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Your Credit Card May Pay For Rental Car Damage


I recently had an incident with a rental car while in assignment out of state.  (Incident is one level below accident.  I scraped the side of the gas pump while refueling.  Long story for another day.)

The rental car company called me and asked me about my deductible as they had gotten in touch with my auto insurance company.  The damage wasn’t that much, all things considered.  $678.  Ok, so I figured I’m biting the $500 deductible as, to this point,  I’d been incident-free this year.  The rental car customer service rep asked me if I had checked with my credit card company about the deductible. At first I thought she’d simply made a mistake and meant to say insurance company.  Nope.  Credit card company.  “Why would my credit card company have any involvement??” “If you check, many credit cards cover the cost of deductibles and more on rental cars as a card benefit.” “Ohhhhh really?!?”  She is correct so I thought I’d pass it along to my faithful readers.

From NerdWallet:

Benefits by network

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover all provide rental car insurance above and beyond what your primary insurer and rental company will offer. Here’s a quick overview of each network’s benefits and limitations:

Visa: Visa is often touted for its excellent rental car insurance benefits, mostly because it’s widely available for cardholders. Unlike many other networks, it offers rental car insurance on all of its cards — standard, Signature, rewards, the works. However, it limits its rental car coverage period to only 15 consecutive days domestically and 31 consecutive days abroad.

MasterCard: Its benefits are similar to Visa’s. However, rental car insurance is not offered on all cards, and it limits its coverage period on all rental cars to 15 consecutive days or fewer. According to customer service, it’s available only on Platinum, Gold, World and World Elite cards.

American Express: American Express is the only network to offer premium coverage for a small fee. It offers free secondary coverage up to $50,000 ($75,000 on The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta Reserve Credit Card), but will offer primary coverage with a higher limit and protection against injury and property damage if you choose it.

American Express Exemptions:

Students: A Personal, Gold or Rewards Plus Gold cardholders who are enrolled in an accredited four-year college or graduate program in the United States, and are receiving student benefits provided by card membership, are ineligible.

California: Maximum coverage costs $17.95 for:

  • $100,000 car damage
  • $250,000 accidental death and dismemberment
  • $15,000/person medical expenses
  • $5,000/person property damage, maximum $10,000 overall

Florida: Property damage is capped at $15,000 per person, $25,000 overall.

Discover: Discover’s coverage is limited to a handful of cards. Unlike the other three networks, Discover doesn’t cover loss of use fees, only collision damage up to a $25,000.

Good info to have in case needed.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.



Conducting A Pre-Placement Nursing Home Investigation


Given that people are now living well into their 80s and commonly, their 90s and 100+ years of age, nursing home placement is a valid option for seniors.  Family members may wish to conduct a thorough investigation before selecting a place to live for their aging loved one. We suggest doing the following:

  • Conduct several physical walk-throughs of the facility with at least one or two unannounced visits being on different days/times,
  • Make note of facility staffing levels and responsiveness of caregivers at random times.
  • Observe the overall cleanliness conditions of the facility.

The leading cause of abuse and neglect in nursing home is insufficient staffing.   You may want to pay particular attention to the number of staff members and the adequacy of their response time and effectiveness when responding to assistance requests from elderly residents, especially those with significant health issues.

Our friends at Montlick & Associates also suggest the following:

An effective pre-placement investigation also might include interviewing the administrator about hiring practices and background check; minimum and average staffing levels; procedures to prevent falls, pressure sores, infection or wandering; procedures to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and medication; and other issues related to safety and quality of care. A valuable resource that you may wish to consult is Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison Website. This site provides detailed reviews, comparisons and inspection histories for nursing homes that accept Medicare.

Confirm Implementation of Safety Protocols: Nursing homes generally are required to implement special procedures for elderly residents that suffer from physical or mental impairments that pose a greater risk of injury. Family members should inquire about such special procedures if a love one has limited mobility, or an aging family member is prone to falls or wandering. The administrator usually will outline such special safety precautions during the intake process. It may be advisable for family members to follow-up regarding these special procedures to ensure they are actually implemented.

