How many of you go online and look at reviews before you go to a new restaurant, hire a new hair stylist, get a pet groomer for your dog, or in this case, look for medical help like a doctor or dentist? Well, recent statistics report that at least 70% of us start with an online search. But beware – the five-star rating you see may not be what it appears.
Fake online doctor reviews are on the rise. Who knew that was a thing right!? It’s a sad reality. And even more frightening is the fact that doctors and offices are hiring people to write fake reviews, just so they can make more money.
The scope of the problem is massive and there seem to be a lot of Facebook groups who are devoted to buying, selling, and trading fake online positive reviews. It’s an open marketplace!
So, what makes these reviews suspicious? Yelp reviews have been found to be written by people using the exact same words, written by people in different cities, and written by the same people on different days.
• If you read a review the keeps referring to the doctor as “she,” but the doctor is male.
• Look for identical reviews. Particularly, look past the stars and skim the text to see if the details make sense for that business.
• Beware of a large number of five-star reviews following a negative one
Other things to look for:
• Look for the section of reviews on Yelp that says “… reviews that are not currently recommended.” It lists one-star ratings first. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see it.
• Take the time to really look for a new medical professional and thoroughly read the reviews.
Last year Yelp closed 85,000 user accounts due to potentially fraudulent or abusive behavior. Maybe we should go back to the word-of-mouth method. Just ask a friend!
If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, walks and talks like a rat – IT’S A RAT! Scammers are continuing to find new ways to target you in a more personal way. Now they are coming for you through text messages and posing as companies we trust, such as FedEx and UPS. Text messages and emails might look real, but are in fact fake.
The text messages say that you have a delivery coming, but that there is a problem with it. Scammers want you to call or click on the link embedded in the text. Once you click on the link, it takes you to a fake site and starts asking you for personal information (including your credit card). Once you input your card, it’s all over – they just got you and will steal your money.
Crooks are contacting consumers posing as the police, the IRS, your bank, the courts, even federal agents. The way they pray on honest hardworking people is sickening. Especially people over the age of 60. This group of individuals are being scammed more than any other age group. If you are in this age group or have a parent or grandparent in this age group, talk to them. Make sure they are aware of the dangers lurking on their cell phones.
3 things you can do to protect yourself:
- Stay away from free trial offers
- Look for grammatical errors in texts or emails
- Report scams! Contact the FTC at https://www.ftc.gov/
Despite rising gas prices, many families are getting back out on the road to travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Here are 5 quick tips to keep you safe on the road:
1. Before you get on the road, rest up! Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the night before. That goes for the primary driver and anyone else that plans to pitch in driving as well.
2. Gas up. It’s better for your car if you are driving on a full tank of gas, and it will be better for you, so that you don’t have to make frequent stops to fill up.
3. Try to avoid cell phone distractions. It’s okay to use your phone for GPS maps and even taking phone calls (hands free), but turn off the alerts for text messages and social media. Give your undivided attention to the road.
4. Leave some space between you and the cars in front of you. Driving too close is an accident waiting to happen. Especially on the freeway. If someone is driving fast and wants to pass you, let them. Better to be safe!
5. Keep an emergency kit in the car. It should include a flashlight (with extra batteries), water bottle, bandages, and jumper cables.
Have fun, brings snacks, and play games along the way. Road trips make the best memories!
What you need to know to protect your money and your heart!
For years, people have been looking to get rich quick. And it seems like scam artists have always been there ready to answer the call. And now with cryptocurrency, it’s even harder to trace.
What is cryptocurrency anyway?
Let’s try to break this down. A cryptocurrency, aka crypto-currency, or crypto is:
- A digital form of currency
- It’s a digital data string that converts to money.
- The money is instant and practically untraceable.
- It’s designed to work as an exchange of funds through a computer network.
- Not monitored by any central authority, such as a bank or the government.
- There are more than 17,000 different types on the market
Can you see why it’s attracting scammers in a big way?!
