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How #Default2Safety is Helping Keep Students Safe on Technology

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#Default2Safety may seem like a normal hashtag to many, but it’s what lead to a revelation of a large tech company to take a deeper look into how technology can be reformed to keep students safe.

With technology being a main staple not only in our homes, but now in our student’s education, there have been many questions and concerns. One of our partners, NCOSE, took the challenge head on to fight for change and safety for all students. Google devices, Chromebooks are used by majority of school districts in America (40+ million students), including the Greater Houston Area. As of September 1st, they will be implementing several of the suggestions made by NCOSE for making Chromebooks and google education safer for students. The original article can be read here. Below is a breakdown of the new implemented safety settings.

The safety settings will automatically be defaulted on all products for K-12 students (under the age of 18) that can only be changed by those who hold administrative privileges. Administrators will also be given the ability to tailor settings for services such as maps, photos, and YouTube based on the age group at that campus.

  • SafeSearch: ON
    • SafeSearch when on, is used to filter out explicit content (images, videos, websites) that may pop up when using Google Search results.
  • Enable Guest Browsing: OFF
    • Guest Browsing when on, is a mode that allows all browsing activity to go undetected as well as be deleted when guest mode is exited.
  • Incognito Mode: OFF
    • Incognito mode is a private browser that keeps other people who use the device from seeing the history. Chrome will not save the history, information entered, or filed that were downloaded while using the private browser.
  • SafeSites: ON
    • SafeSites also called Safe Browsing, will alert you about malware, risky extensions, phishing or sites on Google’s list of potentially unsafe sites. It will also warn you if a downloaded file may be dangerous, giving the option for Google to scan it.

So, what do these changes mean and how great will the impact be?

First and foremost, this will help to considerably cut down on purposeful exposure to explicit content as well as predatory language through school-issued Chromebooks while being used at home and school. This is also beneficial to educators and administrators who are unable to consistently monitor the devices safety settings, as well as ease parent’s minds that they are being protected while at school. Though these safety settings aren’t 100% going to catch everything, consider checking browser history frequently and talk to students about safe sites that are able to access and what to do in the event of explicit content and sites they may come across.

This wouldn’t have been possible without NCOSE, Protect Young Eyes and many other organizations that played a part in this long 10-year battle through public campaigns and legislation. Thanks to organizations who continuously put in the work to make student and public safety a priority!

Drugs in a Snap: Our 5 Step Fentanyl Poisoning Prevention Plan

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Fentanyl is pouring into the United States and Social media platforms such as Snapchat make it easy for dealers to connect with and sell to teens with little risk of being caught.

Our Safe Community Program has created “Drugs in a Snap: A 5 Step Fentanyl Poisoning Prevention Plan” an essential resource for parents and caregivers that addresses this safety crisis and provides action steps to help prevent tragedy. Download it for FREE here:

Download our Fentanyl Poisoning Prevention Plan Here!

Download our Fentanyl Poisoning Prevention resource guide for students here!

What is fentanyl? Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine that is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is highly addictive and just 2mg, the equivalent of 2 grains of salt, can kill you within minutes.

Why does it matter? Fentanyl is being laced in drugs that teens are purchasing on social media platforms such as Snapchat for just a few pennies. These fentanyl-laced drugs can be purchased online and delivered straight to your home.

What can you do to keep your loved ones safe? 

  1. Download and share our FREE resource guide that provides a 5 step action plan and will enable you to help mitigate the fentanyl overdose crisis here.
  2. Download our FREE Student resource card here and share it with your teen.
  3.  Watch The Balanced Voice podcast episode with Dr. Laura Berman about her son’s tragic overdose here.
  4. Sign the #LetParentsProtect to urge social media platforms such as Snapchat to allow third-party monitoring tools to monitor teen accounts for potential dangers here: change.org/LetParentsProtect

Want a hard copy of this resource guide? Reach out to us at scp@crime-stoppers.org.

