UPCOMING FREE HAWAIIAN CULTURAL CLASSES!
UPCOMING EV ENTS Weekly Hula Classes Hawaiian Chant Workshop Join Our Mailing List!
The Office of the Native Hawaiian Liaison, USAG-HI, in partnership with the Island Palm Communities, ACS, and the Sgt. Yano Library welcomes all soldiers and families to participate in free Hawaiian cultural classes! This is a fun, unique way to learn about the Hawaiian culture, and meet other Army friends and family members!
WEEKLY HULA CLASSES Weekly Hula Classes Mondays @ Schofield; Tuesdays @ Aliamanu Kumuhula (hula teacher) Ladd Heleloa will present different types of hula: kahiko (ancient) and auwana (modern). Learn some basic hula steps and walk away with a better understanding of the rich tradition of hula in Hawaii. No prior hula experience needed!
Where: Schofield Barracks - Kalakaua Community Center (2535 Waianae Uka Avenue) When: Every Monday Time: Beginners: 5pm - 6pm; Advanced: 6pm - 7 pm
Where: Aliamanu Military Reservation - Community Center (182 Kauhini Rd, Bldg 1788) When: Every Tuesday Time: Beginners: 5pm - 6pm; Advanced: 6pm - 7pm To register or for more information, contact the Native Hawaiian Liaison Office at (808) 655-9694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE HAWAIIAN CHANT WORKSHOP Hawaiians have a rich oral tradition, which is perpetuated in chant (oli). Among the uses of oli include documenting Hawaiian genealog y, establishing protocol, giving blessings and telling a story. During the Hawaiian Chanting workshop, participants will be introduced to various styles of Hawaiian chanting and voice techniques. Come to SGT Yano Library at Schofield Barracks to enjoy an interactive workshop on Hawaiian chanting provided by the USAG-HI Native Hawaiian Liaison Office.
When: Wednesday, April 18, 2012; 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm* Where: Schofield Barracks - Sgt. Yano Library *Please note the new workshop date. The Chant Workshop for March is postponed to April. Mahalo for your understanding. To register or for more infor mation, contact the Native Hawaiian Liaison Office at (808) 655-9694 or email email@example.com. ***************************************************************
About the Native Hawaiian Liaison Office, USAG-HI The Native Hawaiian Liaison to the Hawaii Army Garrison Commander was created to build relationships between Army soldiers and their families with the Native Hawaiian community. Its goal is to familiarize both groups with each others' culture and values through workshops, cultural events, networking opportunities and other collaborative affairs to build new and lasting partnerships in the future.
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AUSA‟s Institute of Land Warfare Plan Would Hike TRICARE Fees for Many Budget Request Backs Military Families Army Will Remain Superior Fighting Force Marital Counseling Strengthens Families Traveling With TRICARE Prime Changes Coming for TRICARE Dental VA Introduces Text Messaging in Efforts to Prevent Suicide DoD Expands Drug Testing Program DOD Spotlights Value of Financial Fitness Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Tuition Top-Up Program Explained College Credit for Military Experience Navy to Host Spouse, Veteran Hiring Fair at Bethesda 100 Military Families To Receive Homes „March Madness‟ Takes Over Commissaries New Neighborhood Center Opens At Rucker Family Matters Blog: NBC Show Seeks Military 'Unsung Heroes'
AUSA‟s Institute of Land Warfare AUSA‟s Institute of Land Warfare recently published a Land Warfare Paper entitled “Applying Natural System Metaphors to the Force Modernization Process.” This paper advances previous efforts within the military to use concepts and principles from biological systems to better understand and solve military problems. According to the author, the Army‟s activities already follow natural system principles; therefore, taking additional steps that imitate the natural systems process, including improving adaptability capabilities, would increase the Army‟s ability to evolve in any future world scenario. To access this article online, go to: http://www.ausa.org/publications/ilw/Documents/LWP%2086%20Chamberlain_web%20(2).pdf. To obtain a printed copy of this article, please either e-mail mailto:ILWPublications@ausa.org or call 1-800-336-4570, ext. 4630
Plan Would Hike TRICARE Fees for Many The White House's proposed defense budget will result in significant fee hikes for nearly every segment of the military population, including retirees of all ages, drilling Guard and Reserve members, and military family members. The proposed TRICARE changes include increasing the TRICARE Prime annual enrollment to as much as $2,048 within five years, a new $140 a year enrollment fee and increased deductibles for all TRICARE Standard and Extra users, a new TRICARE For Life (TFL) enrollment fee of as much as $475 per year within 5 years, and plans to double some TRICARE Pharmacy co-pays for retail and mail-order brand-name medications. To read the full article on these fee hikes, please click: http://bit.ly/x8uY2F
Budget Request Backs Military Families From education and employment to program cuts and reductions, President Barack Obama‟s fiscal 2013 budget proposal has been dominating the headlines. Officials claimed that defense leaders are fully committed to assisting Servicemembers and their families. The Department of Defense (DoD) budget request provides $1.3 billion in funding for child care space for more than 200,000 children, as well as $1.4 billion for family support centers and morale, welfare and recreation programs (MWR). It also commits $2.7 billion for the education of more than 61,000 students at DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) schools in 12 countries and more than 33,000 students in seven states, Puerto Rico and Guam. The request includes more than $50 million to improve public school facilities on military installations. Additionally, military construction funding is set at $9.1 billion, and family housing at $1.7 billion. To read more about the budget request, please see: http://1.usa.gov/wCGE6W
