where did the year 2013 go? For some of us, it was a great year, for
others--we can't wait to see it over! And, for people like me, it's
probably been a little of both.
the one hand, I'm feeling proud to announce that January 2014 marks
the 10-year anniversary of The Shulman Center. Yes, I've survived a
decade of entrepreneurship and self-employment! What a wild and
wonderful journey it's been!
checking my 2013 new year's goals and intentions (I prefer those
terms to "resolutions"), I feel fairly content with my
progress. In a nutshell, I'd hoped to improve my finances, my health
(mental & physical), my relationships, and my business. I met
with modest success in each realm. As 2014 begins, I wish to focus
on and see continued progress in these areas.
were The Shulman Center's goals below which we reached in 2013:
To help launch more C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters
Anonymous) support groups.
To fine-tune our 3-day and 3-month intensive, specialized therapy
programs to incorporate what we've learned in the last year.
To expand our visibility and expertise in the area of hoarding
disorder assessment and treatment.
To compile more data on the effectiveness of our counseling
To expand into the field of corporate and loss prevention
are our goals from 2013 which remain works in progress:
To develop and release four 30-minute psycho-educational
DVDs on shoplifting, employee theft, shopping/spending, and
To, by year's end, come up with a concept for a new book to be
completed by the end of 2014.
To, by year's end, come up with a location for our 4th International
Conference on Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding to be held
in late 2014.
To present at and/or attend various new conferences in new places.
To develop a hoarding therapy group locally and/or online.
Here's some early
goals for 2014:
and publicize our non-profit wing, C.A.S.A., LLC to accept donations
to help indigent clients.
collaboration with other researches, therapists, and colleagues.
opportunities to write articles and participate in various media
(radio, internet, TV, print)
balance in work roles (administrative, marketing, and therapeutic)
about you? What are your goals, hopes and dreams for the new year?
The Language of Letting Go:
Hazelden Meditation Series
New Year's goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to
have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It
is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the
year to come.
give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a
universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life
would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you
like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into
your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have
happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to
would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would
you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and
love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?
problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like
to make? What would you like to happen in your career?
it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write
it all down - as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability
to choose. Then let it go.
new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be
written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
Swiped! 5 Lessons from The Target Card Breach
Herb Weisbaum | CNBC - December 28, 2013
theft of 40 million credit and debit card records from Target (TGT)
wasn't the biggest or most damaging data breach ever, but coming
right before Christmas, it sure did get our attention-and maybe
American consumers needed a slap in the face to focus on the growing
problem of financial data theft. Keep in mind: Target was just one
of about 600 publicly disclosed data breaches in 2013.
retailer can be hit," said Al Pascual, a senior analyst for
security risk and fraud at Javelin Strategy and Research.
"People need to protect themselves because sooner or later
they're going to be affected, regardless of where they shop."
important to understand how debit and credit cards differ when it
comes to fraud protection, and what to do if your card information
is stolen. Quite frankly, some of the advice given to Target
victims was questionable or wrong. Here's what you need to know:
Credit cards offer better fraud protection
most important difference is that credit cards provide better fraud
protection than do debit cards.
a fraudster steals your credit card number and uses it, they're
stealing the bank's money, not your money," said John Ulzheimer
with CreditSesame.com. "If a fraudster steals your debit card
number and uses it, they're stealing your money and you'll have to
argue with the bank to get your money back."
law limits responsibility for unauthorized credit card charges to
$50. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American
Express have "zero liability" policies, so you'll
never lose a penny to credit card fraud.
debit cards, your maximum liability is $50, if you notify the bank
within two days. After that it jumps to $500. You could lose all the
money thatwas stolen from your checking account if you fail to
report the fraud within 60 days of getting your bank statement.
Free credit monitoring is nice but won't protect Target victims
come to expect free credit after a breach. It's a way for the
company to show they care about us.
monitoring can be a useful fraud-fighting tool if someone steals
your identifying information, such as date of birth, account
passwords or Social Security numbers. That did not happen in this
because the fraudulent use of your credit card does not trigger an
alert on your credit report. And debit card transactions aren't even
reported to the credit bureaus.