Once you finally do settle on a nursing home, be alert for and follow up on unexplained injuries or changes in mood.  While there are innocent explanations for bruises, dislocations, abrasions, broken bones or depression, any injuries or sudden changes in behavior or mood by a senior merit closer examination. While it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of such injuries or changes in personality if an elderly nursing home resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to pay careful attention to these signs. If serious or repeated injury occurs, this may constitute an even greater cause for concern.

All sound advice and remember, the elderly deserve our appreciation, attention and guardianship as they enter the twilight moments of their lives.  Quality of life is important at every age in life.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Do the Due, Diligence: Trial Prep


We recently encountered a challenging situation; In one matter: 20 witnesses to verify and serve, a week before the trial date. There were a myriad of reasons why the attorney was unprepared for trial (several incidents came to light during this hectic process) but below, we pass along several generic trial prep techniques:

1. Consult with your trial prep person well before trial.

Meeting with your trial prep firm allows the investigator to become aware of the case facts, and allots him/her the time to review the matter and then, formulate and execute an operations plan.  (There will always be last minute filings, service, subject locates… that have to be performed.  An experienced trial prep firm, however , has resources already in place for those unforeseen events.)

2. Basic Paperwork and Activity To Have Completed Pre-Trial

– Special Power of Attorney.  This should be obtained from the injured client from the outset.  (In this recent case, the client lived several states away and was not readily able to come up and sign authorizations.)

– HIPAA authorizations.  If there is a hint that the records may contain medical information,  a duly executed HIPAA authorization form must be attached to the subpoena request for testimony and or records.

– So Ordered Subpoenas.  Generally, among other criteria, if a city, state or federal agency is involved, a So Ordered Subpoena (signed by a judge) must be obtained at the trial court.

– Subject Locates – Don’t use the DIY  online searches that are readily available online.  The vast majority  of these sites yield information that, if correct, ages out at about 12 to 18 months old already.   Have your investigator conduct comprehensive locates, especially in cases that, for whatever reason (e.g., attorney substitution) have gone on for a while,

Tip:  When dealing with EMS documents, note the shield numbers.  If the shield number is 6,000 or above (e.g. Shield# 7206 or 6024) this is a private ambulance that has responded.  Do not subpoena the FDNY at MetroTech for the Ambulance Call Report.  They won’t have it.  In the section underneath “Comments” on the ACR, there is a field for Hosp #.  The number in that field reveals the hospital associated with the responding ambulance.   (There may be one of two numbers written into this field; a 3 digit number is the trauma center designation and the number in parens is the FDNY hospital code assignment.  Almost all EMS personnel use the 2 digit FDNY code. n parentheses)  See below for NY County Hospital Codes. (For other boroughs: shoot us an email, we’ll send you the links.)

Hospital Information

Hospital Name Disposition Code Hospital Name Disposition Code
Bellevue Hospital 712 (02) Beth Israel Medical Petrie Campus 713 (03)
Cabrini Medical 715 (63) Goldwater Memorial Hospital – Coler Site 714
Goldwater Memorial Hospital – Goldwater Site 720 Harlem Hospital 721 (07)
Hospital Joint Diseases Ortho. Inst. 735 Hospital For Special Surgery 723
North General Hospital 758 (09) Lenox Hill Hospital 728 (11)
Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital 730 (05) Memorial Hospital – Cancer & Allied Diseases 731 (08)
Metropolitan Hospital 732 (12) Mount Sinai Hospital 734 (13)
New York Eye & Ear Infirmary 736 New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell 737 (14)
New York University Downtown Hospital 941 (01) New York University Hospitals 739 (15)
New York Presbyterian Hospital
Columbia Presbyterian Division
742 (17) New York Presbyterian Hospital – Allen Pavillion 749 (16)
Rockefeller University Hospital 743 St. Clares Hospital & Health 746 (19)
St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hosp.
Roosevelt Hospital Division
759 (18) St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hosp.
St. Luke’s Division
745 (20)
St. Vincents Hospital & Medical of NY 748 (21) Veterans Administration Hospital 724 (10)
Beth Israel Medical Singer Division 718 (04)
  • (Number in Parenthesis indicates FDNY Hopital Number)
  • ‡ indicates trauma center designation

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Is My DMV Record Public? How About My Voting History?? Public Records Checklist.


