Be Ready Utah
“Family Disaster Plans”
Wade Matthews from Be Ready Utah spoke about disaster preparedness, advising Utah Public Employees’ Assocation (UPEA) members on best practices to ensure safety during disasters. He said Utahns should always have safe drinking water and keep food storage up to date. He recommended preparing emergency packs for each member of the family, and establishing a meet-up point for friends and family, such as a light pole outside, or a church down the road. He suggested even getting a hand-crank generator to charge a cell phone or other necessities during prolonged power outages. Utah is a seismically active region with the majority of Utah’s population living in the areas of greatest risk. UPEA representatives were grateful to learn how to prepare.
Attorney General’s Office
Alessandra Amato & Scott Eggerman
“Human Trafficking in Utah: How to Recognize it”
It may seem unlikely, but Utah is a hub for human trafficking due to its unique geographic location and the fact that two major interstates cross the state, Scott Eggerman of the Utah Attorney General’s Office said.
He and colleague Alessandra Amato said many factors lead to human trafficking. Perpetrators are professional groomers who prey on a victim’s vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, homelessness, and the desire to be accepted and loved.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, refugees, runaways, and those who have spent time in foster care are at a higher risk of being trafficked. Amato explained that the guilt, shame, and emotional and physical trauma these victims experience makes it exceptionally difficult to gain their trust.
She made the important distinction that children cannot legally consent to commercial sex, so there is no such thing as a child prostitutes. Children are always considered victims.
Eggerman said traffickers find victims through chat rooms, on social media, and in libraries. Specific tattoos/brandings, dramatic changes in behavior, and possession of large amounts of cash could be signs of a victim of human trafficking. He encouraged anyone who suspects human trafficking to report it to the Attorney General’s Office.
“How to Get the Most from Your Health Insurance”
Derek Applegate of PEHP offered many tips to members on how to get the most from health insurance.
He emphasized that site of service matters. If a patient were to get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from a hospital instead of an imaging center, the cost would be significantly higher.
Applegate emphasized that more care does not equal a healthier consumer. Approximately one third of all medical care in the United States is considered unnecessary. He implored UPEA members to focus on preventative care, not defensive care. Preventative care will always be less costly to the consumer
He added it’s also a myth that you will save money if you are double-covered. PEHP wants its members to understand that it is more important to have a health insurance plan that fits the needs of you and your family. More does not equal better.
MACU General Council presentation
“Wise Use of Credit”
Kimberly Boettcher of Mountain America Credit Union presented useful consumer information about credit scores.
She explained that the only people who can view your score are those you give permission to. The need for permission is usually written in fine print in documents required by employers, insurance companies, lenders, utility services, phone companies, and landlords.
Boettcher clarified a common misconception: It doesn’t hurt your credit score when you look at it; what dings your score is when others look at it.
She said it is important to view your credit score to make sure it is accurate. To view your credit score visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Consumers are entitled by law to a free annual credit report from three different reporting entities. Reviewing your report enables you to dispute any inaccuracies.
Your credit score includes identifying information, such as your employers. You will credit card accounts and loans along with your payment history. Late payments on debt remain on reports for two years.
Your credit score is made up of payment history (35 percent), debts owed (30 percent), revolving credit (25 percent), along with history, new credit, and types of credit. Payments to utilities are not currently reported on credit scores unless they are paid late, but will be tracked soon.
Boettcher said actions that can negatively affect your credit score include cosigning on loans that the other cosigner doesn’t keep current, unpaid bills, maxing out available credit, and taking cash advances on credit. She said borrowers should at least make minimum payments and avoid reaching limits on your cards.
To maintain a good credit score, review credit report annually and correct errors, she said.
Financial Education Systems
“Investment Risk: Lessons from a Bee, a Ladder, and the Titanic”
Greg Sagers, a certified public accountant with Financial Education Systems, used stories of a bee, a rickety ladder, and the famous sinking of the Titanic, to encourage investors to have a plan and stick to the plan when times get tough. He also covered the primary risks investors face. If you have 30 or more people interested in his presentation, including community groups, contact Sagers directly at (801) 652-9323. He also provides one-on-one investment and retirement consultations for all UPEA members; Call him if you’d like to set something up.
Utah Disaster Kleenup
Utah Disaster Kleenup (UDK) works to help Utah families when disasters such as flood, fire, or mold damage their homes.
Tony Wilde works in commercial business development for UDK and spoke about the importance of being prepared and knowing how to handle disaster when it strikes. He highlighted the importance of disaster prevention, such as sealing any small water leaks, cleaning and repairing roof gutters, and maintaining proper humidity in your home.
There are also several ways to protect your home from fire, for example, such as having functional smoke detectors on every level of your home, not overloading circuits or extension cords, and unplugging appliances when they are not in use. If you are unable to avoid a disaster, UDK is available around the clock to help you think through your options and offer some help. To learn more about UDK, visit its website.