A security freeze won't protect you in this sort of breach
lot of "experts" advised victims of the Target breach to
put a security freeze on their credit report.
Social Security numbers are stolen, a credit freeze is the smart
thing to do. It prevents an identity thief from opening new accounts
in your name. But that did not happen here.
security freeze doesn't make any sense as a way to respond to this
data breach," said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the
nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). "That's
something you typically do after you spot obvious signs of financial
freeze prevents lenders from accessing your credit report to process
a new loan or credit card application. It does not prevent fraud on
an existing account. It will not stop a crook from using a stolen
account number to shop online or clone a new debit or credit card to
use at the store.
Should you change the PIN number on your debit card?
confirmed Friday that encrypted PINs were stolen in the breach,
though it said the "key" necessary to decrypt data is not
within its system and could not have been taken during the breach.
your PIN will prevent a stolen debit card number from being used to
withdraw cash at an ATM, but it won't stop a crook from using it to
buy things. Debit cards can be used without a PIN at most stores.
be completely safe, you'll need to ask the bank to issue you a new
Is it safer to choose "credit" over "debit" when
you use a debit card?
is nothing you can do to turn that debit card into a credit card,
even if the card has the Visa or MasterCard logo on it," said
Bill Hardekopf, CEO and founder of LowCards.com.
you are doing is choosing how that transaction is processed. Does it
require a PIN or just a signature to pull that money out of your
just as vulnerable to a hacker," said Brian Krebs, who broke
the Target breach story on his KrebsOnSecurity blog. "Nothing
magically happens if you push credit instead of debit that makes it
any harder for someone to steal your card information. It's all
still ones and zeros on a magnetic strip."
more regulation needed?
groups want Congress to guarantee more fraud protection for debit
cardholders but debit cards are not going to go away.
practices for anyone with a credit or debit card
best way to take responsibility for your financial security is to go
online a couple of times a month to check your credit card and
checking account statement. Look for any unauthorized charges and
report them right away. Don't wait for your end of the month
advantage of financial alerts, if available, on your accounts that
can give you a heads-up to a possible problem.
attacks are affecting retailers of all sizes, and they are going to
continue to happen," Pascual said. "Consumers need to
remain vigilant and take advantage of any opportunity they have to
monitor their accounts and protect themselves."
rest of article at: Target ID Theft
Paroextine (Paxil) May Help
Treat Compulsive Hoarding
research has found that certain antidepressants work well to
reduce symptoms of compulsive hoarding.
very common to have a collection of some kind - acquiring and
retaining nonessential objects is nearly universal and found
throughout history. But some individuals develop abnormal hoarding
behavior. Compulsive hoarding involves collecting or failing to get
rid of vast numbers of objects to the point where they cause
significant clutter and problems moving around the house, cooking,
cleaning or sleeping.
hoarders often buy much more than they need, and feel severe anxiety at
the thought of discarding these objects. Hoarding is linked to
indecisiveness, disorganization and procrastination, and many
diseases such as anorexia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's
disease and dementia. It is estimated to affect up to 2 million
people in the U.S.
hoarding is closely associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
but may be a separate disorder. It is also related to obsessive-compulsive
personality disorder, and impulse control disorder, but compulsive
hoarders may show no other symptoms of these conditions.
previous research studies, patients have not responded well to
serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI)medications often given to
people with OCD, but a team from the University of California, San
Diego decided to directly test these drugs on hoarders.
Saxena, M.D., and colleagues recruited 79 OCD patients, of whom 32
of had compulsive hoarding syndrome. All participants received
paroxetine (Paxil) alone for a mean of 80 days. Both groups
"improved significantly with treatment" when tested on OCD
symptoms, depression, and anxiety.
were no significant differences between groups in the proportions of
patients who completed or responded to treatment," the team
reported, adding that hoarding symptoms improved as much as other
suggests that SRI medications are effective for compulsive hoarding,
the researchers concluded, and they called for further trials of SRI
drugs for this condition.
the rest of this article at: Hoarding
Daily Deals: Are You a Shopping Addict?