Army Will Remain Superior Fighting Force Army officials claim that though its portion of President Barack Obama's fiscal 2013 defense budget request required tough decisions made necessary by possible spending reductions, the Army will remain a superior fighting force. The Army's budget director said the fiscal 2013 proposal supports the Army's role in the defense strategy to include recruiting and sustaining a high-quality all-volunteer Army of Soldiers, civilians and families and resetting Soldiers, their families, equipment and units. Additionally, the fiscal 2013 budget request also takes into account a portion of the reduction in the size of the active-duty Army that will take place over the next five years and realizes that this budget request reflects restructuring of a significant number of other programs. To read further about the cuts, please click: http://1.usa.gov/xKD63D
Marital Counseling Strengthens Families As Servicemembers and their spouses face the stressors of multiple deployments, seeking marital counseling both pre- and post-deployment is becoming increasingly common. The Department of Defense (DoD) is taking steps to improve access to a continuum of counseling support for married Servicemembers and their families, and to inform Servicemembers and military families that seeking marital support is a sign of strength. Each couple experiences and handles stress differently, and addressing concerns before they escalate can help alleviate the pressures of deployment and improve your relationship with your spouse. To receive medical counseling, Servicemembers and spouses from each branch of the military can be evaluated and treated at a Military Medical Treatment Facility. For further information on eligibility requirements and support provided, visit TRICAREâ€&#x;s Mental and Behavioral Health web page at: http://1.usa.gov/zk4Dt7
Traveling With TRICARE Prime TRICARE recommends that any routine medical care should be coordinated through a Primary Care Manager (PCM) before traveling. Beneficiaries receiving routine medical care while traveling without an authorization will be billed as Point of Service and require the beneficiary to pay out of pocket expenses. If Emergency Care is needed, call 911 or report to the nearest emergency room. Provide the emergency room staff with your ID card. For urgent or acute care, Call Humana at 1-800-444-5445 and ask for the closest urgent or acute care TRICARE authorized facility. While traveling, have prescriptions filled at a TRICARE network pharmacy. To find a TRICARE retail pharmacy, call 1-866-363-8779 or visit http://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE. For more information, visit the TRICARE website at http://www.tricare.mil/.
Changes Coming for TRICARE Dental On 1 May 2012, TRICARE will change TRICARE Dental Program coverage from United Concordia to MetLife. This means that over 2 million Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve members, family members, and survivors may soon see some significant changes to their dental coverage. According to TRICARE, beneficiaries can expect to see the enhanced dental coverage at a lower premium share under the new contract. The change to MetLife is for family members, members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve, and survivors only. The Active Duty Dental Program will continue to be administered by United Concordia. The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program coverage will remain under Delta Dental. To understand more about this change, please see: http://bit.ly/x5fGz8
VA Introduces Text Messaging in Efforts to Prevent Suicide The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expanding its efforts to prevent suicide through several new initiatives that increase the availability of services for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families. Now, in addition to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and online chat, located at: http://www.VeteransCrisisLine.net, Veterans and Servicemembers in crisis, and their friends and families, may text free of charge to 83-8255 to receive confidential, personal and immediate support. The text service is available, like the Veterans Crisis Line and online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and connects a user with a specially trained VA professional. To read further on this effort, please see: http://1.usa.gov/xB0cd7
DoD Expands Drug Testing Program The Defense Department's (DoD) drug-testing program is expanding to add screening for two additional prescription medications to the range of legal and illegal drugs it currently detects. The two drugs added to the screening program, hydrocodone and benzodiazepines, are nationally among the most abused prescription drugs. The Department of Defense (DoD) announced the new screenings 90 days before they would take effect, which gives Servicemembers a 90-day warning order. Servicemembers with prescriptions for the two drugs will not be subject to disciplinary action for using them within the dosage and time prescribed. Any Servicemember addicted to prescription drugs should seek medical help.
