Jamie Bastas

Gamers hacked: What you need to know to protect yourself

April 28th, 2011 at 8:32 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

If you’re a gamer you’ve probably heard about the recent debacle at Sony Corporation. The company says its Playstation network was hacked into sometime between April 17 and April 19 forcing officials to shutdown the network while an investigation is launched. Tuesday, Sony announced more bad news saying it is possible 77 million users’ credit card accounts may have been compromised.

 In light of the recent situation, the Better Business Bureau has released steps Playstation user should take to ensure their privacy:

  •  Monitor your credit reports and credit card accounts
  • Be aware of email, telephone and postal scams that ask for personal information

 Sony lists the following statement on their blog:

“Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking.”

Please remember, U.S. residents are entitled (under U.S. law) to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228. At no charge, U.S. residents can have the credit bureaus place a “fraud alert” on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name.

Here are the names and contact information for the three major credit bureaus:

Experian: 888-397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

*Source: – Sony Playstation blog / www.bbb.org


Steer clear of those nasty Facebook scams

April 15th, 2011 at 1:57 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

You have to be a pretty savvy person to not fall for any of the scams and lately it seems these scam artists are getting smarter with their approach. Scams are everywhere we turn these days and most recently they seem to be taking over facebook pages, photo albums and through random posts on user’s walls.

According to Facebook an average of 500 million people have accounts on the popular social media website and people spend approximately 700 million minutes on facebook per month.

Mashable.com reports if you’ve clicked on a link and you find out it is a scam or spam consider yourself connected to the page and know that you’ve spammed all your friends. Here’s what you need to do. First, revoke the app’s access. In the top right corner of your Facebook profile page, click Account, then click Privacy Settings. In the bottom left corner of the next screen, click Apps and Websites. Then, you’ll see a list of the sites and apps that have access to your Facebook account. If you hover over that line you wish to remove, you’ll see a small pencil. Click the pencil, and you’ll have the option to entirely remove the app.

After removing the app, it’s time to do damage control. It’s probably a good idea to let your friends know you’ve been spammed. It might take a while to get the word out and you may see a long list on those you’ve spammed on your newsfeed. You can go ahead and delete all those.

In another case, if you believe you’ve been spammed and someone has hacked into your account. It’s best to notify your friends and change your access password.

Also, make sure you are connected to Facebook through a secure connection. You’ll know it’s a secure connection because in your address bar the address will begin with https) Be leery of apps and games that prompt you to disregard your secure connection.

As always, keep in mind, that if anything is too good to be true, it probably is.

Source: Mashable.com


Gas boycott April 15th…will it work?

April 14th, 2011 at 1:24 pm by under 10 On Your Side

As some of you may have heard, rumors are swirling around the internet about a nationwide gas boycott scheduled for tomorrow, April 15th and each and every one of you are invited!

This Facebook page was started in an effort to get Americans to come together and show the government the power of the American people. What do you guys think about these gas boycotts? Do they ever work?

Here’s my opinion:  While the well meaning person behind the campaign, in theory, has a good idea, there are a couple of reasons I think this won’t work. First, boycotting gasoline for a day doesn’t change the demand for the product. In the days before the boycott and the days following, people will have to fill up their tanks, so the demand for gas and the prices that coincide, will not change.  Second, this one day boycott will not affect the people who it is intended to affect. It’s only going to hurt the local businesses whose customers are participating in the boycott because customers won’t be shopping at the local stores. Lastly, I can’t imagine every person participating in the boycott WALKING to work!

 These boycotts have been planned in years past and according to one person on the Facebook wall for the boycott, it didn’t work. While I stated my opinion above, I’m curious what you guys think? Will it work? Are you planning to  participate?


Low gas prices, where art thou?

April 13th, 2011 at 6:36 am by under 10 On Your Side

Planning a trip and gas prices have you in a panic?

