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Month: November, 2012

Re-Defining What Is WPV

November 30, 2012

 

Re-Defining What Is WPV

 

How can you re-define something that is already so well known to the entire world? Let’s be real here, workplace violence is simple and easy to define! And to confuzzle you even more, let me tell you exactly what you’re going to say because I’ve heard it dozens of times before!

WPV is when one employee bullies or physically assaults another in the workplace or business, is that not the correct definition? Not entirely correct, except in a perfect world. Well, I hate to tell you

This, but you are wrong. But then again, most all business people (even those with MBA’s), some security professionals, not to mention the so-called experts are as well. Violence in our workplaces is much more than that and it may surprise you about the complete open honest truth.

Look at our world today and you’ll see what I mean. Remember the incident in Mesa last summer when a young lady walked into a deli and started screaming and smashing sales counters and threatening the clerks? That should have been considered WPV and most people didn’t acknowledge it as such. But it was violent and it did happen at a workplace. And it doesn’t matter that she was on drugs at the time.

WPV is any incident that results in the assault on an employee or customer. This can be a threat, harassment, bullying, verbal or physical assault – and this has many avenues as well. And the surprising aspect of this is that it can happen both on AND off the business property. Yes I said off business property as well.

If an incident occurs because it started at work it is WPV. If it ends at work or on the way to or from because that started at work, then it is WPV. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone believes it so or not, it is. If you or loved one, friend, or significant other is beaten up after work because of an argument at work with a co-worker or customer, what do you think?

Do you remember the recent incident in Glendale Arizona where a man with an oxygen mask planted pipe bombs in his co-workers yard and tried to blow him and his house up? That started as an argument at work. Therefore it is WPV. How can you argue against that?

We need to examine what we consider violence in our businesses and how we can deal with the bullying and violence that occurs in our businesses. And then obviously, we need to examine any incident that occurs off property to our employees. Our employees are more vulnerable off property traveling to and from work than actually at work. How do I figure that?

The answer to that is simple. At work, there is, usually, some semblance of security. Even if it is weak and has as many holes as a sieve. When they are traveling, they have no security except their own wits. And while that might be enough for some, most employees are verrrry vulnerable.

And how do we do this? The first thing we have to do is train people to learn the warning signs and connect the dots in discussing violence. The conversation can’t stop at the property limit. Nor can employees, managers, supervisors, and business owners and others be absolved of their responsibility in preventing WPV. We are all to blame for this issue not just management.

There are many things that businesses and employees need to do to help prevent violence. It can’t be legislated away. It can’t be solved with metal detectors or locking the doors up all day and strip searching everyone who walks thru those doors. And it can’t be solved by turning the businesses into gulags. It takes time and training of everyone concerned to learn and deal with the problem.

And you have to re-define what WPV is in your mind and your employees mind. Then you have to train them on how to avoid the prospect and what to do if they are threatened, harassed, or assaulted. Connect the dots and learn, don’t just rely on an old fashioned idea and what you think you know. Just like society business in general and society overall, we’ve moved into the 21st century. And we are accelerating at light speed. So many different items have changed quickly. We’ve went from a simple tape driven hard drive 30 years ago to laptops that can out compute them by 100 times! Therefore, business terms and security has to change also to do what we’re supposed to – protect people, property, & assets.

The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ & WPV

November 27, 2012

 

The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ & WPV

 

The election is over. President Obama has been re-elected and one of his major points of emphasis was to stop the country from going over the ‘fiscal cliff’. I will say, briefly, that his plan is irresponsible. But over and above that that what does it mean for the average businessman and American business and free enterprise?

I will state emphatically, as the President does about raising taxes and Republicans adamantly against that idea that workplace violence will start climbing in the near future. Of this I can and will guarantee you. And if you wish you can quote me on that.

My reasoning for this is simple and easily explainable. No matter what happens with the ‘fiscal cliff’ people will be under much more stress and become more depressed than ever with their situations. Be it economic or otherwise they will increasingly become more ‘tightly strung’.

When people begin to get more tightly strung, then they can ‘snap’ at the drop of a hat (and remember no one just ever snaps). It’s generally because co-workers have missed connecting the dots and seeing the warning signs of what is about to happen.

Employees will surely begin to feel more like trapped rats, raccoons, or worse a badger (no insult to those from Wisconsin). They will feel like they’ve been backed into a corner and when one of these animals feel that threatened, frustrated, & trapped in a ‘no-win’ situation they will, 100% of the time. Lash out and attack.

When they do this then people will get hurt. And you must remember that WPV isn’t just murder. It’s any type of violence that occurs at work or because of work.

WPV takes in a multitude of violent acts in the workplace. From a verbal assault in a fit of rage to throwing a pencil, stapler, or even a Kleenex (if it’s done in anger of course). The report that came out from the University of South Florida, I believe, tells us that 50% of us will be threatened and harassed/bullied. The same report also states that 10% of us will be, not could but will, assaulted this coming year. That report came out in 2008, but it is true then and will be even truer in 2013.