DOD Spotlights Value of Financial Fitness Citing the potentially devastating impact of financial issues on career and home life, officials are encouraging troops and their families to build financial fitness by kick-starting a savings plan and reducing their debt. Defense Department officials are putting the spotlight on financial readiness, particularly the importance of saving, as part of a national emphasis on financial well-being. If people have something saved, they can avoid the temptation of borrowing from a predatory lender or other financial resource that may have a high interest rate and other unattractive terms, particularly in emergencies. The America Saves website offers some other savings strategies, located at: http://www.americasaves.org/, as well as SaveandInvest.org found at: http://saveandinvest.org. Additionally, the Defense Department‟s Military OneSource consultants can provide telephonic counseling or refer people to a counselor in a community. People can contact a consultant at 1-800-342-9647 or online at http://www.militaryonesource.com.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has an online “assistant” that can help you find out if you may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). EITC gives a tax break to individuals who earn a low to moderate income. After answering a few questions, the 2011 EITC Assistant will help you find out if you are eligible, if your children qualify and give you an estimate of your tax credit. To visit the EITC Assistant, please go to: http://1.usa.gov/qaJkp
Tuition Top-Up Program Explained Top-Up is a program that allows GI Bill participants' to use the GI Bill to supplement the tuition and fees not covered by tuition assistance. The amount of the benefit can be equal to the difference between the total cost of a college course and the amount of Tuition Assistance that is paid by the military for the course. To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, you must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for MGIB AD benefits. To be eligible, you must be a GI Bill participant, still on active duty, and must have served at least two full years. To get more information about Top-Up, please click: http://mnstr.me/xkEyAQ
College Credit for Military Experience The American Council on Education (ACE) was created in 1942 to recognize the educational value of military training and experience. Through ACE, you can take academic credit for most of the training you have received, including Basic Training. The first step to claiming the credits you have earned is to request a transcript from your military service. Each service will provide unofficial personal copies and send schools an official copy of your transcript at no charge. In most cases, ACE recommended credits will be used to fulfill your free-elective requirements, but each college determines the number of credits they will accept, and how they will be applied toward your degree. In fact, some schools may even choose not to grant any credit for military experience. That is why it is critical to shop around for a school that meets your specific requirements. To get more information on ACE and search for schools with VA approved programs, please see: http://mnstr.me/wWGmAs or http://edu.military.com/gibill/?ESRC=mrvr.nl
Navy to Host Spouse, Veteran Hiring Fair at Bethesda The Navy and more than 25 large employers are teaming up to host the first-ever "100,000 Jobs Mission Hiring Event" at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Md., on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.This "Joining Forces" event is
open to veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces to rally the nation's support for troops, veterans and their families. Learn more: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67247
100 Military Families To Receive Homes At least 100 military families will receive homes this year under a partnership between JPMorgan Chase and the nonprofit group Operation Homefront. Priority consideration under the “Homes on the Homefront” program goes to families currently living at an Operation Homefront Village of transitional housing for wounded warrior families. Other wounded warriors, surviving single spouses of those killed in action, and post-9/11 disabled veterans also will receive priority consideration. But any veteran of any era, regardless of wounded or disability status, is eligible. Applicants must be on active duty, in the National Guard or Reserves, or honorably discharged; must not currently own a home; and must be financially capable of sustaining a home. Operation Homefront will help families with any resources or services they need until the properties are deeded to them. To learn more about this program, please go to: http://bit.ly/yM3DwG
„March Madness‟ Takes Over Commissaries Commissaries are combining the excitement of college basketball‟s championship tournament with product promotions throughout the month of March to help customers extend their benefit even further. Throughout March, DeCA‟s industry partners, vendors, suppliers and brokers, will host many in-store promotions and provide extra savings focused around the NCAA Basketball Championship. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain promotional programs as well. Contests include: NCAA March Madness Contest – Road to the Final Four where Unilever and its men‟s grooming line are official partners of the 2012 NCAA Final Four Event and will sponsor a contest offering more than $25,000 in prizes. DeCA patrons will see displays promoting Unilever men‟s grooming products, along with contest details to win one of 10 52-inch, LED TVs; and the General Mills March Madness Sale where customers will see high-value coupons on Old El Paso items and General Mills salty snacks; and several others. To find out more about these promotions, please go to: http://www.commissaries.com/
New Neighborhood Center Opens At Rucker Families of Army troops stationed at Fort Rucker have a new place to gather for working out, swimming or playing video games. Residents and officials at the Alabama Army post attended a ribbon cutting at the new Munson Heights Neighborhood Center. The center is the third and final neighborhood center built on the Army post as part of a residential improvement plan which also included almost 700 new homes and more than 550 remodeled houses. For a better understanding of this new center as well as others in the area, please click: http://bit.ly/xKWq4W
Family Matters Blog: NBC Show Seeks Military 'Unsung Heroes' A new NBC show that rewards selfless people for their good deeds is seeking service members, veterans and their families to spotlight in some upcoming episodes. The show gives people an opportunity to pay a deserving hometown hero back "for always paying it forward," an NBC news release said. Interested families should go to http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67251 to learn more.