With the ease of information gathering these days, we are finding that many people are worried about their relevant data availability to the general public.  Many information brokering sites aggregate personal information from public records and it’s important to realize that most information is gathered through voluntary release from the individual (e.g., your date of birth from a subscription). Below we provide a checklist of common information that is public and that which requires additional permissions.

Personal public records may include some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address.
  • Birth date/age
  • Names and contact information of family members
  • Names and contact information of neighbors
  • Political party affiliation
  • Past arrests, (and current) warrants and wants
  • Businesses or websites owned
  • Listed telephone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Recorded real property records (developed/undeveloped)
  • Recorded motor vehicle records (vehicles, aircraft, boats registration)*
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • Credit header (includes name, dob and address, possibly employment)
  • Litigation history
*Check your state for publicly available vehicle registration and ownership records release. 

Personal information that requires additional permissions:

  • Bank records (require a judgment in hand before processing)
  • Medical records (require signed HIPAA releases from the individual)
    • Doctor’s records
    • Hospital records (including ambulance call sheets)
    • Urgent care facilities
    • Dental records
    • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • Credit score and history (require individual’s signed authorization for release)
  • Social Security Number (requires release by the individual)
  • Marriage and divorce records (require authorization from one of the parties involved)
  • Birth certificates (require the party’s authorization)
  • DMV driver’s history (requires the driver’s authorization)

Business/Government Public Records

Business and government public records generally come from information recorded within the business or agency itself. They are often more statistical in nature.

Some information that may be available on a business or government public record include:

  • Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Fictitious business names
  • Collection items
  • Business credit score
  • Payment history
  • Business ownership

Just a point of information with our presidential election drawing near; currently, only your party affiliation is a public record.  Several states, including Florida and California, however, are fighting legal battles to have these public records include your choice in each election in which you voted.  Aside from marketing purposes by the major parties (and many of those practices are questionable), I see no real necessary purpose for these very personal records to become public fodder.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.



Pros and Cons of Conducting A Pre-Employment Social Media Background Check


It is safe to assume that a review of a prospective employee’s social media content will be conducted as part of the new hiring norm as it relates to pre-employment background checks.

It’s also true that, often now, corporate counsel is advising HR managers to be careful with the information they glean from these social media site checks with regard to the manner in which it is used.   Using negative content to reject the candidate may backfire if it appears to be, for example,  racist or misogynistic in nature.  Conversely, one of the first things under the investigation microscope in a workplace violence case is the thoroughness of the background check of the alleged victimizer, to include social media content review.

From my collegaues at “the Background Investigator“:  Research from the Society For Human Resource Management, (SHRM) revealed that 76 percent of employers that don’t use social media when conducting background checks said they avoid this practice mostly because of the legal concerns.
Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the employment, labor, benefits and immigration practice group, said that while there are risks in checking out social media when screening candidates, there are also risks in not looking at it.
“Sometimes, lawyers think [businesses] are taking a risk [by looking at social media], but they could be taking a bigger risk [by not looking], because then they hire the person that is dangerous or unproductive,” Segal said.

In May, the FTC gave a company called Social Intelligence the green light to run background checks of your  Internet and social media history. The Federal Trade Commission now allows companies to run social media background checks and to compile your information. Companies such as Social Intelligence. 

Contrary to initial reports, Social Intelligence doesn’t store seven years worth of your social data. Rather it looks at up to seven years of your history, and stores nothing.