One quick glance at the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report and you’ll see the gas prices in our area are some of the lowest in the country, but many of us are still pinching pennies to fill up our tanks. AAA reports gas prices have increased by approximately 25% compared to last year and because of that, many Americans are searching for the lowest gas prices in their area.  If finding the lowest price for gas has become a priority for you, we’re on your side with some helpful sites you may want to check out the next time your gas light comes on.

 WAVY.com: Lowest area gas prices

 FuelMeUp.com

GasBuddy.com

MapQuest.com

 AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone App

 CheapGas! iPhone App

 GasBuddy App for Android

Now you can plan your vacation knowing you will be armed with everything you need to find the lowest gas prices, wherever your travels take you! Enjoy your trip!


Parents: Do you practice window safety?!?!?

April 12th, 2011 at 1:30 pm by under 10 On Your Side

Spring is in the air…. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and the temperatures are starting to rise. Now is the time when homeowners start opening windows and enjoy the springtime temperatures. While opening the windows in your home may seem harmless, it could be a very dangerous decision if you have young children in your home.

 The CPSC joined the National Safety Council last week in recognizing National Window Safety Week  in hopes of educating parents and guardians about the dangers of leaving windows open when there is a young child present.

According to data obtained by the CPSC, more than 3,000 children below the age of 5 are treated in emergency rooms across the United States for falls from open windows; 34% of those children are hospitalized and on average 8 children will die a year from falling from a window.

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association has issued a series of safety measures parents should consider:

  • Keep furniture – or anything children can use to climb – away from windows. Children may use such objects to climb to an open window and potentially fall.
  • Remember that insect screens are intended to keep insects out. They are neither designed nor intended to keep children from falling out of windows and should not be expected to do so.
  • When installing window guards or window fall prevention devices, be aware that the window guards or window fall prevention devices must have a release mechanism so that they can be opened for escape in a fire emergency.
  • Select a device that complies with ASTM F2090, which provides minimum requirements for window fall prevention devices to ensure that they can be easily removed or opened when necessary. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
  • Whenever possible, open windows from the top, instead of the bottom

Remember, it only takes a second for something to happen to your child in your home. Please use caution while enjoying the spring temperatures and take the above safety measure into consideration to protect your family.


You’ve been warned! 2011 Tax Scams

April 11th, 2011 at 1:48 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

The IRS has released what they are calling 2011′s Dirty Dozen tax scams. A spokesperson for the IRS warns these scams may look tempting, but they will end up hurting people who fall for them. In many cases taxpayers must repay all taxes due, plus interest and penalties. In the end, the IRS may be the only ones “making a buck” if you fall for these scams. Here’s the complete list of this year’s tax scams to watch out for:

Hiding Income Offshore

The IRS aggressively pursues taxpayers involved in abusive offshore transactions as well as the promoters, professionals and others who facilitate or enable these schemes. Taxpayers have tried to avoid or evade U.S. income tax by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or through the use of nominee entities. Taxpayers also evade taxes by using offshore debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or insurance plans.

 Identity Theft and Phishing

Identity theft occurs when someone uses an unsuspecting individual’s name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without permission to commit fraud or other crimes. And when it comes to taxes, a criminal with someone else’s personal information can file a fraudulent tax return and collect a refund.

Phishing is one tactic used by scam artists to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal or financial information online. Phishing involves the use of phony e-mail or websites — even social media. A scammer may pose as an institution such as the IRS. IRS impersonation schemes flourish during tax season. Spyware, which can be loaded onto an unsuspecting taxpayer’s computer by opening an e-mail attachment or clicking on a link, is another tool identity thieves use to steal personal information.

 Return Preparer Fraud

While most return preparers are professionals who provide honest and excellent service to their clients, some make basic errors or engage in fraud and other illegal activities.

Dishonest return preparers can cause big trouble for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. These fraudsters derive benefit by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds, charging inflated fees for return preparation services and attracting new clients by making false promises. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Federal courts have issued hundreds of injunctions ordering individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has pending complaints against dozens of others.

