Asset Searches: Defined By Matter Type and Scope

(Contact Beacon Network Investigations)

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s assets-  quite often to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, or, unrelatedly, to determine financial stability of a prospective partner or employee, (the latter in a position of fiduciary trust).

A basic checklist for the legal professional is to:

1. Relay the need-to-know reason to your investigative specialist. A business partnership dissolution v. a medmal case requires a very different investigative focus.

2. Obtain as much lead information from your client as possible. The more information the investigative specialist is given, quite often, the more she can return and, in a more cost-effective manner.

3. Recognize that (still in 2020) that locally-maintained governmental records are often more reliable than those compiled into general databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” database information.  However, the drawbacks to commencing an asset search through a “dumping ground” database basis first, are

a) records update lag time (information can be as old as 18 months+),

b) incorrect data collection errors (many nationwide databases can return results only with exact names – misspellings will often register “no hit” status) and

c) incomplete information.

Another aspect of an asset search is a true analysis of assets acquisition and dissolvement. For e.g., a real estate asset search may return with a negative hit for current property ownership but check the sale dates of the subject’s latest residences.  All too often we’ve come across a recent home sale, leaving the subject with a large sum of money, that will not show up in a current real property search.  Always pay attention to timelines.

So now you, the attorney,  have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a CPW pied-a-terre, a home in the Kensington section of Great Neck and a boat docked at the Huguenot Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint should be to determine if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation- if a judgment is entered against the subject, you will want to know if you are Number 1 or the tenth in line to collect.  We suggest also conducting a full criminal background check on your subject, especially if fraud or embezzlement is suspected.  This may not be your subject’s first illicit activity rodeo. Often, if law enforcement and a DA’s office has been involved, there may be valuable information to gather (such as the subject is currently on parole).

So how far is far enough with an asset search? Assess the potential settlement/judgment. For a large settlement/judgment, request a full background and asset search (certain convictions can prohibit a person from holding officer position in a business); medium settlement/judgment: basic background and asset search and for a small judgment: a basic asset search.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Companies Not Licensed or Appointed By Structured Settlement Annuity Issuers

August 6, 2020

(This week’s Beacon Bulletin article is reprinted with permission from its author, John Darer, President of 4structures.com, with whom we’ve worked with extensively in uncovering many underlying issues with numerous structured settlement resells.)

Baker’s Dozen of Companies Not Licensed or Appointed By Structured Settlement Annuity Issuers Who Can’t Set Up A Structured Settlement For You:

  1. JG Wentworth
  2. Peachtree Settlement Funding 
  3. Black Square Financial
  4. Rising Capital
  5. Annuity Transfers
  6. CBC Settlement Funding
  7. Pitchberg Funding
  8. Novation Settlement Solutions
  9. 123 Lump Sum/ Structured Settlement Capital
  10. Genex Capital
  11. Client First Funding
  12. Stone Street Capital
  13. Rightway Funding

Websites To Avoid if Looking to Set Up a Structured Settlement

  • Annuity.org: A shill site for CBC Settlement Funding, Fairfield Funding and others. What is represented as fact checked is often inaccurate. Credibility hobbled by poor research and lack of willingness to improve.
  • Structuredsettlements.com: A shill site for cash now pusher CBC Settlement Funding (and it is believed others) that proves that a lead generators buying an expensive keyword focused domain does not assure reliability for consumers. A glaring example of the website’s ongoing incompetence:

“Temporary life annuities provide payments for your entire life but no money for beneficiaries when you die”. Actually a temporary life annuity (“temp life annuity”) pays for a fixed term, only if the measuring life is living. For example a 12 year temporary life annuity would pay a maximum of 12 years, if the measuring life is living. A life annuity not preceded by the word temporary , or a period certain and life annuity, would pay for the entire life of the measuring life.

