Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nov. 17, 1'6 --- IRS warns of a new tax bill scam

IRS warns of a new tax bill scam

We certainly understand if the latest IRS imposter scam makes you queasy: it involves a fake IRS tax notice that claims you owe money as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
The IRS says the fake notices are designed to look like real IRS CP2000 notices, which the agency sends if information it receives about your income doesn’t match the information reported on your tax return. The IRS says many people have gotten the bogus notices, which usually claim you owe money for the previous tax year under the Affordable Care Act.
It’s one of many IRS imposter scams that have popped up. As tax season nears, we’ll see more. The good news? There are red-flag warnings that can help you avoid becoming a victim. For example, the IRS will never:
  • Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
  • Ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer.
  • Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.
  • Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.
In the new scam, the fake CP2000 notices often arrive as an attachment to an email — a red-flag — or by U.S. mail. Other telltale signs of this fraud:
  • There may be a “payment” link within the email. Scam emails can link you to sites that steal your personal information, take your money, or infect your computer with malware. Don’t click on the link.
  • The notices request that a check be made out to “I.R.S.” Real CP2000s ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury” if they agree they owe taxes.
In the version we saw, a payment voucher refers to letter number LTR0105C, and requests that checks be sent to the “Austin Processing Center” in Texas. But scammers are crafty. They could send messages with a variety of return addresses.

You can see an image of a real CP2000 notice on the IRS web page, Understanding Your CP2000 Notice. If you get a scam IRS notice, forward it to and then delete it from your email account.

Let the FTC know too.

MI Dept of Education and Civil Rights - Addressing the issue of "Hate Speech" and resources

November 15, 2016

A Letter from State Superintendent Brian Whiston

and Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu
Now is a time when all of us need to stand together. Every administrator, teacher, staff member, parent, guardian, bus driver and student must stand as one in condemning intolerable conduct regardless of message or motivation.

We are concerned that students and parents may be hearing mixed messages. Each of us must clearly and consistently convey the message that bullying, harassment, violence, property destruction or any other form of intimidation have no place in our schools. It does not matter who is engaging in the intimidation, which student is being targeted, or what the reason is for the intimidation. There are no legitimate reasons and there are no acceptable excuses. The behavior is wrong, and the behavior will not be tolerated.

Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that every teacher, every staff member and every parent/guardian does what they can to make certain that every student hears this message, and understands that the message is shared by everyone. Waiting for an incident to occur or for a complaint to be filed is not acceptable. Appropriate strategies include:

 Review, revise, and if necessary, redistribute your harassment/bullying policies. Outside events may have increased the number of incidents, but the behavior is not new. It should in no way be minimized or taken less seriously based on outside events.

 Monitor attendance.

 Encourage dialogue and open communication.

 Ensure staff knows the signs of anxiety and trauma, observes students for the signs, and knows what to do if signs are detected.

 Ensure staff and student access to trained counselors and support services either in one-on-one settings or in groups.

 Monitor extracurricular events, be aware of social media, and identify concerns raised by students involving outside parties, threats, harassment or intimidation.

 Continue to promote positive learning environments through programs such as PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports), and comprehensive bullying programs.

 Promote restorative justice practices and utilize alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions.

Page 2 November 15, 2016
 Remember that there is no quick fix, no one speaker, or one shot program to address complex issues. Success requires consistent messaging regarding expectations, sound policies, and having evidence-based programs in place that meet the need and are consistently implemented.

We do not intend this letter to suggest that diversity awareness, dispute resolution, cultural competency and other such programs are not important. We encourage you to foster inclusion through the expansion of such programs. However, these programs cannot be effective unless they are presented in a place where students feel safe and welcome. We have included some links below that you may consider incorporating into your future work. Current events, however, demand that we first ensure that students know that an attack on any student is an attack on all of us, and will be met with a swift and decisive response.

We can work through any other issues in time, but we must immediately make our schools a safe place -- where every student is made to feel welcome.

