Sorry! No Partridge in a pear tree here


Identity thieves are very generous during the holidays and they will give you all sorts of ‘gifts’ you really don’t want.  Identity theft will be rampant.  Are you protected?  I am with my LegalShield membership.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

  as performedby the Identity Thief Mass Choir

On the Twelfth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me twelve felony convictions

On the Eleventh day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, eleven cases of malt liquer,

On the Tenth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, ten STD’s,

On the Ninth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, nine illegitimate children,

On the Eighth day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, eight tickets to New York,

On the Seventh day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, seven seaside timeshares,

On the Sixth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, six speeding tickets,

On the Fifth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, five DUIs!

On the fourth day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, four pairs of shoes,

On the third day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, three video games,

On the second day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me two PS3s,

On the first day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, a bottle of Dom Perignon!

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Let’s Haggle!


If you have followed this blog, you know that I am a die-hard believer in the power of having a good attorney on your side.  Not just for emergencies, but for everyday issues-like haggling.  Haggling is simply a form of negotiation or bargaining.   Haggling can save you a lot of money especially on big ticket items.

Let’s say that you are looking at purchasing a car.  You go into the dealership and pick out a car, it may be new or used but either way once you pick out that car you have a few decisions to make like how much you want to spend, the payments you are prepared to make and the options and upgrades that you would like.  This is also the point where many people jump into the age old custom of haggling.

Lets say it is a used car.  There’s a catch phrase going around right now “Show me the Carfax.”  Carfax provides a report on the history of the car in question.  Has it been in an accident, maintenance history, mileage and the like.  A Carfax report can reveal bargaining points to a potential buyer or warn a buyer not to purchase the car at all.  The Carfax gives you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Now suppose you have an attorney available to you to help you with the next step, the contract.   The attorney can do for that purchase contract what a Carfax does for the vehicle itself.  The attorney review can point out bargaining points for you in the contract.  Things like balloon payments and warranty issues.  Or maybe promises made by the salesperson verbally that are not covered.  For instance the salesperson offers you free oil changes for a year verbally but that verbal agreement is not included in your contract.

Having an attorney to review that contract can reveal things like this.  With LegalShield, document and contract review is included in your membership so when you do decide to purchase a new car, new home or other big ticket item; your attorney will review that document for you.  Your attorney will point out the hidden surprises and explain to you exactly what it is that you are about to sign.

This is for the men and women in blue


Police Brutality.  It seems like we see YouTube videos posted constantly as evidence of police brutality but is that really what we are seeing?  No one likes police brutality, not even the police.  Believe me I know, I worked with them for 12 years.  But yes, like any other career field you do get bad apples in the bunch, and it’s the good officers who suffer because of the small idiotic minority.


Most officers get through their entire career and retire never having discharged their weapon or used unnecessary force, but to look at all the you tube videos out there you get the impression that police brutality is the norm.   However even the best cops may find themselves in a situation where force is needed, up to and including deadly force.  That force is needed to protect the life of  officers and the public.

The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is that a good cop uses force when he has no other apparent option.  He is in a situation where his life and the lives and safety of others may be at risk .  Hindsight is 20/20 vision as they say and looking back when things are calm and there’s time to thoroughly evaluate a situation may reveal other options, but he has all the time in the world to evaluate those options at that point.

The bad cop however often has what I like to call a ‘tin star mentality’.  He’s a cop by God and thinks that badge puts him on the level of God.  The authority of the badge goes to his head and intimidation, and use of force is his normal way of dealing with things.  He is the one we need to worry about, luckily he is not most officers.

While videotaping the bad officer is a great idea, you rarely know if that video on YouTube is a bad cop playing God or a good cop pushed into a situation where he or she is left with no choice.  I have yet to see a video posted that has captured the entire situation.  Those cell phone cameras don’t come on until it has already escalated into use of force.  You don’t know what the officer tried before it got to the point of using force because a ‘routine’ situation is never posted.  It’s not interesting, it won’t go viral in an hour’s time.  It doesn’t get interesting until the nightstick comes out, the pepper is sprayed or the taser is deployed.

