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How You Can Help Pay the Heating Bills for a Family in Need

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The first week of 2018 brought a record-breaking cold snap to parts of the U.S. While some families tough out the weather from the comfort of their heated homes, others aren’t so fortunate. Each winter, many low-income households have to choose between keeping the heat on and buying groceries. This problem affects a range of people, but senior citizens and people living with disabilities are especially vulnerable this time of year. Thankfully, there are programs out there helping families stay warm.

For residents of Minnesota, there’s HeatShare, an emergency utility assistance service from the Salvation Army. The state sees some of the harshest winters in the country, with temperatures often plummeting below zero. The Salvation Army offers funds to pay for natural gas, oil, propane, and electricity to people who need it through their Minnesota operating centers.

“The program has provided more than $40 million worth of assistance to over 150,000 households since 1982,” the program page reads. “Annually, about 4700 households receive an average of $370 to keep their homes warm.”

About 40,000 households ask for help covering their heating bills each year, which is more than the program’s budget can handle. You can donate your own money to the cause directly through the Salvation Army’s website.

The Salvation Army isn’t the only organization helping people endure the cold. Sponsored by the Citizens Energy Corporation, Joe-4-Oil offers free heating oil in 16 states, including Maine, Alaska, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The program works with local fuel assistance agencies and heating oil providers to make deliveries of 100 gallons of oil per season directly to the homes of those who need it. You can assist the program by donating to the Citizens Programs Corporation through PayPal.

Looking for another way to make the winter months a little easier for families who are struggling? Here are some suggestions of items to donate.

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How to Spot the Convincing New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Users
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Netflix may send customers the occasional email, but these messages will never ask you to provide them with personal or payment info. You'll want to keep this in mind if you encounter a new phishing scam that The Daily Dot reports is targeting the video streaming service's subscribers in Australia and the UK.

MailGuard, an Australian email security company, was the first to take notice of the fraudulent emails. While similar scams have targeted Netflix users in the past, this current iteration appears to be more convincing than most. At first (and perhaps even second) glance, the messages appear to be legitimate messages from Netflix, with an authentic-looking sender email and the company’s signature red-and-white branding. The fake emails don’t contain telltale signs of a phishing attempt like misspelled words, irregular spacing, or urgent phrasing.

The subject line of the email informs recipients that their credit card info has been declined, and the body requests that customers click on a link to update their card's expiration date and CVV. Clicking leads to a portal where, in addition to the aforementioned details, individuals are prompted to provide their email address and full credit card number. After submitting this valuable info, they’re redirected to Netflix’s homepage.

So far, it’s unclear whether this phishing scheme has widely affected Netflix customers in the U.S., but thousands of people in both Australia and the U.K. have reportedly fallen prey to the effort.

To stay safe from phishing scams—Netflix-related or otherwise—remember to never, ever click on an email link unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s valid. And if you do end up getting duped, use this checklist as a guide to safeguard your compromised data.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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7 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Memory
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Being cursed with a bad memory can yield snafus big and small, from forgetting your gym locker combination to routinely blowing deadlines. If your New Year's resolution was to be less forgetful in 2018, it's time to start training your brain. The infographic below, created by financial website Quid Corner and spotted by Lifehacker Australia, lists seven easy ways to boost memory retention.

Different techniques can be applied to different scenarios, whether you're preparing for a speech or simply trying to recall someone's phone number. For example, if you're trying to learn a language, try writing down words and phrases, as this activates your brain into paying more attention. "Chunking," or separating long digit strings into shorter units, is a helpful hack for memorizing number sequences. And those with a poetic bent can translate information into rhymes, as this helps our brains break down and retain sound structures.

Learn more tips by checking out the infographic below.

[h/t Lifehacker.com.au]

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