 For support in PBIS, the Promoting Positive School Climate (PPSC) project information is at - or

OK2Say reporting – text 652729 (OK2SAY) or through the website at

 For local support and resources, Every Michigan School District is served by a regional school health coordinator -

o These regional school health coordinators support training and implementation of the comprehensive K-12 health curriculum Michigan Model for Health -

 Regular surveying students to understand the environment through school climate surveys and student health behavior surveys such as the MiPHY (

 Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions Toolkit and,4615,7-140-74638_72831---,00.html and online restorative justice practice modules,4615,7-140-74638_72831-358881--,00.html

 Michigan State Board of Education Resolution on Use of American Indian Mascots, Nicknames, and Logos:

*Click the link for the PR and more details.

MI Dept. of Education PR, 11/15/16

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Guaridian News Paper: 10/6/16, "Huge phone scam targeting Americans leads to 700 being detained in India"

* This scam has impacted communities throughout Michigan. Exciting to see that at least this group has been caught. Hang up on these types of calls, it's okay to be rude.   CPAM 

Mumbai was the hub of a phone scam that fleeced Americans of millions, according to Indian police.
 Mumbai was the hub of a phone scam that fleeced Americans of millions, according to Indian police. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

 in Mumbai and agencies

Police say Mumbai call centre workers posed as Internal Revenue Service tax collectors to rake in tens of millions of dollars.Thousands of US citizens may have been targeted in a huge tax scam run from call centres in Mumbai, where hundreds of workers were allegedly trained to speak in American accents in order to steal tens of millions of dollars, Indian police have said.

About 700 people are being investigated over what is believed to have been one of the biggest such scams in India’s history, which involved workers posing as US tax officials, according to Paramvir Singh, the police commissioner of Thane.
“Seventy workers have been formally arrested and around 630 others are being investigated,” Singh said. “We expect that many more people will be arrested.”
On Tuesday night about 200 officers raided nine premises in India’s financial capital. Police believe the alleged scam was run from the call centres, where workers pretended to be officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the US tax authority.
Employees would allegedly tell American citizens that they had defaulted on tax payments and were facing prosecution by the IRS. “They would give an American name and a batch number and tell the [US] citizen that they owed the authorities $4,000, $5,000 or $10,000,” said Singh.
“They were instructed to stay on the phone and told that their homes would be raided by police within 30 minutes if they hung up. They made threats, they said: ‘You have to pay, otherwise you will lose your job, your money, your house.’”
After allegedly duping the victims into revealing their bank details they would then withdraw money from their accounts, police said. The victims were told to stay on the call and go to their nearest Target or Walmart store, where they would buy a prepaid cash card, load thousands of dollars on to it and then transfer the money to an American bank account.
Police have not revealed the amount of money that was stolen, or whether citizens from other countries had been targeted. But Singh said the call centres were running for more than a year and are estimated to have conned billions of rupees out of thousands of people.
“We’ve been getting calls all morning from American citizens, people saying: ‘I think I got one of these calls. I think my money was stolen,’” he said.
The alleged scam was discovered followed a tip-off to police, said Singh, who sent in an undercover call centre worker to investigate. “We had a mole go in to the call centres to verify. The best part is that they were actually recording all their calls. We have recovered 851 hard disks on which the calls were recorded, so we’re going through those now,” said Singh.Police suspect the ringleaders had associates in America, where the payments were processed.
US authorities had not approached Thane police on Thursday, but were expected to do so soon.
Many foreign firms outsource work to offshore call centres in India, where low-wage workers handle a variety of services, from reading out train timetables to selling mobile phone plans. In recent years, firms have started moving call centres to other countries such as the Philippines because of a preference for American-style English.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Crime Prevention Association of MI 2016 Conference "Preparing for the Unimaginable through Crime Prevention"

CPAM members and guests opened the 2016 conference tonight at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City Michigan. There were 120 in attendance welcomed by the Traverse City Honor Guard and Jeffrey O'Brien, Police Chief Traverse City MI.  Dr. Patrick Mead , keynote speaker provided an uplifting message focusing on  "Touchstones". All in attendance were encouraged to find a touchstone to rely on and to be encouraged to cherish every moment with your loved ones and friends.

