Info You Shouldn’t Share with Facebook

Author: PeopleFinders on June 24th, 2019

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Social media provides plenty of options to connect with friends, find information, and generally enhance your life.

Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous and even cause harm if you aren’t careful. Although many people will never become the victim of identity theft, you don’t want to make yourself an easy target.

You may be inclined to rely on the social media channels themselves to protect you. But keeping yourself safe online is, primarily, your responsibility. Especially when you consider the dubious past of Facebook, for example, when it comes to privacy issues.

What info should you NOT share with Facebook? Avoid sharing these four things:

1. When Your House Will Be Empty

It’s tempting to post on Facebook about your upcoming vacation. But if you have your account set to “Public,” anyone can see when you’re going to be leaving your house empty. Knowing your house will be empty for any period of time makes it a perfect target for thieves.

Your best option is to wait to post until after you get back from vacation. But if you must post ahead of time, drop some hints that someone will be house sitting for you. Or brag about your state-of-the-art security system. Even if those things aren’t necessarily true, they could be enough to deter criminals looking for an easy mark.

Otherwise, you could always switch your Facebook account to “Private” to make sure such delicate information is only being seen by those you trust.

2. Your Address

Most people know enough to avoid sharing their address publicly for the world to see. But you may want to think twice about giving that information to Facebook, especially.

The site is notorious for its issues with privacy; millions of people’s passwords have been exposed in various data breaches. Although Facebook usually takes action to remove these glitches in its system, the fact that it happens in the first place should cause alarm.

The easiest way to stay safe, and keep your address out of the hands of scammers, is to keep that information to yourself.

3. Your Phone Number

If you lose your phone, you’ll likely lose dozens (if not hundreds) of people’s contact information if you don’t have a phone that backs that information up automatically.

At that point, it may seem like a good idea to tell your Facebook friends to text you with their contact information once you’ve transferred your number to a new phone. But it’s actually a huge privacy risk, and an invite for phone scams.

You don’t want everyone to have easy access to your phone number. Instead, consider posting that you lost your phone. Then, invite your closest friends to message you directly if they need to get your number.

4. Passwords to Other Accounts

Facebook recently caused waves when someone pointed out that the company was asking new users to log into their email accounts on the website. This essentially gave Facebook access to those users’ email passwords.

Although Facebook officially stated that email passwords weren’t being saved, some people were still skeptical of the claim given Facebook’s aforementioned history of privacy issues. Facebook has switched its confirmation requirements. But the point still stands: keep your passwords separate.

Don’t Rely On Facebook to Keep You Safe

For the most part, Facebook manages to keep its users safe. And if you use the site responsibly, you likely won’t face many issues. However, you shouldn’t trust Facebook solely to handle your data or your general safety responsibly. Take matters into your own hands.

A tool that could help you be safer in a range of interactions–socially or otherwise–is PeopleFinders. With this online search tool, you can check on people you’re planning to meet in person, try to make sure that an online seller is safe, or potentially verify that your neighborhood doesn’t house any violent criminals.

Facebook Marketplace is becoming a common way to sell things locally. So, if you want to meet up and buy something from a site user, you can use PeopleFinders to perform a background check on the person first to try and verify that they aren’t a scammer or otherwise unsafe.

Conclusion

Facebook has a lot to offer, but issues related to privacy remain. Remember that the information you post on Facebook is available to a broad audience. Even if you’re posting to a private group of people, think about what you’re posting before you post it.

Enhance your security even more in your day-to-day life with the ideas you find on the PeopleFinders blog. When you start thinking critically about your internet safety, you’ll find that doing things yourself is often better than letting companies do it for you.

Image attribution: Pixelbliss – stock.adobe.com

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Starting Out or Starting Over: A Newbie’s Guide to Online Dating

Author: PeopleFinders on June 27th, 2019

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So, you’re ready to get out there and start dating. Great! You have all kinds of options for finding the right person. One thing’s for sure, though. Whether you’ve been off the market for a while, or you’re brand-new to the world of dating, there’s one method that you cannot ignore: online dating.

Technology touches just about everyone’s life these days, including how to pursue relationships. You endlessly scroll through pictures on your phone, swipe right or left to express interest or not. If you’re a newbie, such an approach may sound intimidating at first. But using technology to find the right person for you can definitely have its benefits. Read on to learn how to get started.

Where to Start

To make the online dating experience worth your while, you need to start with a little soul-searching first. And do a little research before you decide to dive in with one dating site or the other.

  • Be Honest About Where You Are and What You Want

Really, what do you want to get out of this experience? Right now, are you looking for a long-term commitment, or just a casual fling? Apart from the level of commitment you are seeking, consider other things that are important to you. For example, if you are religious, really love dogs and have kids, those are things that can affect the type of person and relationship you’re looking for.

Your feelings may certainly change as you go along. But it’s just smart to start out with at least some idea of your expectations.

  • Choose Your Online Dating Site(s)

There are a multitude of dating sites out there (eHarmony, Tinder, Match, Zoosk, Bumble, etc.). Some are broader (making it great for when you want to browse), while other more “niche” sites are also available to offer you a more tailored selection of potential dates from the outset. Some are free, while others require a membership fee.

