Call From 800-830-8574? Don’t Ignore It

If you’ve recently received a call from 800-830-8574, don’t ignore it. And don’t believe some of the posts you’ll find online that suggest this is some kind of scam. This important credit card verification call is likely linked to your PayPal card or another credit card. If you don’t respond, your card could stop working, leaving you without it when you need it the most.

I want to make one note before we continue, however.

Scammers have ways of making a call look like it comes from another number, so a scammer who has figured out that a call from 800-830-8574 is a legitimate credit card verification call might be able to make his phishing call look like it’s coming from this number.

Also, remember this: If someone calls you, they should already know you who are. Don’t provide more than a minimum amount of information to help the person or automated system on the other end of the line determine which of their many customers you are.

One Example

When Fort Worth copywriter Gip Plaster received a call from 800-830-8574, he assumed it was a scam. But he also remembered reading another writer’s blog post about a PayPal verification call he received. Plaster wrote a post called PayPal Calling: Call From 800-830-8574 Could Really Be PayPal to help educate the public about calls from this number.

In his case, he called the number back from his home phone, the same number at which he got the call. An automated voice asked him for only the last four digits of his PayPal debit card. As he rightly points out, a criminal couldn’t possibly steal an identity with only that piece of information, so there was no reason not to provide it.

The automated voice then read him his name and asked him to verify the five most recent transactions on the card by pressing a number for yes or no about each one. He never had to provide any additional information and the automated voice knew his PayPal debit card history, proving it really was a company acting on PayPal’s behalf that was calling.

Other report being routed to a real person but still only being required to verify recent transactions.

In some cases, people have reported that the credit card verification process has helped them catch some potentially costly and inconvenient unauthorized transactions. That also saves the company money, so everyone wins.

PayPal and most other credit and debit card issuers have additional safeguards in place to protect your accounts as well, and in most cases you are not held responsible for unauthorized transactions.

If You Get A Call From 800-830-8574

Don’t panic. It’s probably a legitimate credit card verification call.

Go ahead and provide the identifying information the voice wants if it is something as simple as the last four digits of a card number. If the voice on the other end is able to identify you with no additional information and wants nothing more than to verify your recent transactions (which they read to you, not which you have to read to them), everything is probably just fine.

If you get a message asking you to return a call to this number, return the call from the number at which it was received and provide as little information as possible. If it’s a legitimate call, you will be identified easily and the questions will be limited to your last few transaction.

Getting a call from 800-830-8574 can be unsettling, but it’s usually just a courtesy to make sure your account is in good condition. If there is a discrepancy, answering or returning the call is the first step toward solving it.

Ignoring the call or delaying your response to it could cause one of your important cards to stop working, and that could be, at the least, inconvenient.

The Best Indoor Herb Garden Means You Can Have Fresh Herbs Anytime!

There are a number of indoor herb garden kits on the market, but most of them focus on form rather than function. If you’re serious about growing herbs to help you explore new worlds of culinary delight, you need an indoor herb garden with room to grow lots of herbs, not just two or three.

Imagine snipping fresh thyme or cilantro from a planter on your windowsill or in a quite corner of the dining room. You can have fresh dill in any season and marjoram waiting for you the next time you make a Greek salad dressing if you have an indoor herb garden.

Your Indoor Culinary Herb Starter Kit Review

the best indoor herb garden kit I've found
the best indoor herb garden kit I’ve found


The Indoor Culinary Herb Garden Starter Kit — available from Amazon — is designed with growing the maximum number of herbs possible in a small space in mind. It includes enough different seeds to send your taste buds around the world, including parsley, sage and thyme (rosemary would grow too big, I suppose) as well as cilantro, basil, dill, oregano, marjoram, two kinds of chives, savory and mustard.

The idea behind this growing kit is simple: Grow a wide assortment of herbs year round so you’re always ready to enhance the flavor of any dish you cook.

The kit includes a growing tray and dome along with 50 peat pellets that will grow the fresh, nutritious and pesticide-free herbs you desire. It also include seeds for the 12 herbs I mentioned above.

To make growing even easier, a laminated instruction card is includes with all the details on getting the most from every seed packet.

