Posts by admin2fsa

Travel Tips

Make sure the airline claim check on your checked luggage is correct. The airline tag should match the airport at your final destination. Always carry travel documents, medication, jewelry, keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage. Items such as these should never be packed in checked luggage. Label each piece of luggage on both the inside and the outside with your name and telephone number. Label your laptop computer as well. Remove old claim checks on your luggage to avoid confusion. Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when going through the security checkpoints at the airport. Having a travel kit perpetually stocked in a waterproof case will save in packing time before the trip and aggravation after arrival. Before you leave on your trip, make two sets of photocopies of your valuable documents and tickets. Pack a copy and leave a copy at home. Create your own packing list based upon your destination, accommodations, weather, tour activities and number of travelers Wrinkles are caused by under-packing and over-packing. Avoid wrinkles by packing light and tight. Buy an inexpensive camera with flash for children old enough to use it. The trip is then photographed from the child’s perspective. When travelling with small children, take along a package of outlet covers. Most hotel rooms neglect to provide them and there are often outlets placed at children’s height. To help kids remember their trip in their own words, buy postcards along the way and have them write on them. At the end of the trip, punch a hole in the corner of the postcards and put them on a ring. Traveling with your pet? Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. Also carry a photograph of your pet. Travel during off-peak times. If possible, book your flights mid-morning through early afternoon or in the evening from Monday through Thursday. Before leaving the rental lot, inspect the car for the correct mileage information and any visible damage to the car. If damaged, a notation should be made on the contract before leaving the rental location. A nylon tote bag that folds compactly into its own pocket can be used as a beach bag during your vacation and as an extra carry-on for your return home with fragile souvenirs. Always carry a small kit with some basic first aid items in your hand luggage. Bring an extra supply of prescription medications with you in case your trip is unexpectedly extended. Also, bring a hard copy of your prescriptions with...

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Five Digital Terms You Need to Know

New terms are added to our digital vocabularies all of the time. Here are five/six terms you should know. Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of devices that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, allowing them to communicate with each other and other Internet-connected devices. The IoT may include security systems and cameras, thermostats, cars, appliances, lights, vending machines and more. Metadata is “data about data.”  Metadata for a document may include such elements as file size, date created, author name, etc. that help to identify and locate data. You might think of it like a library card catalog for data files. A geotag is metadata that contains geographic information. For example, photo geotags may include latitude, longitude, altitude, compass bearing and other attributes. Smartphones and many cameras automatically geotag photos, or tags may be added manually. BitTorrent is a protocol that makes downloading large files faster on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks.  Downloading a large file from one source can be very slow, so the BitTorrent system will locate multiple computers with the same file and download it in parts from several computers at once. Emoji are small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion, typically used in text messages. You can see many popular emojis and their meanings at...

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Drones and Privacy

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that more than 550,000 drones were registered in the first nine months after a registration rule went into effect in August 2016, and the number of registrations continues to increase by 2,000 per day. They expect that there may be millions of the small unmanned aircraft in the skies in the near future. Drones are popular with businesses and hobbyists, but many of the people on the ground below are less enthusiastic, including: a Kentucky man who shot down a drone he says was hovering over his yard where his teenage daughter was sunbathing; a 75-year-old Oklahoma man who was arrested and prosecuted after an anti-prostitution vigilante used his drone to capture footage of the man in a car with a suspected sex worker; celebrities who are tracked and photographed by drone-wielding paparazzi; firefighters who used a hose to blast a drone that was recording a house fire; and Los Angeles Kings hockey fans who, celebrating after their team won the Stanley Cup in 2014, used a T-shirt to knock a drone from the sky then pounded it with a skateboard. Although there are laws about the operation of drones they are primarily concerned with safety, not privacy. Current FAA regulations relate to “weight, speed, altitude, certification for commercial users and other flight restrictions” but not privacy. In one drone privacy case, a New York man was arrested for using a drone to peer into the windows of a doctor’s office. He claimed that he was simply testing the drone and it could not see through the tinted windows. The man was ultimately acquitted of all charges. Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who specializes in drone-related cases, said it was one of the first cases to test how existing privacy laws could be applied to drones. “This case shows there’s an existing legal framework to address misconduct with a drone. This person didn’t do anything wrong, but the fact the prosecutor could use an existing surveillance statute to address the alleged privacy invasion shows us we don’t need drone-specific legislation.” The American Civil Liberties Union raises issues about the use of drones by individuals, corporations, law enforcement and government agencies saying, “deployed without proper regulation, drones equipped with facial recognition software, infrared technology, and speakers capable of monitoring personal conversations would cause unprecedented invasions of our privacy rights.” The FAA regulates where drones may fly, but privacy matters are not clear cut. Many states are enacting legislation to limit where photos and videos may be taken, resulting in a patchwork of regulations. According to Consumer Reports, “Authority is split between the federal government and the states. And no one currently has the authority to broadly protect privacy by preventing drones from flying over people’s...

