Q: I've had my phone number for 20 years, so it's really important for me to keep it. If I change to VoIP services, would I be able to keep my current phone number?
A: We know how important it is to keep your long-time phone number and luckily all the Home VoIP services we review — except Skype — allow you to transfer, or port, your phone number to the VoIP service for no extra charge. This process is simple and begins the day you sign up.
It's important that you do not cancel your existing phone service before the transfer is completed because cancelling before the transfer's completion can cause you to lose the rights to your phone number. In most cases, porting takes about five to 10 business days and once the porting is complete your previous phone service will automatically be cancelled.
In order to begin the porting, you'll have to provide the VoIP service with information from your current phone service, so it's helpful to have a copy of your current bill nearby to make sure you enter the information accurately. This information usually includes your name, phone number, current phone provider and account number for that provider.
Porting can be confusing and the process may vary from service to service, so we encourage you to contact the VoIP service directly to get complete details about how you can port your phone number to that service.
Our top-ranked diet meal delivery service, Diet-to-Go, placed first in our 2013 diet meal delivery taste test. It's also affordable, especially with the 20% discount they're offering NextAdvisor readers. With the discount, your first order will be just $76.79 for 5 days worth of healthy lunches and dinners. Here is a breakdown of their pricing options for the traditional meal plan:
- 5-day lunch and dinner plan: $95.99/week
- 5-day breakfast, lunch and dinner plan: $112.99/week
- 7-day lunch and dinner plan: $131.59/week
- 7-day breakfast, lunch and dinner plan: $142.99/week
Note that these prices are what you will pay before the 20% discount, which you can easily apply at checkout by using the promo code NEXTADVISOR20.
Diet-to-Go delivers all around the US and if you live in the Washington DC Metro area (including Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland), Baltimore area, Greater Philadelphia (including South New Jersey) or the San Francisco Bay area (including East Bay), you have the option of picking up your meals fresh at a number of different locations. On average, shipping costs $16.95 and if you decide to go with the pick-up option, there is a $5 weekly pick-up fee.
For all you zombie fanatics out there, the hit book and soon to be movie World War Z is now an audiobook through Audible.com. The book, written by Max Brooks who is a zombie enthusiast and son of the legendary film star Mel Brooks, is a post-apocalyptic horror novel following up on his previous book The Zombie Survival Guide. The book is written in a collection of small passages and takes a look at the zombie apocalypse from various different lenses of environmental, religious and geo-political accounts.
This audio book is a great segway into the upcoming movie that comes out this June starring Brad Pitt. The audio book version of World War Z is narrated by Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, Alfred Molina, Simon Pegg, Henry Rollins, and Martin Scorsese. This star studded lineup of narrators helps to bring a lot of life and character to this audio book and makes it one of our top choices.
The regular price of this audiobook usually runs around $28.00 but through Audible.com you can listen to it for the low price of $7.49. If you are interested but were looking for some more information on Audible, you can find a full comprehensive reviews on the whole service here.
Q: I'm a single parent and interested in signing up for Identity Guard, but I also want to make sure my children have identity theft protection. Does Identity Guard offer any program that protects one parent and two children?
A: Great question! Yes, Identity Guard does offer a plan called kIDSure that allows you to protect yourself as well as your children. This plan allows you to add a child to an existing adult's plan for only $4.99/month per child, so the monthly total for you and you two children would total to $24.97/month. You'd also get a free 30-day trial so you can try out the service before you make a financial commitment.
kIDSure is a plan that specializes in protecting children's identity since children don't have a credit history or as much personal information as adults. This child-specific identity theft protection monitors for your child's information on criminal records, DMV records, utilities records, as well as scans for Social Security number exposure on the Internet black market.
Identity Guard's kIDSure has no age requirement, and no limit on the number of children that you can add to your membership. The only requirement is that the enrolled children are actually your children.
As one of our top-rated identity theft protection service, Identity Guard also offers extensive monitoring for adults including active monitoring of your 3-bureau credit report, credit cards, public records, Social Security number, applications of for credit‚ a cell phone‚ auto or home loans. If Identity Guard notices anything suspicious or phishy, they will alert you. The plan also includes Internet security software from Zone Alarm so you can even keep your family's computer protected.
Q: My employees are required to fax in their timeslips on Fridays. Sometimes they have to try 4-5 times before the fax will come through and get busy signals. Can Internet fax services accomodate this incoming volume without busy signals?
A: The absence of busy signals is just one of the many benefits of Internet fax. Faxes sent to your Internet fax number are sent to your service's dashboard and/or to the email address you have associated with the account. This means you can receive faxes anywhere there is an Internet connection, even your smart phone, without having to worry about the busy signals that regular fax machines get through a phone line.
When choosing an Internet fax service, take note of their monthly fax allowance, how many email addresses you can associate with the account and of course, the price. Our favorite service is MetroFax, thanks to their good value and excellent interface. Take a look at this blog post to help you choose the right service, and make sure to check out our Internet fax comparison page to look at all the services we review side-by-side.
Dieting can be tough when you're a picky eater. That's why some diet programs allow you to add some personal preference to their meal plans. Out of the meal delivery services we've reviewed, we found Jenny Craig to be the most customizable. When you first sign up, they'll send you their most popular foods, but if you choose to continue past 2 weeks, for example, you can select dishes from a personalized meal planner. Jenny Craig is pretty secretive when it comes to explaining their different plans and pricing options; however, we calculated the average cost to be $15/day. Read our full review of Jenny Craig here.
While Jenny Craig may be the most customizable, it isn't the best-tasting. That award goes to Diet-to-Go, our #1 ranked diet program. Their meals are slightly customizable, since you can specify if you have any dietary restrictions or specific dislikes. Check out our short video tutorial which takes you through the process of selecting a meal plan and ordering from Diet-to-Go. A basic meal plan from Diet-to-Go will run about $19.43/day. Read our full review of Diet-to-Go and see how it stacks up to other services by visiting our diet comparison page.
Cardstore recently added a new feature to its card customization called "Add my signature." This feature allows you to upload your real-life signature to the card. Naturally we thought this was an interesting feature, so we decided to test it out. We selected a card, and began customizing.
Once you select your card and begin customizing it, you have the option to add your signature to the card. The "Type your signature" option allows you to type your name in the card using the font of your choice. We decided to choose "Scan your signature" because the other option didn't seem too exciting since you can type your signature with nearly every card service we review.
To begin this process, you must print a PDF form, and sign inside of the gray box. The paper includes step-by-step instructions that tell you all you need to know. Once you have signed in the gray box, you more options in terms of how to get your signature on the card itself. You can either scan the signature yourself or mail the form to Cardstore and let them scan the form for you. We opted to scan the form because we had a scanner on-hand. We scanned it, saved it as a JPEG then uploaded it to our card.
Once we placed it in our card, we weren't too pleased. Even after we centered the signature it still was obvious that it was an uploaded item and not written in the card organically. We clicked "Add to order" with hesitation because this feature didn't seem to be too promising. About three days after we ordered the card, we received it in the mail and were pleasantly surprised with the results.
The card actually looked good, and — luckily — nothing like it did on the screen. There is a little pixelation if you really look at the signature, however it isn't enough to really notice. The website states that the signature will appear in black on the card, yet on the card itself it has a tint of blue, which was the color of the pen we signed we used to sign the paper. Since all of Cardstore's cards have a white interior, each card "signed" from home should look similar to our card.
Overall, Cardstore's "Add my signature" is a solid addition. It offers the opportunity for people to sign their cards online and have them mailed directly — through Cardstore — to the recipient. Although this isn't a feature that we're likely to be using often because we enjoy signing our own cards, it still is a great option to have.
Online Dating can be a fun and effective way to meet singles and develop long lasting meaningful relationships. But much like regular dating, you must be aware of certain signs that may tip you off to a bad personality or situation. As many of you may know, online dating can be full of fake profiles and people posing as someone other then themselves. However, there are typically a few red flags you can look out for when looking for love online. After reviewing a number of different dating websites, we thought we would lay out some of the top 5 red flags that the person you are talking to might not be all that great.
No Profile Picture: When you sign up for most online dating sites, they ask you to provide some sort of profile picture. In this day and age, it's a bit strange if someone doesn't provide some sort of image along with their profile. Best bet is to stray away from anyone who has no images of themselves on their profile, as it could be some sort of scam.
Outlandish Bio: When searching for potential matches online, be aware of bios that seem too good to be true, because in most cases it is too good to be true. Be very weary of what people say they do for a living. Some of the most common fake dating accounts will pretend to be a model or say they are aspiring to be a model, which can usually be seen as a red flag for online dating.
Lives in Another Country: If the person you are talking to lives in another country, we hope that you would proceded with caution. The majority of all online dating scams are from people in other countries and lets be real, it's not going to work out anyway. Even if it is real, how are you going to be able to have a normal relationship with someone who is that far away. Our advice is to stay local and if the time is right meet up with them in a neutral and comfortable location.
Injuries/ Illness: When talking to potential matches always be aware of the traumatic injuries or illness card that some will play. This tactic is sometimes used to gain sympathy and avoid contact. These tactics are often used to string people along while avoiding any type of in person confrontation.
Facebook profiles: If someone wants to add you on Facebook after meeting online, proceed with extreme caution. Not only are you allowing them access into your personal life, but you will be giving them access to photos of you, status updates, check-ins, etc. These can be used to create other fake profiles so they can posing as you or they could even steal your identity. Be wary of people that have less then 100 friends, as this could be a sign of suspicious activity.
Though there are a few inherent risks when deciding to online date. If you proceed with caution and look out for some of these signs, online dating can be very safe and fun. If you are looking to try out an online dating service or are not quite sure which one is right for you, check out our full reviews at NextAdvisor.com.
It’s no secret that weddings are expensive, so anyway that a couple can cut down on the final bill is always ideal. One of the easiest ways that couples can cut the cost includes watching their spending on wedding stationery. It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for the perfect Save the Dates or Wedding Invitations, but here are a couple tips that will help you watch what you are spending on your wedding stationery:
1. Know your complete guest list before you purchase.
This is an important factor that couples often forget. The problem is when you guess or estimate how many guests you’re inviting, then you’ll probably end up with a ton of extra invites or need to order more, often at a higher price. Vanessa Alce, the CEO and Event Planner of I Love My Planner – Event Planning and Design, said that you should have a complete head-and-couple count before you order your invitations. “Divide your guest list by couples, families and individuals to help you determine how many total invitations to order,” she said. “Remember that your invitations become keepsakes for your parents — yes, they get an invitation too.”
2. Order samples to avoid mistakes.
Have you ever sent a note or invitation with a spelling or grammar mistake? It’s definitely embarrassing, and not something you want associated with your wedding invitations. Alce said one of the major ways to avoid these mistakes is to order samples or proofs prior to purchasing. “Although it's often an additional $15, order a proof prior to finalizing your stationery order,” she said. “Having a second pair of eyes to review the proof will make sure you haven't missed any mistakes.”
Ordering samples or proofs can also prevent you from having to re-order your stationery because of design flaws you didn’t expect. Often colors can look different on paper than they do on the computer screen, so this is a good way to see exactly what your invites will look like beforehand.
3. Order rectangular cards and envelopes.
When choosing your invitations and wedding stationery, you might want to consider the shape and size of the paper and envelopes. Although it is fun to pick square, circle or oval-shaped stationery, it will be cheaper for you to mail standard-sized envelopes.
Jamie Chang, owner and wedding consultant at Mango Muse Events said you save the most money when you avoid certain shapes and choose rectangle envelopes instead. “Square envelopes require more postage to send, which can add up easily,” she said. “Some square invitations have the option of coming with a rectangle envelope, which would work fine, but most don't.”
4. Don’t get too fancy.
Bows, ribbons, seals or any other embellishment can make your stationery look cute, but they can also add an unwanted amount to your stationery tab. Alce said if you opt to not include these embellishments, then you can save money on purchasing and mailing. “The United States Post Office measures and determines your postage by the weight and size of the envelope,” she said. “There are simple yet elegant wedding invitations that won't hurt your wedding budget and will compliment your wedding nicely.”
Also, we know letterpress is pretty, but if it’s easier to stay in the budget if you choose other cheaper options. Chang said couples that choose flat-printing options save more money. “There are lots of printing options out there for invites and while it's easy to fall in love with letterpress or embossed styles, the most economical is flat printing,” she said. “It can still look beautiful because of the design, but the printing will be more cost effective.”
5. Ask yourself if you really need all that paper.
Wedding stationery shopping can be fun and exciting, however it’s also very easy to get carried away. Before you order your invitations, ask yourself if you really need each piece of stationery that you have chosen. Will it ruin your wedding if you opt to not use directions or accommodations cards? Choosing not to include them can save you money on printing and mailing.
Caitlin Boshnack, owner of Bridal Mentor.com, said that a lot of brides are opting — or forgetting in the last-minute planning — to not have a ceremony program. “Yes, there is a lot of paper needed for your wedding, but some of them are optional,” she said. “Depending on the formality of your wedding, you may not need the whole gamut.”
Chang said that there are other ways to get information — such as directions and accommodations cards — to your guests. “While these are great things to provide guests, if you want to save some money, consider just providing the invite and RSVP,” she said. “Then direct your guests to your free website for all the other information. Or better yet, have your guests RSVP online instead so no additional paper and postage needs to be used.”
6. Purchase the stationery in one large order.
Once you have finalized your invitations and have a complete head-and-couple count, you should order all your invitations at once. Alce said that it can cost you less money when you purchase all your invitations in one large order. “Special pricing applies to increments of 100, 200, 300, etc,” she said. “Additions are very costly and mostly come in increments of 25 for the invitations, response cards, RSVP cards, inner and outer envelopes.”
Alce also said that it’s also important for you to order a couple of extra invitations and envelopes. “It's a good rule of thumb to order 5-10 extra invitations, and extra inner and outer envelopes just in case you make a mistake while addressing each one,” she said.
7. Be realistic and know how your choices will affect the price.
This is the most important thing to remember when shopping for stationery or your wedding in general. Just because it’s cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it will add anything to your stationery or wedding as a whole. Boshnack said that your guests will keep certain pieces of stationery as a souvenir, but some stationery will also be thrown away, so it’s important that couples are aware of what affects the price. “The two biggest factors of price are the quality of the paper and the type of printing,” she said. “There are many different types of printing and they vary in price.”
The best thing that couples can do to stay in budget is be aware of what you’re purchasing, and make sure you and your budget can foot the bill.
Recently the Better Business Bureau issued a warning to alert consumers in the U.S. and Canada about a new utility scam. Thieves are calling residences and posing as representatives of local electric, water or gas company. The scammers tell the consumer that they are running late on utility payment, and they need to make a payment immediately.
Instead of accepting a phone payment of a credit card or check — such as your utility company does — the scammers are requiring you to make payments with a prepaid debit card. They tell you to go purchase one at the grocery store or bank and call them back with the payment information. They then take the information you've given them about the prepaid debit card to imprint a new prepaid debit card.
The BBB reported that thieves are turning to prepaid debit cards because regulations and rules for wire transfers have gotten more strict, and prepaid debit cards do not require any identification to use. Also, these cards are difficult to trace because they are intended for one-time use.
Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from this utility bill scam.
1. Don't pay bills with a prepaid debit cards: Companies that provide utility services don't accept payments with prepaid debit cards. If someone does call you and insists that you pay your overdue bill with a prepaid debit card then you should not give them any personal information. Hang up the phone and report the scam to the BBB.
2. Verify the caller. If you get a call from someone claiming to be a representative from your utility service that is threatening to turn off your utilities, make sure this person actually works for your utility company. The best way to do this is to hang up the phone, and call the phone number listed on your utility bill. Tell the customer service representative that you wanted to inquire about your bill because you just received a call from someone saying that you're past due. The representative will be able to tell you the status of your bill.
The BBB also reminds consumers to not allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have a scheduled appointment with your utility provider. Also, call your utility company to verify they have sent someone to check the safety of your home.
If you feel that you have been contacted by a scammer and revealed your personal information then you might want to consider signing up for an identity theft protection service. These services monitor your personal information to make sure it isn't being sold to thieves or used inappropriately. In the instance that they notice something out-of-the ordinary or phishy, they will send you alert to verify the activity was done by you and not a thief. Check out this blog to learn why identity theft protection is a useful service to have, and visit our Identity Theft Protection Compare Page to find out what each service offers in terms of protection.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.