FOR THE CONSUMER 1-877-FTC-HELP
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The Cooling-Off Rule: When and How to Cancel a Sale
f you buy something at a store and later change your mind, you may not be able to return the merchandise. But if you buy an item in your home or at a location that is not the
seller’s permanent place of business, you may have the option. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more. Under the Cooling-Off Rule, your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale. The Cooling-Off Rule applies to sales at the buyer’s home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as hotel or motel rooms, convention centers, fairgrounds and restaurants. The Cooling-Off Rule applies even when you invite the salesperson to make a presentation in your home. Under the Cooling-Off Rule, the salesperson must tell you about your cancellation rights at the time of sale. The salesperson also must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send) and a copy of your contract or receipt. The contract or receipt should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel. The contract or receipt must be in the same language that’s used in the sales presentation.
Facts for Consumers Some Exceptions Some types of sales cannot be canceled even if they do occur in locations normally covered by the Rule. The Cooling-Off Rule does not cover sales that: • are under $25; • are for goods or services not primarily intended for personal, family or household purposes. (The Rule applies to courses of instruction or training.); • are made entirely by mail or telephone; • are the result of prior negotiations at the seller’s permanent business location where the goods are sold regularly; • are needed to meet an emergency. Suppose insects suddenly appear in your home, and you waive your right to cancel; • are made as part of your request for the seller to do repairs or maintenance on your personal property (purchases made beyond the maintenance or repair request are covered). Also exempt from the Cooling-Off Rule are sales that involve: • real estate, insurance, or securities; • automobiles, vans, trucks, or other motor vehicles sold at temporary locations, provided the seller has at least one permanent place of business; • arts or crafts sold at fairs or locations such as shopping malls, civic centers, and schools.
To cancel a sale, sign and date one copy of the cancellation form. Mail it to the address given for cancellation, making sure the envelope is postmarked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date. (Saturday is considered a business day; Sundays and federal holidays are not.) Because proof of the mailing date and proof of receipt are important, consider sending the cancellation form by certified mail so you can
get a return receipt. Or, consider hand delivering the cancellation notice before midnight of the third business day. Keep the other copy of the cancellation form for your records. If the seller did not give cancellation forms, you can write your own cancellation letter. It must be post-marked within three business days of the sale. You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind.
If You Cancel If you cancel your purchase, the seller has 10 days to: • cancel and return any promissory note or other negotiable instrument you signed; • refund all your money and tell you whether any product you still have will be picked up; and • return any trade-in. Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up the items left with you, or reimburse you for mailing expenses, if you agree to send back the items. If you received any goods from the seller, you must make them available to the seller in as good condition as when you received them. If you do not make the items available to the seller — or if you agree to return the items but fail to — you remain obligated under the contract.
Problems If you have a complaint about sales practices that involve the Cooling-Off Rule, write: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580. The Rule’s complete name and citation are: Rule Concerning CoolingOff Period for Sales Made at Homes or at Certain Other Locations; 16 CFR Part 429. You also may wish to contact a consumer protection office in your city, county, or state.
Facts for Consumers Some state laws give you even more rights than the FTCâ€™s Cooling-Off Rule, and some local consumer offices can help you resolve your complaint. In addition, if you paid for your purchase with a credit card and a billing dispute arises about the purchase (for example, if the merchandise shipped was not what you ordered), you can notify the credit card company that you want to dispute the purchase. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, the credit card company must acknowledge your dispute in writing and conduct a reasonable investigation of your problem. You may withhold payment of the amount in dispute, until the dispute is resolved. (You are still required to pay any part of your bill that is not in dispute.) To protect your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must send a written notice about the problem to the credit card company at the address for billing disputes specified on your billing statement within 60 days after the first bill containing the disputed amount is mailed to you. If the 60-day period has expired or if your dispute concerns the quality of the merchandise purchased, you may have other rights under the Act. If you have questions about the Fair Credit Billing Act, visit ftc.gov for the FTCâ€™s brochure, Fair Credit Billing, or order a free copy by writing to: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580.
