What You Need to Know About Text-to-911

 

The FCC encourages emergency call centers to begin accepting texts as text providers develop text-to-911 capability, but it is up to each call center to decide the particular method in which to implement and deploy text-to-911 technology.

FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other providers of text messaging applications in the United States to deliver emergency texts to call centers that request them. If a call center requests text-to-911 service, text messaging providers must deliver the service in that area within six months.

To check to see if the 911 call center in your area supports text-to-911, download the FCC list of areas supporting available service (updated monthly). But even in areas where call centers accept text-to-911, existing voice-based 911 service is still the most reliable and preferred method of contact.

How to contact 911

If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:

  • Always contact 911 by making a voice call, if you can.
  • If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled, and text-to-911 is not available, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.
  • Remember that in many cases you cannot reach 911 by sending a text message.

Bounce-back messages

If you attempt to send a text to 911 where the service is not yet available, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic “bounce-back” message that will advise you to contact emergency services by another method, such as making a voice call or using telecommunications relay service (for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability). Bounce-back messages are intended to minimize your risk of mistakenly believing that a text to 911 has been transmitted to an emergency call center.

Which service providers are not required to support text-to-911?

  • The FCC’s text-to-911 rules do not apply to text messaging applications that do not support texting to and from U.S. phone numbers.
  • Text messaging apps that only support texting with other app users or texting via social media are not required to support text-to-911.

Bottom line: In an emergency: Call if you can, text if you can’t.

 

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Preparing For a Divorce: The Plan.

It’s hard to imagine planning for a divorce as one is usually in the emotional process of the marriage break up and not focused on the financial aspects.  Considering that money is the number two cause of divorce in the U.S., perhaps the marriage’s economic condition needs stronger monitoring throughout to ensure that foundation remains strong.

But if you have arrived at the point of no return within the marriage, ensure that you do as much as possible to secure your financial future.

1. Secure funds for attorneys, other professionals and the divorce itself.  Plan to have enough funds on hand to pay the professionals and your living expenses for at least three years.,  A divorce can occur within a much shorter time period; it can go longer.  Be prepared.

2. Hire an attorney.  Do not try winging a settlement with your ex by yourself.  (Especially if you are an attorney.) Rarely does a divorce come as a surprise for either partner and each party is going to naturally view asset ownership to benefit themselves.  Divorce is complicated and requires a dedicated and experienced professional who is not emotionally tied to the matter.

3. Collect financial documentation.   Gather bank statements, tax returns, brokerage account statements, credit card statements, real estate documents, mortgage applications and contracts, documents related to major purchases, wills and trust information,  life insurance policies, etc.   While this may appear to be a massive undertaking (and it is), it will prove invaluable during the divorce process.  Knowledge is power.

4. Make lists of all known assets, liabilities, real estate, and business interests.  You require as complete an accounting as possible in a divorce.  Your memory or what you think you own are generally not as reliable as a thorough list of all financial interests.

5. Open accounts only in your name. Open new bank accounts and credit cards, preferably at banks or companies in which you do not have joint accounts. Use completely different passwords than you have in the past.

6. Monitor your credit. Obtain your  credit report and review it for accounts you may not know about.  Look specifically at the bottom of your credit report to determine which companies have made inquiries into your rating.  This may give you an indication of other expenses or assets that your spouse may have secretly secured.

7. Get a secure mailing address and email. You will need a secure address to send the statements for your new accounts, to receive correspondence from your attorney, or to receive other important communication. Do not allow these papers to come to your house, as your spouse could intercept them.  For security and privacy, a post office box is probably the best option. Same for a new email address- select a user name and password that is not easily guessed by your ex.

8. Change beneficiaries and decision-makers. You should change your will and your healthcare proxy to ensure that your spouse does not have decision-making capabilities.  Likewise, regarding the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and financial accounts.  Do not wait for the divorce to be final to make these changes; anything can happen in the interim.

9. Don’t assume that you will get half of everything in the divorce. State laws vary, and the concept of equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean an even split. Pay attention to your attorney’s advice and be prepared to negotiate assets and liabilities with your spouse.

