Tag Archives: African Americans

Tax Season 2017 -Who’s Doing Your Taxes?

Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Tax season is scam season and the cyber crooks are trying every possible trick to get your money. African-Americans, people of color, senior citizens and immigrants are especially targeted. Why? Because we are not educating ourselves. Tax scams targeting black people in the past included a scheme for slavery reparations. Immigrants are vulnerable because they do not always understand the American tax system and can be easily intimidated with threats of deportation. Seniors are also easily threatened. According to a study by Home Instead Senior Care nearly one in 10 seniors reported being victimized by a phone scam. These scams usually involve someone posing as an IRS official demanding immediate payment of taxes.

Scams, phishing attacks and social engineering are the most common tools used to rip people off. So what can you do? First of all be aware of how the IRS works. Second, be aware of how the crooks work. Simply put, educate yourself. The AACR is here to help

Lets talk about tax preparers. If someone else is doing your taxes there is a a way to find out if this person is legitimate. Check the IRS tax preparer directory. You can search for a tax professional or discover if you are dealing with a crook.

Anyone can claim to be a tax preparer. Only four states have mandated requirements for tax professionals, California, Maryland, New York and Oregon. In all the other states anyone can claim to be a tax preparer and charge for their services. There is no standard or requirement to meet any minimum educational competency or training.

Here are a few tips to spot them.

  • All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. The only way to get a PTIN is to register with the IRS.  And the PTIN should be included on your tax return. 
  • Don’t ever sign a partially completed tax return!  A legitimate tax professional will never ask you to do this regardless of how complicated your return may be.
  • Your tax preparer should ask for all documentation of your income. Be suspicious if you are not asked for your W-2 or other documentation of earnings, deductions or credits.
  •  Don’t ever agree to false documentation or deductions. Remember you are ultimately responsible for what is on you tax return. And fines, penalties and even prison is a definite possibility.
  • Your preparation fee should not be based on a percentage of your refund. This may cause a disreputable preparer to inflate deductions or credits.
  • Never pay your taxes or penalties to your preparer. These go directly to the IRS. If they don’t get there its on you.
  • Avoid any tax preparer who claims to have secret method to lower your tax bill that the IRS doesn’t want you to know about.
  • Be alert to all unprofessional behaviors like someone who does taxes from their home or have no set office.
  • Provide only copies of your documents. You keep the originals. 
  • Make sure your preparer is easy to contact and responds promptly.
  • If you spot any of these red flags report the preparer to the IRS using Form 14157. Also file a complaint at Fraud.org.

Tax season is scam season. Educate yourself to the scam, traps and tricks!

Cops Offer Safe Zones for Internet Transactions

Safe TransactionOne of the beautiful things about the Internet is the ability for people to buy and sell from one another.  However the Internet also can bring you in contact with some pretty bad characters who have no intention of conducting an honest transaction.

There have been many stories in the news of people robbed, assualted and even murdered as a result of meeting with people from person-to-person websites like Craigslist.

As a result of the rise in crime of this nature police and sheriff’s departments nationwide are creating areas at their stations for people to complete transactions that began online. These areas are known as Safe Zones or Safe Havens.

Although this trend started several years ago the idea has caught on.  As many as 70 police agencies stretching from Boca Raton, Florida to Bedford, Texas, have created safe transaction zones. They are usually in parking lots or lobbies according to websites that track the programs. Safe havens located inside buildings are normally open only during office hours and no reservations are required. Parking lots are usually available 24/7.

Because these areas are literally inside the police station or on police property and under surveillance theives are detered from committing crimes. The program does have its skeptics who believe the police accept some liability  if a transction goes wrong. But many police departments said they felt obligated to do something as a result of crimes carried out as part of an online transaction.

According to a report by the AIM Group, a classified-ad consultancy, 87 killings were tied to Craigslist interactions in the U.S. since 2007, including 22 last year and six so far in 2015.

Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist’s chief executive accuses AIM of unjustly portraying the website as fraught with risk for criminal activity. AIM has done studies of crime connected to Craigslist by its competitors.

Craigslist does offer an advisory on its “Personal Safety” page that reads: “With billions of human interactions facilitated, the incidence of violent crime is extremely low.” Among several precautions the company suggests is to “consider making high-value exchanges at your local police station.”

Where the service is available people seem to aprove. Atlanta Craigslist user Derek Lee said news reports of people getting murdered after connecting online caused him to complete his transactions at a police station.