For More Information The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Facts for Consumers
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FOR THE CONSUMER
Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection Division of Consumer and Business Education May 1996
FTC Consumer Alert Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Division of Consumer & Business Education
“Free Trials” Aren’t Always Free A chance to try something out for free? What have you got to lose? If you’re interested in a particular product or service, trying before you buy might seem like a no-brainer. But what starts as a free trial — or for a very low cost — might end up costing you real money. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that some companies use free trials to sign you up for more products — sometimes lots of products — which can cost you lots of money as they bill you every month until you cancel.
Whiter Teeth? Flatter Stomach? Shinier Hair? Whether it’s for a teeth whitener, vitamin or kitchen gadget, all free trials eventually end. And typically, if you don’t want to buy what you’ve tried, you need to cancel or take some other action before the trial is up. If you don’t, you may be agreeing to buy more products. But some dishonest businesses make it tough to cancel, hiding the terms and conditions of their offers in teensy type, using pre-checked sign-up boxes as the default setting online, and putting conditions on returns and cancellations that are so strict it could be next to impossible to stop the deliveries and the billing. Or, the “free trial” might come with a small shipping and handling fee. You think you’re only paying a couple of dollars, but you’re really giving over your credit card information, resulting in much higher charges after the trial.
Strings Attached Other “free” offers enroll you in clubs or subscriptions. For example, a company might offer you an introductory package of free books, CDs, magazines or movies. If you sign up, you may be agreeing to enroll in a club that will send you more products and bill you until you cancel, or to a subscription that’s automatically renewed each year.
Here’s What To Do So how can you avoid the costs that might be hiding in free trials? • Research the company online. See what other people are saying about the company’s free trials — and its service. Complaints from other customers can tip you off to “catches” that might come with the trial.
• Find the terms and conditions for the offer. That includes offers online, on TV, in the newspaper, or on the radio. If you can’t find them or can’t understand exactly what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up. • Look for who’s behind the offer. Just because you’re buying something online from one company doesn’t mean the offer or pop-up isn’t from someone else. • Watch out for pre-checked boxes. If you sign up for a free trial online, look for alreadychecked boxes. That checkmark may give the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial or sign you up for more products — only this time you have to pay. • Mark your calendar. Your free trial probably has a time limit. Once it passes without you telling the company to cancel your “order,” you may be on the hook for more products. • Look for info on how you can cancel future shipments or services. If you don’t want them, do you have to pay? Do you have a limited time to respond? • Read your credit and debit card statements. That way you’ll know right away if you’re being charged for something you didn’t order. If you see charges you didn’t agree to, contact the company directly to sort out the situation. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn’t actively order the additional merchandise.
Where to Complain If you’ve been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. You also can contact your local consumer protection agency, which you can look up at consumeraction.gov, and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-3824357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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FOR THE CONSUMER
Home Wireless Safety Checklist The following six steps are recommended for owners of wireless networks in order to provide protection from hackers and malicious programs such as viruses and spyware. Consult the owner’s manual that came with your wireless router or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on performing the following steps. More information on this and other online safety topics is available at www.fcc.gov/consumers.
1. Turn On Encryption
WPA2 is currently the strongest home encryption available. Because it is less secure, WEP is not recommended.
2. Turn On the Router’s Firewall
Wireless routers are sometimes shipped with the firewall turned off. Ensure that yours is turned on.
3. Change the Router’s Preset Password
To be most secure, your password should include letters, numbers and/or symbols and should be at least 12 characters long.
4. Customize the Network’s Name (“SSID”)
You should give your network a unique name; however, you should not use personal information, such as family members’ names.
5. Turn Off Network Identifier Broadcasting
Broadcasting the network’s name (“SSID”) is unnecessary with a home network and may invite attempts at unauthorized access.
6. Set Up a MAC Address Filter
This allows you to pre-approve the devices that can access your network. The OnGuard Online website, www.onguardonline.gov, has video tutorials 1 on adjusting the security settings of wireless routers from several manufacturers. For more information and online safety tips, please visit www.fcc.gov/consumers.
Telemarketing fraud is a crime. Professional criminals posing as legitimate telemarketers try to worm their way into your wallet. They are very good at what they do: their “pitch” is perfect, their tone is friendly and sincere, and their answers to your questions seem to make sense. It’s no wonder that consumers, regardless of their age, education or experience, can fall for telemarketing frauds. By learning how to recognize and report telephone fraud, you can help stop some scams – and if you put your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, you can reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls you get.