10. Prepare yourself for a lengthy process. Your divorce might be finalized quickly or it might not.  You should be prepared for the long-term scenario as it will allow you to negotiate from a position of strength rather than under financial duress.  Prepare a plan of action with your attorney and other professionals at the outset of the divorce process and negotiate a payment plan at specific benchmarks so that all parties are prepared to see the divorce through to a fair and equitable division of assets.

Finally, emotions will run high on both sides in a divorce but under no condition should you ever take it upon yourself to follow your spouse to determine activity or location of hidden assets, resort to any sort of wiretapping, hacking into smart phones or other devices. Prepare a timeline of important financial events in your marriage (real property purchases, vehicles, pension participation…) and leave it to your attorney and his investigative resources to locate these assets.

A divorce is difficult for all parties involved.  Keep your sites on your future and ensure that you are surrounded by people with the same focus.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Insurance Companies Paying Cops to Investigate Their Own Clients?

If you’ve been an investigator in the private sector long enough, you will have, directly or indirectly, worked for an insurance company.  Obviously, it is in the best interest of the insurance company to ensure that all claims are legitimate and true.  Also, this oversight is beneficial for consumers; reining in false claims helps maintain reasonable coverage rates.   The usual investigation into an insurance claim involves surveillance.  The investigator is a private citizen, observing the subject from a public (obviously not overt) location.  Background searches may be conducted as well, to obtain information that may yield other employment or additional addresses for the subject and or frequently-visited relatives.  Evidence surfaces that confirms the claim’s legitimacy or, potential fraud.  The evidence is then turned over to the insurance company or their SIU (Special Investigations Unit).  From this point forward, the company has sole control over the case, i.e., whether it remains a civil matter or potentially, a criminal one.   If the latter, they will contact the law enforcement or prosecutorial agency of jurisdiction.  The investigator has no involvement in that decision-making process and certainly, not any law enforcement capability.

But what if the investigator is a police officer or a prosecutor?

This recently published article addresses just that real time situation.  (To state that the headline alone alarmed me is an understatement.)

BuzzFeed (August 15, 2019)

When police showed up at Harry Schmidt’s home on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, he thought they were there to help. He was still mourning the disappearance of the beloved forest green Ford F-150 pickup that he’d customized with a gun storage cabinet, and he hoped the cops had solved the crime.

Instead, the officers accused him of faking the theft. The Vietnam veteran was now facing up to seven years in prison.

Schmidt was stunned, but he was even more upset when he found out who had turned him in.

Erie Insurance, one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, had not only provided the cops with evidence against its own loyal customer — it had actively worked with them to try to convict him of insurance fraud.

Nationwide Highway and Global Emergency Phones Numbers

 

 

EXPANDED STATE-BY-STATE LISTINGS   

Alabama:  Cellphone-only: *HP (star 47)

Alaska:  911

Arizona:  911

Arkansas:  911 or Cellphone-only: *55 (star 55)

California:  911

Colorado:  911 or Cellphone-only: *CSP (star 277) or *DUI (star 384) —to report DUIs

Connecticut:  911 or (800-443-6817)

Delaware:  911

Florida:  911 or 800-459-6861 or Cellphone-only: *FHP (star 347)

Georgia:  911 or Cellphone-only: *GSP (star 477)

Hawaii:  911

Idaho:  911 or 800-233-1212 or Cellphone-only: *ISP (star 477)

Illinois:  911 or Cellphone-only: *999 (star 999)

Indiana:  911

Iowa:  911 or 800-555-HELP (800-555-4357)

Kansas:  911 (Statewide) or Cellphone-only: *HP (star 47 for Salina, KS;
*KTA (*482) —Kansas Turnpike and for Wichita, KS

Kentucky:  911 or 800-222-5555

Louisiana:  911 or Cellphone-only: *LHP (star 547);
Lake Ponchartrain Causeway: *27 (star 27 —cellphone-only) or 504-893-6250

Maine:  911 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

Maryland:  911 or Cellphone-only: #SP (pound 77)

Massachusetts:  Cellphones: *MSP (star 677) – in the 413 areacode; *SP (star 77) —outside the 413 areacode

Michigan:  911

Minnesota:  911

Mississippi:  Cellphone only: *HP (star 47)