 

Detecting Arson and Fraud Associated with Fire

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The concept of reducing or eliminating a person’s responsibility with the possibility to gain personally or financially from a fire loss is how arson and fraud have become so closely associated. Society has a general acceptance that fire is a natural phenomenon and is not anyone’s fault. Detecting arson and fraud associated with fire can be difficult because the destruction of physical evidence can be extensive.

Fraud is defined as the wrongful deception for personal gain. Fraud occurs when a person knows they are being dishonest, what they are doing is wrong, and they do it for personal or financial gain anyway. Arson has a common definition as the willful or malicious burning of something, to include fraudulent and or criminal intent. The crimes of arson and fraud have been linked together for centuries. Thousands of years ago Hammurabi Law codified that debtors had less responsibility to repay creditors if a loss occurred to the debtor as the result of an Act of God. Although we have modernized language to use the term natural in place of the phrase an Act of God, fire has long been interpreted as an Act of God, caused by something natural, without direct involvement of a person.

These concepts together are why criminals engage in committing fraud through arson or fraud after a fire. Some people believe the detection of any crime will be difficult because there is destruction of physical evidence by the fire and people will generally accept no one is to blame.

Some examples of fraud by arson or fraud after a fire are as follows. A person intentionally starts a fire to burn property such as a vehicle, home, or building because they can no longer afford to make the necessary payments to a creditor. This scenario is often associated with a fraudulent insurance claim because creditors almost always require amortized property to be insured against loss. The goal of the person committing fraud in this instance is to simply be relived of the financial responsibility of the property they agreed to pay for. In a similar scenario a person starts a fire to burn property such as a vehicle, home, or building because they believe they can gain financially from collecting a payout from an insurance claim on the insured property. Some instances of fraud occur because an insured person fraudulently claims that property was damaged or destroyed in a fire. This instance can occur in scenarios where the fire that caused the loss was not intentional or it can be in addition to the crime of intentionally causing the fire.

Some people mistakenly believe that fraud crimes don’t hurt anyone or that it is only financially impacting a big company that won’t be hurt paying a fraudulent insurance claim. The FBI estimates that the cost of non-health insurance fraud cost more than $40 billion per year, averaging $400 to $700 in direct cost to a typical U.S. family per year. The financial impact of fraud does not cover the injuries, damage, or cost incurred to emergency responders, neighbors, bystanders, and taxpayers as a result of the impact of the incident itself.

Hammurabi Law  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi

FBI Basic Overview on Insurance Fraud https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/insurance-fraud#:~:text=Costs%20of%20Fraud,the%20form%20of%20increased%20premiums.

Texas Association of Special Investigative Units https://tasiu.clubexpress.com/

HCFMO https://www.hcfmo.net/

Summer Camp Questions Every Parent Should Ask

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Did you know that The American Camp Association, the only national accreditation body for camps, requires camps to meet just 18 percent of its 255 standards and practices? Thanks to Meow Meow Foundation, you will know what questions to ask summer camps before sending your kids. The tragic loss of 6-year-old Roxie at a summer camp, that was afterwards deemed inadequate, lead her parents to create the Meow Meow foundation to bring awareness to summer camp and water safety.

Our CEO, Rania Mankarious sat down on the Balanced Voice Podcast with Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas to discuss their story, their foundation and how Roxie’s death can lead to saving other kids.

Watch their discussion and learn more about Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas here:

Summer break is finally here and kids are ready to explore, relax and have fun. Often times, summer camps are on the to-do list in majority of households. Whether those camps are day camps, overnight camps, dance camps, horse riding camps or sports camps; all camps should be held to a high safety standard. As a parent, where do you start? Research is important before choosing the camp you want to send your child to. While it can be comforting to send them to a camp recommended by a family friend, be sure to check the camp out on your own. Though the ACA refuses to tell parents that standards and practices that have allowed camps to be deemed “accredited”, there are questions you can ask that will give you insight on how the camp operates. Below you will find a list of questions that will be helpful in finding the right camp for you and your child.

Camp Questions:

  • Does the camp operate with a valid license from the county department of public health?
  • Was the camp inspected at an announced visit before summer season and again during an unannounced visit operating season?
    • Are these inspection result public?
  • Have you executed a thorough internet search – to see if a camp is responsible for an injuries or deaths (drowning, falling, impalement), sexual or other abuses?
  • Does the camp comply with mandated reporter requirements?