LegalShield understands that Law Enforcement can be a thankless career and offers a plan just for Law officers called the Law Officer’s Legal Plan (LOLP) for duly sworn officers.

 

 

Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Cyber Monday


So you made it through Black Friday, that madness is over for another year.  Now it’s time for the Cyber Monday madness.  Although you don’t have to worry about being in the middle of a beat down over a Barbie, Cyber Monday carries it’s own perils and pitfalls.

Cyber Monday has developed into the biggest online shopping day and scammers will be setting up traps for the unwary.  Online shoppers get caught every year in a multitude of scams from simple online Phishing schemes to flat out thefts.  So when you jump into the online shopping, be aware!  Some of the things to look out for:

 

Spoofing of retail websites

Spoofing is not new.  It has been around for a bit.  Have you ever gotten an e-mail from E-bay saying that you need to update your account?  That email probably had E-bay’s logo and may have even had an attached link that looked legitimate.  That is what spoofing is, imitating a reputable website.  When you go to this spoofed site and input your personal information, identity thieves now have everything that they need to steal your identity.

With online shopping it’s the same thing.  The thieves set up a site that looks like Sears and may even have Sears in the web address.  But it’s not Sears you are giving your information to, it’s an identity thief.

 

Sharing of unknown links

We all like to  share good deals right?  So it stands to reason that our friends would share great deals with us.  We also trust our friends so we don’t really think when we get that message on Facebook about the free computer our friend got as a part of a ‘Holiday promotion’.  Social networks get hacked.  That link that your friend shared with you is not from your friend at all.  It is from some scammer phishing for information.

 

The too good to be true deal

While Walmart may have been selling the next big thing dirt cheap and way under cost for a couple of hours on Black Friday,  they are making up their loss through all of the other sales that they are making.  You don’t walk into a store and see that as the regular price.  Finding items at unreasonably low prices should set off warning bells.  Yes you might just find a Rolex discounted 25% on a website.  But when it is being sold for a 10th of the price?  Can you say hot watch?

Things to be aware of

Like anything else staying safe while shopping online is mostly common sense.  Here are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Do not enter any of your information on unsecured websites.  Always check the address bar.  The page url should start with “HTTPS://”
  • Confirm website urls whenever possible.  If you plan to shop at a major retailer online, pick up the phone and call them to get the correct url.  Many scam sites will use the retailer domain name and then change the .com to .net or .org.
  • Be aware of the almost correct url.  Scammers will create a domain name close enough to seem legitimate.  For example if they want to spoof say Starbucks and Starbucks url is starbucks.com, the scammer may use starbuckscoffee.com
  • Before clicking on any link, hover your cursor over that link.  At the bottom of the screen it will show you the web address that you are actually going to.  If the link is cloaked, for example it shows http://www.shortlink.com/identifying code your safest bet is not to click it.   Legitimate retailers have no need or desire to hide themselves.

Be aware of Knockoffs

If it is a designer item or  hot brand name, the knockoffs are out there.  Everything from Sports Jerseys, to hand bags, to shoes to perfume have been copied.  So the odds are that cheap Louis Vuitton bag is nothing more than a cheap imitation.  Many companies sell admittedly fake imitations of the real things and they are marked as imitations or reproductions.

The only way you can be sure that you are actually ordering the real thing is to order it from and authorized retailer or the designer’s own website if they have one.  For example you can go to Louis Vuitton’s website look up the authorized retailer’s.  If that website is not an authorized retailer, they are not selling the real thing.

Be aware, use your common sense and research before you buy.  Protect your identity and avoid scams this holiday season.

 

Official fake ID’s? No it’s called counterfeiting


I got a message from a friend of mine this morning Dave Gilbert.  Dave is one of the founders of Kooiii Business Resources and very aware of scams since they do not allow them to be promoted on Kooii.  And when they say they don’t allow them they mean it, all identified scams are immediately removed and the scammers accounts are terminated.  This one popped up on the radar of the KBR Stay Safe Program which is their scam identification program.