Missouri:  Cellphone-only: *55 (star 55) or 800-525-5555

Montana:  911 (emergency only) or 800-525-5555 (non-emergency)

Nebraska:  911 or 800-525-5555 or Cellphone-only:*55 (star 55)

Nevada:  911 or Cellphone-only:*NHP (star 647)

New Hampshire:  911 or 800-622-2394 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

New Jersey:  911 or Cellphone-only: #77 (pound 77 —to report aggressive driving)

New Mexico:  911 or 505-827-9301

New York:  911

North Carolina:  Cellphone only: *HP (star 47) or 800-662-7956

North Dakota:  911

Ohio:  911 or 800-525-5555 (OHP) or 800-877-7PATROL

Ohio only, to report non-emergency safety concerns) or
800-GRAB-DUI (to report erratic driving)

Oklahoma:  Cellphone-only *55 (star 55)

Oregon:  911

Pennsylvania:  911 or Cellphone-only: *11 (star 11) —on turnpikes

Rhode Island:  911 or Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77) or 401-444-1069

South Carolina:  Cellphone only: *HP (star 47)

South Dakota:  911

Tennessee:  Cellphone-only: *THP (star 847) or 615-741-2060

Texas:  911 or 800-525-5555 or Cellphone-only: *DPS (star 377)

Utah:  911 or Cellphone-only: *11 (star 11)

Vermont:  911 or DWI Hotline: 800-GETADWI and *DWI (star 394 —cellphone-only)

Virginia:  911 or Cellphone-only: #SP (pound 77)

U.S. Virgin Islands:  911

Washington:  911

West Virginia:  Cellphone-only: *SP (star 77)

Wisconsin:  911

Wyoming:  Cellphone only: #HELP (pound 4357) or 800-442-9090

When in doubt:

0 (zero) —Operator assistance
411 —local directory assistance
(area code) + 555-1212 —non-local directory assistance

MANY STATES:  511 (for Road/Weather/Traffic Conditions)


International emergency numbers

We’re a global society, with many of us traveling overseas for business and vacationing. The international emergency number to dial from a cell phone is NOT 911. For all GSM cell phones, (82% of cell phones worldwide operate on the Global System for Mobile communications platform), the international emergency code is 112. This applies to all EU members, South Africa, many other African nations, India, Israel, Indonesia, Iran (don’t ask), Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. For a complete listing, check wikipedia’s emergency telephone numbers entry.

 

In the United States, the FCC requires networks to route every mobile-phone and payphone (are there any left?) 911 call to an emergency service call center, including phones that have never had service, or whose service has lapsed.  As a result, there are programs that provide donated used mobile phones to victims of domestic violence and others especially likely to need emergency services. Over the next six years emergency responders will be able to better locate callers who dial 911 on their cellphones from indoors as the U.S. wireless industry improves caller-location for the majority of such calls.The “heightened location accuracy,” available to supporting networks and handsets, will find callers through nearby devices connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that will be logged with a specific location in a special emergency-services database.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Can Prosecutors Indict DNA Profiles?

Apparently, the answer is yes.

From the NY Post (August 6, 2019):

The DNA profile of an unknown woman has been indicted in the death of an infant found inside a backpack in Illinois three years ago, prosecutors said.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted the unknown female DNA profile on a felony charge of failure to report the death or disappearance of a child in connection to an infant known as “Baby Hope,” a full-term newborn girl who was found dead by landscapers in Wheaton, IL in August 2016. (More.)

The above images were developed through phenotyping <fee-no-type-ing>, the process of predicting a human’s phenotype (the composite of a person’s observable characteristics, including its physical form and structure; its developmental processes; its biochemical and physiological properties; its behavior, and the products of behavior, for example,a person’s self-built home), using only genetic information collected from DNA sequencing. This term is primarily used to refer to the prediction of a person’s physical appearance and/or biogeographic ancestry for forensic purposes.

It will be interesting to see the legal challenges that will undoubtedly be forthcoming should arrests be made based on suspect’s phenotyped profiles.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always,

Stay safe.

 

International Driver’s Permit – Do Not Leave Home Without It

Continuing our July travel tips series, this week we take a look at the sensibility and particulars of obtaining an international driver’s permit (IDP). Note: It’s a permit, not an international driver’s license.  You must have a valid driver’s license from your state to qualify for the IDP.

