How to Avoid Post-Disaster Scams

Natural and man-made disasters can strike at any time, in any place.

Hikingware.com is your complete survival food supply company, dealing in only the top-rated and proven emergency supplies that you’ll need to weather any disaster.

But after any disaster, there are those who seek to profit from the confusion and breakdown of infrastructure with scams.

Here is a look at some of those scams to beware of, and how to avoid them:

Home Repair Fraud.

Home repair scam artists are known to swoop in after storms, floods or other natural disasters to take advantage of people who are scrambling to make repairs. The homeowner should take extra caution before contracting to have damaged or destroyed property repaired or rebuilt. The homeowner should not succumb to pressure tactics.

Be wary of door-to-door solicitors because many home repair con artists are transients who move quickly into a troubled area. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust. Whenever possible, use established local contractors.

Always ask for references. It is a warning sign when a company fails to provide references when requested.

Never pay in cash, or make a down payment in cash.

Contractors and roofers need to be licensed by the state they are operating in. Make sure you ask to see their license(s) before agreeing to anything in writing.

Phoney phone calls.

After a disaster you may receive a phone call soliciting personal financial information in order to become eligible for aid. Some callers even claim to be from FEMA. Never, under any circumstance, give out information about your bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards. FEMA is not interested in any of that; and neither is any other legitimate emergency/disaster agency.

Charitable donation scams.

After disasters, con artists often pose as charitable organizations to solicit contributions. If you wish to contribute, be wary of the following red flags:

The charity uses a name that sounds like a better-known, reputable organization.

The solicitor cannot or will not answer basic questions about the charity.

The organization uses high-pressure tactics to obtain a donation.

The solicitor insists on payment in cash.

The representative of the organization asks to pick up your donation as opposed to allowing you to mail it.

Always check to see if the charity is registered with your state’s Attorney General’s Office.

Refinancing scams.

Because of the increased costs of confronting an emergency, consumers frequently fall behind in their credit payments or overextend themselves to the point that they must choose whether to pay creditors or obtain basic necessities such as food. Such consumers are often approached by finance companies promising to consolidate the homeowner’s debt for existing mortgage, credit card debt, car loans and repair loans. They then pressure the homeowner to sign multiple agreements without sufficient time to review them or consult with anyone. The negative outcomes of such refinancing schemes include high processing fees, payments to bogus or phantom creditors and loan defaults. The homeowner often cannot pay both the refinancing costs and basic living expenses, resulting in a situation far worse than before the refinancing.
Lower income and minority borrowers, as well as elderly homeowners, are usually targeted by predatory lenders. They encourage borrowers to lie about their income in order to get a loan; knowingly lend the borrower more money than he/she can repay; charge unnecessary fees; pressure borrowers into high-risk loans and use high- pressure tactics to sell home improvements and then finance them at higher interest rates. These predators pounce on desperate people in order to line their pockets.

The best way to avoid all of the above scams, and any others after an emergency, is simple: Think twice and never sign anything or commit to anything until you’ve had a chance to sleep on it and consult a trusted family member or friend.

hikingware

H & R Block Hiring in Provo!

As your Ward Employment Specialist, I’m happy to announce that H & R Block is looking for tax preparers for this coming January through the middle of April. It pays $10.00 per hour; and your schedule is completely flexible. Work as many or as few hours as you want, when you want.
You will need to sign up for their FREE tax preparer class. SPANISH SPEAKERS ARE ESPECIALLY WELCOME. They have waived their normal class fee because of the pressing demand for tax preparers this coming year.
If interested, please call to reserve your spot in the class at 801-375-3446.

One less sparrow on the wing

One less sparrow on the wing, one less lily growing;

ev’ry living thing deserves the right to keep on going.

But one less child, torn from the womb, has no obituary.

Has no chance to fly or grow or simply be and tarry.

 

Hurling: Men with Sticks

Most mornings when I wake up I immediately wonder “What planet am I on?”

This is because I rarely if ever enjoy the same things my peers and colleagues seem to enjoy and dote on. Like the novelists say, I have this feeling of ‘otherness’.

So today I made the effort to look at the Sunday sports page. That’s what a regular Joe would do on a Sunday morning, right?

