Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tips to avoid schemes and scams

Charity fraud does a lot of harm. The con artist takes advantage of people's good will and takes their cash - money that was meant for people in need. You can make sure that any money you give gets into the right hands. Just remember these tips when somebody asks you for a donation.

* Ask for identification - the organization AND the solicitor. Find out what the purpose of the charity is and how funds are used.
* Ask if contributions are tax deductible.
* If you're not satisfied with the answers-don't give.
* Give to charities that you know.
* Check out the ones you've never heard of before, or others whose names are similar to a well-known charity.
* Don't fall for high-pressure tactics. If solicitors won't take no for an answer, tell them NO anyway - BUT DON'T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY.
* Be suspicious of charities that only accept cash.
* Always send a check made out to the charity and not the individual requesting the donation.


A person approaches you and says that he just found a large amount of money. What should he do with it? Maybe his "boss" can suggest something. He then leaves to check with his "boss" and comes back a few minutes later. His boss said to divide the money, but first, each of you must put up some, "good faith money". Once you hand over your share, you'll never see it or the con artist again.


A con artist will contact you and tell you he is a bank official or police officer and that he needs your help to catch a dishonest bank teller. All you have to do is withdraw your savings and give the money to him so he can check the serial numbers. IF you do, you've been "stung". A real bank official would NEVER ask you to withdraw your money.

Is it hard to believe that people fall for such tricks? Con artists may be the greatest actors you'll ever meet. The pigeon drop and the bank examiner schemes are two of the most successful con games around. Don't be fooled. CALL THEIR BLUFF BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

Protect Yourself From Con-Artists

The con artist's philosophy is "the gullible were put on this earth to be gulled." In the past, con artists were usually referred to as con men. This is no longer the case as more and more women have become involved in con games and numerous variations of con games. Before we proceed with some tips on "how not to get conned" you should always remember that a con artist can be a male or a female. In addition, many times the con artist will work with a child who will assist them in accomplishing their goal. That goal is to GET YOUR MONEY.

Here are some good rules to follow all the time - whether or not you suspect a fraud:

* Don't believe in something-for-nothing offers. You get what you pay for.
* Be suspicious of high-pressure sales efforts.
* Take your time; think about it before you part with your money.
* Get all agreements in writing. Insist that agreements be in plain English and not legal jargon.
* Read all contracts and agreements before signing. Have a lawyer examine all major contracts.
* Beware of anyone who comes to your door asking for money for charity or for personal reasons.


Home repairs and improvements can be costly. Watch out if:

* Somebody offers to do an expensive job for an unusually low price
* If a firm offers to make a "free" inspection or if the person just happened to be in the neighborhood.
* The most popular home improvement frauds are roof repair and painting, driveway sealing, and termite inspection.

When hiring for home Improvement projects:

* Always get several estimates for every repair job, and compare prices and terms. Check to see if there is a charge for estimates.
* Ask your friends for recommendations. Alternatively, ask the firm for references - and CHECK THEM!
* Check the identification of all "inspectors."
* Call the loan Consumer Affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to check the company's reputation before you authorize any work.
* Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
* Pay by check - never with cash. Arrange to make the payments in installments.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vacation Safety

Thieves look for opportunities. If you're going on vacation this summer, take a minute to check the list to protect yourself and your home.

* One of the times your home is most vulnerable is when it is left empty for an extended period of time. Darkened windows, mail or newspapers collecting and closed windows in hotter weather all advertise your absence to a potential burglar.

* The best protection for your apartment during your absence is to have a house sitter. A friend you trust staying at your house can take care of your pets and/or plants in addition to making sure the house is inhabited.

* Have a neighbor check on your apartment while you're away -- turning on lights, radios or TVs and opening and closing curtains will give your apartment the appearance of someone home.

* If you don't have a friend or neighbor to housesit or check your apartment while you're away -- perhaps even if you do -- you should keep not only lights but a TV or radio on a timer. If you're like me and have your TV on almost all the time you're home [I don't watch it, it's just background noise.], the absence of the sound and that glowing light in the windows announces that you're not there.