Knowing that I am a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, he knew that I would love seeing this one and skyped me a message right away!

[5:19:57 AM] Dave Gilbert: We offer only original high-quality fake passports, driver’s licenses, identity cards, visas, birth certificates and other products for a number of countries like:

USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, etc.

To get the additional information and place the order just visit our website: (url removed)

If in some technical reasons you are unable to visit our website we are always happy to answer your questions on email addresses mentioned below.  (e-mail addresses removed)

So I did take a peek at the site and it is not only a scam but quite illegal in what it is providing.

This is so obvious that I hope no one would fall for it.  The entire site is one huge red flag.  The site is designed to first steal your money and second steal your identity.  You can in the US ‘purchase fake documents, Passport, Driver’s license and ID card for $1,500 and they will have all of the security features of the documents you would get from the official government sources.  Well that happens to be a little crime called counterfeiting, so any document that you purchased from them would be illegal.

Oh and the only way to make a payment is by some form of wire transfer.  That is another crime.  By the sites own admission they cannot accept credit cards or paypal because it is ‘difficult’ to secure these services.

And if Point A and Point B weren’t reason enough to open your eyes, they intend to disappear on January 1, 2012 when they will take down their website.

This is obviously criminals harvesting information and whatever funds they can collect before disappearing into the Twilight Zone.  Don’t fall for this.  Never give out your information to anyone.  But more importantly understand that all anyone needs here personal information and a photo and it doesn’t have to be their own personal information.  Just send off a $1,500 Moneygram  with their photo and your information and they not only have your information but they have  ‘documentation’ to back up their fake claim.

This is why it is so important to have something to address identity theft.  Who might be sending your personal information to this company right now?  LegalShield is a good way to protect yourself now before it it happens.

Kids will be kids


Remember back in the day when you were a kid?  We all did silly things  on the playground and they were mostly harmless.  It seems that harmless kiddie antics now warrant the calling of police.

Yes a school in Florida called the police because a couple of 12 year olds snuck a kiss on the playground.  What the police?  Okay I guess I should say the school started out with the Department of Children and Families that for once actually displayed a bit of common sense.  By not responding to the report but then DCF passed the buck telling the school to call the police.

I think back to my days in Elementary school.   Boys and girls displayed their interest in all sorts of silly ways.  Yes there was kiss stealing, accusations of being infested with cooties, throwing balls at each other and even name calling.   But none of it was considered a basis for calling in the police.  I think most of my teachers and principals would have been embarrassed at the thought.  They were of the opinion that if you are going to work with kids you needed the skills to deal with them.  If you didn’t have those skills then you needed to find a different career.

The thing that gets me here is that this situation could have gone in a completely different direction with a different officer responding.  In this case the officer correctly saw it for what it was innocent childhood hijinks.

But schools seem to be calling police more and more often to handle what should be the job of school administrators and teachers.  Police respond and question children, arrest children and detain children on school property without the knowledge of parents.  It’s to the point that your child needs an attorney as much as if not more than the parents do.

LegalShield members don’t have to worry about this issue.  They know that their children have legal representation through that membership.  A LegalShield family membership covers not only the parents but the children  also, including 24 hour emergency access.

 

Silly Phishers!


Take a good look at the following email.  It’s pretty clear that this is a phishing scheme.  It was emailed from a numerology website.  The first thing that jumps out as a red flag is that they are using the ‘credit score’ bait.  A numerology site alerting me that there may be changes to my Transunion credit score?  Ms Cleo must be working for them since the only way they could know what is on my credit score is if they are psychic.

 

But hang on a minute!  Hidden text in the email!  That little box of text didn’t show in the email but when I copied it to a document to edit out the sensitive information, guess what showed up?  This is just a tiny bit of the text which looks like someone is writing a bad novel or ripped off a bad novel, not sure which applies.

