Saving Yourself or Your Business from Identity Theft

About 10 million Americans fall prey to the crime of identity theft every year, to thieves who deplete their accounts through purchases of many different things. The end result is always an individual with a damaged credit and huge debt.

Though the Internet is able to make communication and the exchange of information so much faster, it has also been instrumental in crimes as scam artists are able to use it to accomplish their crimes with more ease and speed.

Identity theft, which is a major threat to many individuals and businesses, refers to the illegal acquisition and use of someone else’s personal information for economic gain. More than $50 billion in losses from as many as 10 million working Americans are recorded every year; almost the same sum spent by US firms in thwarting attempts of identity thieves from gaining (unauthorized) access to their files and data banks.

Battling identity theft requires companies, especially those possessing information about personal and business accounts, to come up with a serious and solid program that will enable them to easily and immediately detect and stop this crime. To step up the fight against this illegal activity, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) was enacted by the New Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the conduction of an Identity Theft Prevention Course (ITPC) to business firms. The ITPC is designed to train employees assigned in handing consumer information in red flag rules.

The Red Flags Rule is a warning sign intended to help businesses recognize, minimize and prevent damages caused by identity theft. It forms part of the FTC-required Identity Theft Prevention program, which is a set of printed guidelines which financial institutions and creditors (with covered accounts) ought to execute. Covered accounts, on the other hand, refer to consumer accounts that allow payments or transactions; examples of these accounts are checking accounts, savings accounts, credit card account, mortgage loan and automobile loan. Through this red flags rule, companies are expected to see through the patterns and tactics employed by identity thieves in the performance of their crime.

Being charged with committing identity theft, which is one type of white collar crime, is a serious offense and can result to damaging effects to the individual’s or business’ reputation and future.

When Pedestrians Cause Car Accidents

When pedestrians are involved in a car accident, usually it is understood that the pedestrians are the victims and the car driver is the one who is at fault for the accident. This is generally the case, but not always what occurs. There are instances where pedestrians are to blame for the accident, either completely or only partially. As in any type of injury claim or lawsuit, it is important to determine who is at fault for the accident in order to see the legal responsibilities or each party.

In order to help determine who is at fault for the accident between a car driver and a pedestrian, there are many factors that the jury or judge will look into. Among the most important ones are the testimonies from witnesses, police report, gathered and presented evidence, and applicable laws for the case. When the car driver is the one determined to have caused the accident, awards may be given to the pedestrian in form of compensation for the injuries and damages brought about by the accident. However, in instances where the pedestrians caused the accident, the driver will have legal right to sue the pedestrian for the damages and injuries.

There are many ways in which a pedestrian can be the one responsible for the car accident, such as instances where they consciously commit jaywalking or crossing outside the crosswalk, crossing against the traffic signal, walking in areas where pedestrians are restricted, and even entering the street or highway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Unfortunately though, even when the pedestrians caused the accident there are still some fault that is shared by the car driver. When shared has been determined by the court, two basic legal concepts are considered, depending on the state in which the accident occurred. States that follow pure comparative negligence rule would award compensation to the injured victim but the award will be reduced by the amount equivalent to the percent of fault the victim contributed to the accident. Another form of comparative negligence is the modified comparative negligence, where the injured person can be awarded compensation provided that they bear less than 50 percent of the blame for the accident.

Contributory negligence is the second type of rule used by several states. States that follow this implements the rule that if a person involved in the accident contributed in the accident, no matter how small the blame, they will not have legal right for compensation. In car-pedestrian accident cases where both parties contributed to the accident, they will be the one responsible for their injuries and damages caused by the accident. Although both parties do not have legal right to sue each other, though, they are still given the right to file for a claim from their own insurance provider.

The “Robot-Doctor” is in the House

There are still many places where there is a lack doctors who would look after and care for sick. This is true even in the US, where some rural regions are medically underserved despite the abundance of specialists in big city hospitals and clinics.

Telemedicine, which is a great tool when it comes to emergency assessment and triage, may well have already been established, but this does not solve some other issues, such as regular hospital rounds that doctors need to make to check on their patients’ condition.

Thanks to technology which never seems to run out of solutions from its pocket. For today, whatever a doctor may fail to accomplish regularly, due to other more pressing medical situations, a robot-doctor will never fail to do – everyday.

Robots designed to accomplish and perform medical tasks (including surgery) are now being used in many hospitals in the US and around the world. You have probably heard of the da Vinci surgical robot, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Now, a new robotic staff has been added to the lineup of those making daily medical rounds in hospitals – the RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot, the first FDA-approved navigation remote-presence robot for use in hospitals. This electronic and mechanical device, designed as a mobile cart, is equipped with a medical monitoring machine and a two-way video screen; it can already be seen in some hospitals maneuvering its way through halls and patient rooms to conduct regular checks on patients.