* Make sure whoever is checking your apartment while you're away knows how to work your alarm system and who to call in case of a problem.

* Unless you have a house sitter, stop your mail and any newspaper or other delivery. Nothing announces an empty apartment better than a stack of newspapers or an overflowing mailbox. Ask a nearby neighbor to pick up any packages delivered while you're gone.

* If you have a garden or plants on your balcony, make sure someone is watering the plants regularly or put the plants where they can't be seen. Plants slowly dying due to lack of water may announce your absence.

* Check your lease. Many landlords require that you notify them if your apartment is going to be left empty for any period of time (this is so they can enter in case of emergency even if they can't reach you). If you've got a house sitter this isn't necessary.

For the summer: Boating Safety

During the summer, we enjoy tips to the lake or to the beach. Don't let your family outing turn into the day you became a victim of crime!

Thieves are always on the lookout for easy targets. Don't make yourself an
easy target. Always follow these simple steps.

* Never leave anything valuable on display, however small and insignificant it may seem. Thieves steal first and think about value later.
* Don't leave anything loose in the cockpit or on deck.
* Don't leave your engine key in the ignition - always take it with you.
* Keep your boat keys separate from your engine keys.
* Always keep your boat locked when no one is on board, even for a short time.
* Use strong padlocks or rimlocks on all your hatches, entry points and cockpit lockers.
* Constantly check and improve the security on your boat. It's a good idea to fit an alarm and use a visible sticker to say that one is fitted.
* Make sure your cockpit lockers can be properly locked, and check that your main hatch and fore-hatch are strong.
* Also think about having a strongbox down below. If you don't think something is secure, get it fixed.

Once you've tied up alongside, always do a quick security check before going ashore.


* Lock anything valuable out of sight in a strong locker secured by a strong padlock;
* Lock up emergency money away from other valuables;
* Keep your curtains closed so that no-one can look in;
* Keep unused ropes, fenders and other items out of sight in your cockpit, lockers and cupboards - and always lock them;
* Make sure that your life raft and outboard motor are secure, as these are valuable and attractive to boat thieves.
* When you go ashore from a dinghy, always remove your oars or paddles, rowlocks or pump, and secure the dinghy with a strong chain and padlock.
* If you are the victim of boat theft, call the police immediately and tell the harbour master or boatyard manager. Check to make sure that your boat is still seaworthy and hasn't been badly damaged.
* And, if you can, check that neighboring boats haven't been broken into as well.
* Get to know other boat owners in your marina and work together to keep the marina secure. You can do the following.
* Keep an eye on other boats, as well as your own.
* Report any strangers at the marina to the harbour master or yard master.
* Don't give your marina access card or key to other people.
* Never tell anyone else the access code to the marina.
* Don't let strangers into the marina, however genuine they may seem.
* Keep the marina gate closed at all times.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Videos on Pepper spray and Stun guns

Basic Moves for Women's Self Defense : How to Use Pepper Spray on an Attacker...
Learn about using mace pepper spray on an attacker and some basic moves for women's self defense in this free video clip.

The Nevada Sagebrush tests a Stun Gun:
Watch as a college student demonstrates the effectiveness of a stun gun on an attacker. The Nevada Sagebrush is the college newspaper for the University of Nevada, Reno.

What type of Pepper Spray or Mace® is Best?

The most popular, non-lethal, personal defense product on the market today is self defense sprays like Pepper Spray or Mace®. But which type is best? The terms are confusing.

Most defense sprays now contain Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) which is not an irritant. This is the best ingredient so make sure the one you purchase contains OC.

OC is an inflammatory agent that creates a couple of things to happen. When a person is sprayed with OC, two things happen without delay. First, the person's eyes clamp shut, hard. Even if they do manage to open them they still can't see well because the OC dilates the capillaries of the eyes and causes temporary blindness. Second, an uncontrollable coughing fit doubles the person over and often sends them to their knees. The OC causes an instant inflammation of breathing tissues, restricting all but life support breathing. The condition is temporary but very debilitating. Whoever is sprayed with it stops what they're doing, stops what they're thinking - so it gives the victim a chance to escape! It works on persons on drugs, drunk, or psychotic.