The first article I run across is about Irish hurling. The New York Times waxes poetic about this Celtic blood sport:

 The sport might be likened to a mash-up of lacrosse, field hockey and baseball, but even the most strained analogy “only gets you so far,” said Paul Rouse, a professor at University College Dublin who specializes in the history of sport. 

“It’s a game that combines skills that are not present in other games,” Rouse said.

In truth, hurling is a game all its own, at the highest levels a joyous and ferocious ballet, danced on grass.

Hmmm. Doesn’t sound much like Little League Baseball or bowling . . .

So I finish the article, and am not much more enlightened about this mysterious game than I was before I started. It’s brutal, strictly male, and involves much carousing afterwards. In other words, completely Irish.

But I am not to be put off. By gadfry, if the Times wants to obfuscate about hurling I can always look elsewhere!

The Irish Times has a big article about hurling. About some hurling coach named Jimmy Barry-Murphy retiring:

The news that Jimmy Barry-Murphy was stepping down as manager of the Cork hurlers won’t have caused too many gasps of astonishment, as he clearly felt that he had taken the current group of players as far he could but it marks the likely conclusion of one of the most distinguished contributions in the history of inter-county hurling.

It was in keeping with Barry-Murphy’s low-key instincts that the announcement emerged late on Saturday night, the eve of the GAA’s biggest event of the year so far. 

Sounds like a nice guy, maybe no Guy Lombardo (or is that Vince Lombardi?), but apparently a dab hand at the game. So I finished the article, looking for further clues about how this game is played.

My hard luck. It was a mere encomium of Barry-Murphy.

So I still have no idea of how or why or when the game is played. Only that it is an obsession in Ireland.

 Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going back to research for my pickled kumquats recipe. Should I be using cloves or allspice . . .?

The game of hurling is an Irish hoax, I do believe;

or just another gambit for the drinking and the heave.

With sticks of ash the men of Connemara do proceed

to whack each other black and blue until they start to bleed.

Some kind of ball is featured in the brawl, but if it’s lost

the teams continue on and their competitors accost.

O Men with Sticks you are, no doubt, a virile, hardy crew;

but wouldn’t it be better if you took up taekwondo? 

If the Taliban Ran Washington

If the Taliban ran Washington, there’d be an awful mess;

they’d cut off all the hands of those who’re writing for the press.

They’d not allow a traffic jam within the city bounds,

and feed the Congress to a pack of rabid, hungry hounds.

The woman they would wrap up in hajibs like corn tortillas

and bureaucrats would never be allowed their own ideas.

They’d loot the Mint and give the money to the righteous poor,

then open up a mosque in ev’ry grimy liquor store.

Curfew would be 6pm and crime would disappear.

The local cops, all on the take, would no longer want to sneer.

Thank goodness all those wretches govern nations far away

(on second thought . . . could we invite them here to come & stay?)

[Response from John Shniper of the Wall Street Journal:  Go live in Kunduz if the Taliban are such MASTERFUL Social Architects and Planners who know what is good for you BETTER than you do!]

Eat-Crow-300x336

The Shell Game

Up there in Alaska they’ve stopped drilling for the oil.

Offshore leases lead to nothing but a huge turmoil.

Shell has dropped a couple billion hoping that the Feds

would crawl into their comfy cozy corporation beds.

Alas, those blasted tree huggers have put in regulations

that require filling out a million applications —

and by the time the applications have been done up right,

the leases have expired and the Feds just say “Good night“.

I say we drill for oil atop the head of ev’ry judge

who’s ruled against oil drilling just because he holds a grudge.

Their noggins must be full of oily substances that could

give us better heat and light than any cord of wood. 

humptdumpty

Are You Prepared for a Cyber Emergency?

The cyber domain may offer a new direction in how nations threaten and act against one another.  This threat’s immediacy became clear when China hacked the U.S. Office of Personal Management’s systems last June, leaking more than 4 million sensitive records.

The U.S. government’s only viable response was economic sanctions against companies and individuals. It refrained from escalating the conflict so close to President Xi Jinping’s official state visit. In other words, although some hope that cyberconflict will revolutionize military and diplomatic interactions, governments are confronting this new threat through traditional methods.

The internet now controls a vast portion of our merchandising, banking, utilities, and many other essential services and commodities that we currently take for granted. Hikingware.com is dedicated to helping you and your family prepare for the eventuality of a cyber conflict that could leave you without food, water, power and other basic necessities for days, weeks, or even months.

