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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , SHAKEN/STIR   

    Are robocalls about to become defunct? 

    Are robocalls about to become defunct?

    In the past, we’ve been somewhat critical of the Federal Communications Commission for the way the FCC has handled net neutrality in the United States. However, it seems that the FCC has taken steps to put a stop to one of today’s greatest nuisances, robocalls. These are the calls that often appear to be a local call making you think that it might be someone you know. Except when you answer the call it’s either some sales pitch or phone scam. It’s gotten to the point where many people won’t even answer their phone if they don’t recognize the number.

    Earlier this month, the FCC passed a provision that would require the major wireless providers to implement a new technology designed to stop robocalls. The carriers have until 2020 to implement the technology known as SHAKEN/STIR. You can read more about SHAKEN/STIR at this link. In essence, SHAKEN/STIR is said to be able to determine if the number calling you is coming from the phone number that shows up on your phone’s screen.

    In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to block robocalls before SHAKEN/STIR is implemented. Many carriers have services or apps that can go a long way in blocking robocalls. Some of these services also let you report any potential robocall numbers to your carrier. Many of the services are free but some require an additional monthly fee. Speaking of fee, it’s not known yet the cost that the implementation of SHAKEN/STIR will cost the carriers and how much of that will be passed on to the consumer. While the potential end of robocalls sounds great it could result in an even heftier phone bill.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: diabetes, drug prices, , insulin   

    Insulin prices are killing patients! 

    Insulin prices are killing patients!

    We think that it goes without saying that Diabetes is no joke. The metabolic disorder can affect anyone regardless of age, social status, or background. This requires the majority of diabetes patients to be on an insulin regimen for the rest of their lives. When insulin was first discovered the people who first discovered it refused to commercialize the drug claiming that it seemed unethical to profit from such a critical and life-saving drug. However, it seems like today’s pharmaceutical manufacturers have no such qualms about prioritizing profits over treatment.

    Over the past decade or so, prices of insulin have skyrocketed even though there have been no major advancements in the manufacturing process. While there are three companies that make insulin in the US, their prices aren’t what you could consider competitive as they’re all equally expensive pricing insulin out of the reach of many who need the drug to live. This has led many patients to try to ration their insulin supply which isn’t recommended. This can and has led to some patients dying from lack of insulin. This has forced many people seeking treatment to buy their insulin in Canada where not only can you buy insulin over the counter but you can buy it at a tenth of the US price.

    However, this is not a viable option for most diabetes patients. Some can hardly afford to leave their own city let alone travel to Canada. This has led to people forming ‘grey markets’ where they can buy or trade for supplies to help treat their diabetes. In what is supposed to be one of the most medically advanced countries in the world, people are dying because they can’t afford a drug that they need just to survive. Something can be done about this, however, those who control the supply refuse to do anything.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jim Browning, ,   

    Inside the Tech Support Scam! 

    Inside the Tech Support Scam!

    If you’re not familiar with tech support scam, it’s an insidious scheme designed to hijack your computer for one reason or another. Groups of scammers will robocall people claiming to be from Microsoft. They’ll tell their victims that they have a virus on their computer and will ask for remote access to the victim’s computer in order to fix the problem. What they’re really doing is either injecting malware into the victim’s computer or stealing personal information from the victim. However, one man has made it his mission to scam the scammers.

    A man who goes by the pseudonym of ‘Jim Browning’ is skilled enough that he’s able to take control of the scammers’ computer when they try to take control of his. In one particular instance that Browning has posted to YouTube, he was able to not only spy on the scam call center but he was also able to change the scammers’ outgoing robocall message to warn people that the call is a scam. Browning recently told CBS This Morning that the reason he’s doing this is to make more people aware of the scam.

    Normally, it’s encouraged by security experts that if you receive one of these phone calls the best thing to do is hang up. Also if you see a pop up on your computer claiming that you have a virus be suspicious and try running an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes instead. While Mr. Browning’s methods may be unorthodox sometimes it takes a new way of thinking to combat the con men.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: foreclosure, , reverse mortgage   

    A Reverse Mortgage could leave you homeless! 

    A Reverse Mortgage could leave you homeless!

    You may have seen the commercial on TV. A celebrity spokesperson talks about how seniors could receive additional income by taking out a reverse mortgage on their home. You wonder if this is right for you or possibly an older relative. You might have heard of a friend or relative who got a reverse mortgage and as far as you know they’re doing ok. How bad could it be? Unfortunately, reverse mortgages are costing many seniors their homes and leaving them with nowhere to turn.