That “is your ultimate safety zone,” he said. “It’s not just personal safety. I think people are less likely to rip each other off, like selling a bogus product or counterfeit product.”

Law-enforcement officials said it is too early to determine whether the zones are reducing crime, but some contend initial results are promising.

Now you know

 

 

Study: Internet-based Job Hunting Effective for African-Americans

Diverse Logo-Quark.qxd

Originally published November 7, 2013 at DiverseEducation.com

A new study has found that, with the Internet emerging as a credible resource for searching and applying for jobs, African-Americans have come to rely on online job search information sources more than any U.S. racial or ethnic group. In addition, African-Americans are more likely than average “to say the Internet was very important to landing a job,” even while their measures of digital skills and literacy are reported to be “modestly lower than the average.”

In the study, “Broadband and Jobs: African-Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search,” these results and others lead the study’s publisher, the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies think tank, to conclude that “efforts to improve people’s digital literacy and skills are likely to improve their capacity to use the Internet effectively for job search.”

The study goes on to say that improving digital literacy and skills would generally benefit low-income individuals, those with lower levels of educational attainment, and those in social groups that have significantly lower than average digital skills and literacy scores.

“Broadband and Jobs” contends that, if policymakers and other stakeholders “do in fact help people increase their level of digital skills, [Americans] are going to get payoffs in terms of people’s engagement with those tools to solve important problems whether it’s job search, education, or health care,” said Dr. John Horrigan, the study author and senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“We’re looking at how people, who do have an urgent need or an urgent problem to solve in their lives, go about solving it,” continued Horrigan. “In this case, it’s looking for work. And we find that people generally use the Internet and think it’s an important pathway to finding a job.”

The study reports that 50 percent of African-Americans said the Internet was very important to them in finding a job, a figure that significantly outpaces the 36 percent average for the entire sample. Smartphones proved an important part of the job search process for minorities with 47 percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of Latinos reporting that they had used their devices for job searches. Twenty-four percent of Whites indicated that they had used their smartphones for job searches.

“Broadband and Jobs” also notes that libraries have an important “role to play in providing access points for the Internet as well as digital skills and literacy training.”

The study found that, while 15 percent of all American adults had used the Internet at a public library within the previous year, 21 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Latinos had done so. Among poor Americans, or those with annual household income less than $15,000, 24 percent had used the Internet at a public library in the previous year.

“We found in the report that African-Americans and Latinos, especially African-Americans, over index on the activities we asked about when it comes to looking for a job using the Internet,” Horrigan explained, “which is to say they did those job search activities more often than other segments of the population.”

The study is based on an extensive survey of 1,600 Americans, including an oversample of African-Americans, conducted last May by the Joint Center Media and Technology Institute. The survey indicates that, although personal contacts remain the most important job search factor for Americans, nearly one-third of those who had recently been without work cited the Internet as the most important component in a fruitful job search.

“Digital literacy is the key issue to achieving equity in the future of the digital economy,” said Jason Llorenz, the director of innovation policy for the Latino Information Network at Rutgers University.

Along with Horrigan and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission, Llorenz participated Wednesday in a Joint Center public forum that examined the “Broadband and Jobs” study. Llorenz told Diverse that the “Broadband and Jobs” study represents a critical inquiry into why digital literacy matters as a priority for participating in the nation’s evolving economy.

“The Internet really provides an opportunity to level the [economic] playing field,” he said.

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Written By Ronald Roach

Senior Contributing Editor at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

@RonaldRoach

App of the Week: Driving While Black

driving-while-black-landing-pagejpg-fabb6a73b66f9508Incidents in recent weeks have reminded all people of the horrible relationship between black people and law enforcement. Again and again black men have ended up dead as a result of an encounter with a police officer.

Driving while black is not a crime but a situation that is far more dangerous than just avoiding accidents. African-American parents have the added fear of wondering if their child will ever return when they leave home in the family car.

A 2013 U.S. Justice Department report revealed that a black driver is 30 times more likely to be pulled over than a white driver.  It is an insane situation to deal with but we have to. But now there is an app for that.

An African-Amercan lawyer in Portland, OR  has created the “Driving While Black” app. Mariann Hyland made a vow 10 years ago, after Portland Police fatally shot 21-year-old Kendra James during a routine traffic stop, to do something about these tragic incidents. She teamed up with another lawyer, Melvin Olden-Orr and software developer James Pritchett to create the app. It is intended to teach young black people how to survive being pulled over by police. As the level of tension between police and people of color continues to escalate after the Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions, Hyland says this type of education is crucial.