You can simply do a global “online dating” search, and look for sites that feel good to you. Or you can also research what others feel are the best dating sites. Our advice? Start out by joining just one site. You can, of course, choose others down the line. But start small until you feel you have the hang of things.

Creating a Profile

Now that you know what you want, and where you think you’ll be able to find it, now’s the time to figure out how to best present yourself.

  • Profile Pic

You want the profile picture you select to be as good as possible (the image is itself high quality, you have a good smile, etc.), but also accurate. By all means, make sure it’s current. Yes, your high school cheerleading photo may be great, but it is probably not reflective of who you are now. If you ever do decide to meet someone, you don’t want them feeling mislead by a years-old picture.

Again, put your best foot forward while still being honest. And get to the point. There are lots of people on dating sites these days, which means that many of your potential dates are likely scanning for vital info, and do not want to read your full biography. So, to get people’s attention, you want to get just the most important and interesting facts about yourself out first.

You’re an outgoing, career-minded person who likes to work out? Good to know. You can’t eat peanuts? Not as interesting. Unless it’s important for someone to know upfront, you should save the smaller details about yourself for when you move onto actually communicating with someone.

There’s more! Read the rest of the complete article at The Sanity Snack.

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Categorized in: Relationships

Walmart CEO Asks Congress to Pass $15 Minimum Wage

Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon is urging Congress to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide, calling the current $7.25 minimum wage “too low.” The nation’s largest retailer, with 1.5 million U.S. employees, has raised its starting wage several times in recent years to the current $11 an hour—still below rivals like Target and Costco—and has faced criticism from unions and progressive advocates for not embracing a $15 hourly wage.

Speaking at the company’s annual meeting in Rogers, Ark., on May 5, McMillion said, “It’s clear by our actions and those of other companies that the federal minimum wage is lagging behind.”

Target has said it will reach the $15 threshold by the end of 2020, while Amazon boosted starting pay for its warehouse workers to $15 an hour last year.

Opponents of a $15 wage note that while big corporations can afford to hike entry-level workers’ pay, their smaller competitors might not be able to do so and stay in business, especially in parts of the country where competitive wage rates are lower than the national average.

SHRM Online has gathered the following articles and resources on the minimum wage debate from its archives and other trusted media outlets and organizations.

Walmart Faces Criticism for Its Own Pay Policies

Supporters of a $15 wage noted that Walmart gave McMillon a pay package worth almost $24 million last fiscal year, while the average Walmart employee makes $25,000 a year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., took his presidential campaign to Walmart’s annual meeting and introduced a shareholder proposal to add representatives from Walmart’s rank-and-file to the company’s board.

The motion had no chance of passing, but Sanders’s presence forced Walmart to address the issue of its treatment of workers. “All we are saying to Walmart and the Walton family is to pay your workers a living wage,” Sanders said, “and that living wage is $15 an hour.”

(Yahoo Finance)

States and Cities Are Taking Action

Business owners across the U.S. are adjusting to or girding for minimum wage hikes as states and cities bump up their minimum wages, and campaigns, such as the Fight for $15, have become a rallying cry for some 2020 presidential candidates. If business owners are thinking they’ll need to raise employee pay soon, they may be right.

(Inc.)

A Politicized Debate

The debate over the minimum wage level is very political. Some people view it is a fair way to redistribute wealth from profitable businesses to frontline workers. The opposing view is that excessive minimum wages actually harm workers by causing businesses to freeze hiring or lay off staff. The political argument also centers on whether the minimum wage is supposed to represent a livable wage, or simply a fair amount for particular work.

Small businesses in local communities, labor jobs with an ample supply of workers and standardized retail operations are among employers that commonly pay minimum wages to new employees.

(Houston Chronicle)

Pay Up or Get Out?

“If your business can’t afford to pay a minimum $15 an hour wage, your business cannot afford to exist. You should close it down and let a better-managed competitor hire your employees and service your customers,” said PBS commentator Nick Corcodilos, echoing the views of other advocates of a $15 minimum wage.

(PBS)

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with U.S. Wage and Hour Laws and Wage Payment Laws]

$15 Federal Minimum-Wage Bill Moves Forward

A bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years is moving to a full House vote, after the House Education and Labor Committee passed the Raise the Wage Act on March 6.

The minimum wage would rise gradually until it reached $15 an hour in 2024. After that, the wage would be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the national median hourly wage.

“Gradually raising the minimum wage is good for workers, who experience a better standard of living; good for businesses, which benefit from having more customers and less turnover; and good for the economy, which is strongest when we lift working people out of poverty and build a thriving middle class,” Scott said.

“In my research, I have found evidence that employment decreases when minimum-wage rates are increased,” said Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, which supports free-market policies. “Increasing the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour over a six-year period will likely have a significant and negative effect on employment. The reduction in employment opportunities will be felt most strongly among workers with relatively fewer skills and workers with relatively less labor market experience.”