And you should also look for an increase in School violence in the coming year as well, especially in the 2013/14 school year. Why is that you ask? Think about it for a second. Do not kids, especially younger ones and teens, absorb what they’re parents are thinking, doing, and acting upon?

If the parents stress levels begin to increase then it only makes sense that the children’s stress level will also increase. And remember that kids don’t handle the pressures as well as adults do, not that many adults handle it all!

The idea of SV is also only murder or bringing a firearm into school is also false. Bullying, harassing, and other such behaviors will increase that can be considered SV.

And I can guarantee you one thing about this trend. The ‘talking heads’ and others in the media, as well as the government will have no clue as to what is going on with either WPV or SV. There will be another round, after round after round, of hand wringing and denials as well as those who say ‘We had no idea’.

This may not happen immediately, in the first couple of months of the year, but it will happen. Of this I can, once again guarantee you. And American business and schools will be caught off guard and un-prepared for what happens. And they will say that they were prepared but they didn’t see it coming and therefore they should be absolved.

Be it a business, governmental agency, or a school I can’t and will not absolve anyone of their responsibility in this matter. As I say in my book ‘One is too Many’ you need to keep your eyes on the prize. This meaning that a constant watch and alert status, at least in your mind, what is happening and what may happen.

HOME SAFETY and Security

November 23, 2012

 

HOME SAFETY and Security

 

Just a few points on this one.

 

  1. Don’t      overload extension cords or put them under rugs. If the cord develops a      short it will surely                        melt      the lining of the cord then start the rug on fire.
  2. Always      check for frayed cords or non-functioning lights. Never try to get ‘one      more year’ out of that old cord. Safety first your family is worth a few      dollars for a new cord. And while you love your ‘Uncle Buck’ don’t use the      cord he ‘fixed’ as good as new.
  3. Don’t      set the tree too close to a heat source. Which includes a Southern      exposure window, space heaters, fireplaces and overlooked wall sockets,      all you smokers—step away from the tree.
  4. And if      you use a real tree, ensure that it gets plenty of water. The trick is to      hydrate before you bring it into the house. My father would take a little      off the bottom of the tree, drop it into a bucket of water and let it soak      overnight before bringing it into the house. It was my job as a kid to      check the tree twice a day for water. If it was low I was to refill. We      usually had our trees from the beginning of December to mid—January and      only just before we took it down did it start to lose needles. That is if      I did my job right.
  5. Studies      have shown that Christmas trees artificial or real can become a blow torch      in less than 10 seconds. Destroying at the very least your holiday if not      your home.

 

Lastly, don’t place the presents under the tree until Christmas Eve or morning. There are two reasons for this #1 is burglaries continue to troll for victims even Christmas Eve. And if they see that you’ve packed your tree with gifts, then their list is complete. If your tree is in your front window then a quick smash and grab by them and your presents are gone to be re-gifted to their family. If you really need to have brightly wrapped presents under your tree before Christmas morning, use empty boxes. Just remember to switch them out Christmas morning.

#2 if you have cats or puppies running loose in your house you’ll never know whose package belongs to whom, after all the tags and ribbons are gone. Just think of the horror when 7 year old Jimmy opens his long awaited for Star Trek uniform and finds a pink flannel nightie meant for Grandma! (Bring on the therapy bills)

 

 

VIOLENCE

 

Christmas is not only the season for remembering the birth of Jesus, but also a blizzard of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. People tend to get overly aggressive and their powder kegs have shorter fuses. Just be aware that December is of the most tragic times for murder in the workplace as well as at home. And may I add malls, road rage, and etc. If you see a situation arising, do what has to be done to defuse it or remove yourself from the area.

 

Remember that being rude, aggressive, and unprofessional can ‘force’ someone to take a violence attitude with either you or a coworker. If someone gets loud, abusive, or violent don’t be afraid to call for backup—coworkers, managers, security, or police. Christmas is the time for joy don’t spread the Scrooge philosophy and leave your family planning a much sadder event during the holiday season.

 

Well, I think I’ve brought you enough Christmas depression as I can.

And I leave you with this  I hope that you have a very Happy Holiday Season, that it be filled with health, smiles, family, warmth, prayers for the less fortunate, and our servicemen and women in harms way through out the world, and that you and yours stay safe. And we keep the reason for the season forever in our hearts.

 

Credit Cards and Cyber Shopping

November 22, 2012

Credit Cards and Cyber Shopping

 

            Well I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about credit card fraud this time of year – like always. But, even security pros need reminding at times, so I’ll let everyone know. Keep a close watch on them. It can be real easy for someone to grab your wallet or purse, but just as easy is being in a hurry and NOT taking our receipts – many receipts have your card number, address, name, and what you bought on it. A thief having that receipt has your identity.

 

If you happen to encounter an old fashioned credit card machine this year – and yes, there are places where you might – always take the carbon paper. Don’t trust the retailer is going to throw it away safely. Be in charge of your information.