    Reverse mortgages are essentially a loan given to you on the equity of your home. They are typically available to those who are 62 or older. No payments are required to be made until the person either moves out of the home or dies. However, unlike a regular mortgage, with a reverse mortgage, you need to jump through several hoops to make sure the loan doesn’t go into default. You need to maintain things such as property taxes and insurance for your home, If either lapse, the lender could foreclose on the home. While that sounds easy enough to maintain, an illness or death of a spouse could leave someone unable to keep up with paperwork which could result in the loss of their home.

    According to one report, there are 15,000 reverse mortgages that are in danger of defaulting in the state of Florida alone. From 2012-2017, over 16,000 homes went into foreclosure in the Sunshine State after taking out a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages may solve a short-term income problem but many experts say that in the long run doesn’t provide any real financial security.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Are employee benefits on the way back? 

    Are employee benefits on the way back?

    In the past few decades, employee benefits have been on a drastic downswing. Long gone are the days where employers offered fair and affordable benefits to their workers. Now at many businesses employees are expected to sacrifice much of their personal life just to be able to collect a paycheck. Combine that with the cost of living greatly exceeding the average employee’s wages and you have a recipe for disaster. Now, one of the nation’s largest employers is offering new benefits to their employees that somewhat harken back to previous eras.

    In an attempt to retain their best employees Target recently announced increased benefits for their employees. The new benefits include paid time off for child or elder care and an expanded parental leave program. Target already paid their employees a better starting salary than WalMart and now with this new benefits package, they may also attract applicants who may not otherwise apply for retail positions.

    While this may sound great in the surface, Target has been vague about some of the more important details of their new benefits. For example, while Target says that “employees will have access to up to 20 days a year of subsidized in-center or in-home care for either children or elders” those subsidies don’t come from Target but from the employee. Target hasn’t released how much that will cost one of their employees but only describes it as ‘affordable’.

    However, this could be a sign of positive change for employees. If more businesses start offering more competitive benefits packages in order to attract better employees maybe will see the return of better benefits for all.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blessings groups, emergency expenses,   

    Can social media help pay for emergencies? 

    Can social media help pay for emergencies?

    If you’re like many Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck you know how devastating an emergency expense can be. Before you know it bills are going unpaid in order to try to get your head above water financially. However, things start to snowball and the problem just gets bigger and bigger. Before all is said and done you could have essential utilities turned off or you could find yourself evicted from your home. If you’re in a situation like that there may now be a place you could potentially turn to help you get out of that jam.

    The Atlantic recently ran an article about groups on social media called ‘blessings groups’ that are specifically designed to help people pay for emergency situations. Rather than trying to use a platform like GoFundMe many people go to these blessings groups in order to try to get donations to help pay for such expenses as minor car repair, baby formula, or an overdue bill. If you’re in a position to do so you can also join one of these groups to donate to people having emergencies. You don’t have to donate a lot either. In most cases, donations come in as little as $5-$10 until the person in need has enough to pay for their expense.

    Even though these groups are a big help to many there are still many pitfalls as scammers are said to have run rampant through many of these groups. Not only that but sometimes these groups can become petty and political leading not only to hurt feelings but also some people receiving no donations when they’re in desperate need of them.

    So if you find yourself in need you may want to turn to one of these groups but be warned that the experience may not be a pleasant one.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Would you trust WalMart in your home? 

    Would you trust WalMart in your home?

    There used to be a time in our country where home grocery delivery was commonplace. However, that was before we started moving to the suburbs and usually at least one person was home most of the time. Now, with as busy as we all are we can’t afford to have someone home all the time to wait for a delivery person. That’s why a number of companies are trying out home delivery programs where you don’t have to be home to get your groceries. The nation’s leading retailer Walmart is now one of those companies testing this option.

    Recently. WalMart announced they’ll be testing a home delivery option where a delivery person will deliver groceries into your home if you’re not there. That would require a customer to have a smart lock that would allow a delivery person into your home to place the groceries directly into your fridge. The test program will be rolling out in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Florida. Walmart says that delivery people will have worked with WalMart for at least a year and will be equipped with body cameras so you could watch the delivery remotely.

    If you’re uncomfortable with a stranger in your home, WalMart has said that this attitude among consumers will change. They cite rideshare services as an example as consumers used to be wary of getting into other people’s cars but that attitude has since relaxed. They believe home delivery like this will also have a similar attitude shift. However, with ridesharing, you’re getting into a driver’s car. Letting someone into your home, especially when no one is there, is a whole other level of trust that consumers may not be willing to give.

    Would you be comfortable allowing a delivery person into your home under WalMart’s proposed security measures? Please let us know in the comments below.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , John Martin Hill, ,   

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down! 

    Serial Romance Scammer Brought Down!

