Holiday lights

The 12 Scams of the Holidays

Watch out for these 12 scams this holiday season...

The holidays are one of the busiest times of year for online scammers. Not only do millions of consumers go online to shop, but many also let their guard down as they get caught up in the festive mood. Keep cybercriminals from taking the joy out of your holidays this year by familiarizing yourself with the top scams and how to avoid them.

Charity phishing scams
Knowing that consumers like to give this at time of year, hackers send out fake emails requesting donations that appear to be from legitimate charitable organizations. However, these emails usually link to phony websites that take your money without passing it along to a good cause.

Holiday e-card scams
More and more people are sending holiday e-cards instead of regular cards because they are convenient and environmentally green. Cybercriminals will send you an e-card, asking you to download an attachment to pick up your card. However, the attachment isn't really an e-card - it's malicious software ready that installs on your computer without your knowledge and wreaks havoc.

Email banking scams
Scammers are aware that during the holidays more people shop online and want to make sure their transactions are approved. Some bad guys send an official-looking email that asks you to confirm account information, including your username and password - often with ominous warnings that your account will become invalid if you don't comply. Never respond to email requests for your personal or financial data.

Fake invoice scams
During the holiday season, you may shop online, over the phone, or through catalogs. This is no secret to stealthy scrooges who try to trick you into giving away personal financial details through fraudulent invoices. These criminals send you an email with a fake invoice or delivery notification that appears to be from FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Customs Service. The email asks you for your credit card details so that your account can be credited or requires you to open an invoice or customs form to receive the package. When you comply, your information is stolen or malware is unleashed on your machine.

New friend request scam
With the holidays approaching, many people like to rekindle old friendships on popular social networking sites and are excited about receiving a message informing them that they have a "new friend request!" Unfortunately, scammers like to take advantage of users' excitement and send out phony friend requests that appear to be from a social networking site but actually link to malware such as viruses, Trojans, and even keylogging software that can record your keystrokes, including passwords that you type in.

Dangerous holiday-related search term scams
We often search the web for ways to spread holiday cheer, like downloading a Santa screensaver or holiday ringtone. However, you could be downloading a whole lot more than you bargained for, such as malware or spyware.

Job-related email scams
Scammers know it's nice to have a little extra cash around the holidays, so they send emails to entice job hunters with promises of high-paying jobs and work-from-home moneymaking opportunities. Once you submit your information to them, the scammers are off and running with your information and your money.

Password-stealing scams
Having your password stolen is a sure way to spoil your holidays. Thieves use low-cost tools to guess your password or deliver malware that records computer keystrokes (keylogging) as you input your password. And, according to the experts, virtual on-screen keyboards do not protect from keylogging. Once criminals have your password, they can access your bank, credit card, or other online accounts to take money from you. They can also use your accounts to spam your friends and networks.

Fraud via auction sites
Hackers know that visits to auction sites increase over the holidays, so they often lurk on these sites, hoping to con you out of your hard-earned cash. If an item looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to review the seller's ratings and feedback. Also, pay with your credit card, since credit card companies usually reimburse you if there is a fraudulent charge.

Holiday-themed email attachments and spam
This time of year, we are more apt to open emails that invite us to look at attachments containing holiday-themed pictures or messages. Scammers understand this and will try to lure you into opening these attachments or to click on links that download malware.

Online identity theft
With so many people shopping online during the holidays, cybercriminals come out in force by setting up fake websites designed to steal your information and, ultimately, your identity. Be careful about sites that store your online information, and make sure you don�t shop from a public computer since other users may be able to access your stored usernames and passwords. To assess your risk of identity theft, take our Identity Theft Risk Assessment. One rule of thumb is to shop only from websites that use encryption, or scrambling, to protect your information. Make sure the website address begins with "https:" instead of "http:". This indicates that encryption is being used. To read more tips for staying safe while shopping online, please visit here.

Ransomware scams
We're used to seeing more online scams around the holidays, so this latest trick takes advantage of our desire to keep our systems virus free. "Ransomware" is a Trojan that acts as though it is running a virus scan on your machine. It tells you that viruses have been detected and that you must pay for phony security software to clean your machine. Meanwhile, you are locked out of your system and you cannot open or access any applications until the payment is made.

How to Arm Yourself Against Holiday Scams, or Any Scams, Any Time of the Year:

Use common sense - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you're ever in doubt about something being legitimate, don't click on it.

Educate yourself - Keep up-to-date about the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use to grab your information so you can avoid potential attacks.

Use a comprehensive computer security - You need complete protection that includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and a firewall and make sure it is up to date. Software like McAfee Total Protection can help protect you from malware, phishing, spyware, and other common and emerging threats.

Practice safe surfing - Use a safe search plug-in like McAfee SiteAdvisor software to warn you of a web site's safety rating before you access it. SiteAdvisor uses intuitive red, yellow, and green checkmarks to rate websites when you search for them.