Inside track on a real-life scam story and red flags you can’t afford to ignore!
When a single man went on the dating app Tinder to find companionship, he was swindled through a sophisticated crypto investment scheme. He started communicating with a female who quickly advanced her interest in him and convinced the man to leave Tinder. Instead, they started talking through instant text messages. The conversation quickly turned to money and she persuaded him to invest his money with a legitimate crypto site. Eventually, she encouraged him to move his money from the legitimate site to a different website (where she provided the link). Many months later, he realized that the profits he thought he was making – weren’t real.
Sadly, this scam is becoming more common. You might see earnings, and even be able to withdraw money at some point. But when you want to withdraw the entire balance – and can’t – that’s when people are realizing that they’ve been a victim of a scam.
If someone asks you to make a crypto deposit at an ATM, don’t do it. No reputable company is going to ask you to make a deposit using just crypto. They will always have other options for submitting payment.
If you think it will never happen to you, you’re wrong! It can absolutely happen to anyone.
You’ve probably seen the videos caught on tape of unprovoked attacks on innocent people. They’re all over the news. Recent reports show violent crimes, including car jackings and assaults are on the rise all over the country. It’s all so shocking! A woman in Philadelphia was simply driving and sitting at a light when a person in another car pulled up next to her, opens her door, pulls her out of her car, and takes off with her vehicle. In another incident in San Jose, California, a person was sitting in their car in a parking lot when a man walks up, breaks the window on the passenger side, steals a purse, and runs off. What has come of this country that we don’t even feel safe while driving or sitting in our cars?
Here are some simple tips to help you avoid being the target of violence:
- Park close to locations. Especially if you are by yourself. At nighttime, park next to a lamp post. Bad guys don’t like to be seen, so they are less likely to target you in the light.
- Look at your surroundings and have your car keys ready before you leave the store. Don’t put them in your purse, because if someone snatches your purse, they have your keys too. If you just came out of the mall or a store and are loading things in your car, always look around. See if anyone is following you or watching you a little too closely.
- Don’t Fight! If someone approaches you and wants your wallet, your phone, or even your car – give it to them! Your life is more important.
- Never ever walk away from your car while it’s warming up! It’s an invitation for a thief to take your car.
- Wear only one earbud/earphone while walking. Bad guys like people who are distracted, so make sure you can hear what’s going on around you. If you are out running or walking and want to wear both earbuds, turn the volume so far down that you can hear well and even hold a conversation with someone next to you if needed.
- Lock your car door (even while driving). And make sure your windows are up high enough that someone can’t reach in.
If you are parking at the mall, park near the security booth. It’s a little extra assurance that someone is looking out for you.
Spring break is upon us and thankfully, it is safe to travel again! Even though the airports are getting crowded, and flights seem to be packed, the world is almost back to its pre-pandemic mode. But it’s a new normal, because TSA is still requiring masks to travel on airplanes, trains, and public transportation.
A few things to consider!
- Think about your personal risk factor. Take the appropriate precautions to protect your family.
- With gas prices souring, many travelers are re-considering taking a road trip or any kind of trip for that matter. You might want to hold off on a vacation.
- The airline industry pre-purchases gas, so they can afford to keep prices relatively lower for now. But, in a few more weeks, ticket prices might go up, so be prepared for a possible sticker shock.
What’s the best way to score a last-minute spring break deal and stay safe?
- Consider off-peak travel dates. You’ll get better prices and will naturally avoid bigger crowds of people.
- Choose your activities carefully. Try to stay outdoors and avoid high risk areas.
- It’s a great time for international destinations. The overseas flights are low right now, but you should still factor in higher prices for food and meals.
- Be aware of travel hot spots like Miami and Las Vegas. These cities will cost more.
You never know where people are coming from or whether or not they are vaccinated. They might be coming from areas with higher COVID case rates, and infectious diseases can pass through the air, so for now, plan to mask up to stay safe.
Bossware, also known as tattleware, is software that allows companies to monitor and track employees who are working at home.
Initially, it started out as a way for supervisors to monitor what staff members were doing, because employers didn’t want them doing anything that could get the company in trouble, such as insider trading. But, it wasn’t thought through very well, because the downside of these choices and the message that they are sending to employees is loud and clear – that they don’t trust them. Employees who sense that they are not trusted, are probably less likely to trust you and therefore not be as productive.
And then there is the issue of an employees right to privacy. Just because an employer issues you with a computer and software, doesn’t give them the legal right to impede upon your workspace. Especially when you are working from home.
It’s completely natural to check your personal email and social media while working. Particularly if you are working at home.
If you have work issued technology at home, here are some tips to help keep your privacy under wrap:
1. Designate a private space at home where you can work.
2. Use a separate computer or phone for doing personal things.
3. Use a separate email account for sending personal emails.
Demand transparency, so that there are no surprises from your employer. If the company has less than 500 employees, they should not be spying on you. Review your ethics policy and know your rights. Bossware may be hazardous to your health!
The Apple Air Tag. It’s super small and very lightweight. Why would this be a concern? Because, it makes it quite easy to attach to almost anything without being detected. It also doesn’t cost much. You can buy one of these for about $30.00, which makes it too easy for bad guys to track your whereabouts, including your car, your home, and anywhere you go.
Most recently, model Brooks Nader says someone dropped an Apple AirTag in her coat pocket while she was at a crowded bar and used it to track her location. When she was almost home, a notification popped up on her phone alerting her to the fact that an unknown accessory had been detected and was tracking her. Whoever put the device in her coat could track her every move.
The AirTag links to a cell phone through the Find my app. Initially, it was designed to help you track your things, but now its being linked to concerns about privacy and safety.
AirTag Car Thefts
Law enforcement agencies have put out warnings across the country to let people know that these AirTags can be used to track cars, which allows criminals to steal the vehicle once they are parked.
What should you do if you find an AirTag on you?
If you find one of these devices or you get an alert on your cell phone, don’t go home! That could let the bad guys know where you live. Instead go to your local police department or a public space, and call the non-emergency police line from there. Ask them to come out and investigate. Each AirTag has a serial number that can help track who owns it.
Technology. It’s getting better and better and scarier and scarier.
Shopping online has never been more convenient. It’s fast, affordable, and reliable. But, porch pirate thieves are out there searching neighborhoods and watching for deliveries to be left on front porches, so that they can run up and steal packages.
Try these tips to ensure that your packages make inside your home!
Turn on your porch light!
As we all know, bad guys prefer the dark. They don’t want you to turn your lights on outside. But you must! It’s a natural deterrent, because you can see them and hopefully, so can your neighbors and/or passersby’s.
Install a Video Doorbell
Criminals don’t want to be caught on camera. So, just knowing that your home is equipped with a doorbell cam might dissuade a bag guy from choosing your home. Typically, video doorbells will alert you when a person, animal, or thing is detected. You’ll get an alert inside your home and on your smart device, so that you’ll know when a delivery person drops off a package (or when a porch pirate is lingering).
Request a Signature
This is usually an option depending on the type of item you are having delivered. Delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS will wait until someone answers the door and signs for the package rather than leave your shipment by your door.
Ship Packages Elsewhere
Consider having your package delivered to your job or your neighbors house who you know will be home. You can also send them directly to a mail center, such as a UPS Store. This way your items will be held in a P.O. Box until you can get there to pick it up. Retail stores will also allow you to ship items directly to their store when you are ordering their products. It’s typically free and you can pick it up onsite.
We hope your holidays will be filled with joy and laughter through the New Year!
Our office will be closed on the following days, so that our staff can spend time with their loved ones:
Friday, December 24, 2021
Monday, December 27, 2021
Friday, December 31, 2021
Monday, January 3, 2022
We appreciate your patience during this time and we will respond to your email inquiries upon our return.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!