“Being a police officer is a tough job,” said Hyland. “They deal with the most horrific experiences in society. They’re first responders. And traffic stops tend to be where they get hurt the most. So they’re on high alert when they pull you over. We want to educate people about how to put them at ease so they don’t feel threatened.”

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Melvin Oden-Orr, Mariann Hyland and James Pritchett

The “Driving While Black” app teaches young African-Americans how not to get pulled over in the first place. The app points out factors that can put a police officer on alert such as tinted windows. It urges people of color to perform as responsible drivers by using turn signals early. The app also offers a checklist to remind drivers to keep their license plate tags up-to-date and their headlights in working order.

The app also instructs young drivers on what to do if they do get pulled over. Alert functions in the app allows users to program in three numbers such as their mother, a friend or a lawyer if needed. When stopped by the police the driver can hit the “alert” button to immediately send a message to those three people.

“People feel so alone in these vulnerable situations,” Hyland said.

The “Driving While Black” app offers a record function so the user can tape and log interactions with police. It also provides video tutorials that demonstrate good and bad behavior during traffic stops and forms for submitting commendations or complaints against officers. It also includes a how-to-guide for parents talking with their kids about police. There is a checklist for ways to keep officers at ease. During research before the app was created Hyland and her team discovered that police see a car full of empty Red Bull cans as a danger sign.

But Hyland still had concerns about the app and the potential for danger. For example; could a driver reaching for his or her phone to use the app be mistaken for reaching for a weapon; a gun? We know it happens.

Oden-Orr considered if they should include video recording. Secretly recording police is illegal in Oregon. Other similar apps, including the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app for Android devices and the New York City-based Stop and Frisk Watch app for iPhone, allows it. They decided to include the record function with a reminder for the user to tell officers they are being filmed. They  also suggest using a hands-free device.

“Driving While Black” focuses specifically on traffic stops. But many police encounters happen outside traffic situations. Pedestrian situations have proven to be just as dangerous  as the Ferguson interaction between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown clearly indicate.

Hyland pointed that “Driving While Black” consolidates resources from dozens of sources but reminds users that each case is different. The app teaches mothers how to talk to their sons about police. Eventually, it also will include a directory of lawyers for the user’s area, programmed using location-based technology.

“Driving While Black” is available for Android and iPhone.

 

 

African-Americans and Data Breaches

national cyberWhy should black people worry about data breaches? Because the loss of data to cyber criminals is an exploding problem and awareness is the only way to protect yourself.

Data is everywhere. Wherever you have used your credit or debit card is a source of data. This is where information about you, your bank, credit records, buying habits and what cards you hold is stored and all with your name on it. If this information gets out “in the wild” people are now in your business and you know how black people feel about that and our money.

Lets look closer at where your information can be found. Here is a list of businesses that may hold information about you and your money. Add to this list any place you have used your credit or debit card.

  • Hotels and resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Ticket sellers
  • Entertainment companies
  • Sports teams
  • Fitness clubs
  • Salons and spas
  • Insurance companies
  • Mortgage companies
  • Utilities
  • Mobile phone providers
  • Internet providers
  • Money managers
  • Banks and credit unions
  • Credit card issuers
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Doctors and Dentist Offices
  • Auto repair shops
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Daycare providers
  • Retail stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations

How serious are data breaches? According to USA Today 43% of businesses have suffered data breaches in the past year. Lets be real about that statistic; many of the large businesses will report a data breach especially when the breach involves millions of credit or debit cards. But smaller business may not report a data breach if they even realize they have had one. That’s why you should be concerned.

Not only are data breaches more frequent but they are increasing in size. The latest big data breaches at the big retailers have lost more than 300 million records. You are probably one of millions of black people who have shopped at Target, Kmart and Home Depot. Your data has been stolen.

If you want to see how serious this data problem has become here are a few frightening numbers from KrebsOnSecurity.com.

You would think with the ever increasing size and frequency of breaches businesses would be ready to act. But less than 30% of companies have a data breach response plan or team in place. That number is down from 39% of businesses that didn’t have them in the previous year. So the simple fact is that black people need to be concerned. We have to be knowledgeable and ready to act in the event of a data breach to protect our information.

