Santa Clara County, Calif. Y2K pamphlet : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Year 2000 Personal Readiness Guide

Courtesy of the Chief Information Officer County of Santa Clara

Here are some steps experts suggest you take to ease problems that may be associated with the Millenium Bug. Follow those that seem most critical to you and your family.

1. Start a Year 2000 protection plan. Know what you will do in case problems arise. Follow news developments so that you will know how to respond. Think of your plan as a Y2K insurance policy.

2. Obtain multiple proofs of identification. These should include an original Social Security card, a certified or notarized copy of your birth certificate, a valid passport, a current drivers license, a voter registration card, plus any student or military IDs. These will help prove your identity should the need arise.

3. Collect paper records of your important possessions so that you can prove ownership if necessary. Include deeds, titles and proofs of purchase to homes, property, cars, boats and other big ticket items.

4. Secure hard copies of other important records, including financial documents. These should include mortgage and loan agreements, credit card statements, state and federal tax returns, health and prescription plans, leases, veterans benefits statements, safe deposit contracts, major warranties and insurance policies for car, home and life and accident coverage. You may need these to establish that you are covered by a particular agency or to confirm what you owe, when you owe it and to whom. For example, keep a record of premium payments with your insurance policy. A system error may show that you're uninsured. Also, include in this file a Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement from the Social Security Administration. Ask for Form SSA-7004.

5. Create a paper file on companies or agencies you deal with on a regular basis. Experts call these "electronic handshakes." The list should include electricity, water, telephone, cable TV, as well as credit card providers and mortgage holder. Include copies of bills received and payments made, in case questions arise. Computer errors occur even in the best of times.

6. Keep paper copies of all significant transactions between now and June 2000. This will help you avoid billing errors.

7. Consider adjusting your withholding allowances so that your tax bill evens out with the amount held. Some experts say that for the next few years its better for you to owe the government a small amount than having the government owe you. If there's a computer glitch, you may experience delays in getting your refund.

8. Ask your employer for hard copies of your work record, including employment dates, performance reviews, bonus calculations, vacation and sick pay accumulations, payroll deductions and current pay level.

9. List the various accounts that you have with your bank. These could include checking and savings, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, trust and investment accounts and safe deposit boxes. List account numbers for each. Be sure to keep safe deposit slips well into the year 2000.

10. Take extra care if you bank by computer. Make sure your own computer is Y2K compliant and begin keeping paper records of all transactions. Use the same precaution when making purchases by computer.

11. Write down how much you charge every time you use your credit card. You can list totals in your check book, starting at the back and working forward. That way you can keep checking and credit card transactions in one place.

12. Don't get into a situation in which you're dependent on your credit card, especially if it has an expiration date after Jan. 1, 2000. Some card readers may not be able to accept your card. Experts say this problem will become less serious as more merchants put in readers that are Y2K compliant. The same advice applies for debit cards. Carry at least one credit card with an expiration date other than "00" in the year. Also, consider carrying travelers checks in case of an emergency.

13. As the year 2000 approaches and for a little thereafter, double check all interest calculations. They are based on time and date and because of Y2K problems are very error prone, experts say.

14. Ask your mortgage lender for a statement detailing the interest and principal payments you have made to date, along with a payment schedule showing how your loan will amortize. Keep canceled mortgage checks as proof of payment through the first half of the year 2000.

15. Make a note to check with your mortgage company to be sure that your property taxes and homeowners insurance have been paid. Then, confirm that with the appropriate tax authority or insurance company. Don't assume anything, experts say.

16. Know when your insurance premiums are due. If your insurance company suffers a computer glitch and you don't get a due notice, you can be prepared to pay the premium. You want to make sure that your coverage isn't terminated.

17. Make a copy of all prescriptions you have had in the last year. Ask your doctor to help you build up a month's supply in case there's a computer problem at your pharmacy.

18. Make sure that embedded chips in life-sustaining equipment, such as heart pacemakers, are Y2K compliant. Check with your doctor to get the model and serial number of your device. If he or she can't confirm compliance, check with the manufacturer. You want to make sure that the device will keep working after Jan. 1, 2000, and, if applicable, that it continues to record data. Most should be fine, but don't take a chance.

19. Check with your company benefits office about what the firm that administers your 401(k) account is doing to resolve its Y2K problem.

20. Talk to your investment counselor about moving retirement funds if you will be making withdrawals during the first half of 2000.

21. Read the annual reports from companies in which you own stock. They should be keeping stockholders aware of their progress with compliance projects. Your investment counselor should be able to help in this area.

22. Keep paper records of investments as proof of holdings and acquisition costs. They will insure against computer problems at the company holding your accounts.

23. Request documentation on the amount in your Social Security and Medicare accounts before Dec. 31, 1999. Keep them until you can verify that your balance is the same after Jan. 1, 2000.