Check ftc.gov/phonefraud for information about: Buying Club Memberships Charities and Fundraising Credit & Loan Offers Government Grant Scams Identity Theft & Telemarketing Medical Discounts Reloading Scams Sweepstakes & Lotteries Travel Scams Work-at-Home & Business Opportunity Scams
To learn more about how to recognize and report phone fraud, and how to register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, go to ftc.gov/phonefraud.
ftc.gov/phonefraud Federal Trade Commission
Recognize Phone Fraud
Every sales call you get by phone is an opportunity for a gut check: Ask yourself these questions — and if the answers give you some doubt about the caller’s intentions or methods, end the call. Who’s calling — and why? Telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. If they don’t, say “no thanks,” and get off the phone. What’s their hurry? Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit to a purchase. If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay? Question charges you need to pay to redeem a prize or gift. Free is free. If you have to pay, it’s a purchase — not a prize or a gift. Why am I “confirming” my account information — or giving it out at all? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge. What time is it? The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 am and 9 pm. A seller calling earlier or later is flouting the law. Do I want more calls like this one? If you don’t want a business to call you again, say so. If they call back, they’re breaking the law.
Phone Fraud Recognizing fraudulent callers is important; reporting them to the appropriate law enforcement authorities is critical, too. When you report, you can help stop telephone scammers. Report telephone hucksters to the FTC and your state Attorney General so they can prosecute fraudulent telemarketers who try to steal your money. If your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, you should get calls only from those companies with which you do business — or those that have your permission to call. If you get calls from a company you don’t have a relationship with — or from a company you have told not to call you — report it. Jot down the name and number of the caller, and the date and time of the call.
To report phone fraud, visit FTC.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. To report violations of the National Do Not Call Registry, visit DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
Your complaint is entered into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a database that is used by law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world. It can help them track down scam artists, detect patterns in their calls, find other victims, and ultimately, stop the fraud.
You can limit the number of telemarketing calls you receive by placing your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Once your number is registered, feel free to hang up if you get a cold call from a company with which you don’t already do business — or report it! You can register your phone number at DoNotCall.gov, or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the number you wish to register. If you register online, you must click on the confirmation email you receive to complete your free registration. Your registration will not expire. Your number is on the list until you take it off, or your number is disconnected and reassigned to someone else. Placing your number on the Registry stops most telemarketing calls, but not all. Once your number has been on the Registry for 31 days, you still may get calls from, or on behalf of: l Political organizations, charities, and pollsters l Companies with whom you have an existing business relationship l Companies you’ve given permission to call Companies that you do business with may call for 18 months. If you ask a company for information, it may call for three months. However, if you request that the company place your number on its own do-not-call list, it must honor your request. You should keep a record of the date you make the request. The Registry accepts personal cell phone and home phone numbers. Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit the use of automated dialers to call cell phone numbers, so most telemarketers won’t cold-call consumers on their cell phones — despite urban myths and emails to the contrary.
FOR THE CONSUMER 1-877-FTC-HELP
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Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
ou’ve probably learned a long list of important safety and privacy lessons already: Look both ways before crossing the street; buckle up; hide your diary
where your nosy brother can’t find it; don’t talk to strangers. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, is urging kids to add one more lesson to the list: Don’t post information about yourself online that you don’t want the whole world to know. The Internet is the world’s biggest information exchange: many more people could see your information than you intend, including your parents, your teachers, your employer, the police — and strangers, some of whom could be dangerous. Social networking sites have added a new factor to the “friends of friends” equation. By providing information about yourself and using blogs, chat rooms, email, or instant messaging, you can communicate, either within a limited community, or with the world at large. But while the sites can increase your circle of friends, they also can increase your exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions. You’ve heard the stories about people who were stalked by someone they met online, had their identity stolen, or had their computer hacked.
Facts for Consumers Your Safety’s
The FTC suggests these tips for socializing safely online: • Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a site. Some sites will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings. • Think about keeping some control over the information you post. Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family. • Keep your information to yourself. Don’t post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or bank and credit card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information, either. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, sports team, clubs, and where you work or hang out. • Make sure your screen name doesn’t say too much about you. Don’t use your name, your age, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn’t take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found. • Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing — and knowing — about you. Many people can see your page, including your parents, your teachers, the police, the college you might want to apply to next year, or the job you might want to apply for in five years.
• Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers. • Consider not posting your photo. It can be altered and broadcast in ways you may not be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether it’s one your mom would display in the living room. • Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you’re dealing with. • Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell an adult or a responsible sibling where you’re going, and when you expect to be back. • Trust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.