 

Lastly, more and more people are using the internet to shop and purchase those hard to find Christmas presents. It is safe and quicker than driving to the mall, no crowds (my favorite) and best of all you can shop in your skivvies. However there are certain rules you need to follow to keep your credit/debit card safe.

  • Be      leery of websites, is it really secure. A little padlock in the bottom      right hand corner can be your first clue. If it is not locked (closed)      then the site is not secure.
  • Follow      no links to websites that come unsolicited to you via email. There have      been numerous reports of nearly identical but fraudulent websites that      will install malicious software/worms/viruses to compromise your computer      besides stealing your personal information.
  • Be      sure you enter the website address accurately or you may end up at one of      those malicious sites.
  • Don’t      shop on-line with a wireless router. It opens you up to having your      information stolen by the thief just driving by your neighborhood. TJ Max,      Office Max and a few other large retailers lost over 18 million      debit/credit card numbers to thieves because they used wireless routers to      send the information to their corporate offices. If it can happen to them      it can happen to you. Understandably the lure of sitting at your local coffee      shop enjoying a latte and surfing the net for Christmas presents sounds      fun and relaxing but the cost to your bank account could be most      unpleasant indeed.

 

Should you become the victim of a thief do you have your credit card numbers, companies and their telephone numbers readily available? You need to notify the credit card companies immediately or you could become liable for the money the thief charged on your card. Make sure you’ve signed the back of your cards, while it is rare for cashiers to check the signatures some do follow procedure.

Shopping – Black Friday & Beyond

November 20, 2012

 

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season and the malls, there is always someone out who thinks differently than you. Their attitude is “It’s better to take than to give.” And they will do whatever they can to take what they want rather than work a real job to get it.

 

So, when you’re in the mall going goo-goo eyed for that new toy for lil Johnny, remember to look around you and see if the same faces start showing up where you are. This will be the first indication that you’re being targeted. And no, it won’t be a coincidence that they are at every place you’ve been even though the mall is crowded. Criminals do what they can to make it look that way, just looking for the time to grab your wallet, expensive gift, or money.

 

If you find the same faces popping up at nearly every store you go into ensure that you do two things to confirm the fact you are being followed. When you look up and see them in the crowd are they watching you and hastily look away when you make eye contact. Secondly, as we will discuss later about driving home, make a few turns, twists, and extra stops to confirm they are indeed following you. Lie the good lil’ miscreants they are they try to deceive you in a myriad of ways, including walking right past you only to turn up later in a different store. If you think you are being followed notified mall security or ask someone to call the police.

 

Once you’ve finished your shopping, you’re still not out of the woods yet. Some of these criminals will follow you outside. What are they looking for? The person who has their hands so full of presents, they can’t get to their keys, cell phone, or anything else. This is the best time for them to rob you. And they can do it in several ways.

 

They will accost you by themselves in the parking lot, lightening your load and your wallet. They will steal your stuff with accomplices in another car. They can car jack you and the car. Or they can simply wait for you to go back in and break the windows. Another possibility is following you home and taking more than just Christmas from you and your family.

 

  1. Be aware of what is happening around you, even more so than normal. If you think someone is following you, tell a store employee or mall security.
  2. Guys carry your wallet in one of your front pockets. Women don’t carry that big purse if you can carry only a wallet and put into your front pocket too. Pickpockets hate front pockets because you can always tell if someone besides yourself is reaching in there.
  3. Never load yourself up with packages that you have a hard time seeing around, walking with, or stopping yourself from falling. Make frequent trips to the car. Yes, it is inconvenient but will save you bumps and bruises and filling out a police report.
  4. As in warmer weather, don’t leave your purchases in the car where they can be easily seen, not even with a blanket covering them – makes them even more tempting. Lock them out of sight in the trunk even SUVs with darkened windows don’t help. If you need to take the presents home and come back to finish you’re shopping.
  5. Never unload your arms into the car if people are sitting in a car next to yours- stay on the opposite side of them. If you notice people in the car next to yours be aware they may be lying in wait for your return, meaning being assaulted, robbed, or kidnapped. Never walk between your car and a panel van with its sliding door open or not. That’s asking for trouble go to the opposite side of your car. Phoenix has become the kidnap capital of the country. So far only Hispanic and illegals have been kidnapped but who knows when that market will expand.
  6. Be constantly aware of all the vehicles around you. It is not an uncommon strategy for them to follow you home to case your house for a future robbery. Ensure that the same car that followed you out of the mall parking lot didn’t also make the same turns you did getting home. If something doesn’t feel or look right to you take the long way home throwing a few extra turns and streets. Trust your instincts. If at any-time you feel you are being followed, cased, intimidated use your cell phone to call the police and pull into a brightly light parking lot. Stay away from dark closed alleys and such. If they take off on you, try to get as detailed a description of them and/or their vehicle as possible but don’t pursue.

