Location Sharing – Is it safe?

Location privacy is an important part of staying safe. Nowadays, cell phones and all kinds of apps, can not only track your location, but share your location too. The scary part is that this can happen even without your knowledge.


What’s good about location sharing?

• If you are worried about your kids getting to and from school, it could be a good idea for them to share their location with a parent. This way, you can see exactly where they are at all times.

• Location tools help increase safety with pets as well. If your dog or cat gets out of the house or the backyard, and you have a tracking device on them, it will make it easier for you to locate their exact location.

• For convenience, it’s nice to have the “find my” app readily available in case you lose your cell phone or air pods. Simply go to the website and locate it without even having the phone.

When should you turn off location tracking?

• If someone is stalking you or you are trying to get away from an abusive situation, disable all of your location features. You can also contact law enforcement or a national helpline to be connected with local resources.

• Trust your instincts! Perpetrators try to use location tracking to control victims. If it seems like a person knows too much about you, they might be accessing your online accounts or tracking your location using a small device that can easily fit in a bag or car without being detected.


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The Latest Scam – Digital Money Impersonations

Impersonation scams online have significantly increased. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank to name a few, are the latest banks to be targeted. Scammers are fraudulently impersonating customers by using stolen identities, while also pretending to be representatives working on their behalf. Remember, financial industries such as these will never contact you to request money using Zelle or Wire Tranfer.

Stay Vigilant! Here are some tips to avoid being a target online:

Protect your credit or debit card and your PIN number. Make it hard for someone to guess and always cover it up when entering it in a store at the check out counter.
Don’t answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number. If it’s important, the person will leave you a message and you can decide whether to call them back or not.
Never disclose personal information until you verify that it’s from a reputable source. When in doubt, call the company directly using phone numbers you know are real.
Don’t let anyone threaten you. That goes for online, over the phone, or by texting. Remember, these entities should never do that to you. If they do, it’s a red flag.
If you think an account has been compromised, contact the institution, change your logins, and consider putting a fraud freeze on your card.


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Children’s Privacy Online – What Parent’s Should Know

With the rise in popularity among electronics, there have been a lot of recent concerns about the privacy of children, teenagers, and young adults alike. And although children under the age of 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission, many websites, particularly social media sites, can collect personal information about them, such as their name, birth date, and email address.

Twenty-five years ago, congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wrote a rule implementing the law, which was revised in 2012. Here are some answers to questions about the COPPA that parents and caregivers should find helpful:

What does the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Do?

COPPA imposes certain requirements of websites that are directed to children under age 13. It also imposes requirements on operators of other websites that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from youth under 13 years old.

What rights do parents have under the COPPA Act?

COPPA puts parents in control of the collection of their child’s personal information online. It is designed to protect kids and teens through regulating websites and online services.

What are the benefits of the COPPA Act?

COPPA deters marketers from launching misleading campaigns and collection methods, such as tracking cookies that violate children’s privacy. In addition to removing existing PII, COPPA gives parents control over what operators do with their kids data.

What happens if a website violates the COPPA Act?

The FTC enforces COPPA violations! A court can hold operators who violate the Rule liable for civil penalties of up to $50,120 per violation. COPPA gives states and certain federal agencies authority to enforce compliance in their jurisdiction.

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Imposter Scams on the Rise. Take Steps to Verify!

What is an Imposter Scam?                  An imposter scam is when someone poses as your friend, a business, a romantic interest, a charity, or some other trusted source, and reaches out to you requesting money. The request looks real, but isn’t.

Classic Warning Signs:

  • A text or phone call from someone pretending to be a bank. Maybe they contact you about a recent transaction or maybe they ask if they can have remote access to your computer to “protect” your account. Don’t fall for it! It’s a scam.
  • Businesses claiming you owe them money. If they threaten you just hang up the phone.
  • Someone claiming to be from an internet service, such as AT&T or Comcast, suggesting that they have detected spyware on your device and that they need your credit card information in order to keep it from being shutoff.