It screens for aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity (for example, making racist statements), and sexually explicit activity. And it doesn’t pass on identifiable photos of you at all. In other words, your drunken kegs stand photos are probably fine as long as you’re not wearing a T-shirt with a swastika or naked from the waist down.

Basically, it just wants to know if you’re the kind of misfit who will cause legal hassles for an employer.

If you do review social media in your employment process, make sure you preserve the items that you considered in your research.  (Don’t assume that the content you considered will remain available.  Many people remove objectionable material from their online profiles once they realize that it could reflect poorly during their employment search or simply, the content can drop off the site during updates.)

We advise all of our clients – when considering a prospective new hire – to have the candidate sign an attestation that all of the information that they have provided is accurate and true to the best of their knowledge and evidence of falsifying any information will be grounds for dismissal.   Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have him sign off on permission to review his social media content.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.



Not Liking Your Online Profile? Clean It Up & Track Yourself.


Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.

First, find out about yourself.


1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.

2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,

3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.


1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.

2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.

3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.

If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion,  civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.)  and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.

If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too.  The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children).   You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:

Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.

For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.

The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.


Top 5 Spy Tools for Fall 2016, Including an Unshredder!


1. Unshredder

Just because you’ve spent an hour shredding important documents doesn’t mean that those shredded pieces of paper can’t be put back together again. Unshredder, dubbed the first commercial document reconstruction tool in the world, is a computer program capable of reconstructing documents that have been strip-shred and cross-shred, and documents with torn pages. Instead of aligning each little shredded piece by hand, this Windows-based application automates the reassembly of documents through four simple steps: collate, segmentation, reconstruction, and report. The finished results can then be printed, e-mailed, or copied. Used by government agencies, police departments, lawyers, private investigators, and security agents, Unshredder is available with a monthly license for $90 or a yearly license starting at $950.

2. Motokata Bionic Ear Hearing Amplifier

Wish you could hear the conversation between your boss and the CEO? The Motokata Bionic Ear-Hearing Amplifier uses sound-magnification technology that lets you hear any conversation clearly and distinctly up to 20 feet away. Weighing around an ounce, it amplifies sounds up to 50 decibels and can be easily attached to your shirt pocket or belt. Attach the amplifier to the included stereo earphones to hear spoken words and control the volume. Approx. $49.95.

3. Jakks Pacific EyeClops Night Vision

For the nocturnal spy, Jakks Pacific’s EyeClops Night Vision goggles ($79.99) will let you see objects in total darkness. Gearlog’s Brian Bennett tested the device in a dark room, and he was able to see people and objects pretty clearly. A knob on the right side activates an LED light, letting you see further into the dark. If the green-colored night vision starts giving you a headache, there’s even a switch on the bottom of the right eye piece that toggles your view from green to black and white.
4. Computer Mouse Transmitter
Be careful what you say around this computer mouse. The Computer Mouse Transmitterhouses an ultra-mini microphone and transmitter circuit, which can pick up sounds from up to approximately 32 feet away. For the rich spy, this sneaky mouse sells for upwards of $1,200.o0.
5. Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera
How many times have you been driving on the road, only to witness someone running a red light or pulling right out in front of you? Catch bad drivers red-handed with the Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera ($49.95). Attach the cradle to your vehicle’s dashboard and place the recording unit inside the cradle. Set the recording angle in any direction you’d like, and insert an SD card up to 2GB of capacity to store the recordings. The camera measures 18.25 by 6.12 by 2.25 inches, weighs one pound, and operates on four AAA batteries.
Well, summer is almost over so it’s time to get serious about our spy tools again! (Just make sure you are familira with local governing laws and then, have at it!
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.

Back To School; Back To Bullying


While many children look forward to going back to school this week, a significant number of kids dread what is to them, an ordeal.  They are the ones who fear being bullied.  According to stopbullying.gov :

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Where and When Bullying Happens

Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or, more frequently now, on the Internet.

Frequency of Bullying (There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:)

  • The 2012–2013 School Crime Supplement(National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 22% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
  • The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

 What Can Be Done About Bullying?