When accompanied by your valid US driver’s license (and always have your passport with you when driving overseas), your IDP will allow you to drive legally in many countries that recognize its validity. It may also be required or recommended by many rental car agencies.

Basic IDP information:

Basics of an International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • You must be a permanent US resident at least 18 years of age and have a US driver’s license that will remain valid for the next six months.
  • Your IDP lets you drive legally in foreign countries when accompanied by your valid US driver’s license.
  • It is recognized in 174 countries.
  • Only two organizations in the US issue IDPs: Automobile Association of America (AAA) and American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).
  • The fee for an IDP is $20. (as of July 2019)
  • An IDP can be issued immediately at an AAA branch or may take 10-15 business days by mail from AAA or AATA.
  • An IDP is valid for one year.
Requirements for Getting an International Driving Permit
From AAA

  • Can apply in person or by mail
  • Completed AAA IDP application
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Driver’s license (either in person or photocopies by mail)
  • $20 IDP fee
  • Accepts check, money order, or (in person only) major credit cards
From AATA

  • Can apply only by mail
  • Completed AATA IDP application
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Signed photocopies of front and back of driver’s license
  • $20 IDP fee
  • Shipping and handling fee: domestic ($10 or $35) or international ($85)
  • Accepts check or money order

If you are a foreign driver coming to the U.S. and wish to drive, can you obtain an IDP here? No.  You must have a valid foreign driver’s license and you must obtain an IDP from the same country in which your license was issued.

The U.S. Government does not require you to have an IDP to drive in the US but some individual states may require you to have an IDP to drive on their public roads,. However, many other states do not. California, Massachusetts, and Arizona are among the states that require only a valid foreign driver’s license, not an IDP. Still, it is recommended that you get an IDP because it will be written in English and facilitate communication if you need assistance while driving or are involved in an auto accident.

Countries that recognize IDPshttp://www.drivers.com/article/937/

And again, we recommend that you check with the U.S. State Department to obtain the latest travel advisory for your foreign destination immediately before departure.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.  Head on a swivel when traveling.

Dying To Get Away? You Just Might If You Travel To Certain Countries.

The Dominican Republic has been all over the news these past several months as an unusually high number of American tourists have died there under mysterious circumstances.  (From our perspective, the culprit appears to be tainted alcohol that was consumed from the hotel mini-bars.)  This anomaly aside, the first step in planning any trip abroad should be to check our State Department’s Travel Advisory map.   This color-coded guide to our world is  fluid and continually updated as conditions around the globe change rapidly in any country at any time.

From the U.S. Department of State:

Travel Advisory Levels 1-4

The Travel Advisory appears at the top of each country page, with a color corresponding to each level:  Most Travel Advisories are at Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions – or Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution. Travel Advisories at Levels 2 – 4 provide clear reasons for the advice, use common risk indicators, and state specific actions U.S. citizens should take if they decide to travel to or reside in that country. The new format highlights areas within a country that are of particular concern and provides specific advice for U.S. citizens who decide to travel to those areas.

We consider many factors to determine the Travel Advisory level for each country, including crime, terrorist activity, civil unrest, health, natural disaster/weather, and current events. We clearly explain the reason for the Travel Advisory level and describe the safety and security concerns. The information used to formulate Travel Advisories is collected from a range of sources, such as crime statistics and other information that is publicly available, information gathered from U.S. government sources, as well as assessments by our embassies and consulates. Travel Advisories also take into account decisions made to protect the security of U.S. government personnel overseas and ensure that U.S. citizens receive appropriate security information. This analysis is undertaken without regard to bilateral political or economic considerations. Travel Advisories represent our commitment to protect U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad by providing them important safety and security information.
We work directly with experts to consider many factors to determine Travel Advisories, including crime, terrorist activity, civil unrest, health, natural disaster/weather, and current events. We clearly explain the reason for the Travel Advisory level and describe the safety and security concerns. We consult closely with personnel in embassies and consulates throughout the world, security and intelligence experts, and with other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control.
After a careful review of the security situation, we advise U.S. citizens not to travel to a country as U.S. citizens face a greater likelihood of life-threatening risks in that country. In some countries with a Level 4 Travel Advisory, we have no U.S. embassy or have a very limited diplomatic presence, so our ability to help U.S. citizens is limited. We advise U.S. citizens who decide to travel to a country with a Level 4 Travel Advisory to write a will, have custody arrangements for children, prepare security contingency plans, and have plans if taken hostage or detained.