CPAM also recognized outstand service in the field of Crime Prevention:

Outstanding Crime Prevention Practitioner of the Year - MSP Trooper Maurice Burton

Outstanding Volunteer of the Year - Matt Barbarino Kent County Traffic Squad

Outstanding Michigan Media - Dani Mann-Civic Center TV Royal Oak MI

Outstanding Corporate Award - Nate Koetje Feyen Zylstra

Outstanding Unit Award- Ottawa County Sheriff's Office Community Policing Unit

Outstanding Youth Award - Pamela Vredevoogd, Walker PD. (Western MI Explorer)

Outstanding School Officer Award- Officer Rory Allen, Wyoming Dept. of Public Safety

Outstanding Contributions to the Crime Prevention Association of MI - Mr. Aaron Sawyer, Past Sec.

President's Distinguished Service Award: Brann's Family

Sunday, October 2, 2016

FTC: 3 Videos to help you be #Cyber Aware

FTC:  Information for consumers-

3 videos to help you be #Cyber Aware

October is almost here — which means, so is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). What does that mean for you? It’s a great time to make sure you’re #CyberAware. Are you doing everything you can to protect your personal information and devices? Check out the questions below — and corresponding short videos — to see what you’re doing right, and where your cyber habits might need some work.

1.) What can I do to avoid downloading malware (like spyware and viruses) to my devices?

2.) How can I safely connect to Wi-Fi when I’m on the go?

3.) What should I do if someone from “tech support” calls out of the blue, and asks for my personal information or money to fix my computer?

FTC - 3 videos to help you be #Cyber Aware


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FBI Alert, 9/15/16 - Ransomware Victims Urged to Report Infections to Federal Law Enforcement

9/20/16 - CPAM Alert received from the FBI for consumers and businesses. R. Coleman, CPAM

Ransomware Victims Urged to Report Infections to Federal Law Enforcement
The FBI urges victims to report ransomware incidents to federal law enforcement to help us gain a more comprehensive view of the current threat and its impact on U.S. victims.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware installed on a computer or server that encrypts the files, making them inaccessible until a specified ransom is paid. Ransomware is typically installed when a user clicks on a malicious link, opens a file in an e-mail that installs the malware, or through drive-by downloads (which does not require user-initiation) from a compromised Web site.

Why We Need Your Help

New ransomware variants are emerging regularly. Cyber security companies reported that in the first several months of 2016, global ransomware infections were at an all-time high. Within the first weeks of its release, one particular ransomware variant compromised an estimated 100,000 computers a day.
Ransomware infections impact individual users and businesses regardless of size or industry by causing service disruptions, financial loss, and in some cases, permanent loss of valuable data. While ransomware infection statistics are often highlighted in the media and by computer security companies, it has been challenging for the FBI to ascertain the true number of ransomware victims as many infections go unreported to law enforcement.
Victims may not report to law enforcement for a number of reasons, including concerns over not knowing where and to whom to report; not feeling their loss warrants law enforcement attention; concerns over privacy, business reputation, or regulatory data breach reporting requirements; or embarrassment. Additionally, those who resolve the issue internally either by paying the ransom or by restoring their files from back-ups may not feel a need to contact law enforcement.
The FBI is urging victims to report ransomware incidents regardless of the outcome. Victim reporting provides law enforcement with a greater understanding of the threat, provides justification for ransomware investigations, and contributes relevant information to ongoing ransomware cases. Knowing more about victims and their experiences with ransomware will help the FBI to determine who is behind the attacks and how they are identifying or targeting victims.

Threats to Users

All ransomware variants pose a threat to individual users and businesses. Recent variants have targeted and compromised vulnerable business servers (rather than individual users) to identify and target hosts, thereby multiplying the number of potential infected servers and devices on a network. Actors engaging in this targeting strategy are also charging ransoms based on the number of host (or servers) infected. Additionally, recent victims who have been infected with these types of ransomware variants have not been provided the decryption keys for all their files after paying the ransom, and some have been extorted for even more money after payment.
This recent technique of targeting host servers and systems could translate into victims paying more to get their decryption keys, a prolonged recovery time, and the possibility that victims will not obtain full decryption of their files.