Practice safe shopping - Don't divulge unnecessary information on e-tailer sites. Make sure you check for trustmarks, like the McAfee SECURE mark, which indicate that the site has been verified as safe by a trusted third party; look for a lock symbol; check the web address for "https"; and use a credit card for payment.

Create strong passwords - Use complex passwords consisting of a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and vary them between accounts and never share your password with anyone.

Click with caution - When you're checking your email or chatting over instant messenger (IM), be careful not to click on any links in messages from people you don't know.

Be suspicious - Even if you consider yourself cyber savvy, you still need to keep your guard up for any new tricks and be proactive about your safety.


Our Deepest Fear (quote)

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-- From the movie Coach Carter

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Autumn leaves

Funny Thanksgiving Quotes

In honor of the holiday:::

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.
-- Johnny Carson

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.
-- Jon Stewart

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
-- Anonymous

Thumbs up

Colbert takes on RI Governor and Catholic Church

Stephen Colbert takes on R.I. Governor and Catholic Church - after Governor's recent veto of funeral rights bill...


On Huff:

My favorite lines in bold below:

The Catholic Church issued a statement threatening to close its homeless shelters in DC if gay marriage becomes legal there. To which Colbert quipped: "I mean, they have no choice. After all, as Jesus said, 'If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor... unless a couple of dudes register at Pottery Barn, in which case, f**k the poor.'"

In response to Gov. Carcieri's veto in which Carcieri called the funeral rights bill "disturbing trend" signifying the erosion of traditional marriage, Colbert "applauded" Carcieri's stance, saying: "This is an assault on marriage from beyond the grave. They're like gay zombies... These gay zombies want our braiiiiins."

::: True stories of corp's that knew their products were dangerous & failed to tell customers :::

A non-exhaustive collection of stories about corporations that knew their products were dangerous, sometimes deadly, but chose not to do anything about it - or worse, actively hid the evidence that the product was dangerous to consumers... 

These are examples of where the civil justice system (aka tort law) helped bring the truth to light and, in many cases, helped prevent additional death/danger. 

For example (defective bullet-proof vests):::
In June of 2003, 27-year-old Oceanside, CA, police officer Tony Zeppetella got up early to spend a few precious hours with his 6-month-old son Jakob before leaving for work. He would never return home from his shift. Zeppetella pulled over a car during a routine traffic stop later that day. When he stepped to the car’s window, a gang member inside shot him with a stolen Ruger handgun. The bullet penetrated Zeppetella’s bullet proof vest and hit him in the chest, severing an artery. Zeppetella returned fire but eventually died from his wounds. Soon after his death it would come to light that the manufacturer of the bullet proof vest had known for years that its products were defective, but the company had decided not to warn its customers.

Executives at Second Chance Body Armor knew as early as 1998 that the Zylon material in its vests that was supposed to be durable enough to stop a bullet was suffering from degradation problems that could render the vests penetrable. [...] In a memo dated 2002, company president Richard Davis outlined one of the company’s “options,” which included “operating as though nothing is wrong until one of our customers is killed or wounded.”

Second Chance did not warn its customers until September 2003, when it recalled 130,000 vests. In 2005, Second Chance recalled a further 98,000 vests, but even then did not recall all of its Zylon products because it claimed it did not have enough money to replace them.
(emphasis added)

Follow the link below to see more stories where companies "knew and failed to"...  Other products discussed include super-absorbent tampons, contact lens solution, tires, peanuts, poultry, beef, cribs, heart defibrillators, heart valves, and prescription drugs (e.g. trasylol, avandia, zyprexa, seroquel, ortho evra, paxil)...

Health care & tort reform, Texas-style

‘Texas justice’ will not fix health care
Friday, October 23, 2009
by Patrick Barry

Richard Weekley's Oct 20 Commentary piece, “Tort reform helps Texas health care,” is a strange selection to print. Imposing Texas-style, one-size-fits-all caps on awards to the most seriously injured patients would not help improve health care. To the contrary, the truth about the Texas experiment reveals that significant restrictions on patients’ rights lead only to increased cost, increased danger, and poor health care.

Texas is widely considered to have some of the most restrictive civil-justice laws in the country, enacted in 2003. An arbitrary cap of $250,000 (without exception) on non-economic damages, immunity for admittedly negligent acts in “emergency” care, and onerous procedural requirements for even the most qualified and credentialed expert witnesses are viewed by the insurance industry as a model. Six years after these reforms, however, it is clear that the experiment has failed, and that the promises of “tort reform” are and always have been a sham.

Here are the facts about health care in Texas:

Health care in Texas ranks among the overall worst in the nation, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News and a study by the Commonwealth Fund.

Texas was ranked last in access to health care statewide, and in a measure of how minorities and low-income patients fared in the state’s medical system.

Texas was given grades of D-plus in Access to Emergency Care, Quality and Patient Safety, and Public Health and Injury Protection by the American College of Emergency Physicians in its 2006 report card.