While there are no federal laws pertaining to bullying, state and local lawmakers have taken action to prevent bullying and protect children.  Each state has laws on the books about bullying: Look here for your state’s regulations: http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/

If you notice changes in your child’s behavior, and can eliminate drugs and or alcohol as the cause, look into whether they are being bullied.  Many children who are bullied are ashamed and feel insecure.  As a parent or guardian, you have the ability to help change this daily hell for these kids who are singled out for this type aggressive behavior.  No child should ever have to fear going to school or anywhere else for that matter.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

From The Mouths Of Babes; Interviewing Child Witnesses.

child interview

(This article is from an investigator’s perspective. Trial attorneys bear a different obligation to prepare the child for testifying in court.)

From time to time we’ve had to interview children.  For this article, we are referring to minors under 16 years of age as witnesses in civil or criminal matters.  The most important thing to do when questioning children is to establish trust.  Most children are painfully shy when talking to strangers – moreso in situations that are fraught with tension such as giving testimony.  Put the child at ease by showing an interest in her by asking open-ended questions about her everyday life.  Due to their agile brains, children can multitask quite well so to divert her attention somewhat from the intensity of what she may have witnessed, distract her during the questioning by providing a fun and engaging activity.

We go into each interview with a child thinking this will be the only shot we will get to question her.    You really don’t want to interview a child multiple times.  If a child is re-interviewed often and then has to live testify, the final product in court may come out sounding rehearsed.

Given the unsettling event that the child has witnessed, each recall may induce stress trauma so we prefer to have a parent or guardian present during interviews.

As to the actual questioning itself, make the questions are open-ended and simple to avoid being leading.   If you call a child as a witness and she misstates or fails to state a significant fact, the best tactic is to avoid confronting her with prior statements or intricate evidence. Asking the same question in a slightly different way may be all you need do to obtain the accurate response. Generally, you should confront a child with a prior inconsistent statement only if she is recanting her entire account of an event.  When confronting a child with inconsistencies, do so in a delicate and respectful way.

Also consider the role of “syndrome evidence.” There is a large body of medical literature addressing  the various syndromes that can affect child witness recall (e.g., child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, repressed memory syndrome, etc.).

Finally, be aware of your own preconceptions. Many people expect sexually abused children to cry and exhibit negative emotion when testifying about alleged abuse, and many adults tend to disbelieve child witnesses who do not emote in this way.  But research indicates that children commonly do not cry or express negative emotions when describing sexual abuse and there are a number logical of reasons for their unanimated testimony in general. For instance, children are often interviewed multiple times regarding the incident or they may simply not have perceived the event as negative. What’s more, the emotion expressed by testifying children could be a reaction to being interviewed by you – a perfect stranger –  and have little to do with the alleged incident itself.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time for the interview as children can take a while to get out their story but they will tell it and tell it truthfully.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Operation Mickey Mouse? Facial Recognition & Disneyland

There is an internet story of a software engineer who, while visiting Disneyland,  went on a ride and was then offered – by a theme park employee –  a photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it.  The engineer emphatically stated that he had not entered any of his personal or credit card information on any of the theme park’s registers.  So, he determined, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology to access and activate his personal facial and credit card information. He had never signed an agreement allowing the Mouse & Co. to do so, and believed that this use was illegal. He also stated that he believed Disney was sharing information related to facial recognition technology with the military.

As it turn out, he may not be wrong or very far off from the truth.

To understand how his claim of passive facial recognition might work let’s first define facial recognition technology: Facial recognition software (FRS) can pick someone’s face out of a crowd, extract the face from the rest of the scene and compare it to a database of stored images. In order for this software to work, it has to know how to differentiate between a basic face and the rest of the background. Facial recognition software is based on the ability to recognize a face and then measure the various features of the face.