But data breaches do not just strike retail businesses. Hospitals are big targets for hackers. According to Health IT & CIO Review since March there have been at least ten hospital data breaches. Los Angeles County Medical Facilities  alone lost nearly 170,000 patient medical records.

Director of Threat Intelligence at Phish Labs Don Jackson monitored underground hacking exchanges and found that cyber criminals can make 10 times as much money hacking hospital records than stealing your credit card data.  Hackers steal names, birth dates, and insurance policy numbers then use the data to create fake IDs to buy things like home medical equipment which can later be re-sold. The data is also used to file phony insurance claims. 

Now the question is what happens to all that stolen data. The new gold mine of the criminal world is data. AACR Rule #5, The currency and commodity of the digital age is called information. According to the RAND Corporation National Security Research Division  the stolen data black market has become more profitable than the drug trade. You read that correctly.

What black people should understand is that stolen data is far more than credit card numbers and personal information. Hackers can make money with pictures from your Facebook page and other social media outlets. Hackers see sites like LinkedIn and eHarmony as a treasure trove of passwords that can be used to update their “rainbow tables.” Rainbow Tables are huge databases hackers use to hack harder-to-crack encrypted passwords. Would you believe that hacked Twitter accounts are considered more profitable than stolen credit cards?

The bottom line is that black people are just as vulnerable as other Americans to hacks and data breaches. The difference is that collectively we may not be as savvy to what and how this information is used to steal from us or how to protect ourselves. Its strange because black people use mobile and online banking more than other groups. We need to step up our game.

 

Home Device Spying Law Gathers Dust

You-Are-Under-Surveillance-Sign-K-7664If black people don’t know by now then you need to wake up to this. Your home and mobile devices have been spying on you and delivering the details of your life to marketers, device manufacturers, utilities, insurance companies, possibly your employer and many others.

Currently there is a bill sitting somewhere in Congress that will address the use of spying technology in consumer devices. Sadly however H.R.2356, the “We Are Watching You Act of 2013” has been languishing in legislative purgatory since June of last year. The bill was introduced by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.).  Neither the House nor the Senate has voted on the bill and it doesn’t look like it will happen this year either.

The bill is intended to stop or at least restrict the use of technology by television service providers who wish to monitor customers using cameras or microphones built in to set-top boxes or DVRs. Television service providers want to use this technology in order to analyze viewing behavior and serve up highly targeted advertising. You are probably asking how targeted this advertising can get? If the device detects a couple cuddling on the sofa then maybe the ads will promote romantic vacations, romantic comedy movies or possibly contraceptive products.

The bill addresses the use of home consumer technology devices such as televisions to spy on the consumer. It bans video service operators such as your cable company from watching or listening to you with built in cameras or microphones found on DVRs, set-top TV boxes, and smart televisions without the consumer’s express permission. The bill would also address other devices such as the Microsoft Xbox One which is also used to spy on users. Microsoft has built in to its Xbox special cameras and sensors known as Kinect.

Microsoft Xbox with Kinect

Microsoft Xbox with Kinect

You maybe interested in to know that Facebook is currently spying on you using technology that operates your phone’s microphone to listen to what is happening around you when you post to the website from the phone. In addition smart televisions are spying on users through the built in webcams. So you think you’re watching television when in actuality it is watching you right back.

In 2012 Verizon filed a patent for a monitoring technology  that uses infrared cameras and microphones capable of detecting if subscribers are eating, exercising, reading or sleeping near the monitoring device. Verizon was denied the patent. If Verizon’s subscribers agree to the monitoring the bill would mandate that the company display  a “we are watching you” message on the screen and  reveal what data is being collected. 

“This may sound preposterous but it’s neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy.”Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.)

Capuano believes the recording and analyzing of viewer behavior by television cable providers and networks may threaten individual privacy rights. His legislation allows consumers to opt out of monitoring at any time. In addition television service providers would be required to tell consumers what information is being collected and how it would be used.

Capuano’s bill comes at a time when there is general outrage sparked by the revelations of NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden. Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency has collected the telephone records of millions of Americans and accesses the databases of the nation’s biggest Internet companies.

Some privacy experts believe public anger at the NSA and Capuano’s proposal is a clear indicator that the nation is fed up and that the technology is slowly eating away at the right to privacy.

Technology analyst Roger Kay of  Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. said, “Here we are again in this sort of Orwellian moment. The human institutions haven’t had time to catch up with the technology.”

