operate out of the airport if the airline accumulates more than 20 citations in a two-year period. It will still take some time to get the proposal before the city council, but it is expected that they will vote on it in the early months of 2018.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, August 11, 2017

Scam Uses Stolen Credit Card Data to Illegally Resell Gasoline



Improvements in technology are great in many ways. They save money, make life more convenient, and help people to do good in the world. However, technological advancement can often have drawbacks as well. One of the main issues in recent years is the average criminal's increasing ability to get away with financial crimes. The more technologically advanced something is, the more opportunities there are for criminals to hack in or scam people. According to an article by the Associated Press of the Los Angeles Times, one of the latest scams involves using stolen credit card information to resell gasoline on the black market.

The first part of the scam involves attaching 3D-printed credit card "skimmers" to ATMs or other credit card readers, such as those at gas stations. When someone swipes their card through the skimmer without realizing that it's not actually part of the machine, it records the credit card's data for the scammer's use. Then, the scammer is able to transfer the information to a fake card later, which they can use to make purchases. As devices get more advanced and criminals become more tech-savvy, the crimes continue to increase.

Once they have the counterfeit cards with someone else's data on it, the thieves go to gas stations with specially-designed trucks with hidden fuel tanks that can hundreds of gallons of gasoline. Then, they go off and empty the fuel from the trucks into 4,500-gallon industrial tankers. Finally, the tankers turn around and sell the gasoline back to the gas stations or to people on construction sites or to truckers looking to get a discount. Even the smallest gangs of criminals can steal thousands of dollars per day in gasoline, which can be more profitable with fewer risks than other money-making scams.

These types of crimes started sometime around 2006 when the skimmer technology was first developed. Since then, thieves have been using the strategy more and more, mainly in populous states with many busy interstates, such as California, Florida, and Texas. At first, law enforcement did little to combat these crimes, since they were only targeting a couple hundred dollars per transaction. It was seen as a "victimless crime," because the targets could dispute the charges on their credit card statements and generally get the money back. Because of the "slap-on-the-wrist" view of this type of crime, more and more thieves joined up, to the extent that some gangs are making up to $20 million per year off of stolen gasoline.

Because this is a financial crime, the US Secret Service is  involved and is investigating various gangs of criminals, shutting down these groups when they can, and are working on instituting tougher laws to dissuade other criminals from going after the "low-hanging fruit." Gas stations are also looking into installing devices on their pumps that shut the machine down if it is tampered with. Generally, everyone should just be on alert and do what they can to avoid being targeted by a similar scam. Be careful when using your credit card somewhere you don't trust, and if something looks suspicious, you should report it to the authorities.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, August 4, 2017

New System to Alert Passengers via Mobile App if Luggage is Lost in Transit



Many people often need to travel often in this day and age. Technology has helped people to become more connected and some businesses even operate out of multiple countries at once. Therefore, people conducting business and people looking to visit friends and family will usually need to resort to flying to their destination. Because flying has become so mainstream and efficient, it's not unheard of for some individuals to board multiple flights per month. However, with all that popularity comes mistakes. Flights get overbooked, luggage gets lost, and the whole trip can be a frustrating experience. According to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, American Airlines is addressing one common issue: lost luggage, in the hopes of making the experience a little bit better for everyone.

Airports, especially those located in major cities, host many flights per day, with planes from dozens of different airlines. It's no surprise that luggage gets misplaced among so many thousands of travelers. The more frustrating part for many passengers is that they have to wait by baggage claim for every piece of luggage to exit the plane before they can definitively determine that their luggage is gone. Then, they have to go through the whole process and fill out paperwork so that when their belongings are found, they can be returned. People nowadays value efficiency and look to save time in every situation, so a big time-waster like that is not appreciated.