What to Report to Law Enforcement

The FBI is requesting victims reach out to their local FBI office and/or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at, with the following ransomware infection details (as applicable):
  1. Date of Infection
  2. Ransomware Variant (identified on the ransom page or by the encrypted file extension)
  3. Victim Company Information (industry type, business size, etc.)
  4. How the Infection Occurred (link in e-mail, browsing the Internet, etc.)
  5. Requested Ransom Amount
  6. Actor’s Bitcoin Wallet Address (may be listed on the ransom page)
  7. Ransom Amount Paid (if any)
  8. Overall Losses Associated with a Ransomware Infection (including the ransom amount)
  9. Victim Impact Statement

The Ransom

The FBI does not support paying a ransom to the adversary. Paying a ransom does not guarantee the victim will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations are never provided with decryption keys after paying a ransom. Paying a ransom emboldens the adversary to target other victims for profit, and could provide incentive for other criminals to engage in similar illicit activities for financial gain. While the FBI does not support paying a ransom, it recognizes executives, when faced with inoperability issues, will evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers.


The FBI recommends users consider implementing the following prevention and continuity measures to lessen the risk of a successful ransomware attack.
  • Regularly back up data and verify the integrity of those backups. Backups are critical in ransomware incidents; if you are infected, backups may be the best way to recover your critical data.
  • Secure your backups. Ensure backups are not connected to the computers and networks they are backing up. Examples might include securing backups in the cloud or physically storing them offline. It should be noted, some instances of ransomware have the capability to lock cloud-based backups when systems continuously back up in real-time, also known as persistent synchronization.
  • Scrutinize links contained in e-mails and do not open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails.
  • Only download software – especially free software – from sites you know and trust. When possible, verify the integrity of the software through a digital signature prior to execution.
  • Ensure application patches for the operating system, software, and firmware are up to date, including Adobe Flash, Java, Web browsers, etc.
  • Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and regular scans are conducted.
  • Disable macro scripts from files transmitted via e-mail. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via e-mail instead of full Office Suite applications.
  • Implement software restrictions or other controls to prevent the execution of programs in common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, or compression/decompression programs, including those located in the AppData/LocalAppData folder.
Additional considerations for businesses include the following:
  • Focus on awareness and training. Because end users are often targeted, employees should be made aware of the threat of ransomware, how it is delivered, and trained on information security principles and techniques.
  • Patch all endpoint device operating systems, software, and firmware as vulnerabilities are discovered. This precaution can be made easier through a centralized patch management system.
  • Manage the use of privileged accounts by implementing the principle of least privilege. No users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed. Those with a need for administrator accounts should only use them when necessary; they should operate with standard user accounts at all other times.
  • Configure access controls with least privilege in mind. If a user only needs to read specific files, he or she should not have write access to those files, directories, or shares.
  • Use virtualized environments to execute operating system environments or specific programs.
  • Categorize data based on organizational value, and implement physical/logical separation of networks and data for different organizational units. For example, sensitive research or business data should not reside on the same server and/or network segment as an organization’s e-mail environment.
  • Require user interaction for end user applications communicating with Web sites uncategorized by the network proxy or firewall. Examples include requiring users to type in information or enter a password when the system communicates with an uncategorized Web site.
  • Implement application whitelisting. Only allow systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy.
Follow the ic3 link to file a report.

Friday, September 16, 2016

CNET / Symantec - Ransomware a growing problem, If you are a victim review these recommendations & view the video before you pay!

CNET Author: Lancy Whitney ,11/12 2012

Cybercriminals gangs are creating a surge in ransomware, says a new report from Symantec.

Ransomware is a type of malware best described as an online extortion racket. Malware locks or disables your PC in some way and then demands payment in the form of a "fine" to render your PC usable again. Like most scams, the ransomware message claims to come from a legitimate organization, such as the government or a public corporation, to try to convince victims that they did something wrong to incur the fine.
But paying the fine does nothing since the initial malware remains on the PC and must still be manually removed.