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Fake Apps Phishing for Shoppers

It seems that every retailer, online and offline, has an app they want shoppers to download and use, promising savings and deals to shoppers in return. Scammers have noticed the popularity of retail apps and they are taking advantage of it by flooding the app stores with fake apps for retailers such as Nordstrom, Zappos.com and Christian Dior. Some of these apps are relatively harmless adware, but many contain malware or are designed to get users to enter their personal information, such as Facebook credentials or credit card numbers. According to the New York Times most of the fake apps came from China. They managed to slip through Apple’s review process, which Apple represents as an advantage over the more open Google Android app store. Although the Apple store has been more careful than the Google store in approving apps, Apple’s screening is primarily for malware and they leave it up to the brands to police the app store for inappropriate use of their brands. The Times suggests that users watch for red flags indicating the app is not real, such as menus written in poor English, no reviews and no history of previous versions of the app. Many of these apps mimic legitimate apps from companies that have official apps. For example, supermarket chain Kroger Company has 20 iPhone apps representing its many brands. An app seller called The Kroger Inc. had 19 apps in the store, selling everything from sneakers to luxury perfume. Adding to the confusion over real and fake apps are search ads run in the Apple App Store. Do a search for a popular brand and the fake apps come up along with the real ones, leading many confused consumers to download the fake apps. Before you download shopping apps to your mobile device, take a look at these tips from the Better Business Bureau: Check out the app before you download it. Read reviews. Look at the website for the store to see if they mention their app and link to it in the app store. Don’t click links in any email to download apps. Scammers may send phishing emails to get you to download their fake apps. Provide as little information as possible when using the app. Most apps should not require a lot of information unless you are making a purchase. Only make a purchase through an app when you are absolutely certain the app is genuine. When making a purchase via an app (or online), consider using a credit card for added fraud...

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Feds Charge Dozens in Government Impostor Scam

Federal authorities announced in October 2016 that they had shut down a large call center operation that had scammed hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans. According to the Wall Street Journal, an 81-page indictment named 56 people in the U.S. and India and five call centers in India. They were charged in federal court with crimes that include impersonation of a U.S. officer, identity theft, money laundering and wire fraud. The indictment followed a three-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration. Authorities said that it is the largest law-enforcement action ever conducted against a telephone scam In the scam, callers in India contacted victims in the U.S. and demanded payment. It involved the familiar tactic of phony government agents making fraudulent demands, including fake deportation warrants, nonexistent arrest warrants and phony unpaid income taxes. Caller ID spoofing made it appear that the calls were coming from a government agency. Victims were told they must pay or face arrest, public humiliation or deportation. The telephone scam preyed on immigrants and the elderly, and many victims were researched before being contacted by the scammers so they could be targeted more effectively. According to authorities, more than 15,000 people paid more than $300 million to the scammers, with some individual victims paying more than $100,000. One victim said that she received a call that was identified as being from the 202 area code for Washington, DC. The caller claimed to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and said she must immediately pay $6,850 or face arrest the following day. “They knew where I was,” the victim said. “I tried to appeal to their humanity, kept telling them I was a cancer victim,” but their threats finally convinced her to withdraw funds from her bank and transfer the money to the scammers. Scammers directed victims to load money onto gift cards and other stored-money cards, or to wire money via services such as Western Union. “The call centers relied on a network of U.S.-based associates to cash out and launder the extorted funds as quickly as possible,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell. “This was done through a variety of prepaid debit cards, which were often registered by conspirators using personal identifying information of close to 50,000 U.S.-based identity theft victims, or through MoneyGram or Western Union wire transfers conducted with fake names and fraudulent identification.” Although receiving one of these calls from an aggressive scammer can be terrifying, consumers are urged not to fall for the scam. “If you receive a call like this, do not pay any money,” Caldwell said. “It is not the U.S. government calling...

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