  • Paymaster.co: names names for SEO purposes but provides little to no useful information if you’re looking to establish a structured settlement.
  • Structuredsettlement-quotes.com: Site associated with Genex Capital of Vancouver and a Dover Delaware UPS store mailbox. Contains grossly outdated information about insurer ratings that have not been updated since 2012. The site still posts 2009 ratings from Standard & Poors.
  • Structuredsettlement.us.com: Churns out repetitive nonsense to generate leads for an as yet unknown factoring company.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe

UPDATED: 2020’s Best Spam Call Blockers

In this week’s Beacon Bulletin, we’ve updated our 2020 spam call blocking apps list as many of these apps have upped their game in helping us restrain robocall interruptions. Our favorites (in no particular order):

Robo Shield Robo Shield combines an array of phone security features to create an organic spam blocking and phone security approach.

Truecaller One of the best free options, with numerous useful features.

Nomorobo Robocall Blocking Good for complete blocking. It allows you to send spam calls directly to voicemail.

YouMail Voicemail & Spam Blocker Great for business users. Offers a selection of voicemail-centric blocking options and business-focused pricing tiers.

RoboKiller Well-known blocking method with a twist. Sends spam callers to a robot answering machine to waste their time (and records their antics). Love this feature!

Malwarebytes Mobile Security Well-rated option for mobile security. Great for those who need web protection alongside spam blocking.

Hiya One of the most-used spam blocking tools on the market. Multiple services (including AT&T and T-Mobile) rely on Hiya’s spam blocker for their own services.

Mr. Number Lookup and Call Blocker A good number lookup option. It also offers spam blocking and is owned/operated by Hiya.

AT&T Call Protect A welcome option for AT&T users that may benefit its network’s users.

T-Mobile Scam Shield App An option for T-Mobile users that is worth exploring if you’re on the T-Mobile network.

Each of these services is effective in its own right, with numerous useful features. The deciding factors to suit your spam-call management needs may be the respective companies customer service approaches, variety of features and costs. Good luck.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

State-by-State Travel Guidelines: COVID-19 Update

07.20.2020, US Dept. of State

As the United States continues to attempt to rein in the coronavirus spread while simultaneously re-opening the economy and travel, each state has implemented its own rules on top of federal guidance.

With regard to travel, below is a state-by-state breakdown of the current travel policies in place. (Please check your departure and arrival states and those in between that you may have to pass through.) :

Alabama
Travelers from Alabama heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Alaska
On June 5, Alaska started requiring anyone who comes into the state to produce documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours to five days prior to their departure. If someone doesn’t have a test, they can opt to get tested upon arrival but must quarantine until they receive negative results.

Arizona
Travelers from Arizona heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Arkansas
Travelers from Arkansas heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

California
Travelers from California heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Colorado
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Connecticut
In coordination with New York and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.

The state also initially placed restrictions on hotels and other vacation rentals, designating them only for certain instances, including for healthcare workers, out-of-state employees working on COVID-19 operations, and Connecticut residents who needed to self-isolate.

Delaware
While out-of-state visitors were initially required to self-quarantine for 14 days, that order was lifted on June 1.

Travelers from Delaware heading to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Florida
Travelers from Florida heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Georgia
Travelers from Georgia heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Hawaii
Hawaii will allow travelers to bypass their 14-day quarantine rule if they can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken prior to arrival starting Sept. 1. That program was originally supposed to start on Aug. 1, but was delayed.

Locals are also now allowed to travel between islands.

Idaho
Travelers from Idaho heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Illinois
Specifically in Chicago, the city has implemented a list of states from which visitors are required to quarantine upon arrival. The states currently effected include states effected includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Indiana
Travelers from Indiana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Iowa
Travelers from Iowa heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Kansas
Travelers from Kansas heading to Chicago will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Kentucky
In April, the state had instituted a curfew on all state parks. A previous order telling Kentucky residents not to travel outside the state was later lifted.

Louisiana
Travelers from Louisiana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Maine
Maine now allows visitors to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine (first enacted on April 3) if they come with a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours before arriving. Visitors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont are exempt from the quarantine and testing requirements due to improving case numbers.

Hotels to start accepting reservations in June for both in-state and out-of-state residents.

Maryland
Travelers from Maryland heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Massachusetts
Anyone arriving from out-of-state has been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks, according to the state.

Michigan
Michigan has also lifted the restriction on traveling between two residences in the state, but still prohibits travel to vacation rentals.

Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Health. The state allowed for tribal activities within the boundaries of a tribal reservation.

Mississippi
Travelers from Mississippi heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Missouri
Travelers from Missouri heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Montana
Travelers from Montana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Nebraska
While Nebraska has asked people coming to Nebraska from another state to self-quarantine for two weeks, that was lifted on June 1.

Travelers from Nebraska heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Nevada
Travelers from Nevada heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

New Jersey
In coordination with New York and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.

New Mexico
Air travelers or those from out-of-state are still told to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Travelers from New Mexico heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

New York
In coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.

North Carolina
Travelers from North Carolina heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

North Dakota
People coming to the state from another country have to quarantine for two weeks.

Travelers from North Dakota heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Ohio
Anyone who comes to Ohio to stay is still asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Travelers from Ohio heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Oklahoma
Anyone who flies from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Washington state, or Louisiana had to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Travelers from Oklahoma heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Oregon
Oregon Health Authority

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Department of Health

Rhode Island
While the state initially required anyone who arrived from another state for a non-work-related reason to self-quarantine for 14 days, that order was changed. Currently, anyone who comes from a state with more than a 5 percent positivity rate is required to either self-quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.

South Carolina
South Carolina had required anyone coming from hot-spots like New York to self-quarantine for two weeks, but that has since been lifted.

Travelers from South Carolina heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

South Dakota
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Tennessee
Travelers from Tennessee heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Texas
Travelers from Texas heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Utah
Travelers from Utah heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.

Vermont
Vermont closed all hotels and home rentals except for when they are directly supporting the COVID-19 response, including providing housing for healthcare workers, and told most visitors to abide by a 14-day self-isolation directive. Hotels have now been allowed to resume operations with capacity restrictions for Vermont residents.

On June 8, the state lifted the requirement to quarantine if returning from any county in New England or New York with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million.

Virginia
Travelers from Virginia heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Washington
Travelers from Washington heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

West Virginia
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

Wisconsin
Residents who travel outside their communities had been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. Travel between “private homes within the state” was being “strongly discouraged.”

Travelers from Wisconsin heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.

Wyoming
While the state initially required a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to Wyoming from another state or country for a non-work-related reason, that was lifted on May 8, according to Wyoming News Now.

Stay informed and check with your state’s Department of Health before traveling to other states. And remember to carry extra masks, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer.

As always, stay safe.

Soft Mask Facial Recognition Technology Is Here

With more people wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, facial recognition developers have accelerated their efforts in adapting their technology to recognize individual faces (including iris identification) through facial coverings.

According to GCN:

In April, researchers posted an image dataset to GitHub featuring 1,200 Instagram selfies. They tagged the images to identify people wearing medical masks, non-medical masks or no mask to support innovative solutions for clothed facial recognition issues.

Based on the masked face dataset, developers will be able to build face detection and recognition algorithms to help identify people wearing masks traveling in and out of communities or facilities that require identity verification.  Additionally, they said, facial security checks at train stations and other checkpoints can be upgraded to detect pedestrians wearing masks. Based on the constructed datasets, the eye-focused masked face recognition model they designed and trained has an identification accuracy over 95%, they said.

Japan’s NEC, which provides the facial-recognition technology used by Customs and Border Patrol at U.S. airports, has launched new rounds of testing now that masks are more common. According to Benji Hutchinson, a vice president with NEC’s U.S. division, the company’s algorithms have always tested on face masks because they are commonly worn in Asia during flu seasons. “Masks are nothing new to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s all perfect,” Hutchinson told Wired. He said NEC is advising customers, such as CBP, to make their own decisions about the technology for now.

Welcome to our new world.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Passport Operations In Response To COVID-19

April 30, 2020

(Information as of April 15, 2020 to date)

Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, the U.S. State Department has limited U.S. passport operations. Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for or renew your passport until they resume normal operations. 

What if I have an emergency and need to get a passport quickly? The State Department is only able to offer in-person service at their agencies or centers for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours. Learn more below to see if you qualify for a life-or-death emergency appointment.