 

So I am being warned about my credit score, offered unknown links back to a numerology site and Has a good awful example of putrid prose on top of everything else.  I can’t figure it out.  Are they phishing for personal information or fishing for a publisher?  No matter, either way it gets deleted.  However for those who click on links like this, there is LegalShield.

—–Original Message—–
From: email address removed
Sent: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 10:21:15 -0500
To: e-mail address removed
Subject: Notice: There has been a change to your Transunion score

ALERT: THERE MAY HAVE BEEN CHANGES TO YOUR CREDIT SCORE

View all 3 reports at no cost to you, and also receive score monitoring at all three major bureaus and avoid credit fraud. To retrieve your score Click Here
To unsubscribe please Click Here

Since there was little he could do about his situation, he seemed determined to strike as picturesque and dramatic a pose as possible. The back of one hand rested despairingly across his forehead, while his other arm was thrown wide in a flamboyant attitude. The only part of his face visible, therefore, was his mouth, which was pursed and plump, as if the world were too hot and coarse for his palate

Will you become a victim?


Thanksgiving is practically here and that means the busiest in store shopping day is here, Black Friday.  Most of us will be hitting the malls, shopping centers and department stores around the country.  We will not be alone, identity thieves and thieves in general will also be out there hitting the the same places that we hit.  Black Friday is a perfect time for low-tech gathering of personal  information.

Don’t become complacent thinking that Identity thieves need some complex convoluted scheme to steal your identity.  Low tech methods work quite well, and on Black Friday you need to be on alert for these low tech methods.

Pickpockets and purse snatchers

These are very old school methods of gaining your information (and whatever cash you have in your wallet), but it still works.  Especially in a large crowd.  A thief can snatch your wallet or purse and disappear into a crowd in a matter of seconds.  Ladies, we all have a very personal safe that goes with us where ever we go.   It’s called a bra and it’s perfect for stashing cash, credit cards and your ID.  Gentlemen, forget the back pocket.  A thief with a razor can slice your back pocket off and be gone with your wallet in the blink of an eye.  Put your wallet in your front pocket.

Shoulder Surfers

Shoulder surfers can have a field day in a crowd.  With people all jammed together in a limited space; it’s normal that people will be close, bump into you etc.  A shoulder surfer can memorize all they need to steal your identity in a matter of seconds.  If you are filling out a paper check or using a debit card with a PIN be aware of anyone who seems to be overly interested in you.

ATM Awareness

ATMs can be tampered with.  Before using any ATM give it a quick once over if anything at all looks out of place-use another ATM.   Identity thieves have several methods of tampering with ATMs from Attaching skimming machines that record the information on your card, to using X-ray film to steal your actual card.  Look for items around the ATM that do not belong.  These items may be concealed cameras placed there to record your PIN when you use your card.  With the information on the skimming machine and the information from the camera a thief can clone your card.  If you put your card in a machine and it does not work or respond, feel around the card slot, you might just find that a thin strip of X-ray film has been attached to the card slot.  Whatever you do, don’t accept the help of the ‘good’ Samaritan.  That person’s goal is to get your PIN number and once you leave thinking that the machine has ‘eaten’ your card, the helpful stranger will remove your card and use it.

General tips

Think safety and crime prevention.  Use common sense crime prevention tips.

  • Before you head off to the store, empty your purse or wallet of anything that you do not need.  Don’t carry all of your credit cards with you and definitely leave the Social Security card at home.
  • Make sure that you have nothing of interest visible inside your car, including those gifts you just purchased.  Lock them in the trunk if possible.
  • If you feel something is suspicious, report it to the store manager.
  • If you are the victim of a crime, report it to the police.

Understand that identity theft spikes during the holidays just like burglaries and other crimes.  Be aware that everyone is at high risk and have your response plan in place before it happens.  LegalShield can help.

Rolling in red tape?