    We’ve talked about romance scams before. Usually, these scams are perpetrated online by overseas scammers who con people into thinking they’re in a long distance relationship before trying to squeeze money out of their victims. However, in some cases, the romance scam can take place in the real world too. Today, we bring you the story of a man accused of committing real-world romance scams in several states for years before finally being apprehended.

    Police in Franklin, Tennessee recently arrested 35-year-old John Martin Hill. Hill was wanted out of Gwinnett County, Georgia for allegedly defrauding a woman out of $80,000 in a romance scam and using the money to buy a BMW. Hill met his latest victim on a dating site where he claimed to be a millionaire. He proposed quickly to the woman and then got the money from her claiming it was for furniture for the new house they were supposed to be moving into. Hill then reportedly took the money and ran. After he was arrested in Tennessee and extradited back to Georgia a judge ordered Hill be held with no bond. That’s probably because Hill had escaped prosecution in several other states where he is said to have committed similar crimes. Hill had his name legally changed five times while avoiding charges in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. There was even a Facebook group dedicated to putting a stop to his actions.

    While this is an extreme case of the romance scam this story serves as a warning for people who might be vulnerable to being taken in by a scammer like Hill. This story also shows what lengths romance scammers may go to in order to cover their own tracks. So if something seems not quite right in the relationship you may have every right to be suspicious. If you feel like you’ve been the victim of a romance scam don’t hesitate to contact your local police.

     
  • Geebo 8:05 am on June 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Don’t take out a loan for that job! 

    Don't take out a loan for that job!

    While we’re far from the authority on online scams, we are surprised when we hear about one that we’ve never heard of before. Often these online scams are just variations of only a handful of scams such as the phony check scam. Not to mention that we thought we’ve heard of every job scam under the sun. However, even we were taken aback when we read about this job scam from Arizona.

    According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, there was an employment scam going through their state in 2017. Two men were posting help wanted ads for phony clerical and administrative jobs. They would then tell the applicants that their credit score wasn’t good enough for the position but that they could improve their credit score by taking out a loan. The scammers would then request the money from the applicants claiming that they would pay the loans back for them but of course, never did. Thankfully, the Attorney General’s office was able to prosecute these scammers but we have to wonder if the victims’ credit ever recovered after these incidents.

    While there are some jobs in the financial sector that require you to have a good credit score, you should never have to pay anything to get a job. If a company offers you an immediate position do some research to make sure they are a legitimate employer. And as always, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: abortion, Alabama, pro-choice, Roe. v. Wade   

    Being Pro-Choice is being Pro-Constitution! 

    Being Pro-Choice is being Pro-Constitution!

    The state of Alabama made national headlines recently for enacting the most restrictive abortion law seen since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that protected abortions under The Constitution. If and when Alabama’s new law goes into effect, it essentially outlaws abortion under most circumstances including those of rape and incest. If a medical professional were to perform an abortion in Alabama, they could be potentially sentenced to 99 years in prison. That’s a longer sentence than any sentence for rape or sexual abuse in the state. So in effect, a doctor could serve more time in prison for performing an abortion on a rape victim than the actual rapist. Alabama isn’t the only state enacting such legislation as many conservative states are in the process of passing similarly restrictive legislation when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.

    Usually, when the topic of abortion is debated, it comes down to two fundamental arguments, a woman’s right to choose and domain over her own body vs. the protection of an unborn child. Now we’re going to take a different approach and discuss the Constitutionality of abortion and why overturning Roe v. Wade could be more harmful to the country than you might think. Conservative state governments love to tout that the Constitution is a sacred document, however, they tend to pick and choose which parts of it they hold sacred. While they’ll continually encourage and advocate the Second Amendment as if it was handed down by God, they’ll try to circumvent others like the Fourteenth Amendment. That’s the Amendment which contains the Equal Protection Clause. Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women have a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion. President Trump has stated that if he were to seat enough justices on the Supreme Court, he would have Roe v. Wade overturned. That would mean that a landmark decision that was previously protected by the Fourteenth Amendment would be overturned. This would cause precedent for other landmark decisions under the Fourteenth Amendment to be possibly overturned. One of the most famous landmark decisions that was also protected by the Equal Protection Clause was Brown v. Board of Education, the ruling that led to the ending of segregation in schools in our country. In today’s politically charged climate, to put it politely, is it too far out of the realm of possibility that overturning Brown v. Board of Education would be next after Roe v. Wade?

    If conservative states like Alabama really wanted to curtail abortion there are more helpful ways they could do that such as providing better sex education information to their students. They could also provide better and more affordable healthcare access for things like birth control. They could provide better incentives for adoption and foster care, that is after cleaning up bloated and corrupt family service departments. Instead, they enact restrictive policies that endanger women under the guise of “states’ rights”. Why is it that the concept of states’ rights usually only comes up when they’re trying to take the rights of others away?

     
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