Facts for Consumers For More Information To learn more about staying safe online, visit the following organizations: Federal Trade Commission www.OnGuardOnline.gov The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC manages OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information. GetNetWise www.getnetwise.org GetNetWise is a public service sponsored by Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations to help ensure that Internet users have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences. The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be just “one click away” from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their and their family’s use of the Internet.
Internet Keep Safe Coalition www.iKeepSafe.org iKeepSafe.org, home of Faux Paw the Techno Cat, is a coalition of 49 governors/first spouses, law enforcement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other associations dedicated to helping parents, educators, and caregivers by providing tools and guidelines to teach children the safe and healthy use of technology. The organization’s vision is to see generations of children worldwide grow up safely using technology and the Internet. i-SAFE www.i-safe.org Founded in 1998 and endorsed by the U.S. Congress, i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting the online experiences of youth everywhere. i-SAFE incorporates classroom curriculum with dynamic community outreach to empower students, teachers, parents, law enforcement, and concerned adults to make the Internet a safer place. Join them today in the fight to safeguard children’s online experience. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children www.missingkids.com; www.netsmartz.org NCMEC is a private, non-profit organization that helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; helps find missing children; and assists victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them.
Facts for Consumers National Crime Prevention Council www.ncpc.org; www.mcgruff.org
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is a private, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to enable people to create safer and more caring communities by addressing the causes of crime and violence and reducing the opportunities for crime to occur. Among many crime prevention issues, NCPC addresses Internet Safety with kids and parents through www.mcgruff.org and public service advertising under the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign — symbolized by McGruff the Crime Dog® and his “Take A Bite Out Of Crime®.”
staysafe.org is an educational site intended to help consumers understand both the positive aspects of the Internet as well as how to manage a variety of safety and security issues that exist online.
National Cyber Security Alliance www.staysafeonline.org
Wired Safety www.wiredsafety.org WiredSafety.org is an Internet safety and help group. Comprised of unpaid volunteers around the world, WiredSafety.org provides education, assistance, and awareness on all aspects of cybercrime and abuse, privacy, security, and responsible technology use. It is also the parent group of Teenangels.org, FBI-trained teens and preteens who promote Internet safety.
NCSA is a non-profit organization that provides tools and resources to empower home users, small businesses, and schools, colleges, and universities to stay safe online. A publicprivate partnership, NCSA members include the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Trade Commission, and many private-sector corporations and organizations.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER
Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection Division of Consumer and Business Education May 2006
FOR THE CONSUMER 1-877-FTC-HELP
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FTC FACTS for Consumers Vehicle Repossession: Understanding the Rules of the Road
hances are you rely on your vehicle to get you where you need to go — and when you need to go — whether it’s to work, school, the grocery store, or the soccer field. But if
you’re late with your car payments, or in some states, if you don’t have adequate auto insurance, your vehicle could be taken away from you. When you finance or lease a vehicle, your creditor or lessor has important rights that end once you’ve paid off your loan or lease obligation. These rights are established by the contract you signed and the law of your state. For example, if you don’t make timely payments on the vehicle, your creditor may have the right to “repossess” — or take back your car without going to court or warning you in advance. Your creditor also may be able to sell your contract to a third party, called an assignee, who may have the same right to seize the car as the original creditor. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that your creditor’s rights may be limited. Some states impose rules about how your creditor may repossess the vehicle and resell it to reduce or eliminate your debt. Creditors that violate any rules may lose other rights against you, or have to pay you damages.
In many states, your creditor can seize your vehicle as soon as you default on your loan or lease. Your contract should state what constitutes a default, but failure to make a payment on time is a typical example.
Facts for Consumers However, if your creditor agrees to change your payment date, the terms of your original contract may not apply any longer. If your creditor agrees to such a change, make sure you have it in writing. Oral agreements are difficult to prove. Once you are in default, the laws of most states permit the creditor to repossess your car at any time, without notice, and to come onto your property to do so. But when seizing the vehicle, your creditor may not commit a “breach of the peace.” In some states, that means using physical force, threats of force, or even removing your car from a closed garage without your permission. Should there be a breach of the peace in seizing your car, your creditor may be required to pay a penalty or to compensate you if any harm is done to you or your property. A breach of peace also may give you a legal defense if your creditor sues you to collect a “deficiency judgment” — that is, the difference between what you owe on the contract (plus repossession and sale expenses) and what your creditor gets from the resale of your vehicle.