The Right of Bicyclists on the Road

When road accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle occur, there is no telling what sort of injury or danger the cyclist can be exposed to, considering the little or almost no protection on his/her body. Riding your bike on U.S. roads ought to be a safe activity, especially since the law recognizes your right to have a share of the road with other motor vehicles.

Despite the allotted bike lanes, a lot of drivers still stubbornly refuse to recognize the legally imposed bikers’ right, resulting to as many as 52,000 injured and 677 dead cyclists in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

There are a lot of ways that these nightmarish accidents may become reality. Some of the most common reasons why motor vehicles and bicycles collide include:

  • Making abrupt turns in front of bikers
  • Drivers intentionally cutting a biker’s right of way
  • Failure to slow down when making turns or at intersections
  • Drivers trying to beat a red light or choosing not to stop at stop signs
  • Drivers failing to check possible incoming bikers
  • Reckless driving by intoxicated drivers

Cars and other motor vehicles are among the leading causes of serious injuries and deaths of cyclists in the U.S., due to the carelessness or negligence of drivers, car manufacturers or other parties involved in road traffic activities. This perennial, yearly concern has always kept the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on its toes, continuously advocating road safety programs and working with car manufacturers to find ways to make cars better and safer. Drivers can help by giving bicycles more space, while cyclists can help by being more visible and signalling their intentions on the road clearly.

Thus, in 2013 one car company added another first in its line of technologically-advanced car safety features that are intended to further reduce the risk of car accidents which cause injury (or death) to pedestrian and bicycle riders – the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake. If the driver fails to act immediately on his/her car’s flashing red light which warns of an imminent collision, the safety feature will automatically stop the car to lessen the force of, if not totally avoid, the impact. This safety feature is expected to reduce yearly accidents, injuries and deaths to more than half.

Collisions almost always leave bicyclists with severe injuries that require medical treatment and absence from work – costly losses for the victim. Financial suffering should never add to victims’ woes, considering the fact that the accident and their injury are the fault of someone else. For the compensation victims are legally entitled to, there is always a highly qualified lawyer who you can turn to for assistance and defense of your rights.

Safety Measures to Ensure Avoidance of Explosion Accidents

About 657 billion cubic meters or 657,000 liters of natural gas is used in all American homes and offices annually. Natural gas is highly combustible, making it extremely hazardous; however, without it, air conditioning systems, furnaces, boilers, clothes dryers, gas stoves, ovens and a lot of other things will not be able to function.

This gas is distributed to U.S. consumers by local gas utilities or local distribution companies (LDC). It passes through pipelines installed by these same distributors (which may either be privately owned or owned and controlled by the local government.

According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a branch of the Department of Transportation, natural gas distribution pipes extend more than two million miles through cities, connecting distribution sites to consumer sites. To ensure total safety and the avoidance of accidents, such as a leak which can very well lead to an explosion, distribution companies implement safety programs, which include:

  • One Call Systems – refers to the “call-before-you-dig” 811 telephone number that was started in 2008. Contractors, excavators and customers are made aware of this number, which needs to be contacted before any digging (for pipeline installation), is made. This is to make sure that no facility or other pipeline is damaged in the digging process.
  • Emergency Preparedness – distribution companies or local utilities make sure that everyone is prepared for any possible natural disaster, by participating in local emergency preparedness and community programs
  • Technicians on Call – in the event of problems, like leaks, a group of well trained technicians can be relied on 24/7
  • Safety Education Programs – customers are informed through seminars held in community centers, schools and other associations about natural gas safety procedures; they are also told what to measures to take during emergencies
  • Leak Detection Equipment – the most modern leak detection tools and equipment are used by distribution companies to enable them to detect and immediately locate leaks in the distribution network.  Natural gas odorants are also used to make leak detection easier and faster.

Any unmaintained pipe or unchecked leak can result to an explosion, the effects of which can be severe, even deadly. In its website, The Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C., affirms this fact, and even identifies severe burns, spinal cord damage, and head and brain trauma as some of the worst effects an explosion can result to.

Wiring problems, furnaces, boilers, defective appliances, operating an electronic gadget, a lighted candle or a spark from one’s lighter (when lighting a cigarette) is enough to cause leaked gas to explode and engulf everything and everyone in flames. Thus, doing the extra work of checking that natural gas pipes are okay wouldn’t be so hard, especially with the knowledge that this is to ensure our safety, as well as of all others’.