Fox Business News Online 12/10/13
loves a good deal, and thanks to the array of daily deal sites
popping up all over the Web, it's never been easier to score savings
at restaurants, spas, retailers and even hotel packages...but only
for a limited time.
of these money-saving offers are enticing, and when that countdown
clock is ticking, the temptation to snatch up that $4 burrito
(regularly $8.50) before the time expires is overwhelming. But as
with anything else, daily deals can be too much of a good thing.
do have to be careful... I think a lot of people are probably spending
more money than they need to," says Terrence Shulman, founder
and director of the Detroit-based Shulman Center for Compulsive
Spending and author of Bought Out and Spent!.
"Shopaholics are vulnerable to this kind of
marketing--especially the bargain-hunting kind of shopaholic."
says daily deals can be a problem for someone who has had trouble
with excessive spending in the past because it can be difficult to
unsubscribe from the sites once you're a member. Since these deals
have a near-ubiquitous presence on social networks and are
advertised all over the Web, avoiding them is no simple task.
you purchase a daily deal, consider the following points raised by
financial experts, who maintain a deal is only "good" when
bought in moderation.
No.1: Yes, it's a deal, but can you really afford it?
this might seem rather obvious, experts say some consumers justify
spending too much on a deal thinking it will save money in the long
are usually busted not by the house or the car payment, it's the
superfluous things you buy because you think you're getting a good
deal," says Chris Ravsten, the owner of Foxstone Financial, a
Denver-based financial investment advisory firm. "It's the same
concept as that thing you buy in bulk at Costco or a wholesale club
because you think it's such a good deal."
No. 2: Is this a need or a want?
often than not, we convince ourselves that something is a good buy
by justifying it as a necessity, but advisors say it's important to
know the difference between a "need" and a
money-saving deal on groceries might qualify as satisfying a need;
four weeks of cooking lessons that might eventually save money on
dining out is more of a "want."
we all have a lot of 'wants' but usually the 'needs' are the ones
that fit into our budget," says Barbara Stark, education
director for American Debt Counseling, a Florida-based non-profit
credit counselor. "You really have to think logically and
fiscally about the purchase, even though that coupon buy window is
#3: Will you use it before it expires?
matter how good the deal is, it's worthless if you don't have time
to use it before it expires.
should always read the fine print on any deals before making a
purchase. Many offers have to be used within a certain time frame
and that may not fit into the buyer's schedule.
#4: What else could you do with the money?
often, shoppers don't consider the opportunity cost of spending
money on a deal, or whether that money could be better spent on
consumers we get into trouble because we think, 'it's just $20.' But
$20 over time, day after day month after month, compounded can make
a big difference," says Ravsten. "Could you be paying off
debt? Saving for short-term emergencies? Not enough of us have
enough liquid money on hand."
#5: Will you still want this if you ignore that ticking clock?
pressure of that countdown clock can motivate consumers to buy
something that they wouldn't ordinarily buy, says Shulman,
especially with compulsive spenders.
you have determined a purchase fits within your budget, it's
important to think about how soon you will make use of the purchase,
says Shulman, since that pressure of the clock can compel consumers
to act without thinking of when and how they will actually redeem
#6: Is the site you're buying from a reputable one?
rapid expansion and popularity of daily deal sites can give shoppers
a false sense of security about the safety of providing credit card
information to any run-of-the-mill deal Web site.
deal shoppers should be cautious and do a quick background check by
checking the site out with the Better Business Bureau, or running a
quick Google search to look for consumer reviews before giving away
See: Shopping Addiction
also recent National Public Radio interview with a young shopaholic
at: Teenage Shopaholic
The Bills Americans Pay First
Catey Hill of MarketWatch
you want to know Americans' priorities, just look at who's got the
keys to their hearts: their cars. Unfortunately, that affection can
put them on the road to financial ruin.
tend to pay their car loans before their mortgages or credit cards
each month, says Steve Chaouki, group vice president in credit
bureau TransUnion's financial services business unit. Consider:
Among consumers with auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, the
30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was just 0.88% last year,
while the rate for credit cards was 1.82% and the rate for mortgages
was 1.91%. While overall, those rates have improved since 2009, when
the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was 1.34%, credit cards
2.82% and mortgages 3.83% - the priorities are still clear: cars,
then credit cards, then mortgages. And, says, Chaouki, autos are
likely to again lead the pack for 2013.