American Airlines is beginning to use a new system of scanning luggage at multiple checkpoints along the boarding and transport process, which keeps better track of everything. Additionally, all of the data is being uploaded to their system, and an alert gets sent out to a passenger if the system finds that their luggage was lost along the way. Because the passengers are getting a text message or app alert, they are able to immediately go to fill out the paperwork instead of first waiting for baggage claim, which can make an inherently stressful situation a little bit easier. In the coming years, lost luggage may be a thing of the past. New technology has been driving down the number of bags misplaced each year, and some research shows that use of RFIDs and other similar technology could lead to a 99% success rate on tracking bags, which could save millions of dollars in the long-run.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, July 28, 2017

Upcoming Eclipse Expected to Raise Thousands in Revenue for Small Towns Throughout America



Eclipses are one of the only astronomical phenomena that can be seen from Earth without the aid of a telescope or other viewing device. Because of that, an eclipse can be an exciting event for locals and tourists alike. They are so uncommon that people travel from miles around to be able to see one. This year especially has been a big deal, because the so-named "Great Solar Eclipse," happening next month, is the first total solar eclipse to be seen in America in nearly 100 years. According to Rachel Spacek's L.A. Times article, the eclipse is expected to raise thousands of dollars in revenue for individuals and businesses alike across the country.

An eclipse is any obscuring of the light of one celestial body by another. Lunar eclipses can happen when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun, in which case, the Earth's shadow passes over the moon and blocks its light. In the case of the upcoming Great American Eclipse, however, the moon will be passing directly in between the Earth and the Sun, which will block all but a corona of the Sun's light from reaching the Earth. Because of the relative sizes of the celestial bodies, lunar eclipses are far more common than solar eclipses, which makes the Great American Eclipse all the more exciting for viewers.

Although over 12 million Americans live somewhere in the "path of the totality," which is the area where people will be able to view the total solar eclipse in its entirety, millions more are going to be coming into town for the day, just to watch the phenomenon occur. The increased tourism, even just for a day or two, is expected to provide huge boosts to the economies of many small towns along the path. In states like Idaho, where the cost of living is usually very low, residents are taking advantage of the supply-and-demand aspect of the upcoming event and aiming to make a lot of money off of out-of-towners. Some are using sites like Airbnb to list a bedroom for over $1,000 on the night before the eclipse. Hotels have been sold out for months, if not years, and some people are even spending hundreds of dollars to camp out in people's backyards.

Souvenir companies are also making a killing off of the upcoming eclipse. From glow-in-the-dark T-shirts to temporary tattoos and luggage tags, people are selling anything and everything related to the eclipse. People are traveling for miles and paying thousands of dollars to see the eclipse, so it makes sense that they also want souvenirs to help remember the experience. Not only are online businesses getting a boost, but local businesses in towns along the path are expected to face a rush of new customers during the week of the eclipse. Restaurants are stocking up on menu items and are planning to truck in their employees to increase the number of available parking spots. Even Porta-Potty rentals are doing well in expectation of the increased number of people.

Supply-and-demand really is the name of the game. Tourists are looking for a place to stay and are willing to pay the money for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why shouldn't the small town residents make money off of it. No one is forcing people to go out and view the eclipse. It seems comparable to an amusement park charging high prices for patrons to get in. If people want to ride the roller coasters, they need to pay whatever price was set. And, for these small towns along the path of the totality, this chance to boost their local economy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as another total solar eclipse won't happen for several decades.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, July 21, 2017

Best Buy's Pivoting has Helped the Company Survive Amazon's Expansion



As more consumers look to online sources for many of their purchases, brick-and-mortar retailers have had to work on quickly adjusting their business model to stay in the game. Many such retail outlets have failed and filed for bankruptcy in recent years, including Radio Shack, once one of Best Buy's biggest competitors. Somehow, Best Buy was able to avoid a similar fate and has in fact made great strides since 2012, when most analysts thought they were doomed to fail. A recent L.A. Times article by James F. Peltz and Jack Flemming describes some of the methods Best Buy's CEO used to get the company back on track.