This scam has risen in popularity over the past several years, but 2012 witnessed an increase in both the number and variety of ransomware campaigns, Symantec said in its report. That growth is due largely to a upsurge in the number of worldwide criminal gangs using this scheme to make a buck.

"From just a few small groups experimenting with this fraud, several organized gangs are now taking this scheme to a professional level and the number of compromised computers has increased," the report noted. "Symantec has identified at least 16 different versions of ransomware."

One malware investigation mentioned in the report discovered 68,000 affected computers in a single month. Another one caught a Trojan attempting to infect 500,000 PCs over the course of just 18 days.

Criminals go where the money is, and ransomware can be a cash cow. As much as 2.9 percent of all people affected by ransomware end up paying the ransom, Symantec said. Criminal gangs have stolen more than $5 million a year from unsuspecting victims, according to one estimate, however, Symantec believes the dollar amount to be much higher.

Though a variety of different gangs are active, many get their ransomware from the same source, the report said. A single individual, who remains unknown, seems to have a full-time job of developing ransomware to fill requests from the criminal gangs.

Symantec Video: Ransome ware a growing problem

Symantec - Video on addressing ransome and malware

Federal Trade Commission - When your computer life is held for ransom

When your computer life is held for ransom

August 31, 2016
by  Aditi Jhaveri              
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC              
Imagine if everything on your computer was “kidnapped” — including all of your precious family photos and important personal documents. And the only way you could access any of it again was if you paid a lot of money — or bitcoins — to a hacker. Even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your stuff back.
Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Unfortunately, it’s happening in real life. It’s called ransomware. You might’ve heard news stories about ransomware attacks on hospitals, universities, and other large organizations, too.
Hackers do it by encrypting files on your computer — and files you’ve saved to connected hard drives or any shared folders. Once the files are encrypted you won’t be able to open them without the encryption key — which you can get only if you pay the amount hackers demand. That could be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
It’s a serious problem. That’s why the FTC is holding a ransomware event on September 7 in Washington, DC. We’ll talk with security experts, law enforcers, and others about what steps people and businesses can take to protect their computers — and what to do if you’re a victim.
Check out the event details — it’s free and open to the public. Or tune in to the webcast — we’ll post the link here a few minutes before the event starts. In the meantime, check out this video on protecting your computer from malware:
*Make sure to report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at

FTC - Protect your computer from Malware

9/16/16, Hacking  of websites and emails has been a big issue this year and daily in the news. Here are some tips from the FTC about how to protect your computer. This is the first in a series of how to protect your computers, emails, servers, and cell phones from being hacked into. The most important step that all consumers and business that host blogs, websites, and social media, is go into your analytics to see "who is accessing your site" and viewing your pages. Governmental entities / Businesses IT professionals should remind employees not to open suspicious emails or open links.

Use the highest filters possible and scan your computers daily to check for viruses. If you host a blog, or a social media site for your work place / business, it is recommend that you remove all "work related" emails from your site use Gmail or some other Email site to avoid  your system from being comprised.

To our surprise CPAM's site has had just as many views from Russia as in the USA over the past year. Rich Coleman, CPAM  

Transcript from the FTC : Protect your computer from Malware

Malware is short for “malicious software."  It includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Learn more about how to avoid, detect, and get rid of malware.