Once your vehicle has been repossessed, your creditor may decide to either keep it as compensation for your debt or resell it in a public or private sale. In some states, your creditor must let you know what will happen to the car. For example, if the car will be sold at public auction, state law may require that the creditor tell you the time and place of the sale so that you can attend and participate in the bidding. If the vehicle will be sold privately, you may have a right to know the date of the sale. In any of these circumstances, you may be entitled to “redeem” — or buy back — the vehicle by paying the full amount you owe (usually, that includes your past due payments and the entire remaining debt), in addition to the expenses connected with the repossession, like storage, preparation for sale, and attorney fees. Or you
could try to buy back the vehicle by bidding on it at the repossession sale. Some states have consumer protection laws that allow you to “reinstate” your loan. This means you can reclaim your car by paying the amount you are behind on your loan, together with your creditor’s repossession expenses. Of course, if you reclaim your car, your future payments must be made on time, and you must meet the terms of your reinstated contract to avoid another repossession. Any resale of a repossessed vehicle must be conducted in a “commercially reasonable manner.” Your creditor doesn’t have to get the highest possible price for the vehicle — or even a good price. But a resale price that is below fair market value may indicate that the sale was not commercially reasonable. “Commercially reasonable” may depend on the standard sales practices in your area. A creditor’s failure to resell your car in a commercially reasonable manner may give you a claim against that creditor for damages or a defense against a deficiency judgment.
Regardless of the method used to dispose of a repossessed car, a creditor may not keep or sell any personal property found inside. In some states, your creditor must tell you what personal items were found in your car and how you can retrieve them. Your creditor also may be required to use reasonable care to prevent anyone else from removing your property from the car. If your creditor can’t account for articles left in your vehicle, you may want to speak to an attorney about your right to compensation.
Any difference between what you owe on your contract (plus certain expenses) and what your creditor gets for reselling the vehicle is called a “deficiency.” For example, if you owe $10,000 on the car and your creditor sells it for $7,500,
Facts for Consumers the deficiency is $2,500 plus any other fees you owe under the contract. Those might include fees related to the repossession and early termination of your lease or early payoff of your financing. In most states, your creditor is allowed to sue you for a deficiency judgment to collect the remaining amount owed as long as it followed the proper procedures for repossession and sale. Similarly, your creditor must pay you if there are surplus funds after the sale proceeds are applied to the outstanding contract obligation and related expenses, but this situation is less common. You may have a legal defense against a deficiency judgment if, for example, your creditor breached the peace when seizing the vehicle, failed to sell the car in a commercially reasonable manner, or waited too long before suing you. An attorney will be able to tell you whether you have grounds to contest a deficiency judgment.
Electronic Disabling Devices Some creditors might not provide you with financing unless you agree to the installation of an electronic device that prevents your car from starting if you do not make your payments on time. Depending on your contract with the lender and your state’s laws, using that sort of device may be considered the same as a repossession or a breach of the peace. How your state treats the use of these devices could affect your rights. Contact your state consumer protection agency or an attorney if you have questions about the use of these devices in your state.
It’s easier to try to prevent a vehicle repossession from taking place than to dispute it after the fact. Contact your creditor as soon as you realize you will be late with a payment. Many creditors work with consumers they believe will be able to pay soon, even if slightly late. You may be able to negotiate a delay in your payment or a revised schedule of payments. If you can reach an
agreement to change your original contract, get it in writing to avoid questions later. However, your creditor or lessor may refuse to accept late payments or make other changes in your contract — and may demand that you return the car. If you agree to a “voluntary repossession,” you may reduce your creditor’s expenses, which you would be responsible for paying. But even if you return the car voluntarily, you still are responsible for paying any deficiency on your contract, and your creditor still may enter the late payments or repossession on your credit report. Finally, if you are facing, or already in, bankruptcy, ask an attorney for information about your rights to the vehicle during that process.
For More Information To learn more about your rights and specific repossession requirements in your state, contact your state Attorney General (www.naag.org) or local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov). You can get the phone numbers for these organizations in your phone book, through directory assistance, or through Web directories. If you need help in dealing with your contract, consider contacting a credit counseling organization. Many credit counseling organizations are nonprofit and work with you to solve your financial problems. “Nonprofit” status is no guarantee that an organization’s services are free, affordable, or even legitimate. In fact, some credit counseling organizations charge high fees, which may be hidden, or urge consumers to make “voluntary” contributions that can cause more debt. To learn more about credit counseling, see Fiscal Fitness: Choosing a Credit Counselor at ftc.gov/credit. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To
Facts for Consumers file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER
Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection Division of Consumer and Business Education November 2008