 

 

Lastly, use the same logic after you arrive home to unload your packages as you loaded them into your car. Be wary of slow moving cars coming down your street, strangers on the sidewalk, and so on. Never leave your car unlocked, doors open, and unattended. If you have a garage, pull forward and close the door before unloading your car. While the temptation is great don’t leave your house door unlocked and wide open, and unattended while you unload your car. Finally as at the mall don’t over load yourself with packages leaving you vulnerable to a surprise attack.

Scams

November 19, 2012

             It never ceases to amaze me that people will fall for the same old scams every year. One of the most popular is back and very much alive. The scenario goes like this – and yes it really happens; you leave the mall or box store with nothing in hand. About ¾ of the way to your car – you’re in the boonies of course – you see a young guy and he seems to be selling something.

 

You amble over and he tells you that he and his partner have just stolen a few computers from the delivery truck and is willing to make you a deal because the cops are every-where. You look inside the SUV and see several boxes that belonged to Hewlett-Packard.

 

He tells you he’ll sell you one for only $150 bucks. You want to look inside, but he says it’ll attract attention and you’ll both get arrested. And he’ll use the ‘don’t I look trustworthy’ you reluctantly agree and cart home the computer your daughter has been begging for. Then your better judgment kicks in and you open the box or worse yet Christmas morning your daughter opens it up to find……packing peanuts and bricks and wonders what the joke was about? With red-faced embarrassment for you, if it seems too good to be true it usually is. Even if the goods were in the box, remember the law about receiving stolen goods? Does jail sound like a fun after Christmas vacation to you?

 

And of course during the holiday season when we are feeling more generous the pan-handlers break out in record numbers. Be wary of the people approaching you in the parking lot asking for a ‘couple of bucks’ to get home or for a Christmas present for their child, whatever. Yes there are people who need our help during the season but give to recognized charitable organizations. I will admit I usually have a couple of dollar bills in my pocket to hand out in this case. Never open your purse for them you could become a victim of a snatch and run never to see your wallet and credit cards again.

 

Then there are the telephone scams. Most charitable organizations will use the telephone to solicit donations but use a follow up letter for you to make your contribution. You never give your credit card information over the phone to anyone. And no one from your bank will ever call you to ask about your information either.

Security For The Disabled

November 16, 2012

Originally Published May 28, 2012

 

                This is one of the most important blogs I’ve written in my career. I am going to focus on how those of us who are disabled can stay safe while they are out and about. We’ve talked about home security and landscaping over the past week or so. Now it’s time to pay attention to the most important thing of all you. YOU.

                It don’t really matter what your disability is. Whether you’re in a wheelchair, using a walker, blind, deaf, or just simply being older and losing some of your senses. The one major consideration that you have to make is awareness.

                You have to be aware of what is going on around you. If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings you can make a mistake and find yourself in a place you don’t want to be. No matter where you live in America, there will be places in your town where you don’t really want to be because it’s simply too dangerous for you. And again, only your disability can make that determination.

                If you are blind, like me, or in a wheelchair, you have to know what type of ground you’re on or you’ll fall or tip over. These are dangers even if you know where you are! If you’re a quad and utilizing a wheelchair, then it can be somewhat terrifying if you tip over.

                If you’re blind and in a chair you have to be even doubly careful about what’s around you. Add to the fact that there is no way you’ll move anywhere’s close to as fast as someone who is walking, even blind, then it’s even more frustrating.

                In these instances, don’t let anyone push you to go faster than you feel safe enough to go. I understand that people want to help and don’t want us to get caught in the middle of the street when the light changes. But they don’t realize that moving faster than you can or grabbing and pulling you along can be just as dangerous as being stuck in the street!

                Take your time and let your cane show you where you’re at. Don’t take anything for granted when moving down a sidewalk or across the street. In this case make every effort to do one thing and do it well. Listen. If you don’t listen closely, then you may miss a clue as to something coming up on you or that the road is ready to end.

                If you are just older and using a support cane or walker, then the same thing applies. Be aware of what is around you. If you have to shuffle to get along, then you should. This is normally one thing I detest is shuffling because you use a walker or support cane, even worse if you use a white came and shuffle. In order to not be considered a target by ruffians, move as quickly as you can.

                I walk faster than most. I have always felt that if you follow the military motto about walking, then no one will mess with you. That motto being ‘Walk like you have some place to go and something to do once you get there’. In other words walk confidently and quickly.

Use your ears, smell, intuition, & your eyes, if you can, to, not be afraid but be aware. Don’t just pay attention to your cane and what’s in front of you. Using those senses to pay attention to what’s around you while you’re out taking your ‘constitutional’. The landscaping, vehicles on the curb (or parked across the sidewalk), child toys, hoses, sprinklers, wires, and so on. Every thing you come across will change the sound of your surroundings. Pay attention to the changes to the noise level.