what's behind the priority we give to our rides? "Some of this
is about freedom," says Kimberly Foss, the founder and
president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial planning firm
Empyrion Wealth Management. "They feel stuck if they don't have
a car, so they pay it first." Joel Ohman, a certified financial
planner and founder of CarInsuranceComparison.com, says that this
may also have to do with media headlines. "People hear about
others who have been late on their mortgage and still kept the
house, so they think they can do it too."
it may simply be that Americans love their automobiles. There are
more passenger vehicles in this country than licensed drivers, and
one in four people considers his or her car "something
special" vs. merely a "means of transportation," the
Pew Research Center found.
Americans ascribe human characteristics to their cars: 31% say they
think of their car as having a personality - with those ages 18 to
29 dominating that group (41% of them think their ride has a
personality). What's more, the love affair is likely to progress:
Transunion predicts that auto loan debt per borrower will jump more
than $1,000 from a projected $16,942 in the fourth quarter of 2013
to $17,966 in same period in 2014.
its surface, this devotion to car payments may not seem to be a
problem, but financial experts say that consumers have their
priorities wrong. "It's a huge mistake to pay off the car
first," says Ted Jenkin, a certified financial planner and
founder of Atlanta-based financial services firm oXYGen. Consumers
should instead first set aside money for necessities, says Kimberly
Foss, the founder and president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial
planning firm Empyrion Wealth Management.
for food and essential medical care, housing and related utilities,
and transportation - in that order," she says. "It about
survival." Once you've paid for those items - which should
account for about 50% of your monthly spending - prioritize things like
alimony, child support and taxes, which you can go to jail for not
paying, as well as other debts like credit cards, Foss says.
experts point out that, if you can't pay all your bills,
prioritizing credit cards over both auto loans and mortgages is a
mistake as well. The reason is that auto loans and mortgages are
secured debts - meaning that the lender can take back the asset
that's backing the loan (in these cases, your car or your home) if
you don't pay.
course, that's not to say you should skip the credit card payment
either. Experts say you should pay at least the minimum, or more if
you can, on all debts each month to avoid dinging your credit score.
But if you find yourself in a situation where some bills might have
to fall through the cracks, call the creditors and see what you can
work out, says Jenkin. "They are for-profit companies and they
don't want to get nothing," he says. "It's better to call
in advance and see if you can work something out - just be sure to get
it in writing."
Christmas Five-Finger Discount
For Shoplifters Seeking Holiday High
Ben Popken (NBCNEWS.com 12/24/13
incidents rise around the holidays, and experts say the culprits are
often seeking an emotional boost. In this photo illustration, two
women steal electronics. Editor's note: The subjects' faces have
been intentionally blurred.
needs a little boost to beat the holiday blues. For some during a
down economy, it's shoplifting.
call it "shrinkage," the loss of inventory from the store
shelves or storage from sticky-fingered shoppers and employees. The
total cost to retailers last year was $112 billion, including losses
from employee and supplier fraud, and organized retail crime gangs,
according to the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer.
it goes up during the holidays, but not because thieves are trying
to make Santa's bag bigger. Experts say that most thieves are in it
thought going through a shoplifter's head is simple: "This is
the time of year when we gift others, so we should gift ourselves as
well," said Robert McCrie, a professor of security management.
"People tend to shoplift for themselves, not to find gifts for
to an analysis of the most recently available FBI data, conducted by
the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on behalf of NBC News,
national shoplifting arrests averaged 80,889 during November and
December 2011, an 8.95 percent increase over the prior two months,
and higher than the non-seasonal average of 71,073 offenses.
a general trend of annual increases in shoplifting arrests, the FBI
data show that the total arrests in November and December in 2011
were up 9 to 14 percent, nationally and regionally," said
Margaret Smith, a research associate at the Institute for Criminal
Justice Ethics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"The difference in the holiday-months increases in the number
of arrests is statistically significant, when compared with the
monthly average for all of 2011."