24. Obtain a current status report for life insurance policies. This document will show your cash values and/or accumulated dividends and current beneficiary.

25. Closely monitor your credit report. Any errors in the system could be magnified by computer snafus. Check it for the first few months of the year 2000.

26. Collect hard copies of all immunizations, grades, attendance records and grade-level completions for any students in your family.

27. Obtain tuition receipts, grade reports and semester transcripts for any collegians in your family. Also, pay close attention to any student loan activity, getting documentation on what's been paid, what's due and when.

28. Check with your auto dealership to determine if your car has any data sensitive chips that might cause a problem. Or check with the manufacturer. Auto makers will liely begin to post this kind of information on their web sites as the big day approaches.

29. If you have any major bills due early in January 2000, consider paying them in December.

30. Once the year 2000 arrives, double check all bills, premium notices and financial statements to make sure they're accurate. Don't let a computer glitch cause you to be shortchanged or overcharged.

31. Check previous balances. Look for unusual fluctuations in utility bills. Make sure names, address and account numbers are correct. Confirm that prices and quantities match information in your records.

32. Secure a source for emergency heat in case the power goes out when the millenium comes in. Have extra bedding and warm clothes available.

33. Have a portable radio handy and a good supply of batteries. Make sure you have flashlights and candles available.

34. Collect some extra food and water just in case. Make sure your grill is working properly in case you need it for cooking.

35. Gas up the family wagon on Dec. 31, 1999, just in case the pumps aren't working the next day. Set aside some extra money for an emergency fund. Have enough cash on hand to carry you for at least a week. There could be problems with ATMs and Jan 1., 2000, is a weekend date.



-- Ann Y. Body (annybody@nowhere.disorg), January 30, 1999


This exact document was posted in an earlier post, only then it was characterized as being an internal memo, not yet released to the public. "The county is still considering how to prepare the public for Y2K..... " But this document is officially signed by the SCC GSA.

Ann Y 'bout a little history of how/where you got it? As a citizen of that county, could I call up my GSA office and get a copy?

-- Mary P. (, January 31, 1999.

Mary P. wrote:

> Ann Y 'bout a little history of how/where you got it? > As a citizen of that county, could I call up my GSA office and get > a copy?

I polled several different county and city governments and also public and private organizations in early January. Although most had representatives to speak to me, relatively few organizations had anything in writing to hand out. I knew most organizations were preparing, and so went directly to individual employees as a "bottom-up" approach to see what was going on. This document came to me by that method, via a local government employee.

Along the way, I got to hear several tidbits of information, tidbits that I would categorize as being relatively unsettling for all concerned. For example, Oakland shelled out $30 million to Oracle after firing its high level managers in 1998 for not taking Y2K seriously, resulting in making remediation of their IS systems not an option. Many departments are still looking into generators at this late time, realizing that the PG&E Y2K public line has little credibility, especially after the recent SF blackout. Some county hospitals in the Bay Area (there is already a severe bed shortage) are in trouble with respect to Y2K. Very disturbing to me is the sense that most government departments don't talk much to each other and to non-government organizations about Y2K and other emergency scenarios. Also disturbing is the almost universal dictum from high-level management not to talk to reporters and not to produce or release any hardcopy information related to Y2K. Within these government agencies, almost everyone is apparently careful to keep all meetings closed to the public, to use voicemail and email and verbal presentations instead of formal memos and papers. I would imagine this only slows progress towards reaching Y2K compiance or readiness or whatever.

In most city and county governments, the Y2K issue appears to fall into the lap of the IS department manager. This manager then gets fairly overloaded given the scope of the problem, and many aspects of the problem in other departments I imagine will be overlooked until stumbled upon. The IS managers as a group are also probably under a lot of pressure to give the organizations they belong to a clean bill of health with regards to Y2K, and they generally do, but to me they tend to make it clear that their expertise does not extend far beyond what their own IS department preparations need to be. By the time I finish talking with them, I rarely have the heart to ask them about contingency plans.

I don't know if you can call up the SCCo. GSA as a county citizen and get a copy of this Y2K document. Of course, you could try and see what happens. I believe that at least some counties are working on efforts to raise public awareness of the issue, in a way that does not cause panic. Some counties currently plan to have web pages devoted to the Y2K issue. Apparently one reason they do not already have this is because they have been busy working on their own readiness.

-- Ann Y. Body (annybody@nowhere.disorg), February 01, 1999.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I was pointed specifically to the California Public Utilities Commission for an example of questionable handling of the Y2K issue. I just looked but could find nothing on "Y2K" on the CPUC web site, although there was some activity on investigating the recent SF power outage and also on the need for tree branch trimming to prevent outages.

-- Ann Y Body (annybody@nowhere.disorg), February 01, 1999.

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