                As for smell, that may be a little more subjective than your hearing, but don’t ignore it either. While out walking in the early morning sometimes, I’ve smelled natural gas emanating from a house. We have no pipelines in our neighborhood. However, someone was using a natural gas canister for some purpose and it was leaking. When I got home, I called the Fire Department. At 0400 someone got a knock at their door.

                Everyone tells me what a wonderful sense of smell and hearing I have because I’m blind. It has nothing to do with that. It’s because #1 I walked a security patrol for more than 20 years and had to pay attention to the noises and smells in a warehouse at 0300. At that hour, any noise can be an attempt to break in and steal. As for smell, if you walk through a manufacturing plant that uses hazardous materials, then you’d better have a good nose!

                #2, your senses don’t get better because you’re blind. They get better because you’re forced to utilize them to full effect. If you don’t pay attention o them, then you may find yourself in something nefarious and infamous.

                As for intuition, that is even more subjective than smell. The only thing I can tell you about your gut instinct is this; if you think or feel something is wrong, it probably is. That in and of itself can be unnerving. If you’re alone and you know it, yet you feel you’re being watched or stared at. It can be enough to send shivers up your spine and make your nose hair curl! But don’t worry, it’s only those

Mean and dirty demons or ghosts watching you!

                If you live in an apartment and you have security concerns, for any reason, don’t stop ‘complaining’ to the management. If anything is wrong with the doors, windows, or landscaping close by your apartment then you have to tell them about it. And over and above that, you have to document the complaints.

                As I have always instructed people I’m training, if it isn’t written down and reported, then it didn’t happen. Think of it this way, if something should happen to you or your apartment who is to say you told the management?

                That’s why the documentation is so important. And a last thought on this; No matter how you record it, ensure that you place a date, time, and who you spoke with/notified about the issue. Use your computer, voicemail on the phone, tape/digital recorder, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have a record of it.

                Now you may ask, shouldn’t the complex be motivated to keep the place safe for the tenants? You would think they would, but I can assure you that is not always the case. As I stated before in a previous post, they are motivated by money and the perception of security. I’ll give you a good example of what I mean.

                After moving to the area, I lived in a complex. The manager and the brochure assured us that it was as safe and secure as anything in the area. And they said they never had any serious incidents. What they didn’t count on is a security professional moving in. I wanted to do something to help them out with a few minor things. So I conducted a perimeter survey, with their permission, and gave them the results.

                Suffice to say, I found well over a hundred issues with security at the complex. I gave them the report and they ignored it.  That is until 4 years later someone was murdered in their apartment. I gave it to them again and contacted their ‘guard’ company with it. A year after we moved, nearly everything I said was wring had been rectified. 4 years after the initial report. Yet that entire time, they kept telling people it was amongst the safest in the area!

                If you’re disabled no one can guarantee your security or safety. It is up to you to do the things by yourself to ensure that you are secure and safe when out and about or at home. Therefore, don’t let anyone patronize you and condescend to you about your concerns. Threaten to move if you have too, but be prepared to do it or it’s an empty threat.

                If necessary, find a family member, neighbor, social service, pastor, or someone to help you push the agenda for better security and safety.

                And if you in a home then ensure that you are as heavy on security as aesthetics in your house. I’m not trying to scare you about this, but just be aware about what’s around you and the potential for crime.

                Any questions, comments, or suggestions? 480-251-5197 or todaystraining@aol.com

How Safe Are You At Home? Part 4

November 28, 2012

Originally published May 24, 2012

 

Heading into the home stretch of discussing home security. We’ve talked about the 3 major areas you have to worry about in home security – doors, windows, and landscaping. This post will talk about being safe when you’re on the internet and credit card security.

I’m not an expert in either of those areas, so this will be simple things you can do to help protect yourself when surfing the web and/or using your credit/debit card on-line. It could be very upsetting, not to mention frustrating, to learn that you credit limit has been reached on your credit card. Or worse, your bank account has been drained of every last Penney.

Both of those scenarios happen on an all too frequent basis across the country. In some instances it is foreign nationals trying to get into the country illegally or other mischievous actions. But even more often it’s just plain criminals doing what they do best. Stealing from other people because it’s easier than working.

When you are out shopping and using your credit card(s) try not to take a whole fistful with you when walking through the store or mall. And that also goes for shopping on-line. Take one or two cards and use only those cards.

No matter where you are always keep a list of credit card phone numbers close by. Whether you keep it in your wallet for traveling or at home under a desk drawer, it’s imperative that you have them close by you. Why you ask? In case your cards get stolen and you need to notify the credit card (or bank) company they’ve been stolen or lost. If you do this, your liability is minimized and you could save your bank account from being as dry as the Gobi Desert.

However, never keep the numbers in the same place. Keep those numbers in a secret safe place. Again the reasoning is simple. If someone breaks into your house and finds the phone numbers, do you really want them having the card number as well? They can always call the number and change the address, not to mention the card and get into their hot lil filthy hands. If you can, also have the credit card company utilize a security question when calling them to make changes.