Counselors and Staff Questions:

  • Does the camp employ counselors and staff with any criminal background?
    • Do they conduct annual background checks?
  • Are camp staff CPR certified before being hired?
    • Be aware if they are certified on-site
    • What other types of training do they receive?
  • Is the camp health director a physician or registered / vocational nurse?
  • Is there an on-site health supervisor that is 25+ years-old?

Activity Questions:

  • Does the camp offer high-risk activities? (Riflery, aquatics, horseback riding, climbing etc. )?
    • If so, does the camp possess training, certifications and equipment for high-risk activities?
  • Does the camp have a pool or swimming area?
    • If so, does the pool / swimming area meet all current legal standards?
  • Does the camp certify lifeguards at legitimate organizations?
    • Beware of on-site training after hiring.
    • Are lifeguards re-tested every year?
    • Does a camp keep a log of all swimmers, their abilities and restrictions?
  • Does the camp have and require proper gear for high-risk activities (zip-line, archery, horseback riding)?
  • Does the camp have an emergency management plan for each activity?


Download our Bilingual Summer Safety Tips Here! 

Elder Scams You Should Know About

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Elder Fraud takes many shapes and sizes as criminal elements seek to take advantage of this vulnerable and growing population. The FBI has prioritized its efforts to address elder fraud and will continue to do so along with our partners.

Since senior citizens are a particularly vulnerable victim group, they are often specific targets of financial fraud crimes because of their life situation and financial position. Seniors are often more polite and trusting, have difficulty saying “no,” may be lonely or spend a great deal of time alone, have diminished physical or mental capacity, less likely to report the crime out of shame, and are financially stable.

Criminals often focus their efforts on the senior demographic to exploit these characteristics, at times using intimidation tactics or threatening violence, and wreaking havoc on their elderly victims’ financial, psychological, and physical well-being.

The fraudsters buy and trade lead lists on the Internet with seniors’ names, phone numbers and other personal information to contact potential victims. Victims of these schemes often lose thousands of dollars or more apiece, which can cause significant harm to elderly victims’ survival.

An important step in avoiding being victimized is educating the population to be more aware of the numerous types of scams targeting the elderly.

Some of these scams include:

  • Technical-Support Scams: Fraudsters make telephone calls and claim to be computer technicians associated with a well-known company or they may use internet pop-up messages to warn about non-existent computer problems. The scammers claim they have detected viruses or hacking attempts on the victim’s computer. They pretend to be “tech support” and ask that the victim give them remote access to his or her computer. Eventually, they diagnose a non-existent problem and ask the victim to pay large sums of money for unnecessary services. Tech Support Scams often use U.S.-based money mules to receive victim payments and transmit proceeds to perpetrators.
  • Romance Scams: Millions of Americans use dating and social networking sites to meet people- many forge successful relationships. But scammers also use these and other internet sites to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships and eventually convince people to send money for some favor or need. An online love interest who asks for money is almost certainly a fraudster. Romance Scams often use U.S.-based money mules to receive victims’ payments and transmit proceeds to perpetrators. Sometimes, perpetrators of Romance Scams convince victims to serve as money mules, receiving illegal proceeds of crime and forwarding those proceeds to perpetrators. For example, Romance Scam victims often are induced to receive goods/payments, such as cell phones procured through fraud, and to forward those payments and goods directly or indirectly to perpetrators.
  • Government Imposter Scams: Government Imposter Scams are aggressive and sophisticated phone scams. Callers claim to be employees of a government agency such as the FBI, the IRS, or the Department of Homeland Security, but are not. They use fake names and nonexistent case numbers. Victims are told they owe money to the government agency, and it must be paid promptly through a wire transfer or a gift card. Victims who refuse to cooperate are threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a driver’s license or social security benefits. No federal, state, or local government agency will call to ask you for money!

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior citizen who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local FBI field office or law enforcement agency, by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI, online tips.fbi.gov, or through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.