Would it surprise you to learn that millions of computers in the US are infected with malware? That's a lot of computers. So what's malware, and why should you care?
Malware, short for malicious software, includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer or mobile device without you knowing it. Criminals use malware to steal personal information and commit fraud. For example, they may use malware to steal the login information for your online accounts or to hijack your computer and use it to send spam. An infected computer can lead to serious problems, like identity theft.
The good news, there's a lot you can do to protect yourself and your computer. One of the most important steps you can take, install security software from a reliable company and set it to update automatically. The bad guys constantly develop new ways to attack your computer, so your software must be up to date to work.
Set your operating system and your web browser to update automatically too. If you're not sure how, use the help function and search for automatic updates. Don't buy security software in response to unexpected calls or messages, especially if they say they scanned your computer and found malware. Scammers send messages like these to trick you into buying worthless software, or worse, downloading malware.
 What else can you do? Use a pop up blocker, and don't click on links and popups. Don't click on links or open attachments in emails unless you know what they are, even if the emails seem to be from friends or family.
Download software only from websites you know and trust. Free stuff may sound appealing, but free downloads can hide malware. Make sure your web browser's security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For example, use at least the medium security setting.
Even if you take precautions, malware can find its way onto your computer. So be on the lookout for these signs. Your computer runs slowly, drains its battery quickly, displays unexpected errors or crashes, it won't shutdown or restart, it serves a lot of popups, takes you to web pages you didn't visit, changes your home page, or creates new icons or toolbars without your permission.
If you suspect malware, stop doing things that require passwords or personal info, such as online shopping or banking. Use a different computer, maybe one at work or at your local library, to change your passwords. Update your security software and run a system scan. Delete files it flags as malware.
If you can't fix the problem on your own, get help from a professional. Your computer manufacturer or internet service provider may offer free tech support. If not, contact a company or retail store that provides tech support.
Keep in mind, the most important thing you can do to prevent malware is to keep your computer software up to date. And remember, it's easy to find trusted information about computer security. Just visit, the federal government site to help you stay safe, secure, and responsible online.
FTC, dealing with Malware video

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Apple Warning --ITune gift cards Scams

iTunes Gift Card Scams

* 9/14/16- Information from the Apple Website:
Be aware of scams involving iTunes Gift Cards.

Regardless of the reason for payment, the scam follows a certain formula: The victim receives a call instilling panic and urgency to make a payment by purchasing iTunes Gift Cards from the nearest retailer (convenience store, electronics retailer, etc.). After the cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to pay by sharing the 16-digit code on the back of the card with the caller over the phone. 
It's important to know that iTunes Gift Cards can be used ONLY to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership. If you're approached to use the cards for payment outside of the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music, you could very likely be the target of a scam and should immediately report it to your local police department as well as the FTC
Please do not ever provide the numbers on the back of the card to someone you do not know. Once those numbers are provided to the scammers, the funds on the card will likely be spent before you are able to contact Apple or law enforcement.  

Tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam

  • If you are NOT purchasing an item from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or an Apple Music membership, do NOT make a payment with iTunes Gift Cards. There's no other instance in which you'll be asked to make a payment with an iTunes Gift Card.
  • Do not provide the numbers on the back of the card to someone you do not know.
  • Immediately report potential scams to your local police department as well as the FTC (

Contact Apple

If you have additional questions, or if you’ve been a victim of a scam involving iTunes Gift Cards, you can call Apple at 800-275-2273 (U.S.) or contact Apple Support online.

More information


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

National Missing and Exploited Children: Digital Citizenship / Cyberbullying

*8/31/16,  The NM & Exploited Children's website is a great resource for families, schools, Day Care providers, and  faith communities.  Please share this information and their website. Rich Coleman, CPAM

Cyberbullying is just what it sounds like - bullying through Internet applications and technologies such as instant messaging (IM), social networking sites, and cell phones. It can start easily—with a rumor, a photo, or a forwarded message—and just as easily spiral out of control. An embarrassing video posted to a social networking site by someone in Kansas tonight may be watched by someone in Japan tomorrow. Cyberbullying victims may be targeted anywhere, at any time. 