Red tape.  I’m sure we all recognize that phrase.  We’ve probably all encountered the red tape phenomenon somewhere along the line.  It’s constantly used to comedic effect in movies and television.

The movie Beetlejuice used the ‘take a number’ gag.  It can be annoying to walk into an overflowing waiting room and having number ‘199’ when the board is showing “Now serving #19”.  You realize that you are stuck waiting for the entire day to take care of an issue that might take 10 minutes.

But one of my favorite examples comes from the television show LEXX.  It really plays up just how frustrating bureaucracy can be.  The Dead Divine assassin Kai, ends up getting dragged before an adjudication committee.

 

Kai rightly figures out that the end result of all the ‘adjudicating’ will be a punishment and at the outset requests that the adjudicating be skipped and asks to be thrown from the top of the city.   Request denied.  What ensues from there is a stream constant redundant bureaucratic hijinks which even drives a dead man to frustration.

The thing is much of the red tape we encounter is in response to laws or rules that the different organizations we deal with may be bound by.   Often those that seem to be tangling us up in the red tape are just as stymied themselves by procedure.  Not to mention that we can often cause the red tape tangle ourselves by a lack of experience in dealing with something.  We fill out the wrong form, file with the wrong department, etc.  Something as minor as placing the correct information in the wrong spot can start red tape rolling.

Well we can’t do anything about procedure, but we can do something about our own actions by making sure we are doing our part correctly.  How do we make sure we do our part correctly?  We get advice from someone who knows the laws and understands the documents.  We can consult with an attorney.

Just turn on the television and watch all the commercials from attorneys looking for people who have been turned down for Social Security or disability.  All the attorneys looking for people who owe back taxes to the IRS and all of the other various things these attorneys advertising.   LegalShield provides its members with unlimited consultation on any legal issue.  Even if you are not sure you have a legal issue, you can consult with an attorney to help you determine if you do have a legal issue.

Bureaucracy is annoying.  Dealing with it yourself can be like setting sail on the Atlantic Ocean with no map.  Doesn’t it make more sense to to have the help of of an experienced ‘legal navigator’ when you set of to sail the ‘Sea of Red Tape’?

Would you really fall for this?


It’s always Phishing Season, only the bait changes.  And Somewhere out there is a Phisher who has decided to change the bait.  I recently received an email that is a blatant phishing scheme. I received the following notice from of all places, ‘The United States Postal Service’.

Sorry scammer, I know better!

TO: 1 recipient
CC: You + 23 More
Hello!

Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the
12th of November in time because the recipient’s address is erroneous.

Please print out the shipment label attached and collect the package at our
office.

United States Postal Service

I’m wondering how anyone could fall for something this blatant, but then again These Phishing schemes would not be so prevalent if no one was falling for them.

This one is so obvious.  Let me explain why.  Not only did they send this to me, they carbon copied it to 19 other people and I now have all of their email addresses just as they all have mine.  Not something that the post office would do.  In addition:

*When is the last time you stuck a letter in the mail with your email address printed on the outside of the envelope?  I don’t think USPS has mine because I have never included my email address on any shipping label.

*I think that there was a return address included on everything that I have mailed or shipped.  There is a reason for the return address; when something is undeliverable the post office returns it to the original sender.  So if they could not deliver something, they send it back to me.

How is it that 26 different people all have the same ‘shipping label?  We don’t that is where the phish bites the hook.  Yes there is something attached to this email for me to download, and it is not a USPS Shipping label.  It is a virus or worm that will infect my computer or a link to software that will give them access to my computer even if I am not on it.

Never respond to these emails and never click on any links or attachments included with them.  Delete them.  I have gotten the “Cannot deliver your package” e-mail numerous times from every shipping company in the US and they are all the same.  A phishing scheme meant to gain information from you.  Answering these emails or responding to them in any way other than deleting it, increases your risk of becoming the next identity theft statistic.

Identity theft is a major concern for all of us and our information can be accessed from numerous sources.  LegalShield can help before, during and after you become a victim.