It’s no wonder this indoor herb garden kit has won awards for its design, simplicity and completeness. In addition to being named a “top pick” in the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Journal section, this kit was also chosen as an editor’s pick by Five Star Review Magazine’s expert evaluators.

I like it, however, because it’s a no-nonsense way to grow a variety of herbs in one place. Everything you need is included in one kit for one reasonable price, so you don’t have search through seed packets at the store, then fill individual pots with your own growing medium and hope for the best. With the Indoor Culinary Herb Starter Kit, you can have your plants started within minutes and be harvesting some of the quickest-growing herbs in days.

Sure, there are other indoor herb gardens that are more aesthetically pleasing, and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t buy one or more of those. In fact, experimenting with a wide variety of herbs is fun and exciting and can lead you down paths you never expected to explore. Plus, an herb garden in a living room or bedroom is a great idea too, and you might want something with a little more style in those rooms.

But if getting the maximum number of herbs into the minimum amount of space is your goal — and you want everything in one convenient package — this starter kit could be what you’re looking for.

Closing Thoughts

An indoor herb garden is a great gift for any home cook as well. In addition, one of these simple-to-use kits is a great way to teach children how to grow and care for plants.

With an indoor herb garden in your home, you and your family get a bit of entertainment along with layers of flavor you may have never known existed.

Pet-Friendly Furniture Fabric Choices: Clearing Up Misconceptions

Finding accurate information about pet-friendly furniture fabric choices is difficult because the Internet contains so many conflicting articles on the topic. In fact, I’ve never seen another topic on which there are so many articles that directly contradict each other.

One article says to choose leather if you have pets while another says to avoid leather and other expensive covering completely. Some articles say to select furniture with microfiber upholstery while others says to stay away from it at all cost.

Are they just making this stuff up as they write it?

I think some of the conflicting advice is the result of people trying to solve different problems. Some pets chew on wood while others scratch on fabric. Some damage furniture unintentionally while trying to climb onto it while others shed hair or fur when they lay on it.

Not all pets create the same issues for furniture buyers, so there’s no one fabric choice that’s perfect in every case. Here’s a look at some popular sofa and chair fabrics along with some accurate information about how well each works for pet owners.

Microfiber

Many people don’t like microfiber fabric because they think it looks cheap. In fact, if you visit some discount furniture chains, almost all of their furniture offerings are covered in microfiber.

In addition to being cheap, however, this choice is durable, stain-resistant and stands up to heavy use pretty well. For those reasons, some experts recommend microfiber fabric for pet owners.

There’s a problem though: This tightly woven fabric attracts hair and fur, seemingly gathering it even from passing animals. It’s like a magnet for the stuff.

On the other hand, debris vacuums off micro fiber easily, especially if the fabric has been treated with one of the popular stain repellants.

Microfiber, however, is very hard to puncture and often doesn’t pull when scratched. That means it may stand up to a cat that claws its way onto a chair, and it will often resist puncture from larger dog nails.

Leather

Many pet owners would never consider leather furniture because it’s so expensive. The last thing you want is for a dog or cat to tear up an expensive piece of furniture. But high-quality leather furniture has many advantages.

For example, aniline leather is designed to show the blemishes, scars and other imperfections inherent in cowhide, so another scratch from a cat’s claw doesn’t make much difference. If the leather is thick enough, even a large dog’s nails can’t puncture it.

There’s another potential benefit to leather furniture: Some cats and dogs are repelled by the smell. They don’t like that leather smell any more than some people do so they stay away, preventing any possibility of damage.

Even better, leather doesn’t attract hair or fur, and if it has a good finish, it can be wiped clean easily.

Fabrics Designed For Pet Owners

Choosing the right pet-friendly furniture pieces is a matter of choosing quality pieces with good fabric coverings, but be wary of any company that promotes a pet-resistant or pet-proof fabric. There’s really no such thing.

All fabrics and coverings can be damaged by an animal’s teeth or claws if the circumstances are right.

Some companies that promote pet-friendly furniture are really just selling microfiber pieces under a different name. Often — but not always — they are tricking consumers into paying hundreds more for a piece that’s really no different from those in furniture stores.

Other Fabrics

Traditional fabrics and upholstery materials vary significantly in quality.