Common Forms of Cyberbullying [1]
  • Flaming and Trolling – sending or posting hostile messages intended to “inflame” the emotions of others
  • Happy-Slapping – recording someone being harassed or bullied in a way that usually involves physical abuse, then posting the video online for public viewing
  • Identity Theft/Impersonation – stealing someone’s password and/or hijacking their online accounts to send or post incriminating or humiliating pictures, videos, or information
  • Photoshopping – doctoring digital images so that the main subject is placed in a compromising or embarrassing situation
  • Physical Threats – sending messages that involve threats to a person’s physical safety
  • Rumor Spreading – spreading gossip through e-mail, text messaging, or social networking sites
Signs Your Child May Be a Victim of Cyberbullying
  • Avoids the computer, cell phone, and other technological devices or appears stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message, or text
  • Withdraws from family and friends or acts reluctant to attend school and social events
  • Avoids conversations about computer use
  • Exhibits signs of low self-esteem including depression and/or fear
  • Has declining grades
  • Has poor eating or sleeping habits

    [1] Hinduja, S., Patchin J. Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2009.
* For more information on this topic please access the link below from the National Missing and Exploited website.

NetSmartz - Cyberbullying prevention tips


Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) : When / What to do if your computer life is held for ransom

Imagine if everything on your computer was “kidnapped” — including all of your precious family photos and important personal documents. And the only way you could access any of it again was if you paid a lot of money — or bitcoins — to a hacker. Even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your stuff back.

Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Unfortunately, it’s happening in real life. It’s called ransomware. You might’ve heard news stories about ransomware attacks on hospitals, universities, and other large organizations, too.

Hackers do it by encrypting files on your computer — and files you’ve saved to connected hard drives or any shared folders. Once the files are encrypted you won’t be able to open them without the encryption key — which you can get only if you pay the amount hackers demand. That could be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

It’s a serious problem. That’s why the FTC is holding a ransomware event on September 7 in Washington, DC. We’ll talk with security experts, law enforcers, and others about what steps people and businesses can take to protect their computers — and what to do if you’re a victim.

Check out the event details — it’s free and open to the public. Or tune in to the webcast — we’ll post the link here a few minutes before the event starts.

In the meantime, check out this video on protecting your computer from malware:

FTC video - What to do When your computer is held for ransom


Gary Bubar, AAA Insurance Public Affairs Specialist: School's Open Drive Carefully

In a few weeks, over 1.5 million Michigan children will be making their way back to schools across our state.  Safely transporting students to and from school every day is an ongoing challenge.  For that reason, we invite you to join AAA in reminding everyone that “School’s Open – Drive Carefully.”

 For over seventy years, AAA has reminded motorists that with the start of another school year, traffic patterns and volume will be changing as children will be moving along streets, roads and neighborhoods.   Across the country, 309 children were killed and another 11,000 injured as pedestrians last year.  AAA’s traffic safety message from 1946 still resonates. Reminding motorists to slow down and stay alert continues to be an important message to start the school year with.

We invite you to join us in helping promote these Six Back to School Safe Driving Reminders:

Slow down – give yourself time to react.

Eliminate distractions – focus on driving.

Look before you back up – check first for children and obstacles.

Stop means stop – come to a complete stop at intersections where required.

Bicycles are vehicles too – give cyclists plenty of room and be ready for the unexpected.
Talk to teens – 25% of all teen crashes occur between 4-7pm. 

School’s Open – Drive Carefully info:

Pedestrian safety info:

Pedestrian safety infographic:

Bicycle safety info:

Bicycle Safety infographic:

Additional AAA traffic safety info:

Please feel free to contact me at any time for additional information. Thank you for your dedication to traffic safety in your community.

Safe travels.

Gary Bubar | Public Affairs Specialist, Michigan

AAA - The Auto Club Group
1 Auto Club Drive
Dearborn, MI  48126
(313) 336-0974 ofc

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"6 Things Parents Should Know About Pokémon Go", Author, Lynette Owen, Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program