 Filing False or Misleading Forms

Phony information returns, such as a Form 1099 Original Issue Discount (OID), which claims false withholding credits, are usually used to legitimize erroneous refund claims. One version of the scheme is based on the bogus theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for its citizens and that taxpayers can gain access to funds in those accounts by issuing 1099-OID forms to their creditors, including the IRS.

 Frivolous Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage people to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law or IRS guidance.

 Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions

Abuse includes arrangements to improperly shield income or assets from taxation and attempts by donors to maintain control over donated assets or income from donated property. The IRS also continues to investigate various schemes involving the donation of non-cash assets including situations where several organizations claim the full value for both the receipt and distribution of the same non-cash contribution. Often these donations are highly overvalued or the organization receiving the donation promises that the donor can repurchase the items later at a price set by the donor.

 Abusive Retirement Plans

The IRS is looking for transactions that taxpayers use to avoid the limits on contributions to IRAs, as well as transactions that are not properly reported as early distributions. Taxpayers should be wary of advisers who encourage them to shift appreciated assets at less than fair market value into IRAs or companies owned by their IRAs to circumvent annual contribution limits.

Disguised Corporate Ownership

Corporations and other entities are formed and operated in certain states for the purpose of disguising the ownership of the business or financial activity by means such as improperly using a third party to request an employer identification number.

 Zero Wages

Filing a phony wage-or-income-related informational return to replace a legitimate information return has been used as an illegal method to lower the amount of taxes owed. Taxpayers should resist any temptation to participate in any of the variations of this scheme. Filings of this type of return may result in a $5,000 penalty.

 Misuse of Trusts

Some highly questionable transactions promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the tax benefits promised and are used primarily as a means to avoid income tax liability and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

 Fuel Tax Credit Scams

Some taxpayers, such as farmers who use fuel for off-highway business purposes, may be eligible for the fuel tax credit. But other individuals are claiming the tax credit for nontaxable uses of fuel when their occupations or income levels make the claim unreasonable. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is considered a frivolous tax claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

 How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity

Suspected tax fraud can be reported to the IRS using Form 3949-A, Information Referral. The completed form or a letter detailing the alleged fraudulent activity should be addressed to the Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. The mailing should include specific information about who is being reported, the activity being reported, how the activity became known, when the alleged violation took place, the amount of money involved and any other information that might be helpful in an investigation. The identity of the person filing the report can be kept confidential.

Whistleblowers also may provide allegations of fraud to the IRS and may be eligible for a reward by filing Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information, and following the procedures outlined in Notice 2008-4, Claims Submitted to the IRS Whistleblower Office under Section 7623.


North Carolina lottery players beware…

March 7th, 2011 at 5:05 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We received  a news release today from the North Carolina Attorney General about a scam e-mail circulating that claims to be from the “Winning Notification Team” at the NC Lottery. The e-mail says there is a prize of $200,000 and all you have to do to claim the money is contact a claims agent and provide some personal information.

The Attorney General’s office warns there is no “Winning Notification Team” at the NC Education Lottery and the real lottery will never notify winners by e-mails or ask for personal information in exchange for the prize.

If you are in the State of North Carolina and spot a sweepstakes or lottery scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov. You can also get tips on lotteries and sweepstakes, and learn more ways to keep your money and information safe. Also, don’t forget to contact 10 On Your Side to make us aware of the scam.

 


Dehumidifiers recalled due to fire hazard

January 11th, 2011 at 5:11 pm by under 10 On Your Side

Today the CPSC, along with GD Midea Air Conditioning Equipment of China announced a voluntary recall of GE and Professional Series Brand dehumidifiers. This recall affects approximately 198,000 dehumidifiers sold around the United States at Walmart, Sam’s Club and Home Depot.

The company says a component in the compressor can short circuit and pose a fire hazard. There have been 13 reports of incidents involving smoke and fumes emitting from the unit and a total of 8 reported fires.