Most of them will do that. And it does give you another layer of security if your card gets lost or stolen. But again, make it a question that only you, or your spouse, can answer. And then don’t make your spouse mad!

Even more care needs to be taken with you debit card. Debit cards don’t offer the same protection as credit cards when it comes to fraudulent charges. When you lose or get your credit card stolen, it’s like losing a piece of paper with a phone number on it. You’re not liable for most charges that occur on the card after it’s taken or lost.

With a debit credit’s like dropping your bank account money on the street and leaving it behind. If someone gets a hold of it, or the numbers, then they can spend your bank account. And unfortunately, it can be drained very quickly if you have a thief that is a prolific spender, like Imelda Marcos. And for some of us that are on a fixed income, that can literally be devastating – how can you buy food, pay bills, or put gas in the car/bus fare with cash?

When using your cards when shopping, especially your debit card, don’t let anyone watch you put your PIN number into any terminal. Do your best to hide your card when you are using it to get money back from the cashier or at the ATM. And going along with this, leave your finger over the card until you have put it away.

There are reports, although not as prevalent as they were a year ago, that some thieves were using their iPhones to snap pictures of people’s cards while they were using them!  After they did this they made up a dummy card and ran amok. When using your debit card, have the cashier run it as a credit card – that way you don’t have to punch in a PIN number. And for the disabled this can help save some grief.

When shopping on-line it’s just like going out and being in the store itself. Many many people and websites are just waiting to take your numbers and run with whatever you give them. And while I’ll have a couple of tips for you on keeping your cash where it belongs, then just be paranoid and cynical about anything you find on-line.

When shopping, you should see a padlock in the lower left hand corner of the task bar. This lil padlock lets you know that the website is secure and you can conduct business with that store or company. Does it mean that they aren’t being hacked and having their customer’s information stolen and other accompanying issues? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that they then take on the liability for identity theft protection and associated issues.

One other thing about shopping on-line you may want to be watch for is the fake websites that look like the real thing, and the ‘phishing’ e-mails you may get from supposedly legitimate companies. If you not aware of these you can spell disaster for your computer, bank account, and personal information. Once these hooligans gain access to your computer, they have you by ‘the short hairs’.

I have received e-mails from numerous places recently that purportedly are legitimate places to conduct business. But they aren’t. Usually opening those up is not devastating, but if you click on the attached link – you’ve got trouble. Some of these websites/companies are very well known.

Here is a sampling of what I’ve gotten. Wal-Mart, San’s Club, Costco, CareerBuilder, FedEx, Wells Fargo, and several others. As you can see whoever sends these out are using the name of well known merchandisers. And for some people it’ll work. If you receive such an e-mail and you think it may be suspicious, call the company about it and let them know. Most of the time they are extremely grateful for the heads up.

If you do open up one of these e-mails be careful what you click on to go somewhere else. The virus, Trojan horse, or whatever will be in the link code they put on there. Many times you’ll get the message that the website wasn’t found. Other times a website will come up and you’ll be tempted to shop or whatever.

Be acutely aware of any misspellings on the site. All legitimate companies will spell and grammar check their websites – usually by a University of Missouri Journalism professor (kidding) and a lawyer before they post it. So if you get an e-mail with a ton of misspellings or grammatical errors, once again, be very aware.

If you get an e-mail and still want to go to the website, then copy and paste the link into your browser. This may help avoid some nasty bugs from getting into your computer. And one more warning about these mails and websites.

Unless you absolutely positively know who has sent you the mail, never ever ever give them any information about you, your family, address and etc. This would be another ‘phishing’ expedition. Once you sign up for a fictitious newsletter or e-mail alert, they’ve got you! Not to mention your personal information. And if you have a lot of friends – then some of their information as well.

Imagine my surprise one day years ago, I was checking my e-mail and found one in my in box from me! It wanted me to send myself $50.00 for some BS reason. I immediately called AOL and cleared that up, not to mention having a computer store clean and wipe the computer. That is what can happen.

If a virus or Trojan horse gets into your computer, then it can take control and send out spam in your name! Imagine your surprise when you get an e-mail from yourself asking for money because you’re broke and need an operation! Not a very pleasant way to read mail. But at least you should have the inside track for knowing if you’re sick!

Like with home security, you have to be very careful about using the internet. It can be a very dangerous place to be for numerous reasons. Above are just a few of them. If you want more computer advice on security, contact a computer store that does virus scans and the like. Someone like Date Doctors is one of the best. Best Buy is also good, but they have neither the time nor proper expertise to talk to you for a period like others do.

I have some other sources for these things that might be willing to share a few tips. Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the names of them that you can talk to here in the Phoenix area. I will also be talking to a colleague about writing a guest blog on smart phones – you’ll be shocked when that one gets posted.

As always, either call me at 480-251-5197 or write me at todaystraining@aol.com.

And if you want some good pithy, humorous, & thought provoking comments, go to the Facebook page – Today’s Training. You you’ll also find other items as well i.e. workplace/school violence incidents.