Can I still apply? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for or renew your passport until the State Department resumes normal operations. While you can still apply in person for a U.S. passport at some acceptance facilities and renew through the mail, the State Department will not be able to meet their commitment of 6-8 weeks door-to-door for routine service. You should expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship evidence documents.

Can I expedite my passport? No. The State Department suspended in-person expedited service (normally 2-3 weeks door-to-door) on March 19 and are not offering this service to any applicants.

What if I applied before March 20? Expedited Service: Due to limited staffing resulting from COVID-19, the State Department still working on a small number of expedited applications submitted on and before March 19. While every effort is being made to the commitment of 2-3 weeks door-to-door service, you may experience additional delays if you applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19.

Routine Service: Due to limited staffing resulting from COVID-19, if you applied and requested routine service on or before March 19, receipt of your passport may extend beyond the usual 6-8 weeks door-to-door service. You should expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship evidence documents.

Sending Mail: If you received a letter from the U.S. Passport Service requesting additional documents or information to process your passport application, you may mail your response to the address in the letter. Expect significant processing delays.

What qualifies as a life-or-death emergency?

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days). You must provide:

  • passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be in English or translated in English.
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary) specific to the emergency

To make an appointment at a passport agency or center for a life-or-death emergency, you must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY) on Monday- Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern Time, except federal holidays. Call 202-647-4000 outside of these hours to make an appointment.

Passport agencies in Connecticut, New York, and San Juan are closed to the public until further notice.

Can I apply in person now? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for your passport until we resume normal operations.

If you need to apply in person (all children under age 16 and first-time applicants), most post offices are still accepting applications and requiring customers to make an online appointment.

Most libraries and clerks of court are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time. Please contact the library or clerk of court directly to confirm the status of its operations.

Can I renew now? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to renew your passport until we resume normal operations.

You may be eligible to renew your U.S. passport by mail. If you are eligible to renew, you can complete the process by yourself and should not go to an acceptance facility. Follow the instructions on Form DS-82 and send your application and supporting documents to one of the addresses marked for routine service. Do not send the application to the expedited service address and do not include the $60 expedite fee.  The U.S. Passport Service will not be able to meet the usual commitment of 6-8 weeks door-to-door for routine service. Expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport.

BNI Message: Unless it is a truly urgent matter or an emergency, please restrict your foreign travel as many U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are not currently staffed or minimally so.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

Your Regular License or State I.D. Will Not Allow You To Fly Starting October, 2020.

 

Enhanced, REAL ID and Standard Licenses

By October of this year, your standard driver’s license or state-issued I.D. will not allow you to fly commercially.  Since 2006, the federal government has urged (and then, mandated), the transition to Real I.D. for advanced security purposes.

After October 1, 2020, these are the permissions related to commercial flight and federal facilities access for these three types of government photo I.D.s (excluding passports and passport cards- reported on in next week’s Bulletin):

Standard driver’s licenses will not be valid for federal purposes, such as flying commercially or accessing federal buildings and military bases.

Enhanced driver’s licenses will require also require a U.S. Passport for boarding domestic and international flights and entering federal buildings and installations.

Real I.D. will allow immediate access to commercial domestic and foreign flights and all federal buildings and installations.

Getting a REAL ID is not mandatory but is encouraged

A REAL ID is optional and is not needed for the following:

  • Being licensed to drive
  • Voting or registering to vote
  • Entering Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  • Applying for or receiving Federal benefits
  • Accessing health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

However, by October 1, 2020, all citizens, legal residents and all other persons working or studying in the U.S. and its territories, and in situations requiring a government i.d., will be required to have a validated enhanced state I.D. or, a fed-state”Real ID”.  Below are the specifics.

What:   The REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 302, enacted May 11, 2005, is an Act of Congress that modified U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures standards for the state driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.

Data requirements

A Real ID-compliant form of identification requires, at a minimum, the following pieces of data:

  • Full legal name
  • Signature
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Unique, identifying number
  • Principal residence address
  • Resident status
  • Front-facing photograph of the applicant

Real I.D.s must also feature specific security features intended to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes. These cards must also present data in a common, machine-readable format (bar codes, Smart card technology, etc.).

The law set forth certain requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security has currently defined “official purposes” as presenting state driver’s licenses and identification cards for boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.

Each state must agree to share its motor vehicle database with all other states. This database must include, at a minimum, all the data printed on the state drivers’ licenses and ID cards, plus drivers’ histories (including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses) and include resident status.

When: The effective date of the Real ID Act implementation deadline until October 1, 2020.

Why: Doesn’t matter.  It’s federal law.

 

Please visit www.dhs.gov for more REAL ID info.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Think It’s A Money Scam? Verify Through the BBB’s Scambuster Sites

A new decade brings fresh hope, palpable promise of good will and prosperity, and, new scams. Unbelievably, the emails from wealthy – but currently unemployed foreign royalty –  imploring your help in transferring millions to the United States via your bank account – for which you shall be richly rewarded – are still rolling in and, people are still literally buying into this hoax. But, today’s scammers have evolved just as much (if not more) as personal information mining technology.

Novel top scams involve more targeted schemes wherein digital hustlers purchase insights into your shopping and charitable donation habits. Aside from the traditional procurement of personal information through data brokers, Google Ads and other such outlets, we are now seeing a surge in bogus businesses and charities whose only intent is to separate you from your money.

Certainly one can conduct a corporate search with state Secretary/Department of State, Business Entity lookups or research Charity Watch for registered nonprofits but these are governmental and non-investigatory entities with generalized time-of-filing data. Crowd-sourced Better Business Bureau’s scambuster sites provide the most reliable real-time corporate and charity verification and up-to-date reputation reviews. i.e.:

1. Warn others and stop fraudsters by reporting scams to BBB’s Scamtracker. Scamtracker is a crowd-sourced website where you can report if you’ve been contacted by a scammer. Since reports are plotted on a map, you can also use Scamtracker to find out what’s happening in your area. Click here for more information. Scamtracker reports also help BBB educate the public with more in-depth reports via our scam studies.

2. Check out businesses and charities first. A little research before you buy or donate to make sure you’re working with a reputable company or charity can save you a lot of time, money and heartache later. Check out companies here and a full report on charities here . BBB accredited businesses and charities have been evaluated by BBB, and meet and promise to maintain our Standards of Trust or Standards for Charity Accountability.

Trust but verify- especially when it comes to your finances.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

CoronaVirus: U.S. State Department Warns Of Travel Restrictions; Being Stranded In A Foreign Country

 

January 27, 2020  The deadly novel (new) coronavirus, originating in China, has spread  to countries across the globe.  Travelers need to be aware of travel advisories and, the very real possibility of not being allowed to leave their host countries if suspected of infection or, the overall restriction of travel in and out of the impacted areas.

As of the date of this article, the following countries have reported confirmed cases of this new virus:

Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, China, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and Vietnam

And, countries with suspected cases:

Canada, Czech Republic, FiJi, India, Austria, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Switzerland.

The U.S. State Department has issued a Level Four travel advisory for China: DO NOT TRAVEL.  France has been issued a Level Two designation: EXERCISE INCREASED PRECAUTIONS.  Check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination. If you are traveling abroad, in that conditions can change very rapidly in a country at any time,  opt to receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts from the State Department.

Of particular concern is the ability of travelers to leave China if the situation there worsens.  From the State Department:

Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese citizens:

The Chinese government has asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using “exit bans,” sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. The Chinese government uses exit bans coercively:

  • to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
  • to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
  • to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.

U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

The Chinese government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the Chinese government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services. Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to China:

The Guardian reports that 100,000 people worldwide may already be infected with the coronavirus.  Avoid paranoia but do stay informed.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As aways, be safe.

 

20 Top Productivity Apps for 2020

From Teamweek:

The world is more distracting than ever before. From social media and streaming services like Netflix to video games and silly YouTube videos, our attention is constantly being diverted from our daily tasks.

If you’re frequently finding yourself looking at your smartphone or falling behind in your workload, there are numerous productivity apps available to remove distractions and keep you focused on the task at hand. These tools provide specialized practices for a wide range of needs.

We’re already at the half-month mark – get going on your projects!

BNI Operative: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.