7/26/16,  This is a great article, worth sharing,,,,  Rich Coleman, Pittsfield Twp. DPS / CPAM
July 12, 2016  By Lynette Owen
Last week, Nintendo launched Pokémon Go, a mobile gaming app based on its popular game franchise of the same name.  The app is free and is unique in that it requires players to move around in the real world in order to advance in the game and get rewards.  Players create their own avatar which is animated, as are the characters in the game, but they are overlaid onto real images coming through the camera of the player’s mobile device.  It’s the first widely available and, as early reports have shown, wildly popular app that take advantage of augmented reality.
I signed up and tested it within the confines of my home and backyard, my 9-year old looking over my shoulder eager to try too.  The novelty of looking through your phone camera and then suddenly seeing a character sitting on your own couch is definitely a cool experience.   I had to throw Poké balls at these characters in order to continue on in the game. In [my] reality I actually preferred these creatures not disappear because I captured them.
I had hoped to simply move around within a reasonable area within and near my home, but after 20 minutes of walking around – avoiding table legs and door jams – I realized the game is very limited if your geographic boundaries were limited too.  Eventually, I just got bored and stopped playing.
The news circuit has latched onto this craze and for the most part has focused on stories of people’s predictable lemming-like behavior, Nintendo’s stock price rise, and thedangers this new type of game presents (leading you to unsafe places, tracking a lot of personal data as it requires your geo-location, etc.).
I believe it is best to try out the app and judge for yourself.  I also highly recommend you do this beforeor WITH your child before letting them go search for imaginary creatures all over town (and possibly further).  As fun and simple as it may seem, there are definitely risks to be aware of.
Here are 6 things in particular to keep in mind:
  1. The app is called Pokémon Go and it is free. There are a lot of comments in the user agreement about in-app purchases, but I did not use the app long enough to get to that point of needing or wanting to buy anything.  That said, you can make sure your child does not rack up tons of real-world charges to your credit card bill by turning off the in-app purchasing feature, requiring a password for the app to charge against your credit card, or using gift cards for app purchases rather than a credit card.
  2. It is designed to be used on a mobile phone. Don’t use it with your iPad, Kindle Fire, or something that you can’t easily hold with one hand.
  3. There is no age limit.** However, you need a Google account or Pokémon Trainer Account to sign in to use it.  Google already requires you to be 13+ to have a Google account.  Nintendo allows kids under 13 to have a Pokémon Trainer Account, but signing up for one requires parental consent.
  4. **But, the app makers state it is ideally for age 9+. I don’t think many 9 year olds should just go off wandering around town to play this game by themselves, just as I wouldn’t recommend they go off anywhere without adult supervision.  I launched the app again after I left my house, and in the middle of a parking lot I discovered there were several more characters for me to capture. Staring at my phone and swiping towards an imaginary creature is not the safest thing to do there.
  5. You must allow the app to use your geo-location in order for it to work. Be aware of this and the privacy you may be giving up to the app as a result. You are basically signaling your physical location at all times and how long you spend in those places.
  6. The user agreement has many statements about safety, but there isn’t a way to report safety issues. The terms of use encourage players to use the app with care (i.e., watch where you’re going!).  It also states that people should not break any laws while using it (i.e., don’t rob people, don’t break into people’s private property, etc.)  What I didn’t see in those terms or anywhere in the game is a way to report concerns.  This is something I think will be demanded and should be designed into the game in the near future.
In the end, I got a little bored of the app.  I think it could be great fun if I had the time or energy to run around town looking for Pokémon.
That said, the idea of augmented reality has its merits; many applications of this technology are yet to be.  Imagine walking into a big box store, wondering where to find a certain item?  Don’t need to ask anyone, just hold up your camera and arrows will point you the way AND deliver a coupon to you by tapping on the image of the item once you find it.  The advertising potential for this technology is pretty huge (maybe Starbuck’s has something waiting in the wings?).
The Pokémon Go game is an incredible leap forward for augmented reality, and a new use of mobile devices.  For decades, Pokémon has been popular with kids, including the good old fashioned Pokémon trading cards.  But as an app to get kids up off the couch and play outside, I think it is somewhat flawed and has a lot of inherent risk.  If Nintendo made it so younger kids could find lots of characters within the confines of their home or a single park or playground, I would feel much better about my kids using it.
But as a replacement for sedentary gaming?   Not really.  Just have your kids put the phone down and go chase a real soccer ball or shooting star instead.
Lynette Owens is the Founder and Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program.  With 20+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens.  She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support digital literacy and citizenship education.  She is a board member of the National Association of Media Literacy Education and SPARK Kindness, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.
Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens