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November 2010

Be Aware of Holiday Scams

November 29, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0)

According to an article by the Associated Press, "It's the most wonderful time of the year for scam artists".

Unfortunately, "opportunities to be swindled abound during the holiday season" as shoppers try to buy the hottest new product or try to show their generosity.

Here are some of the common scams that the U.S. Better Business Bureau warns shoppers to watch for:

Fake Shopping Sites

If at a site that you have never heard of has prices for products that are too good to be true, do some homework before entering any credit card information.  Otherwise, you may pay for a great deal on-line but may never receive the item.

Bogus Charity Pleas

Although many legitimate charities solicit for donations during this time of year, scammers likewise solicit for their own profit.  Be sure that the organization is familiar to you and how it requests funds.

The Canada Revenue Agency ´╗┐maintains a searchable list of Canadian charities.  Click here to go to the list.

You can use the list to:

  • confirm whether a charity is registered under the Income Tax Act and is therefore eligible to issue official donation receipts for income tax purposes;
  • view a charity's information return;
  • learn more about a charity's financial information;
  • learn more about the activities of a registered charity; and
  • find out how to contact a charity

The Canada Revenue Agency also explains ´╗┐why you may not find a specific registered charity in the Charities Listings and what you should do to followup on the charity of interest.  Click here to find this information.

Identity Theft

Watch your belongings if carrying multiple shopping bags.  The loss of your credit or debit card can lead to "the prolonged headache of identity theft".  Be sure that your wallet is located in a secure place before heading out.

Keep Your Pin Number Confidential

Banks recommend that you cover or block the view if entering your pin number when making a purchase.  Do not give scammers any opportunity to obtain your personal pin number.

CBC News recently aired an interesting story on the "12 Scams of Christmas".  To view this list, click here.

For more information, search the Toronto Public Library catalogue by subject.  Recommended subjects are: Fraud and/or Swindlers and swindling.  

In summary, don't allow scammers to ruin your holiday season by relieving you of your hard earned money.

Women & Money: Take Control of Your Finances

November 28, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (0)

Women view money differently than men.  A recent study reported in the Wall Street Journal  indicated than women aren't as big a risk takers as men when it comes to investing money.  If you would like to learn how to put your financial house in order, plan on attending this seminar, sponsored by the Business and Urban Affairs Department of North York Central Library.  Join our speaker, Bernardine Perreira, Investment Advisor, BMO Nesbitt Burns, as she discusses the best strategies to get your retirement plan on track, how to create a more tax efficient investment portfolio and how the maximize your investments.

When: Thursday, December 2, 2010; 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: Auditorium, North York Central Library

Space is limited.  Please register by phoning 416-395-5613.

Be Alert for Fake Bills

November 25, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0)

Counterfeit (fake) bills tend to surface during various times throughout the year, perhaps more so in the month of December.  As the holiday season approaches, it's a time when one spends more money by purchasing gifts and preparations for the joyous festivities. 

If one is not alert during these hectic weeks, fake bills may be circulating amongst cash currency.  Look for the following security features imprinted in the last series of $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 dollar bills.  All five denominations have the same, following features:

  • Metallic Stripe - On the front and left side of the bill, the numbers and maple leaves in the metallic stripe change colour if it is tilted back and forth.
  • Raised Ink - Feel for the thicker ink on the large number, the shoulder, and the words BANK OF CANADA / BANQUE DU CANADA.
  • Dashes - Hold the bill up to the light and look through it.  On the back and left side of the bill, the dashes become a solid line.
  • Puzzle Number - Hold the bill up to the light and look through it.  Irregular marks on the front and back of the bill form a complete number.
  • Ghost Image - Hold the bill up to the light and look through it.  A small, ghost-like image of the portrait appears.

The above-mentioned security features are illustrated at 

For more information, visit the page on counterfeiting prevention at the Bank of Canada web site.   On the right side, there are interesting articles on preventing counterfeiting.

Helping Businesses Sell to the Government of Canada Part 2

November 23, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (1)

If you have ever wondered how to get your business on track to sell to the government, then this program is for you.

Join a representative from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) as he discusses the procurement process. Learn how bids are evaluated, how to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP), and how to obtain advice and guidance in preparing a proposal.  This is the final program in our Small Business Series 2010.

When: Thursday, November 25, 2010. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: North York Central Library, Auditorium, located on the second floor.

Space is limited.  Please phone the Business and Urban Affairs desk at 416-395-5613 to register.

Loyalty has its costs

November 18, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (0)

If you are like me, you have certain stores that you go back to time after time.  Maybe because the store or chain carries exactly what you are always looking for, or maybe you have a rewards card that earns you discounts or free stuff over time.  Well it turns out that what is free for some, is made up for by costing others.

A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston  says stores with loyalty card programs often raise their prices to cover the discounts and free gifts, costing those without cards, an extra $23 a year to shop, while those "preferred" customers get an average of $756 in rewards.  Those without cards, tend to be the less affluent customers, while the richer consumers reap the rewards.

But if you are a business, building a customer loyalty program can reap big rewards in sales and can contribute to the bottom line.  Check out these books on the business side of customer loyalty programs, available at the Toronto Public Library:

Game based customer loyalty      Customer loyalty solution      The disloyal company

Will you reap the rewards?



It's Worth a Visit to Moneyville

November 15, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (2)

If you are looking for an easy-to-read, user friendly financial website, Moneyville is for you. A colleague recently introduced me to the website and I am hooked.

Moneyville was launched in September 2010 by Torstar Corp. It includes easy access to a variety of personal finance topics.

The site does not overwhelm with financial jargon, statistics, and intense financial analysis. Instead, it addresses the everyday personal financial issues that face us all.

There are dedicated sections for money in a relationship, beating fees, personal taxation, borrowing, retirement, saving, budgeting and real estate. 

The site also includes blogs by well-known experts such as Allison Griffiths, Ellen Roseman, Bryan Borzykowski, and others. (These links are to their personal websites so you can learn more about them.  For their blogs on, as well as all the other blogs on the site, click here.)

As a financial calculator junkie, I was delighted to discover that there are no less than eight categories of personal financial calculators on Moneyville (many categories include more than one calculator). For example, in the Borrowing category, calculators include:

  • How Much Car Can I Afford?
  • What Is My Outstanding Loan Balance?
  • Buy vs. Lease A Car
  • There are many more.

    Another great feature is the weekly interview.  Every week, the editors present an expert on a pre-chosen topic who answers questions that you submit. At the time of my writing this, the topic was the rising price of car insurance.

    Have a look. By my calculations, you will find this site very useful.


    Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 15th - 21st, 2010

    November 11, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (0)

    Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010 is all about inspiring the youth of today to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

    As the name implies, this is a worldwide event. Global Entrepreneurship Week events and activities "will connect millions of people, including young adults, students, entrepreneurial experts, policy-makers, educators and politicians with a goal of unleashing ideas, exposing young people to entrepreneurship and becoming agents of change in their communities, cities and countries". (from the website)

    In Canada there is plenty going on - and in Ontario the list of events is exciting. Have a look.

    Don't forget that the Toronto Public Library has many books on entrepreneurship and youth.  Here are a few:

     Young World Rising    Girls and Young Women Entrepreneurs  How To Be A Teenage Millionaire

     Good luck with your business!


    Using Social Media to Build Your Small Business

    November 9, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (0)

    If your small business is not utilizing social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter, you may be missing out on a valuable opportunity to build your business.

    Join our speaker, Erin Bury, Community Manager at Sprouter, as she discusses how to use social media to build your brand and attract new customers.

    When: Thursday, November 11, 2010.  6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    Where: North York Central Library, Auditorium, located on the second floor

    Space is limited. Please phone the Business and Urban Affairs department at 416-395-5613 to register.

    This is the third program in our 2010 Small Business Series.


    Homeowners & The High Cost of Energy Bills

    November 8, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0)

    Winter is just around the corner, and with today's high energy costs, the addition of insulation to your home may be a wise decision to help lower your energy bills.

    There are several methods to help you reduce your high energy costs.  Some of these methods are:

    • Insulate the attic of your house.
    • Fill the side walls with insulation.
    • Insulate basement walls, ceilings, and/or crawl spaces.

    To help with the cost of these procedures, the Ontario provincial government is offering grants to homeowners through the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program.  For homeowners who booked a pre-retrofit home energy audit after March 31, 2010, you could qualify for up to $5,000 in Ontario rebates.  For homeowners who booked a pre-retrofit home energy audit on or before March 31, 2010, you could qualify for up to $10,000 in Ontario and federal rebates.

    By taking advantage of this rebate program, the cost of heating your home will likely be less expensive, which equates to more money in your pocket as well as a warmer home during the cold, winter months.


    For more detailed information on how to conserve energy at home and how to build an energy-efficient new home, visit the Residential page at the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) web site.  There are also web pages for Commercial and Institutional Organizations as well as Industrial Business.


    The Canada. Office of Energy Efficiency has the following online book that may be of interest:

    Canada.  Office of Energy Efficiency.  Keeping the Heat In.  Rev. March 2007 Ed.  [Ottawa] : Office of Energy Efficiency, 2007.


    For titles at the Toronto Public Library, search the TPL catalogue with the subject headings of 'Dwellings - Energy Conservation' and/or 'Insulation (Heat)'. 



    Investing in Challenging Times

    November 4, 2010 | Christina | Comments (2)

    The Business, Science and Technology Department at the Toronto Reference Library is hosting two, additional programs on investing in challenging times.

    Program:  Surviving and Thriving in an Uncertain Market Environment
    Speaker:  Ross Healy, CEO of Strategic Analysis Corporation
    Date:  Wednesday, November 10, 2010
    Time:  6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
    Place:  Beeton Auditorium, 1st Floor, Toronto Reference Library


    Program:  The GlobeInvest Investment Process in Picking Stocks
    Speaker:  Christine Poole, Managing Director, GlobeInvest Capital Management
    Date:  Wednesday, November 17, 2010
    Time:  6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
    Place:  Beeton Auditorium, 1st Floor, Toronto Reference Library

    Registration is not required.  All are welcome!


    For books on investing, check out the following titles at the Toronto Public Library:

    Appel, Gerald.  Opportunity Investing : How to Profit When Stocks Advance, Stocks Decline, Inflation Runs Rampant, Prices Fall, Oil Prices Hit the Roof, and Every Time in Between.  Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Financial times Press, 2007.

    Arnold, Glen.  The Financial Times Guide to Value Investing : How to Become a Disciplined Investor.  2nd Ed.  New York : Prentice Hall/Financial Times, 2009.

    Ellis, Charles D.  Winning the Loser's Game : Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing.  5th Ed.  New York : McGraw-Hill, 2010.

    Greenblatt, Joel.  The Little Book that Beats the Market.  Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, 2006.

    Leeb, Stephen and Donna Leeb.  Game Over : How You Can Prosper in a Shattered Economy. 1st Ed. Trade Ed.  New York : Business Plus, 2010.

    Swedroe, Larry E.  Rational Investing in Irrational Times : How to Avoid Costly Mistakes Even Smart People Make Today.  1st Ed.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.


    For more titles on this topic, search the Toronto Public Library's catalogue with the subject headings of 'speculation' and/or 'investments'.


    Welcome! We are specialized librarians in our business department and we write about current issues for small business owners and those interested in personal finance matters. For more information and resources see our Small Business & Personal Finance page.