How Safe Are You At Home? Part 3

November 9, 2012

Originally published May 21, 2012

 

We’ve covered the entry points in your home with doors and windows. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the outside of your home. And even if you live in an apartment, you have to pay attention to the landscaping of your complex.

Why you may ask? Isn’t that the responsibility of the property management and the owners of the property? And what if I’m blind and can’t see the landscaping outside, why does it matter then anyway? All good questions and let me answer those concerns first and then we’ll delve into the land itself.

The management and the owners of your complex, whether it is condos, apartments, or any other complex where the grounds are taken care of by someone else, are more concerned with aesthetics rather than security. Understandably they want their property to be as appealing and saleable as possible. And whether you’re buying or just renting, it doesn’t matter. They want it to look inviting.

Unfortunately, it may also be inviting to anyone who wants to do harm in your or about your home, one of the few places where you expect to be safe. I have lived in several complexes and consulted with a few as well. They pay lip service to security, but if it perceptually compromises the aesthetics, forget it. And many times it is the cost of re-designing the landscaping and planting of new items. Yes money rules over someone’s property and life.

If you’re blind or visually impaired, or any other disability for that matter, need to pay attention to the landscaping as well. If you don’t pay attention to it and know what’s around you then you won’t be aware if someone(s) is watching you and preparing an assault. So yes, it is important that you pay attention to what’s in the landscaping and what’s around you, even if you can’t see it. Use your ears, smell, intuition, & your eyes if you can to, not be afraid, but be aware. Don’t just pay attention to your cane and what’s in front of you.

Now on to the actual landscaping!

                At a house ensure that if you have ornamental bushes next to the house, that they do not grow past the bottom of the window. They may look wonderful and pretty there, but they can be a danger. How? If someone wants to break into your house, then they want to do so unobserved. If the bushes grow past the bottom of your window, then you allowing someone to potentially hide and work on opening the window without breaking it and making noise. Burglars and other ner’do’wells want just that reaction from you.

                If you must have something in front of the window that grows up the window, then plant a rose bush. It’s pretty (roses are my favorite, and if someone does to get in that way, they’ll be a world of hurt when they do. A bush such as this doesn’t allow them to hide as easily and you can still see out and in. And while privacy is a concern you have to balance your privacy with security.

The same goes for bushes growing along the sidewalk and driveway. Again, they are very pleasing to look at, but can also hide someone who wants to do you or someone else harm. Keep these bushes trimmed to no higher than stomach level, just below your sternum. And if these are your bushes in your yard, then I would keep them trimmed down to less than waist level. This because, you have no one else around to watch out for what happens in your neighborhood.

The same goes for any bushes that grow along your entry walk from the street or driveway. Keep them trimmed low so no one can surprise you that close to the door. And the last bit of advice for bushes is to ensure that they are planted at least 2 feet away from any exterior wall and the like.

The reasoning for this is simple as well. If you plant them too close to the wall, then it is easier for someone to hide and surprise you or someone else at home. This allows you to visually too inspect behind them when you may suspect something amiss. That makes it a tad bit safer for you to check for potential intruders. And try not to have any bushes at 90 degree angles in the yard – another unlikely hiding spot.

Tree’s are another matter altogether. Depending on where you live they can be different issues with security & safety. In some places that utilize palm trees for landscaping, you don’t have to worry about security as much. But in California and Arizona it’s the Pacific storms and microburst’s to think about.

In other parts of the country, actually all 50 states, trees can be another way for those miscreants to get in or otherwise do damage to you and your home. And if you live in an apartment, then it is a definite threat for someone to get into your abode.

Many, I would venture to say most, people don’t think of a large tree in their yard to be a threat. But I have lived in the Midwest. Some of those Oak trees can grow very high. And their limbs can be very strong. Strong enough to allow a 250 pound man to climb on one.

And if they can climb on one, then they can gain access to your 2nd story windows. Or in an apartment even the 3rd floor places. Back in the Midwest, from North Dakota to Texas, some of those trees are tall enough and strong enough to allow someone to climb into a 5th or 6th floor apartment!

It really doesn’t matter where you live in the United States, really. From Bangor to San Diego. From Seattle to Miami. From Minot to Brownsville. Tall trees are everywhere and if they are too close to your home or apartment, then they can cause a threat to your security and safety.

Ensure that you have them trimmed so that if the limbs do reach your roof, that they can’t support a human not even a child (trees that high are a kid’s dream to climb & jump off of!). And if you do live in an apartment, then inform your complex office that there is a problem with the trees – and don’t back down if they dismiss you.

Give them a couple of weeks to remedy the situation and if they don’t make your message to them even stronger. And being disabled you have to be a bit paranoid so keep documentation of what you said and did. That way they can’t contrive a way to get rid of you for causing problems later. (Being in security for as long as I have, and dealing with some of the managers and clients I’ve had, has made me very cynical and paranoid about things like this. One of these days I’ll write a blog on those things).