Texas has some of the highest per-patient costs of care in the country. A recent piece in The New Yorker (“The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care,” June 1) by Harvard surgeon and scholar Atul Gawande, M.D., revealed this, and placed the blame on “physician self-referral” for procedures. In Texas, a physician can see a patient in the office, recommend a life-threatening surgery or procedure, and then send the patient to a surgery center, hospital, radiology suite or catheterization lab owned by that same physician. Because the doctor has a direct financial interest in each step of that patient’s care, costs have gone through the roof as patients get more and more needless procedures.

Texas is attracting the worst doctors in the country. Those same doctors find a safe home in a state with notoriously poor professional discipline. At the recent August meeting of the Texas Medical Board, the following doctors were allowed to keep practicing: two doctors convicted for sex crimes against children; two psychiatrists found to have had sexual relations with mental health patients; a neurosurgeon who operated on the wrong body part four times; and a cardiologist found to have performed dozens of invasive procedures with little or no cause. Incredibly, an ER doctor who was too drunk to insert a tube into a patient — a patient who then died — was allowed to practice in Texas, and even got some therapy (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 11).

The doctors who do go to Texas go to the wealthiest communities, leaving desperate rural areas underserved. “Baby, I Lied: Rural Texas is Still Waiting for the Doctors Tort Reform was Supposed to Deliver” (The Texas Observer, Oct. 19, 2007).

Texas-style tort reform does not control costs or improve health care. What it does do is sacrifice a patient’s Seventh Amendment constitutional right to a jury trial in favor of limits chosen by lobbyists and politicians instead of a jury. And by largely eliminating professional accountability, it contributes to the harmful “race to the bottom” of quality and safety.

The only model that Texas provides for Rhode Island and the rest of the United States is in revealing the depths to which corporate interests will stoop to protect profits. Texas has been on the front lines of the war between big business and U.S. citizens for 20 years.

Richard Weekley’s group, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, was brought into existence by the Greater Houston Partnership (the local Chamber of Commerce) in 1994, when the Partnership was led by Enron CEO Ken Lay. That’s right, the same guy. Ken Lay was a major supporter of the TLR group, and on the “Host Committee” of a TLR reception at Weekley’s own home in Houston in 2001. TLR has succeeded in stripping constitutional protections away from Texas consumers, all to the benefit of people like Ken Lay and his cronies. We cannot trust them to write any prescription for this country.

One bright spot in Texas? The seven-year-old Office of Rural Community Affairs, which gives doctors stipends of up to $15,000 a year for residency practice after medical school in underserved areas. A separate program uses $112,500 a year in interest from the state’s share of the massive tobacco lawsuit settlement to recruit and retain nurses and physical therapists in underserved areas. Another $2 million in tobacco money is distributed by the office to small rural hospitals.

The kicker? The tobacco-settlement money used to fund these public-health programs was, of course, obtained by trial lawyers — the very same folks Weekley demonizes in his quest for greater corporate profits.

Patrick C. Barry is president of the Rhode Island Association for Justice, formerly called the Rhode Island Trial Lawyers Association, and a member of the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

Link to ProJo:

Here's the original post from the co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Texans for Lawsuit Reform that Mr Barry was responding to above.

RI thing

RI news::: Former Chief Justice Williams will hear no new cases

Snippets from ProJo story:
Frank J. Williams, the retired chief justice of the R.I. Supreme Court, who has been embroiled in a messy divorce case involving his former driver, announced today that he will no longer hear any new court cases.

Williams, 69, formally resigned from the court in December 2008, but at the court's request, agreed to assist on an interim basis.

"The events surrounding the family court matter are personal in nature, but the media accounts are causing an unwarranted and unnecessary distraction for the court,'' Williams said in a statement. "The welfare of the judiciary has always been extremely important to me. I do not want it adversely affected by personal and collateral matters."

"There is no question that this matter has become a distraction," Suttell said in a press release. "It is clearly in the best interests of the judiciary that the former chief justice be relieved of judicial responsibilities at this time."

Read full post on ProJo:

Repubs scare me

There's a Rep for That!

Spoof iPhone commercial that mocks Republicans in Congress... "There's a Rep For That!"

For example::::
"If you want to heckle the president during his address to the nation, there's a Rep for that." 
"If you want to suggest smacking around your wife doesn’t truly count as assault, and neither does killing homosexuals, there's a Rep for that." 
"If you want to scare women with a false link between abortion and breast cancer, there's a Rep for that." 

The link above has the "commercial" (1 min 24 sec) then beneath the video is the information to support each of the "Rep for that" Republicans in the video... 

(Hat tip to Lynette for posting.)

RI thing

Mom & Dad - Check it out!! Providence ranked 17 in top 25 best places to retire by Money magazine

Money Magazine included Providence in it's Top 25 Best Places to Retire! Ranked as #17! Go Providence!

Dozens of restaurants line the city's narrow streets, serving up fresh local seafood as well as modern and internationally influenced fare.

It's easy to work up an appetite enjoying the historic sites or taking in the arts at a variety of venues throughout the city. Rhode Island School of Design's Museum of Art has a collection of more than 80,000 pieces.

Found via Providence Business News article here.