Tips to Protect Yourself:

  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know. Once you do, it will be hard to track and hard to reverse.
  • Verify information is real. Use the customer service phone number that is listed on one of your statements and call to verify that they were trying to reach you.
  • Hang up on unknown and unsolicited callers.
  • NEVER give out personal information, such as your credit card, where you bank, social security number or anything else.
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Keep yourself and your personal information safe from robocalls!

What is a robocall?
A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized dialing service to deliver a pre-recorded message (like a robot – hence the word “robocall”). They are used to reach a lot of people at once and deliver the same message. Scammers use them, because they want to try and deceive as many victims as possible.

Are all robocalls illegal?
Not all robocalls are illegal. For example, a message from your child’s school might be sent to deliver a message about a school closure or a schedule change. This is completely acceptable. But, unsolicited calls that are trying to sell you something are illegal.

How to know if a robocall is a scam!
• Is there silence at the beginning of the call? If yes, it’s because the call system is waiting for you to speak.
• If the message is a pre-recorded sales ask, it’s likely a scam.
• If a call is about extending a warranty on your car, but you don’t have a warranty, it’s a scam.
• If the message seems a bit too urgent, it’s a scam. For example, the call says something like “we’ve been trying to reach you to let you know that your social security number has been compromised. Please call us back right away or press 1 now.”

If you don’t recognize a phone number:
1. Don’t answer!
2. Don’t respond!
3. Don’t click!
4. Don’t press any buttons!
5. Don’t say “yes.”
6. Don’t provide any personal information!
Added tips:
7. Screen your calls. Filter unknow senders
8. Silence unknown senders
9. Sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry.
10. Report phone numbers to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this on the Do Not Call Registry website noted above.

Apps that can help deter robocalls:
• Nomorobos
• Mr. Number

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The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act recognizes that law enforcement officers and their supporting agencies NEED and DESERVE assistance with their well-being. Just as regular everyday people seek help with their emotional health, so do police officers.

When officers don’t manage stress well, it spreads to other people in the community. It spreads in the form of acting out physically or verbally when making arrests. It spreads to how officers respond to their own co-workers. It spreads to the way officers respond to their friends and families. And it’s simply not healthy for anyone, particularly the officers themselves.

Here are 8 tips that officers can use to help manage stress:

1. Have a support system!
Emotional support is critical when it comes to dealing with obstacles in life.

2. Exercise
Pump up the endorphins in your brain by doing something physical. Walk, run, bike, hike, play pickle ball, anything. Physical exercise has been proven to improve moods.

3. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep is powerful in reducing stress! It helps us concentrate and sharpens decision making.

4. Don’t just be your job. Diversity your narrative.
Surround yourself with people and activities outside of work that make you – YOU. If your job is all you are, it will be all you focus on. Think outside the box and start a hobby or spend quality time with your family and friends.

5. Get out of your own head!
Don’t be too arrogant. Confidence is key, but there is no need to think you are better than anyone else. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

6. Talk to a professional. 
It’s okay to seek psychological help! Who cares what other people think. Put yourself first.

7. Make healthy eating choices!
We all know the saying … “you are what you eat.” Think healthy and focus on veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. When you are in a hurry and on the go, grab a smoothie. A mixture of nuts is a great snack on the go and so is a small deli sandwich.

8. Communicate with your boss.
Level up and be honest about your needs. A force is more valuable to you than without you, so they will be more likely to get you the help and support you need than risk losing you.

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Home Security Basics

If you are going to be traveling for the holidays or even later on this year, don’t advertise your vacation! Do it afterwards. People don’t need to know your every move. It’s okay to share your trip later. Here are a few other security basics you should be aware of for the holidays and beyond:


• Alert your neighbors! Let someone know that you are going to be out of town. Exchange phone numbers and ask them to keep an eye out on your house.

• Hire a house sitter. Someone who can check in on your house once a day.

• Test your alarm. Make sure all systems are working. Also make sure your cameras are working properly and facing the right direction.

Here are some things you can do to deter burglars:

  1. Lock your doors and windows. May seem obvious, but a lot of people forget to check.
  2. Set an alarm and make sure your doorbell camera is secure and working.
  3. Don’t have packages delivered during this time. This will only invite potential thieves.
  4. Make sure it looks like someone is still home. Meaning, leave some lights on or put some lights on timers, so that they come on at the same time every day.
  5. Leave a radio on. They play music and talk, so it’s a great deterrent.
  6. Motion lights are also a great thing to put up.
  7. Trim your bushes. You don’t want to give anyone a place to hide.

Whether you are staying home or traveling, protecting your loved ones should always be the number one priority. Crimes can happen any time.

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Have you ever been suspicious about a person you are talking to online and think that they are not at all who they say they are? That maybe they are trying to lure you into a relationship, whether it be romantic or as a friend? That’s catfishing. The fish is a predator and is deceptive in nature. They create a false identity on a social media site and lure a victim into their world. They lead a victim to think they are talking to someone who might be the same age as them or even look a certain way — when it’s someone totally different. Someone awful who lies and is completely manipulative.

For example:

Recently in the news, a man in Virginia was reported to be communicating online with a teenage girl who lived in Riverside, California. The man was portraying himself to be a much younger age (17) than his actual age of 28. And it turns out this man was a former Virginia state trooper. He drove more than 2,000 miles to the girl’s house, where he murdered three of her family members and then set the house on fire. Thankfully some Sheriff Deputies tracked them down and the man was killed in a shootout.

This is a wake-up call for everyone and another horrific reminder that predators exist online.

Here are 7 signs that you are getting Catfished online:

  1. They won’t pick up a phone call.
  2. They are using someone else’s photos. You can typically find out if they are using someone else’s photos by doing a simple Google reverse image search.
  3. They make plans with you, but constantly cancel.
  4. They ask you for personal information, but don’t share personal things about themselves.
  5. They ask you for money.
  6. They seem to fall for you way too quickly. Something feels off.
  7. Everything just seems to good to be true.

Trust your instincts and know the warning signs, so that you can protect yourself. Be smarter than the perpetrator and never ever in any circumstance give out your personal private information!

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Look out for Charity Scams!

Whenever there is a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis, we all want to do our part to help affected communities recover. Here are some tips to help make sure your good deed and your dollars don’t get stolen.




• Only donate to charities that you know are legitimate.

• Avoid clicking on links on social media platforms or direct messages. Not all charity messages are legal.


• Research! Visit the charity website, check sites such as GuideStar, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

• Check the email address before you click. Most nonprofit websites end in .org NOT .com

• Never give out your social security number or bank account information. Nonprofit organizations won’t ask you for detailed personal information.

• Check the IRS website. They can reveal whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

Finally, avoid making donations through text messages or in cash. Use a secure service and remember to keep records of your contributions.

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Alarming Rise in CyberAttacks

According to experts, the first six months of 2022 were marked by a significant increase in cyberattacks. They ranged from hacktivism (hacking to promote a political agenda or social change) to terabit attacks (a multiple of the unity bit for digital information or computer storage). It can all be so mind boggling and confusing unless you are a tech savvy person.

What is a cyberattack anyway?
“A cyber attack is any offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, computer networks, infrastructures, or personal computer devices.”

What can a cyberattack do?
A cyber attack can completely disable, disrupt, destroy, and control a computer system. It can also alter, block, delete, manipulate, or steal the data that is held within these systems.

Who can launch a cyberattack?
Any individual or group can launch a cyber attack from anywhere. They are generally called cyber criminals.

What are the top threats to cyber security?
• Insider threats
• Weak passwords
• Phishing attacks
• Malware attacks
• Ransomware

Why are cyberattacks on the rise?
There is a lot of speculation about the cause of cyber attacks being on the rise. One known reason is simple human error. Another reason is because many companies are increasing their defenses against cyber threats. In doing so, they unfortunately put a target on their back.

What are 4 things you can do today to keep yourself cyber safe!

1. Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts and make it significantly less likely you’ll get hacked.

2. Update your software

3. Think before you click. More than 90% of successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email.

4. Use strong passwords.


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