Breaking It Down

My first question is; do black people even care about privacy? I have to answer yes. As much as any American. But are we aware of the incredible advancement in technology that allows corporations to take a seat on the sidelines of our lives and watch us like predatory birds? The answer to that is probably no. If you are reading this then you need to take an inventory of the devices in your home that are spying on you. You need to know what information is being broadcast via your television, game console, thermostat, cell phone and Internet connection. What is happening here is that the corporate world has decided that since there is nothing to say we can’t do it then we will do it. Rep. Capuano sees this. This is a clear failure of any ethical and moral restraint. All black people should be aroused if not outraged. How dare these corporations even consider using the technology they sell us against us. Yes, against us. They are watching everything we do and collecting information for their databases to use in the control of our lives and earnings. Black people are in danger, just as the rest of America is, of being brainwashed into thinking that our privacy is being protected. It is not! We are being fooled into believing that we are acting for our own good by reeling in the government while corporations run wild over our personal privacy. Are we going to remain that stupid? We are clamoring for Congress to do something about the NSA but not about private industry. Why? Are we already brainwashed?

Best Restaurant Delivery Apps

The next best thing to having someone cook a delicious meal for you is sitting back and having someone deliver a delicious meal right to your door. Ordering delivery is an American tradition. Whether its pizza, Chinese food or something special from a local spot, its a luxury and a delight to eat out while staying home.

Like a lot of African-Americans I really love the convenience of ordering take out. Who doesn’t? So I thought I would share with my readers the best restaurant take out apps. There are a lot of them out there, some are local, others nationwide. So the process of selecting the best of them is pretty tough task. So I didn’t try!

Instead I found a really informative article on LifeHacker.com that named the best food delivery services. I admit I am partial to one of them but I am not going to tell you for a couple of reasons. First, it may not be available in your area and second, I’m not going to advertise for anybody. Just not my style.

But I am not gonna stop there because there is so much more to explore when it comes to food delivery. For example you can find a much bigger list of apps for food delivery at Appcrawlr.com. This website calls itself the App Discovery Engine.  And if you are looking for a food delivery app you need to visit this site. They break down your selection of food deliver apps by numerous different categories from price to audience.  I thought that was really helpful.

Finally, there are thousands and thousands of individual restaurants with their own food delivery apps. And if you look on Apple iTunes or Google Playstore you can find thousands more.

Now you know.

 

Computer Misuse Will Get You Fired

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Courtesy of stockimages

More and more jobs involve the use of a computer. And working with a computer has its hazards just as a job driving a bus or cooking for a living does. African-Americans understand that sometimes we are judged more harshly than others in the workplace. So you need to beware of computer misuse on the job. These mistakes could get you fired and even destroy your career. Companies are extremely sensitive about their computers and networks. The least little thing could cost millions of dollars in data loss and man hours to repair the damage.

AACR Rule #10. You are always one click from destruction.

Lets look at the ten computer mistakes that will get you fired.

1) Using storage devices to transfer data. Transferring your employer’s corporate data back and forth to your home computer using a thumb drive or other storage device may seem harmless but you are asking for trouble. You could lose the drive containing sensitive information such as customer names and information or that of a business partner. You may unintentionally infect your company’s network with a virus you didn’t know you had.  Its smart to keep your computer and the company’s computer separate. If you need to take information home or travel then ask for a company laptop and use a secure pass phrase and encryption in case it gets stolen in the airport or hotel.  If it happens kiss that job goodbye.

2) Stay off social media! That means Facebook, BlackPlanet, Twitter, Instagram, shopping online on black Friday, March Madness all of it. Your boss could easily assume you are wasting company time and  resources. And you know he will. You could also get involved in office gossip and accidentally expose company data, or voice an opinion best kept to yourself. Remember that the computer in the workplace is monitored. They told you that didn’t they? Whatever you do on it is their property. Hackers often use social media as a stepping stone to get into company networks or discover tidbits of information used to break into networks.  You should be extremely suspicious of anyone asking for contacts or emails of other employees or someone sending you files or links. One click could put you on the street.