Travel Advisory Sample (currently in effect)

Advisory

Level

Date Updated

North Macedonia Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions December 26, 2018
Nauru Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions April 2, 2019
Palau Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions December 17, 2018
Burma (Myanmar) Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution June 18, 2019
Worldwide Caution Caution January 15, 2019
Afghanistan Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel April 9, 2019
Albania Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions July 10, 2019
Algeria Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution April 9, 2019
Andorra Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions August 28, 2018
Angola Travel Advisory Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions April 9, 2019

Also, if you would like to receive alerts, choose the method that works best for you here:  travel.state.gov/stayingconnected

So, enjoy your travels abroad but stay informed.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Top 5 Reasons Why Cell Phone Signals Suddenly Go Bad

1. Heavier than usual cellular traffic. There’s really nothing you can do about a saturated cell tower but wait out the phone traffic.  It’s a numbers game- the more phone traffic that fights for that same spot, the weaker your signal becomes.

2. Building material.  The primary reason for a weak cell signal is the materials that surround you.  Whether you are home, at work, in a shopping center, your cell phone is struggling for signal access.  Metal and tinted, low-E glass are the two main materials most responsible for a degraded cell phone signal.  You’ll notice when waling around that if your signal improves, you are usually by a door or window rather than metal construction materials that blocks your phone’s signal.

3. Low Battery.  Your phone needs actual energy to maintain a connection.  The higher the charge, the better the connection.  Keep your phones battery at optimal charge.

4. Bad weather, geography, cosmic events.  Cell phones operate via electromagnetic waves which can easily be affected by weather (thunder, lightening, wind, rain, snow, etc.), natural obstructions (hills and mountains commonly impact cell phone reception) and cosmic occurrences (such as sunflares).

5. Blocking your own antenna.  The bulky, shoebox-sized cell phones of the early days of mobile communication were surprisingly better at connectivity than today’s sleeker models. The early phones had exterior antennas- making the reception fairly consistent.  Today’s cell phone antennas are embedded inside the phone.  You can effortlessly and unknowingly block the antenna and lose your signal.  You can easily search online for the exact location of your phone’s antenna and once known, inadvertent blocking should be significantly reduced.

The best solution for all of the above is a good mobile phone booster: https://www.lifewire.com/best-cell-phone-signal-boosters-4154516

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

RING – The New Law Enforcement Surveillance Tool

remote access

For years now, privacy rights activists have been calling for the restriction of government security cameras in residential neighborhoods.

That scenario has been overtaken by the proliferation of private surveillance cameras in the form of smart doorbells, like Amazon’s Ring.  Given Ring’s explosive popularity, their usage in so many homes has now essentially created a private surveillance network across the country.

According to cnet:

Aware of this network, police departments across the country have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products. While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested.

Ring said that it would start cracking down on those strings attached.

“Ring customers are in control of their videos, when they decide to share them and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan. Ring has donated devices to Neighbor’s Law Enforcement partners for them to provide to members of their communities,” Ring said in a statement. “Ring does not support programs that require recipients to subscribe to a recording plan or that footage from Ring devices be shared as a condition for receiving a donated device. We are actively working with partners to ensure this is reflected in their programs.”

While more surveillance footage in neighborhoods could help police investigate crimes, the sheer number of cameras run by Amazon’s Ring business raises questions about privacy involving both law enforcement and tech giants.

Police can gather more video footage, while Amazon can charge new Ring owners up to $3 a month for subscription fees on the smart doorbells. Residents, meanwhile, get some peace of mind, particularly with the Neighbors app, essentially a social network sharing camera feeds.

More than 50 local police departments across the US have partnered with Ring over the last two years, lauding how the Amazon-owned product allows them to access security footage in areas that typically don’t have cameras — on suburban doorsteps.

We ask, security at what price?

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

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