Stricter Laws and a Lower BAC Limit in the Hope to Eliminate Drunk Driving

A fun, relaxing night with colleagues, friends or family, over good food and drinks would be a perfect way to end a tiring work week filled with stress and deadlines to beat. This is one activity that may be worth spending; but never drink more than what is lawfully allowed if you intend to drive afterwards. This is because the more alcohol a person consumes, the greater his/her impairment would be.

There is an actual line where a person is drunk in the eyes of the law. According to the website of Denton criminal lawyer Karen Alexander, the present blood alcohol content (BAC) limit set by the law is 0.08% in all 50 states; those caught violating this legal limit are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI). However, based on a new chart released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a 0.05% BAC level is enough to reduce one’s coordination, and full ability to steer, respond to emergency situations, and track moving objects (0.05% BAC would mean about two or three bottles of beer).

Though more extensive advocacy and tougher enforcement of state and federal laws, such as sobriety checkpoints, harsher punishment and higher fines, have helped reduce the annual number of alcohol-related car accidents over the past years, the number of lives lost due to drunk driving still climbed above 9,000 in 2011.

To further lower this number and with the hope to do away with drunk driving, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a recommendation in 2013 to lower BAC level to 0.05%; the Board is confident that this recommendation will be made into a law. Presently, 0.05% BAC is the legal limit imposed on drivers in many countries around the globe.

Though the U.S. government has no intent of prohibiting adults from enjoying drinks in social gatherings; it directs everyone to observe care by making sure that they do not drive afterwards. This can be done by delegating the driving duty to one of their friends who does not or wouldn’t drink; if alone, however, they can call a family member or a friend to pick them up, or take a cab, otherwise. Party hosts (who serve alcoholic drinks) are also given the duty to make sure that their guests entrust the driving to sober drivers. This is especially true for bars and clubs, where dram shop laws come into effect.

A Dog Walker’s Job – A Mixture of Love, Challenges and Dangers Just like any Other Work

Having a job is a blessing to many people, but having one which you really want and enjoy doing is “icing on the cake.” Oftentimes, people end up doing things they never even thought of or really want to do – well, some might think, “as long as the pay is good,” or “it’s better than having no job at all.”

Each type of job requires different sets of skills, patience and interest; just as each type of work place presents different challenges and dangers. Thus, the more dangerous the workplace is, like construction sites and manufacturing or industrial plants, the greater the dangers too. And, despite the much lesser dangers in an office setting, one thing that is greatly required is that you like your job or you may just end up as the one causing the dangers that other employees or workers may suffer from.

Despite federal and state laws on standard safety, workplace dangers are realities that are hard to dismiss – even for freelance workers who work in the very confines and comfort of their homes. But what about those whose jobs are done mainly outdoors, like farmers, fishermen, salesmen or even dog walkers? What sorts of challenges and dangers do they face every day or probably the right question to ask is, despite the often unpredictable challenges and dangers, what keeps them in their job?

Over the past few years, one really surprising activity in the workplace arena is the movement of some really successful people from their high-paying job to a not so high paying one, but which they obviously enjoy and love doing more – walking other people’s dogs. Accountants, classical musicians, computer programmers, writers, lawyers, nurses, sales reps, ex-military personnel; name a vocation and there’s surely one dog walker who successfully practiced that in the recent past.

Such people are the new workers on the block and it’s not impossible that you have come across them one time or another. Is their job easier? Well, besides having no boss, working on their own time and not needing to put on corporate attire, they also get to exercise daily, enjoy the fresh air, the relaxing nature and the sight of different breeds of dogs playing and interacting with their walker, trainer or other dogs.

Being a dog walker isn’t all fun, though; for it has its own set of demands and share of “not so good time,” at times. First and foremost, it requires that you LOVE dogs. You may qualify in all other requirements, but if you don’t have this first one, then this job is going to be a nightmare – that’s guaranteed. The job also requires great stamina, professional training and certification, a license that will prove you’re a qualified dog walker, insurance, thorough knowledge of dog behavior, pack management, canine first aid, trail etiquette and dog body language, and a marketing strategy that will enable you to win dog owners’ trust in entrusting their dogs to you.

Then there’s the danger of possible dog fights along the trail or getting to share the trail with someone who simply do not like pets, dogs especially. And when it rains, you end up with dogs soaked in mud; you need to clean them first, of course, before returning them to their owners, thus, a load of dirty towels and dog hair.

In picking up and returning the dogs to their owners, a dog walker usually drives a car or takes a cab; with the dogs loose inside the vehicle, this can be risky and even result to a car crash or a traffic accident.

Well, what job is completely safe anyway? The only hope is that, if you really love your job, then you’ll do all things to accomplish it with quality and care. Make sure you do your job, whatever it is, just that way.

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Rick Coleman+