Every face has numerous, distinguishable landmarks, the different peaks and valleys that make up facial features. FRS defines these landmarks as nodal points. Each human face has approximately 80 nodal points. Some of these measured by the software are:

•Distance between the eyes

•Width of the nose

•Depth of the eye sockets

•The shape of the cheekbones

•The length of the jaw line

These nodal points are measured creating a numerical code, called a faceprint, representing the face in the database.

Next, let’s review how facial recognition occurs.  (In the past, FRS use was limited to 2D facial images, and subject to many environmental factors, such as lighting or blurring, that restricted its use to primary law enforcement agencies for comparative analysis v. existing pictures of the subjects of interest. We are now well past that stage and into comparing live 3D images to networked databases worldwide.)

3D Facial Recognition   Facial recognition software uses a 3D model, which provides more accuracy than its 2D predecessor. Capturing a real-time 3D image of a person’s facial surface, 3D facial recognition uses distinctive features of the face — as outlined above — to identify the subject. These areas are all unique and don’t change over time.

Using depth and an axis of measurement that is not affected by lighting, 3D facial recognition can even be used in darkness and has the ability to recognize a subject at different view angles with the potential to recognize up to 90 degrees (a face in profile).

Using the 3D software, the system goes through a series of steps to verify the identity of an individual.


Acquiring an image can be accomplished by digitally scanning an existing photograph (2D) or by using a video image to acquire a live picture of a subject (3D).


Once it detects a face, the system determines the head’s position, size and pose. As stated earlier, the subject has the potential to be recognized up to 90 degrees.


The system then measures the curves of the face on a sub-millimeter (or microwave) scale and creates a template.

The system translates the template into a unique code. This coding gives each template a set of numbers to represent the features on a subject’s face.


If the image is 3D and the database contains 3D images, then matching will take place without any changes being made to the image. However, there is a challenge currently facing databases that are still in 2D images. 3D provides a live, moving variable subject being compared to a flat, stable image. New technology is addressing this challenge. When a 3D image is taken, different points (usually three) are identified. For example, the outside of the eye, the inside of the eye and the tip of the nose will be pulled out and measured. Once those measurements are in place, an algorithm (a step-by-step procedure) will be applied to the image to convert it to a 2D image. After conversion, the software will then compare the image with the 2D images in the database to find a potential match.

Verification or Identification

In verification, an image is matched to only one image in the database (1:1). For example, an image taken of a subject may be matched to an image in the Department of Motor Vehicles database to verify the subject is who he says he is. If identification is the goal, then the image is compared to all images in the database resulting in a score for each potential match (1:N). In this instance, you may take an image and compare it to a database of mug shots to identify who the subject is.

Facial Recognition Systems Uses

Law enforcement:  Aside from the obvious background identification and history of arrested suspects, l.e. uses the system to capture random faces in crowds to match to their terrorist databases. .

Government agencies: Some government agencies have also been using the systems for

– security

– monitor voter fraud

– eliminate “buddy punching” (The practice of a coworker signing for a friend or displaying that friend’s id for UPC processing. )

– tracking foreign visitors and frequent flyers  (The Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program called US-VISIT, United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, aimed at foreign travelers gaining entry to the United States. When a foreign traveler receives his visa, he will submit fingerprints and have his photograph taken. The fingerprints and photograph are checked against a database of known criminals and suspected terrorists.  Likewise,  the TSA is runs its Registered Traveler program through FRS.

Other potential applications currently in use include ATM and check-cashing security and access to your own lap/desk top via the monitor’s FR program.

To get back to our irate software engineer, he is correct in identifying Disneyland’s use of facial recognition software and sharing it with the United States Department of Defense.  This collusion is referred to as Operation Mickey Mouse (not joking) and has been in effect for decades. Who would suspect the family friendly theme park of being a de facto arm of the government?

Now the vast majority of us will never really notice how much facial recognition has creeped into our lives — but if there is a foul-up, you can expect it to be a big deal.  ALL government FR dbases will have to be updated if a modification (e.g., surgically enhanced faces) occurs.

Our operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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