Here’s a list of Model numbers and serial numbers affected by this recall:

GE

Model numbers begin with: AHK30LK, AHW30LK, AHM30LK, AHK40LK, AHH40LK, and AHM40LK

Serial numbers begins with: VL1, ZL1, AM1, DM1, FM1, GM1, HM1, LM1, MM1, RM1

CEM “Professional Series”

Model numbers begin with: PS78303

Serial number begins with: from C10102336010841 4100001 to C10102336010841 5103037

The CPSC says consumers should stop using the recalled products immediately and contact Midea to determine if their product is included in the recall. Consumers whose dehumidifiers are affected by the recall will need to return the product to an authorized service center for a free repair.


GOGO is home!

January 10th, 2011 at 5:19 pm by under 10 On Your Side

Since our viewers LOVE animal stories, here’s one with a happy ending!

Last week we received an e-mail (at reportit@wavy.com) from a viewer  in Virginia Beach who found a blind poodle wandering down the median of Providence Rd. The viewer sent us pictures of the poodle and asked to spread the word to see if the poodle’s owner could be located. On Friday, our web team posted pictures of the dog on the WAVY TV Facebook page and asked anyone if they knew who the owners were.

Over the weekend I received a 10 on your side e-mail from the owner of the dog saying she saw pictures of her dog and wanted help in locating the dog. I was able to get in touch with the woman who found the lost dog and put the two women in touch with each other.

Come to find out the dog’s name is GOGO and she is 18 year old black poodle. As I’m typing this post, GOGO is back home where she belongs!

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”  ~Roger Caras


Domestic Violence is NOT OK

August 20th, 2010 at 5:31 pm by under 10 On Your Side

It’s alarming when you hear the statistics surrounding domestic violence; at least one in three women have been abused during her lifetime. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. 4,500 women are killed each year in the U.S. by abusive partners.

Today we spoke to the victim of domestic violence whose ex-boyfriend abused her after being released from jail for assault and battery. Without warning the abuser showed up at the victim workplace and stabbed her 7 times, creating serious injuries, but fortunately she survived.

In airing the victim’s story today, it brings to light an entire subject that most people don’t talk about, the reality of domestic violence.

As the 10 On Your Side Producer, I started researching tips and warning signs on domestic violence. I had a great conversation today with Mrs. Jennings in the legal research and advocacy department at Transition Family Violence Services. In talking to her, I could tell she is very passionate about the subject. During our conversation, we spoke about tips, preparation, ways to help an abused friend, etc. I was surprised about how little I knew about the topic and the tips, while they made sense, were something I’ve never thought about.

Because these tips came as a surprise to me, I thought I’d pass them along to anyone who reads my blog in hopes it might be able to offer some assistance to those who need it.

* Prepare a safety plan: have a safe place to go, take all I.D’s, important documents and medications with you
* Save Money
* Don’t keep your abuse a secret
* Stand up for yourself
* Find some sense of happiness in your life
* Gain job skills

And last, but certainly not least, remember no one has the right to abuse you. Remind yourself daily that you are a strong person.

Please keep in mind, if you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is there IS help available.

On the Peninsula you can call:

Transitions Family Violence Services (serving Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and parts of York County)- 757-723-7774 or http://www.transitionsfvs.org/

Avalon (serving Williamsburg and parts of York County) – 757-258-5051 or http://avaloncenter.org/

On the Southside you can call:

H.E.R. Shelter (Portsmouth) – 757-485-3384 or http://www.hershelter.com/

Genieve Shelter (Suffolk) – 1-800-969-4673 or http://home.earthlink.net/~genieve88/

Samaritan House (virginia Beach) – 757-430-2120 or http://www.samaritanhouseva.org/

In the State of Virginia:

Va Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance – 1-800-838-8238 or www.vadv.org

(Special thanks to Transitions Family Violence Services. *The facts and figures came from the VA Sexual and Domestica Violence Action Alliance website and from the Transitions Family Violence Services website*)