One of the biggest factors hurting the electronics chain's profits was a practice among shoppers called "showrooming." Consumers like to be able to see the products in person before purchasing them, which is one factor that makes people hesitant about making purchases on Amazon. However, they also want to make sure they're getting the best deal and spending the least amount of money. So, what they would do is go into stores like Best Buy, look at the variety of products, figure out which specific model they wanted to buy, then simply order it on Amazon for a cheaper price. To combat this practice, Best Buy invested more into expanding its market to the online sector instead of just focusing on its stores. Additionally, they have cut their profits on individual items in order to match Amazon's prices. In the short run, they may be losing money on an item-by-item basis, but overall, getting back some of their market share on electronics has been beneficial.

Even though Best Buy has been developing the online sales portion of their business model much more in recent years, the CEO of the company still considers the physical stores to be a huge asset. Although "same-store sales," which is a measure of the number of sales within a lasting store as opposed to new locations, was on a decline for 4 years, revenue at the older stores has been steadily increasing over the past 3 years. Online sales rose 21% this year and now account for 12% of Best Buy's overall sales. According to analysts, Best Buy's overall sales have remained flat because the electronics industry has been growing very slowly. The economy may be improving, but people are not buying as many "big-ticket" items anymore. Slower innovation and the vast range of retailers has led to a decrease in prices and less interest among consumers who might otherwise be interested in personal computers or televisions.

By offering the same prices as Amazon and speeding up their shipping times, Best Buy has been able to reel in some customers who want to get their product immediately, rather than waiting a while for it to be delivered. They also integrated a way for online shoppers to pick up the ordered product at their local store, which cuts down on shipping costs for both parties. Finally, Best Buy has invested heavily in education for their employees. By making sure that their employees are tech-savvy enough to explain products to shoppers, they are more likely to make a sale. Additionally, customers are more likely to shop at the store where the product is explained to them than on Amazon, where all they have is a description and some pictures. Improving customer service and lowering prices have helped, but it's still quite a while until we can determine whether Best Buy and other similar retailers will survive Amazon's spread throughout the industry.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, July 14, 2017

Over 50% of U.S. Households Expected to Have Prime Membership by Year's End



Amazon Prime is a popular service that allows subscribers to pay a yearly fee in order to get expedited shipping on everything they order. Two years ago, on July 15, 2015, which was the anniversary of the company's founding, CEO Jeff Bezos started something new to further incentivize Prime users: Amazon Prime Day. On Prime Day, subscribers get special deals on select Amazon products. According to the L.A. Times article written by Angel Gonzalez and Ethan Varian, this year's Prime Day (on July 10th), attracted over 60% more shoppers than last year.

Prime Day, which has been compared to Cyber Monday or Black Friday, was designed by Amazon founder and CEO Bezos to be a "holiday" of deals. Not only was it intended to reward current Prime members, but it was also meant to attract new users. Although Amazon has only released the numbers of users that made purchases on Prime Day, it's likely that they gained many more Prime users in the weeks or months leading up to Prime Day. Tens of millions of users made purchases on Prime Day, over 50% more than last year, which brought in over $1 billion in revenue for Amazon over a single 30-hour period.

Analysts have calculated that the number of households in the US with a Prime account has increased 7% over the past year, and they predict that over half of the households in America will have Prime membership by the end of the year. Free shipping and various deals led people to buy some of their favorite new gadgets this year. Over the 30 hour period in 13 countries, Amazon's biggest sellers were their Amazon Echo speaker, Amazon Fire tablets, and Instant Pot programmable pressure cooker. Many other items sold well, but users were really after the deals on personal electronics.

Other retailers tried similar promotions to either compete with or ride the hype of Prime Day. Fry's Electronics offered free same-day delivery on select items and Best Buy had a "Big Deals Day." In the years to come, it is likely that many other businesses will follow suit, offering free shipping at the very least. Some day in the near future, Prime Day may become a holiday in its own right, similar in scope to Cyber Monday or Black Friday. As long as the deals keep coming, customers will keep shopping, so we'll just have to wait and see.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, July 7, 2017

Grocery Delivery: Niche or Mainstream?



Going shopping can be both inconvenient and time-consuming for the average person. People like to save time and money so you might think that a technological innovation to make grocery shopping more convenient might attract a lot of interest. According to David Pierson's L.A. Times article, that might not be the case after all.

Amazon recently put in a $13.7 billion bid to acquire Whole Foods Inc., including all of its stores, warehouses, and distribution centers. Although Amazon already has a service called AmazonFresh, which allows customers to order fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food products to be delivered on the same day, this acquisition seems to show that Amazon is looking to gain greater traction in the grocery-delivery market. But, the question still remains: will grocery delivery be a successful venture in the years to come?

During the dot-com boom of the 1990s. a company called Webvan had a goal of making grocery shopping a thing of the past. They planned to do what Amazon is attempting to do: make grocery delivery mainstream. Unfortunately for Webvan, even after $800 million in funding, they were ultimately forced to declare bankruptcy nearly 20 years ago. They realized too late that, at the time, grocery delivery was both incredibly costly and extremely risky because it takes a certain kind of customer to let someone else pick out their groceries for them.

Research has shown that people have some innate preference for picking out their groceries themselves. They want to be able to look at each and every piece of fruit before purchasing it, making sure that it's unbruised or the right level of ripeness. Consumers don't trust that an employee of AmazonFresh or another similar company will be able to do as good a job as them when picking out their groceries. Especially if they end up paying the same amount for the delivered groceries as for those purchased in the store, customers will not sacrifice quality for a little bit of convenience.

However, if the convenience factor was there and the prices were reduced, studies show that the combination might be enough to convince some customers to try out grocery delivery. People care about the price more than anything else. That's why discount grocery stores like Aldi have been expanding so quickly in recent years. Even if the quality of the food is not phenomenal, the lower prices bring customers in faster than at any other chain. So, although many people in this day and age want organic fruits and vegetables, few of them purchase their organic foods at Whole Foods, because the chain is known to have high prices. If Amazon somehow found a way to reduce the prices and deliver the food, all while still making a profit, their goal might be achieved in the near future.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, June 30, 2017

Uber to Make Improvements to App After CEO Resignation



Uber has been going through issues lately with maintaining a positive public image. Various scandals, especially regarding its CEO, have been hurting the company's public relations, which can hurt its bottom line. Ever since the CEO, Travis Kalanick, recently resigned, the company has been working to regain customer loyalty and get back a portion of their market share that had been lost to Lyft and other competitors. Tracey Lien's L.A. Times article outlines some of Uber's planned changes to make the rides better for riders and drivers alike.

Uber's first planned change is to enable a feature that Lyft has had for a while: passengers will be able to tip a driver through the app. By adding this capability, Uber hopes to show its users that the company cares about improving relationships between drivers and passengers. Additionally, in an effort to make the relationship less one-sided, Uber's policies on ride cancellations is changing. Previously, riders had 5 minutes to cancel a request after summoning a driver, which often left drivers sitting around for a while, waiting for passengers that might cancel at the last second.

The changes make it so that a customer has only two minutes to cancel without paying a $5 penalty, and riders will be charged per minute for keeping their driver waiting for them. In this manner, riders have fewer opportunities to take advantage of their position, in much the same way that enabling both parties to see their own ratings could help both rider and driver modify their behavior in the relationship, which makes for a more pleasant overall experience.

Many of Uber's changes are intended to improve driver-rider relationships, to show that the company cares about its users and to improve customer loyalty. However, one change seems to both address a concern raised by users as well as expand Uber's user base. There are many potential users out in the world who don't own a smartphone or don't have access to mobile internet. To address this problem, Uber's latest update will allow a customer to book a ride for someone else. The driver will receive the passenger's contact information, and the passenger will receive a text message with the driver's description and a link to track their route. This feature is especially useful for seniors and other users who may not be as tech-savvy.

Some of the features designed to benefit the senior demographic were already made available through services run through third parties. For example, Uber has a partnership with 24Hr HomeCare that allows customers to book rides via a phone call rather than through the smartphone app. Additionally, there are other services called GoGoGrandparent, Instacart, Munchery, and Postmates, that all utilize telephone calls to allow users to book rides or have food or groceries delivered. So, it seems that Uber is getting into that portion of the market a bit late. Hopefully, all of the proposed changes will do enough to overpower the negative influence that months of scandals formed.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, June 23, 2017

LAX to Allow Select Passengers to Check-in Using Fingerprints or Iris Scans



In this day and age, partly due to continually advancing technological innovation, the ability to avoid time-wasting activities like waiting in lines has become a necessity for many consumers. People value their free time and want to save as much of it as possible for activities they enjoy. For example, when people fly in an airplane, whether for their job or on their way to a vacation, they don't enjoy how long it takes to make their way through security and check-in lines. Fortunately for many, according to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, passengers leaving from Los Angeles International Airport may soon have the option to speed through check-in using iris scans and/or their fingerprints.

Depending on the type of flight and time of year, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours (or sometimes even more) for a passenger to get all the way through check-in and security before they are finally able to get to their boarding gate. For many people, especially the more affluent travelers and people who travel often for business, it can be worthwhile to pay a fee to get through security faster. Well, a company called Clear just installed new kiosks at LAX that allow passengers to use biometric markers to get through security. The service is membership based and costs $179 per year so it would be the best deal for frequent fliers.

Clear already has connections to 22 airports and 6 sports arenas around the country, so LAX is not their first foray into the world of biometrics. Accounts can be easily made at one of the kiosks by scanning a government-issued form of identification, answering some questions, and having one's iris and fingerprints scanned. After the short process to set up the account, check-in becomes faster and much more convenient. When using Clear to check-in, passengers get to interact with Clear employees (LAX has approximately 90 such individuals), bypassing most of the line and moving directly to the X-ray portion of security.

Clear may be one of the biggest presences in the field of biometric security, but other companies are beginning to get in on the industry, as it is likely to keep growing in the years to come. Jet Blue and Delta have begun using facial recognition and fingerprint scanning for the checking in of some of their premium passengers. Not only does scanning someone's fingerprints take much less time and is more convenient than classic methods, it can also be a more secure method. If biometric check-in were to become mainstream, wanted suspects would potentially be unable to get through security without raising an alarm, because their fingerprints and iris scans would be in the system.

However, that can also raise the question of privacy concerns. What will the companies do with all of that biometric information if this practice became mainstream? Would the police be able to get a subpoena for someone's fingerprint scans if they are a suspect in a crime? Many potential issues could arise from the integration of biometrics into security protocol, but many benefits are inherent as well. For now, it is only being used by a subset of passengers as a way to save time and make life more convenient. Everything else is too far in the future to know definitively now.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, June 16, 2017

LADWP Pauses Planned Work on Natural Gas Power Plants in Favor of Green Alternatives



Energy is one of the most important commodities in this day and age. Whether it comes from fossil fuel, natural gas, or green sources, energy is a necessity in our increasingly technological world. Up until recently, California legislators had plans to build new natural gas power plants and renovate some older ones that run on fossil fuels. According to Ivan Penn's L.A. Times article, they are instead looking at other potential options for energy generation throughout the state.

Before this week, a $2.2 billion plan was in the works to fix up some older natural gas power plants and get them ready to produce electricity. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power put that plan on pause while they look into green electricity alternatives. Among a few other reasons, this change in trajectory is likely due mainly to recent investigative journalism that found that California has an oversupply of electricity, which drove prices up instead of down as expected.

It is expected that by 2020, the state's power plants will be able to produce over 20% more electricity than is needed, which will lead to Californians being stuck with a $40 billion-per-year bill for energy they're not even using. Even after reducing energy usage and installing more energy-efficient appliances, Californians will still be paying almost $7 billion more for electricity than they did in 2008, the state's record high.

Now that the LADWP sees that generating more power from natural gas is not going to solve the problem, they have to turn to other alternatives. Because so much energy is produced that is not being used, it makes more sense to look at different ways of producing energy rather than methods of producing more energy. For example, many homes are beginning to install personal solar panels and batteries to store excess collected energy. Solar farms or wind turbines could be a potential source of green energy for the state.

No matter how the LADWP ends up generating the proper amount of electricity for the state, it seems clear that natural gas will not be invested in without a fight. It will be difficult to hide oversupply, especially if the excess energy comes from sources that are not environmentally friendly. Legislators hope to have California 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2045. This is just the first step, but with enough work, it could be a feasible goal.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, June 9, 2017

Latest Fortune 500 List Contains 53 California Companies



The well-known "Fortune 500" is a list of 500 of the nation's top companies, published each year in a list by Fortune Magazine. The companies are those that bring in the most revenue and show the highest profits, which means they are likely to do well in the coming year. Basically, they are the 500 best companies on the market in a given year. Many, especially in recent years, are tech companies, and some have even been on the list for many years, even decades in some cases. According to Makeda Easter's L.A. Times article, of the 500 companies, 53 are based in California.

While California is not the number one state in regard to their number of Fortune 500 companies, California falls in a close second behind New York's 54 companies. The remaining 400 or so companies have headquarters spread throughout the rest of the country. California has two companies ranking in the top 10 of the Fortune 500 list: Apple is in third and McKesson Corp. is fifth. Trends show that California's biggest earners are technology companies and pharmaceutical/biotech companies.

Even with some companies having difficulties with slowing sales or scandals within their board of directors, California companies still improved quite a bit this year. Chevron came in 19th place on the list and Wells Fargo unexpectedly rose to 25th place, even after recent bad publicity. In Los Angeles specifically, construction company Aecom was in 161st place, real estate firm CBRE Group was in 214th, and Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. placed 320th.

The percentage of companies with women CEOs that make it onto the Fortune 500 list is very small, only about 6.4% of the 500 companies. However, of the 32 companies on the list with women CEOs, 7 of those companies are based in California. Apple Inc., which is based in Cupertino, California, made the largest profit this year, at approximately $46 billion, but Wal-Mart still holds the number one spot on the Fortune 500 list based on revenue alone. Approximately two-thirds of the US's total GDP come from the 500 companies on the list. If trends continue as they have been, California's companies could end up being the most valuable on the list in time.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, May 26, 2017

Google Aims to use Targeted Advertisements to Boost Both In-Store and Online Shopping



Most people who use the internet, especially for online shopping, have noticed at some point that the advertisements that appear on web pages they visit tend to relate to items they have been looking to buy. It is one of the ways that Google makes revenue, by selling advertising space and targeting the advertisements at those consumers most likely to be swayed by them. By correlating the number of clicks on an advertisement to the actual items purchased online by consumers, Google is able to show online retailers that their advertisements are the right choice.

Similarly, Google seems to be looking to move into the non-digital marketplace. According to an article by the Associated Press of the L.A. Times, Google is looking into a new service that will track how much consumers spend in brick and mortar stores after clicking on advertisements related to those purchases. However, it will only be able to correlate the information to stores, not to specific items purchased at the stores, which may not be enough information for some advertisers.

By determining how ad clicks are connected with actual purchases, Google can help advertisers to determine whether their ads are a waste of money or actually useful. If the data is convincing enough, it could be beneficial to both Google and the advertisers it is contracted by. If advertisers see how well their ads work, they are more likely to increase their advertising budget, thus generating more revenue for the retailer and more income for Google. The main problem, however, seems to be the loss of privacy inherent in this kind of data tracking.

Already, Google has digital dossiers on everyone who uses their online services. They know what people search for, what people shop for, and even the types of videos people watch on social media. Using that information, they can create targeted ads that are directed at the proper demographics. This new system just seems to be an expansion of that concept. There are precautions in place, fortunately. The system is expected to run in a "double-blind" manner, which means Google receives personal information that credit card companies and merchants don't, while the credit card company receives information that Google doesn't. Additionally, it won't be able to gather information on cash transactions and about 30% of credit card transactions. Advertisements have the ability to help all involved parties in that they can point customers toward products they want and provided added demand on products for retailers. The main question: is the loss of privacy worth the added benefits of the ads?