And since knowledge is power, here is a powerful description of where cyber conflict is right now, at the end of 2015:

What evidence is there about the reality of the cyber-threat? The first step to understanding cyberconflict is to define the domain. Here are 8 things to know about the cybersecurity debate.

1. Terminology is important

Many cyber-scholars have been sloppy in their usage of terms, leading to this rather voluminous definitions document by New America. Since almost anything is now termed as a cyberattack, the term itself is meaningless. Predicting the amount, level  and context of cyberconflict is dependent on how the term is defined, framed  and engaged.  “Cyberspace” is the networked system of microprocessors, mainframes  and basic computers that interact at the digital level but have foundations at the physical level.

“Cyberconflict” is the use of computational means, via microprocessors and other associated technologies, in cyberspace for malevolent and/or destructive purposes in order to affect, change  or modify diplomatic and military interactions between entities.

2. We need data and theories about cyberconflict

We need to develop theories of cyberaction in the cybersecurity field. Without theory, key aspects of cyber-dynamics can be left unexplained, unexplored  or ignored in favor of broad projections.

3. Cybertactics are not used often, as of yet

Only 16 percent of all nations have engaged in cyberconflict.  The most frequent users appear to be China as an attacker and the U.S. as the attacked. Other frequent offenders include states such as India, Japan, North Korea  and Russia, all with ongoing international conflicts, suggesting the context of disputes matters a great deal.

4. Cyber-actions to date have not been very severe

Most cyberconflicts –  around 73 % – between rival states have been mere nuisances or disruptions. This is surprising, considering how widely the media and military are aware of these possible conflicts. It is also perplexing considering these states are active rivals who seemingly are willing to utilize any tactic to harm their enemy.

Given all this, we may actually still be in an era of cyberpeace. But the chances are depressingly good that it will not last much longer.

5. The majority of cyber-incidents are still regional

Regional contexts clearly play a role in cyberconflict, a confounding idea given that these technologies defy the physical bounds of time and place. But as has been seen with China and Russia, that is about to change.

6. Cyber-operations haven’t gotten much reaction

Do cyber-actions have much impact? Overall, cyber-incidents, their methods  and the nature of their targets do not have statistically significant effects on the foreign policy of the United States. Not yet. But depending on who gets in the White House in 2016, that could all change rapidly.

7. Most cyber-incidents should be classified as espionage

An espionage attack is one in which the initiator’s objective is to steal sensitive information from the target government or private sector essential to national security. China is considered the most active cyber espionage country today.

8. Cyber-hygiene is important

Unfortunately in the cyber realm, the target often invites violations by allowing vulnerabilities in their systems. The June attack on the White House and State Department supports this conclusion. A state can only steal what others have allowed to be stolen in the cyberworld. The target is therefore partly responsible for cyberconflict.

States need to be concerned with cyber-hygiene and proper online usage. There needs to be cooperation between states at the international level, but also cooperation between government and private industry at the sub-state level.

(with a hat tip to Brandon Valeriano and Ryan C. Maness)

devil

Poor Mr. Trump

Poor Mr. Trump is scourged by ev’ry pundit worth their salt.

The media doesn’t like him cuz he’s got money in his vault.

No wonder little Donald doesn’t want to come out to play;

the bullies like to pull his hair and out of it make hay.

Just because his personality outshines his modest brain

is no reason to leave him out in the social media rain.

I wonder . . . were he President; could he have Congress fired?

And turn the immigrants into slaves for his pyramid when he’s retired? 

I bet he’d make the Pope endorse his brand of frozen fish,

and send the Palestinians a box of kosher knish. 

I hope he stays the course and campaigns each single day;

we haven’t had a loudmouth like him since old LBJ!

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Dominick Reuter      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1GZCO
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX1GZCO

The Pandering Politician

The pandering politician is as old as Nero’s Rome.

So Mrs. Clinton’s posturing is feeling right at home.

She wants some popularity, like high school girls all do;

she doesn’t want to be a freak you look at in the zoo.

So let’s all give our little Hillz a smile that’s bright and wide,

and maybe she will blossom while The Bill she tries to hide!

hillary

Incarceration Nation

The longer that a nation keeps on multiplying laws

the longer is the list of jailbirds, growing without pause.

To solve the problem once for all I do suggest that we

lock up Congress and then be sure to throw away the key!

prison