OC is a natural chemical, a derivative of various hot pepper plants. OC takes about 20 to 45 minutes to wear off. The assailant makes a complete recovery and suffers no harmful effects.

Now, should you purchase a spray, gel, stream or foam version of pepper spray? The best for home use is the pepper gel spray because it has a range of 15 to 20 feet. The pepper gel is recommended for home or vehicle protection. However, the smaller ½ oz size of pepper sprays are effective because they fit easily on your key-ring and will be available quickly when needed even though their range is only 5 to 8 feet, which is usually all the distance you need when walking or hiking.

How can I compare one unit to another in its strength? Defense sprays come in concentrations of 1%, 5%, and 10%. But, due to a number of differences in the formulation, these percentages are not a good indication of the effectiveness of the spray. A 1% spray can be just as effective as a 10% concentration. Three formulation factors: the heat rating of the OC, the type of carrier agent and the spray density, combine to determine how effective any given spray is. The heat generating capacity of OC is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU's). OC is derived from hot peppers. Peppers range from 0 SHU's for standard bell peppers to 5,000 for Jalapeno peppers up to 300,000 SHU's for Habaneros peppers. As you can see, a 10% concentration of Jalapeno peppers is not going to be nearly as effective as a 1% concentration of Habaneros peppers. So compare the Scoville Heat units (SHU's) of a pepper spray not the percentage of the pepper concentration.

To summarize, only purchase self defense sprays with OC (Oleoresin Capsicum). The sprays that attach to a keychain are effective even though they have a range of only 5 to 8 feet. But for home defense purchases, the pepper gel formulas are best because they have a range of 15 to 20 feet. And compare the heat of the various sprays with the SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

Safety Tips to Help You Avoid Being a Victim!

These are some common sense tips that you can follow to help you avoid being a victim of random crime. You may have heard some of them before but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate them!
  1. Be Alert! Keep your head up. Be aware of your surroundings. Wherever you are on the street, in an office building or shopping malls, driving, waiting for a bus or cab, stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
  2. Vary your routines. Predictability makes you a more likely target.
  3. Lock it! Home, car, office – locks are your first line of defense.
  4. Make your home a tough target. Use floodlights, motion sensors, a security system, deadbolts, etc.
  5. Foil Car-jackers. Keep windows and doors locked. Check mirrors and blind spots when stopped. Stay one to one and a half lengths away from the car ahead of you. Sound your horn and flash your lights if you think you’re being approached by a car-jacker.
  6. Avoid Car Theft. Lock it. Use an anti-theft device. Turn the wheels when you park. Never leave a spare key inside the car. Park in a well-lighted place. Put packages in the trunk.
  7. Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, avoid the person or leave.
  8. Know your neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.

Cell Phone Stun Guns

How does a Stun Gun Work?

Stun guns use high voltage and low amperage to temporarily disable an attacker for several minutes. The stun gun does not rely on pain for results. The energy stored in the gun is dumped into the attacker's muscles causing them to do a great deal of work rapidly. This rapid work cycle instantly depletes the attacker's blood sugar by converting it to lactic acid. In short, he is unable to produce energy for his muscles, and his body is unable to function properly. The stun gun also interrupts the tiny neurological impulses that control and direct voluntary muscle movement. When the attacker's neuromuscular system is overwhelmed and controlled by the stun gun he loses his balance. Should the attacker be touching you, the current will NOT pass to your body!

Does the Stun Gun do any Permanent Damage?

No. The assailant recovers 100 percent within 45 minutes. There is NO permanent damage. The whole purpose of a stun gun is to allow the user time to escape and get help.

How to protect yourself?

Surprise your attacker! Be prepared by walking with a cell phone that is really a stun gun. So many people carry a cell phone in their hands these days that it doesn’t even look strange. When someone comes too close, switch it on and be prepared to stun the attacker and bring them to their knees. As they fall to their knees, stun them again in the back of the neck and this will ensure that they remain disabled for a short period of time to allow you plenty of time to escape.