Before purchasing a traditionally upholstered piece, consider the thickness of the fabric, the tightness of the weave and the color and pattern. Obviously, a fabric that closely matches your pet’s coloring may not show hair or fur, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

In general, higher quality, more expensive pieces are made from better-quality fabrics, but ask to examine a sample of the fabric before you make a purchase you might regret.

Velvet, by the way, is similar in many ways to microfiber and can be a good choice for those who need pet-friendly furniture. Just make sure it’s thick and tightly woven.

A Final Note

There’s no such thing as pet-proof furniture, but pet-friendly furniture fabric choices exists. While you may be tempted to choose an inexpensive piece so you won’t loose much money if your animals destroy it, that could be the wrong decision. When you choose quality, you often get a better covering that can withstand some abuse.

Whatever you do, consider the kinds of animals you have and the kinds of damage they are likely to do before taking any advice you find on a website — even this one.

8 Things To Consider Before Buying An Air Cooling System For Your Home

When most people think about keeping their homes cool, they immediately think about an expensive, professionally installed central air conditioning system, but that may not always be necessary.

In many cases, there’s something else that can serve as your home’s air cooling system — and in almost all cases, there are units that can be used in addition to an air conditioner to keep your home cool.

Here are a few examples:

  • A whole house window fan like the Air King 9166 can be installed in any window and used to exhaust hot air from a home before turning on the air conditioner or instead of using an air conditioner at all.
  • A whole house attic fan serves the same purpose as a window fan, but it is permanently installed in the attic of a home and serves to vent hot air through the attic while reducing the temperature of the entire home.
  • A window air conditioner can keep the rooms you use most cool, eliminating the need to cool your whole home. This works especially well for small homes with only one or two occupants, especially when there is no existing ductwork.

No matter what you ultimately decide to do to keep your home cool, considering all your air cooling system options is a smart idea. In addition, here are eight things you should consider before buying any kind of air cooling system for your home.

1. Can any existing systems in my home be repaired?

In some cases, it makes sense to simply repair your existing system and worry about finding a suitable replacement during the off-season when prices for systems, labor and other home cooling systems are lower.

2. Would a less obvious type of unit work best?

In addition to whole house attic fans, window fans and window-unit air conditioners, there are through-the-wall units and other specialized systems for certain climates, like evaporative coolers for drier climates.

3. Do I need automatic cooling?

If you need a full-automatic system that will keep pets and heat-susceptible belongings cool when you’re out, a central air conditioning system might be best. An automatic whole house window fan like the Eco Breeze might work fine if you live in a mild climate.

4. How energy efficient is the unit?

No matter what type of unit you choose, energy efficiency should be a consideration. But if you live in a very warm, humid climate where evenings don’t cool off much, there may be no way to avoid running an air conditioning system constantly in the hottest weather to keep you cool. The more efficient the unit is, the less these times will cost you.

5. What cooling capacity do I need?

No matter what kind of air cooling system you choose, the system will show a rating for how large an area it can cool. For some small window units, this may only be 150 square feet. A professionally installed central air conditioner may be able keep several thousand square feet cool and comfortable even in the hottest weather.

6. How realistic are my goals?

Many systems can only make a difference in internal home temperature of about 20 degrees. If you have a poorly insulated home with lots of uncovered windows, expecting a 72 degree inside temperature in 105 degree weather is unrealistic, no matter how powerful the air cooling system. Covering windows and otherwise reducing the ways heat gets in can help.

7. Where is my information coming from?

Every manufacturer will claim their products are the right solution for every consumer, but evaporative coolers don’t work in humid climates and whole house attic fans don’t help when the outdoor temperature is above room temperature. Sometimes, a little common sense is in order when choosing what system to install. Remember that everyone who provides you information has an agenda of some sort.

8. How long will I be keeping the house?

If you plan to sell the home this winter, a window unit in your most used room may be all you need to get you through this summer. If you plan to raise children in the home, it might be best to invest in the highest quality system you can afford now and keep up with repairs so it will last many years.

Air cooling systems aren’t inexpensive, but some solutions cost much more than others. By considering carefully your options and making sure you aren’t overbuying or under-cooling, you can be comfortable in your home — and when you look at your bank statement.