years saw increases in shoplifting offenses during the holidays as
well, with a 5.27 percent increase during the same period in 2009
and a 7.25 percent increase in 2007. Actual numbers are likely
higher, as retailers during the busy holiday shopping season might
choose to simply photograph shoplifters, take the merchandise back,
and let them go, said Smith.
as the economy weakened, shoplifting increased. From 2005 to 2012,
annual shoplifting offenses rose from 698,233 to 997,739, according
to the FBI, a nearly 43 percent increase.
say that most shoplifters know what they're doing isn't right, but
are compelled to steal anyway.
excuse can be anything from the senior citizen who feels being a
regular customer justifies her palming a bottle of Tylenol to
supplement her $50 per week grocery budget, to a small business
owner who feels everyone takes from him in his life, so what if he
takes a little something for himself?
season, with its focus on selfless giving, can exacerbate tensions
for those who feel like they're already getting the short end of the
while getting over on a perceived injustice might be what tempts a
first-time shoplifter, it's the high stealing gives them that keeps
them coming back, experts say. The ride of fear and, if they don't
get caught, victory, can trigger a dopamine rush that fills a void
in their brain's chemistry.
becomes a button they want to hit again and again.
become addicted to shoplifting like a drug," said Terrence Shulman, founder
of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding.
K., a 38-year-old dentist from Pennsylvania, who asked that his last
name be withheld, says he wishes he had been addicted to something
else, like alcohol or sex. "At least it would make sense,"
dentist, who says he no longer shoplifts, said he got started six
years ago. While returning a pack of the wrong kind of nails to Home
Depot, he first got a new pack from the shelf. The return clerk
scanned and gave him credit for both. He let her make the mistake,
was kind of exciting for me, I was kind of getting free money for
nothing," said Alfred K. Noticing a crack in the system, he
returned week after week to leverage it. He started off small, just
a few bucks here and there, then graduated to bigger items.
Eventually, he said, "I just started walking out the store with
also expanded to other stores. One of his arrests
was at Best Buy after he placed a serial number
sticker from an old Wii on a new one and tried to return it for
$249. A misdemeanor charge led to his dentist license being put on
probation. He lost his job. All told, he estimates his compulsion
cost him over $100,000 in attorney fees and lost income.
up, he said, his Syrian immigrant parents didn't have much. His dad,
ex-military, let the kids have one toy a year. "One time it was
a girl's toy. I remember getting a pink car." And you had to be
thankful for it, he said.
he said, "My 6-year-old is asking for an iPad for
holidays are especially tough times for shoplifters, said Alfred K.
spend so much on the holidays that I'm looking for ways to save.
What's the easiest way to save but to steal? Sounds stupid, but
that's how I justified it," he said.
not that shoplifters don't believe it's better to give than to
receive. It's just that they feel like they're never on the
receiving end, so they make sure they take care of themselves too.
Spotlight: "In Recovery" Magazine
a wonderful relatively new quarterly recovery magazine I want to let
you know about. It's called "In Recovery." Founded 2 years
ago by Kim Welsh, a recovering person herself, in Prescott,
Arizona--home to many treatment centers and half-way houses, this
magazine has something for everyone. I visited Kim in October 2013
and was honored to be invited to write a regular column about
process/behavioral addictions--starting Spring 2014.
magazine is available in hard copy as well as online at:
Millenium STOPLifting Online Education Course!
Millenium Classrooms out of San Antonio, TX has been offering
high-quality online education courses for alcohol, marijuana and
shoplifting issues for many years now. I've been honored to help
them fine-tune and update their shoplifting course which many are
court-ordered to complete after an arrest.
3rd Millennium Classroom's STOPLifting is an online intervention
course designed to assist shoplifters in examining and altering
their attitudes and behaviors towards shoplifting. The course
incorporates evidential examples and related follow-up questions to
discover the student's motives behind shoplifting, reveal possible
patterns in his or her behaviors, and identify potential triggers
and ways to cope. Through STOPLifting's unique motivational
interviewing style, students are encouraged to evaluate the personal
consequences of shoplifting and how they affect the individual, his
or her family and those around him or her.
CLEAN-UP NATIONWIDE SERVICES
is its own reward.--Anonymous