                Flower beds, cut grass, and those things don’t normally cause problems in security or safety for anyone, even those who are disabled. But keep in mind, that if you feel unsafe for any reason with the landscaping, then you need to inform the property managers about it. And again, don’t let them patronize you about it. Take the opportunity to instruct them about being disabled. No matter how empathetic they are, they have no real clue how difficult it can be sometimes.

Ensure that when you are looking at your landscaping you don’t forget about your lighting. You must have adequate lighting around your home or complex or you’ll invite hooligans to the property. At the very least you should have lights over and above every exterior door in your house or apartment – that work. This will allow you to potentially scare someone away if you feel threatened for any reason. In a complex, lighting is just as important. Ornamental lighting is perfectly acceptable, unless it is strictly ornamental and does little to illuminate the property.

There are many lighting units that can be placed in the ground next to sidewalk and illuminates the walk and nothing else. At the very least a complex need to have area lighting as well throughout the complex, so that anyone who doesn’t belong there can be scrutinized and reported. And don’t be afraid to call the police if you feel something is wrong

I’ll end this entry now as it is now more than 3 pages approaching 4. Your safety and security is important to me no matter who you are. So please take care and if you have any questions, please call me at me at 480-251-5197 or write me at todaystraining@aol.com (put blog question in the subject line please).

How Safe Are You At Home? Part 2

November 6, 2012

Originally published May 18th

 

Now we come to the 2nd part of keeping yourself safe at home. Last time, we talked about doors, locks, and the like. This time, I’ll discuss the other way that criminals can enter your home. Windows.

A lot of the same things that we talked about with doors is equally true with windows. Although, windows serve a different purpose than a door does and I like windows. They are wonderful to sit by and watch the snow all, a thunderstorm, or the birds playing in the bird bath.

But while, they are not a primary way to enter and exit your home, they do make it vulnerable to a criminal. Therefore, you have to take precautions with them to ensure that they aren’t an inviting target to one of those ner’do’wells.

As with the doors, you have to check the window panes themselves. Do you have any of them that are cracked or don’t fit properly in the frame? These are things that you need to focus on, to start with, no matter your income level. You can usually go to one of the social service agencies i.e. Salvation Army or the state to get assistance in fixing them.

As windows get older, with all of us, they begin to sag and pull apart. You may have gaps in the individual frames and the panes of glass in the window. These can be fixed cheaply enough by some caulking or replacing the window, which is preferable of course.

If your window panes/frames are shrinking it’s because of several conditions with where you live. In northern climes, you get cooling and then heating of the glass, even in winter time. Over time, this heating and cooling – sometimes rapidly – can cause the shrinking. If you live in the desert, then the extreme heat of Arizona in summer can do it also, although it doesn’t cool that much at night.

If you simply tape or caulk the gaps, then you may be helping your electric bill, but you’re not providing a deterrent to a criminal. Typically, the older the window, the thinner the pane of glass, and a thin pane doesn’t make that much noise when breaking. And you have gaps and secure them with tape then they have an easier way to get in without breaking the glass. And even if you caulk it, then it is a simple matter to place a knife in the caulk and begin cutting/pushing it out.

Look at the overall window frame as well. Is it cracked and the window itself not fitting properly any longer? Again, in many older homes this can create a problem, mainly in your electric bill but in security as well. Just as in the case of your doors, if the frame is cracked, worn, or fitting loosely, then it won’t be much of an issue to get into your home to do whatever it is they want to do.

While the modern trend is to have windows that are sealed shut or sliding windows, I don’t like them like that. Yes, they can save your electric bill, in the case of the windows that are sealed. And sliding windows are good for those that are weaker and younger children to open to listen to the birds or grab a hand full of snow as it falls silently.

But if you are older and have sealed windows, then how do you get out of the house if there is a fire or other emergency? You may be too weak to pick up a chair and throw it through the window to break it so you can get out. And with a sliding one, how can you place a fan in the window to get air flow if the window allows a 3 or 4 foot opening above the fan?

I prefer to have double hung windows on a sash as in many older homes. Or the modern equivalent of a window that raises vertically and pulls out to be cleaned by tilting.

Can you effectively secure the window with locks even if it is open? Of course you can, it just takes a bit of research to figure out the best way to do it. The easiest way to do it is with an old fashioned twist lock, like on those older windows you’re replacing. As long as you can’t put a knife blade through the 2 parts of the window to ‘jimmy’ it, you’ll be okay.

If you go to your hardware store (see I’m an old fashioned guy – hardware store?) they can show you a multitude of locks for your windows. From the type that utilize a side locking mechanism to a myriad of others. Just don’t take the cheapest one you can find.

And never forget the broom stick or dowel rod to place above the window to prevent it from being as raised as far as you want it. Cut it to size and it makes a great lock for any window – even a sliding window. If you buy a dowel rod, ensure that it is thick enough to prevent someone from

pressuring it to snap when they raise the window.