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, May 19, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Predicted to See Record High Number of Vacationers



National holidays, especially those that fall at the beginning or the end of a weekend, tend to lead to travel plans for a lot of Americans. The three- or four-day weekend is the perfect time for many vacationers to spend some time away from home with their family and friends. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's usually lead to a lot of travel plans, many people prefer the shorter weekend trips over Veteran's Day or President's Day. According to Hugo Martin's L.A. Times article, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is expected to break records in terms of the number of vacationers. 

According to experts, this phenomenon could be due in large part to falling gas prices. As the cost of gasoline goes down, it becomes cheaper to travel, which is encouraging for people who want to go on vacation. It's expected that the prices will stay low at around $3 per gallon, which is the cheapest they've been over Memorial Day weekend since 2009. Partially due to the low gas prices, most of the vacationers are expected to be driving. In fact, statistics show that around 2.52 million will be driving to their destinations, a 2.9% increase from last year.

Similarly, there is expected to be a 3.4% increase in the total number of vacationers, up to 3.03 million Southern Californians, according to the Auto Club of Southern California. This will be the sixth consecutive year where the number of travelers increased, potentially a sign of a strengthening economy, in which consumers feel secure enough to spend money on travel. Some of the top destinations for travelers include San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas, as well as famous landmarks like the Grand Canyon and some national parks.

The biggest increase of all, however, is among the number of Californians choosing airplanes as their mode of transportation. Over this Memorial Day weekend, over 300,000 Californians are expected to fly on commercial airlines, which is a 6.2% increase from last year's numbers. Even with all of the recent issues with airlines, the growing numbers could indicate that people are traveling further, which means that they are taking more time off of work than just the three-day weekend. That could point to growing comfort with the state of the economy or better financial management on the part of consumers looking to go on vacation. 

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************

Friday, May 12, 2017

California Tourism Indutry Grows for Seventh Consecutive Year



Tourism can be a huge economic boost for any given state or country. Tourists stay at hotels and motels, they eat at restaurants, and they shop at stores, all of which can help to stimulate the local economy. Big cities like Paris, New York City, and London are popular tourist destinations, but cities throughout California, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, have been booming over the past several years. In fact, according to Makeda Easter's L.A. Times article, research shows that California's tourism industry has grown every year for the past seven consecutive years.

Data showed that spending on travel in California was up 3.8% last year to $126.3 billion. Over a million jobs in the state are involved in the tourism industry, up 2.5% from the year before. Even tax revenue was up from tourism-related expenditures. Tax revenue was over $10 billion last year and tourism incorporated nearly 3% of the state's GDP (gross domestic product). Not only is California generally a popular tourist destination, economists believe the continuing improvement of its tourism industry could be due to economic growth around the country and the world.

As the global economy improves, people have more money to spend and feel more stable and willing to spend the money. Because of that, they tend to take more vacations and spend more money on travel. Research shows that California is the number 1 tourist destination in the country. Its tourism industry is 2.5 times bigger than that of Florida, which has just as many tourist attractions and theme parks as California. Additionally, of the hundreds of millions of tourists each year throughout California, many of them come from different parts of California itself, rather than from out of the state or from other countries.

California tourism is expected to keep going strong. Some theme parks, such as Disneyland, are undergoing changes and renovations that they hope will bring in more visitors, but only time will tell if the improvements will succeed. People like to visit California for its weather, beaches, and popular social scene, but as the value of the dollar continues to increase, people may look to travel outside of the country for vacation. California can be a very expensive place to live, so people's preferences can change pretty quickly. Maybe next year will be the eighth consecutive year of growth. We'll just have to wait and see.

***************************************************************************************************
Find out more about us at www.sepulvedaescrow.net. Any Questions? Contact our Escrow Expert! Sepulveda Escrow Corporation (818) 838-1831. Follow our company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.
**************************************************************************************************