3) Using the wrong  tone of voice. Black people will speak their mind. It’s not a good idea in the work place, in company emails or when dealing with customers. Some companies use chat tools, online bulletin boards and even intranet websites. Be professional. Damaging your employer’s reputation is bad and will definitely get you fired. You don’t want a customer or business partner complaining about rude or un-professional communications. Don’t say whats on your mind. Eliminate the slang and the attitude. One out of place phrase about a co-worker, your boss or your own dissatisfaction could be disastrous. A frivolous photo from the office party may damage co-worker relationships and cause other problems in the office. I’ve seen an email go off track and turn an office upside down.

4) Don’t use personal email for company business. Most companies will suffer a minor server outage every now and then. And yeah, it can really be a pain when it happens. But using your Gmail or Yahoo email  for sending corporate email is bad idea. What if your email is hacked? Don’t think it can’t happen. Cybercriminals may target you to get at your company networks. It happens all the time.  And don’t use the company email for your personal stuff. I told you that it is not your machine and your boss can easily get a hold of the email. Don’t send jokes, images or links through your company network.  Any joke, no matter how harmless it may seem, will offend somebody. And you never know what that link will do once you click on it.

5) Sending encrypted personal information. Using encryption on the office computer! Really? You could be branded a corporate spy, fired and may find yourself unemployable in your chosen field. Especially if you work in a financial services institution or any place handling sensitive data.  The security manager may believe you’re up to no good or sharing confidential data with others outside the company. Even if you’re not you may still be fired or at least under suspicion. Most bosses will fire you or even report the matter to the police as matter of caution. Do you need that headache?

6) Don’t load personal software on company computers. This includes laptops. No games or apps. You could accidentally install malware or viruses or a worm and get shown the door. In addition some software hog and wastes company resources. I already told you that its the company PC or laptop and, yes, they can monitor it remotely. The IT guys don’t have to be standing behind you to know you’re playing Candy Crush.

7) Security policy violations. Don’t share passwords.  Sometimes they can be hard to remember so you may write it down on a Post-It note and stick it on your monitor or on the underside of the keyboard. All bad ideas. Don’t think for a second that all your co-workers are trustworthy. Don’t ask anyone to monitor your email either. Don’t forward information. That “reply to all” button has killed a few careers. Don’t share company files with an employee who doesn’t have permission. If they don’t have the password for a certain file then don’t let them use yours. Keep your job by sticking to the rules.

8) Downloading or streaming content.  Streaming music, movies, YouTube or Skype is another bad idea. Your employer is paying for that bandwidth and will frown upon its mis-use. But people still do it and then get hammered for it.

9) Company Cellphones. Using the company cellphone as your own is not smart. Maybe your company is OK with it but its still their phone and so are the text messages and voice mails. Now they’re in your business. You can also make the mistake of going over the limit with minutes or downloading an infected app. If someone notices your bill is exceeding the limits you could have some explaining to do. My best advice is keep you phone and business separate from their business.

AACR Rule number #4,  Your life has been digitized. Everything you say and do is recorded somewhere.

10) And it will be used to both support and ruin your career.

Now You Know

 

ALERT! UPS Stores Breached ALERT!

72392090United Parcel Service announced today that it has discovered a computer breach in 51 of its stores. The company said the breach escaped detection at stores in 24 states. That is only about 1% UPS store locations. A list of the stores can be found here. According to UPS the malware attack occurred sometime around March 26, and the malware was eliminated by August 11.

UPS Stores are individually franchised and each runs a separate computer system. Because the systems were not connected  it may have helped limit the extent of the attack. UPS stated the malware was not found at any of its other businesses.

Although UPS admits that customer names, postal addresses, email addresses and payment card information were compromised no fraud has been detected that can be attributed to the breach.

UPS Store President Tim Davis apologized for the theft and any problems it may have caused customers. Davis said the company had deployed “extensive resources to quickly address and eliminate this issue.”

For more information please see

UPS Stores Report Data Breach

Data Breach at UPS Store in 24 States including Pennsylvania

UPS Reveals Data Breach

 

Video: Avoid Credit Card Fraud

Life is good. You have great dinner and whip out that credit card to pay for it. That sexy watch at the mall; break out that card. And of course drinks with the boys. All these purchases require you to surrender your card to a stranger for just a few minutes and in that few minutes you may get ripped off.

Credit card fraud is a fast growing crime that is very profitable. American credit cards are easy to duplicate because they only have a magnetic strip. Unlike European cards that have a chip embedded in them. Thats coming to the U.S soon but until then focus on protecting yourself.  Welivesecurity.com provides this excellent video to educate you on how to avoid credit card fraud.