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California crime debate continues, setting stage for bail reform

California, which had led the nation in cracking down on crime in the 1980s and 1990s by locking up tens of thousands of felons, has dramatically reversed course in the last half-decade, to wit:

•Responding to pressure from federal courts to reduce prison overcrowding, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature enacted “realignment,” which diverted low-level felons into local jails and probation, thus dropping prison populations by about one-third via attrition;

•Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014, reclassified many lower-level felonies as misdemeanors, thus keeping offenders out of state prison, and allowed inmates who committed the downgraded crimes to apply for release;

•Proposition 57, sponsored by Brown and passed by voters last year, makes it easier for felons deemed to have committed nonviolent crimes — although there’s a continuing dispute over the definitions of those crimes — to obtain parole.

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4 Ways to Protect Yourself from Social Media Bullying

Cyberbullying has become a major issue that bothers many parents today. With a growing number of schoolchildren and teens experiencing this problem which are highlighted on social media, they can’t help but fear for the safety of their kids online and even offline.

A study by the Cyber Research Center has found that an estimated 20 percent of kids aged 10 to 18 have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Most affected were the middle school girls.

So what can parents and children do to protect themselves from these bullies using social media to hurt other people?

Do Not Reply

One of the first steps you can take is to avoid responding to the bully’s message. This may be difficult to do as normally instinct of a person being bullied is to immediately defend himself or herself. But do know that when you react and reply to a social media post or text message, you are only making the bully feel that he or she has power over you.

Do not even attempt to get even because this will only prompt the bully to respond more to your action. The best you can do is remove yourself from the situation.

Change Contact Info

When your child constantly receives rude messages through text or email, it is time to change his or her phone number and email address. Make sure then to share these new contact information only to people you trust.

Do change passwords on a regular basis as well. This applies to your social media accounts and even your smartphone. This should ensure that your child’s social media accounts are protected not only from bullies but even from hackers lurking around the web.

Save Those Messages

Bullies have this domineering personality that crave for attention. And with social media easily accessible these days, many of them have gone online to rant and attack their target audience. Psychologists say some of these bullies were once bullied themselves and are now doing the same to other people as an escape goat.

If your child experiences cyberbullying, it is a good idea to save all those messages sent to him or her whether via email, text or social media posts. This way, you have proof of those degrading messages that you can use as evidence in the event you decide to file legal charges or file a complaint with the law enforcement authorities. Speak to a personal injury lawyer about this issue so you can find out the steps to take and what to expect.

Report to the Social Networking Site

Social networking sites have guidelines as to how to use their platforms and they do not tolerate abusive behavior. This being the case, social media users can always report people who they believe are showing bad behavior. Admins can then take action and either issue a warning to the person concerned or remove their account after investigating the complaint.

On the part of the user, he or she can take action right away against the bully. The best option is to block the person harassing you using your personal computer or through the social media apps on your smartphone. This block feature will no longer let the bully send any message to his victim and he or she will also no longer be able to access the victim’s account.

In worse cases such as when you and your child receives threats of physical harm, report immediately to your local police. Do consider reporting the problem to your child’s school authorities as well.

Keep in mind that having an open communication with your child is very helpful in finding out what’s happening to him or her. Share information about cyberbullying with your kid including the steps he or she can do to stop the abusive behavior.

Source: SocialNewsDaily
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Employment Scams

Don't let your stress over looking for a new job make you vulnerable to scams. Be wary of on-the-spot offers or any payment required for an opportunity or training.

If you are looking for employment, beware of scam job postings, fake recruiter emails, and work-at-home schemes. These cons often use real company names and can be very convincing. It may look as though you are starting a great new career, but you are really giving personal information or money to scammers.

How the Scams Work:

You spot a Help Wanted ad online or receive an email from a “recruiter” asking you to apply for a position. The ad likely uses the name of a real business or government agency. Companies small and large – even BBB – have been impersonated. You apply and get a quick response from the “hiring manager,” often with an offer without having an interview.

After you are “hired,” the company may charge you upfront for “training.” You may need to provide your personal and banking information to run a credit check or set up direct deposit. You may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Or, you may need to buy expensive equipment and supplies to work at home.

How to Spot This Scam:

• Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. Positions that don't require special training or licensing appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads. If the job posting is for a well-known brand, check the real company's job page to see if the position is posted there. Look online; if the job comes up in other cities with the exact same post, it’s likely a scam.

• Different procedures should raise your suspicion. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring. Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers. And be cautious sharing personal information or any kind of pre-payment. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories.

• Government agencies post all jobs publically and freely. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments and the U.S. Postal Service/Canada Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

• Get all details and contracts in writing. A legitimate company will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer), and what happens if you do not find a job.

Source: Better Business Bureau
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As we celebrate the anniversary of our independence,
we hope you have a safe, bright, and fun holiday!
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IRS warns people about new phone scam

The Internal Revenue Service is warning people about a new scam where fraudsters call victims and demand immediate tax payments through a prepaid debit card.

The scammer claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters have been sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens to arrest the victim if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card.

The scammer tells the victim that the card is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), when in fact, they are controlling the card.

The victim is warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or any other officials until after the tax payment is made.

EFTPS is an automated system that allows taxpayers to make federal tax payments online or on the phone using a voice response system. The system is free to use and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card.

This scam has been reported across the country, so taxpayers should be aware of the details.

“Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

“People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”

What to do if you think you are being contacted by a scammer:

• Do not give out any information
• Hang up immediately.
• Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to
report the call. Use the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web
page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
• Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint
Assistant on Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.


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How to make your employees care about cybersecurity: 10 tips

People are the largest security vulnerability in any organization. Here's some expert advice on how to make cybersecurity training more effective and protect your business.

Employees are a company's greatest asset, but also its greatest security risk.

"If we look at security breaches over the last five to seven years, it's pretty clear that people, whether it's through accidental or intentional introduction of malware, represent the single most important point of failure in terms of security vulnerabilities," said Eddie Schwartz, chair of ISACA's Cyber Security Advisory Council.

In the past, companies could train employees once a year on best practices for security, said Wesley Simpson, COO of (ISC)2. "Most organizations roll out an annual training and think it's one and done," Simpson said. "That's not enough."

Instead, Simpson said organizations must do people patching: Similar to updating hardware or operating systems, you need to consistently update employees with the latest security vulnerabilities and train them on how to recognize and avoid them.

"Your people are your assets, and you need to invest in them continually," Simpson said. "If you don't get your people patched continually, you're always going to have vulnerabilities." Even in a company with hundreds of employees, it's worth training them as opposed to taking on the risk of a breach, he added.

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Working for Lyft or Uber? Beware of Cons Targeting Drivers

Planning to make extra money this summer by driving for a ride share company? If so, beware of phishing scams that target current and would-be drivers.

How Does the Scam Work?

You are a driver for a ride sharing company, and you get an email or phone call from someone claiming to represent the corporate office. The caller says he or she needs access to your account and asks for your code or driver's license number. Once they have this information, scammers can log in, change the payment information, and steal your earnings.

Another phishing scam targets would-be drivers. Scammers message potential drivers, claiming to be hiring for Lyft or Uber. These recruiters promise new drivers a free car and a guaranteed hourly wage.

Sound too good to be true? That's because it's a phishing scam. If you respond to the text message or email, the scammer will send you an "application" to complete. The form requests your banking and other personal information – all under the guise of needing it for your new car lease.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam:

• Watched for spoofed calls: Your Caller ID may say that someone
from a rideshare company is contacting you, but scammers can
fake this by using phone number spoofing technology.
• Consider how the company normally contacts you. If your rideshare
company normally reaches you by email; be suspicious if you
suddenly start receiving phone calls or text messages without ever
opting in to the new communications.
• Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam
is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company
domain, such as
• Check the destination of links: Hover over links to see where they
lead. Be sure the link points to the correct domain
( not a variation, such as or
Scammers can get creative, so look closely.
• Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by
including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be
especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or
companies you have never done business with in the past.

Source: BBB Scam Tips
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Spoofing and Caller ID

"Spoofing" occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.

How does spoofing work?

Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

What you can do if you think you're being spoofed.

You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.

* Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
* If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
* Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
* If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.

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The Omissions That Make So Many Sexual Harassment Policies Ineffective

Our research began with a simple question: If 98% of organizations in the United States have a sexual harassment policy, why does sexual harassment continue to be such a persistent and devastating problem in the American workplace? As evidenced by recent headlines regarding ongoing sexual harassment in the National Park Service, Uber, and Fox News, it seems clear that sexual harassment policies have not stopped the problem they were designed to address.

Two bodies of research provided us with a possible direction as we explored the relationship between sexual harassment policies and outcomes. First, scholars convincingly argue that sexual harassment is embedded in organizational culture. In other words, sexual harassment serves an important cultural function for some organizations. And as any executive who has tried to lead cultural change knows, organizational culture can be immutable.

Second, organizational cultures are embedded in a larger national culture in which men have traditionally been granted privileges over women. It does not take a deep analysis to recognize this truth. Women are typically paid less, regardless of education, qualifications, or years of service. There are more CEOs named John leading big companies than there are female CEOs. The male-centric nature of our national culture is so pervasive that even many women are male-centered, aligning themselves with men and masculinity to tap into male privilege while attempting (usually unsuccessfully) to avoid the disadvantaged space that women occupy in the workplace.

All of this means that both men and women can react to sexual harassment by blaming other women for “making trouble” or “putting up with bad behavior,” or by suggesting that the sexually harassed women should quit, without considering that perhaps the perpetrators instead of their targets should leave the organization. These attitudes have real consequences. Consider: In the Fox News harassment case, the alleged perpetrators received larger settlements than the targets. Cultures of sexual harassment are thus legitimized by drawing on the larger cultural imperative that privileges men over women.

Into this fraught cultural morass enters a well-intentioned document: the sexual harassment policy. To see how employees interpreted these policies, my colleague Marlo Goldstein Hode and I gave 24 employees of a large government organization a copy of the organization’s sexual harassment policy, asking them to read it and then tell us about the policy. We asked them to talk about the policy in groups, and then we interviewed them individually.

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Postal Inspectors across the country work hard to protect your mail. But with deliveries to more than 100 million addresses, the Postal Inspection Service can't do the job alone.

Here's what you can do to protect your mail from thieves:

• Use the letter slots inside your Post Office for your mail, or hand it to a letter carrier.
• Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
• If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
• If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
• Don’t send cash in the mail.
• Tell your Post Office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
• Report all suspected mail theft to a Postal Inspector.
• Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes (as well as homes).
• Consult with your local Postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes.

If you see a mail thief at work, or if you believe your mail was stolen, call police immediately, then call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 3).

Source: United States Postal Inspection Service
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