(SHRM Online)

Finding a Winning Combination for Frictionless E-commerce Fraud Prevention

For e-commerce merchants the key question in fraud prevention is: What combination of technology and strategies can maximize the number of approved legitimate sales?

The easiest solution, in theory, for any single merchant would be to get rid of most fraud prevention measures and eat whatever costs are incurred by actual fraud. Merchants as a group actually lose much more money to legitimate customer transactions blocked by poorly designed fraud prevention systems than to actual fraud by a factor of 12 to 1. The problem is that the credit card networks are obliged to ensure that the entire community of network stakeholders – and their own bottom-line – is protected from significant fraud losses. They do this by forcing merchants to enact anti-fraud measures to keep chargeback rates in-line with the threat of fines, higher interchange fees and/or denial of service from acquirer banks if a merchant’s chargeback rate exceeds industry norms.

 

Rules of the game

Well, if the rules of the game are already established, how can merchants solve the problem in a way that increases their revenue and net profit from today’s status quo? I think the basic contours of the solution are agreed upon by most people in the ecosystem and are fairly clear:

  • Top ranked priority: The best solution should maximize the number of legitimate customer transactions approved
  • Secondary priority: The solution should minimize the number of chargeback transactions approved

The reason is simple: Within the bounds set by the credit card network’s industry chargeback rate guidelines, it should be better for merchants to let thru more dubious but legitimate transactions even at the expense of additional chargebacks. Only when a merchant is already close to or exceeding the chargeback rate guidelines, should the solution they implement focus more on reducing chargebacks at the expense of additional legitimate revenue. Otherwise, these merchants may lose their acquirers or lose significant profit margin due to fines and higher interchange fees.

For merchants that don’t already face excessive chargeback rates, the key is to reduce customer friction in the checkout process.  Any solutions, such as 3-D Secure and most biometric options, that require additional action and/or hardware from the consumer are bound to increase checkout friction and reduce the amount of sales whether or not they reduce actual fraud. The only two types of solutions that are truly passive, i.e. they don’t require any change in behavior on the part of the consumer, are solutions based on identity information and visitor behavior data.

Simple, elegant solution

The simplest way for merchants of all sizes to do that is by using identity data, such as phone number verification, email address verification, physical address verification and more. All these data points are already provided by customers during checkout to ship and receive confirmation of their order, so no extra work on their part is required.

Meanwhile, the merchant can check all these data points against PIPL’s search index and identity resolution engine to see if these data points are contained in the index and can be verified as belong to the individual in question.  For example, if typing in the email address Fab1992@hotmail.com in pipl.com leads to the name on the order and credit card, the risk of the order being fraudulent is low.

PIPL will also provide an identity profile that will show the merchant other information connected to the customer, whether additional contact details, social media accounts or job history and past residence locations.

This information can be used by all types of merchants with all sorts of logistical requirements:

  • Large scale retail operations can integrate the API to perform millions of automated queries per month.
  • Fraud analysts at large corporations and small and medium-size business employees can use PIPL Pro to manually verify the identity of clients on suspect transactions.
  • DIY small business owners operating out of their homes can always try out PIPL’s free search engine for consumer before upgrading to the PIPL Pro, the business version, which provides a lot more information.

Sometimes relying solely on identity data solutions may not be enough. For example, some data points such as email addresses and phone numbers are missing from the databases of all major data suppliers on the market, despite the contact info provided being legitimate. The absence of confirming data cannot be taken as proof of fraud. It is also possible, although incredibly infrequent, for a fraudster to hijack a person’s legitimate accounts to engage in fraud, in which case people data will authenticate the relevant information, since it is in fact correct.

 

Adding a behavioral protection layer

Using behavioral data is a great way to further filter transactions that cannot be clearly approved or rejected based on identity data. Major fraud platform providers as well as industry consultants have gained quite a lot of knowledge regarding behavior frequently associated with fraudulent purchases.

Some examples:

  • Purchases made by someone using a VPN or Tor browser are much more likely to be fraudulent than those made using a regular landline Internet connection and browser.
  • The time (month, day and hour) of purchase and the type of device used (i.e. iPad, smartphone, regular cellphone or computer) are also correlated with different levels of fraud risk.
  • The basket size along with speed and number of clicks it takes the website visitor to get to checkout are also correlated with different levels of fraud risk.

But why can’t you just use behavioral data to filter out fraudsters?

Behavioral data used by itself has two problems: the need for huge scale to be effective and the likelihood that fraudsters will adapt their behavior over time to fool algorithms.

For starters, behavioral data is popular because the data itself is free or very cheap to access for any merchant that control’s their own website and check-out page. The problem is that there really is no free lunch. Without the expensive manpower and infrastructure to collect and analyze the vast amount of behavioral data your site visitors will be generating, your behavioral data will produce nothing of value. That means you must hire, train and support a talented group of data scientists to develop algorithms that maximize the percentage of legitimate transactions approved without spiking your chargeback rate.

After they achieve your goals, they also can’t rest on their laurels because the fraudsters don’t rest. Fraudsters will find ways to alter their behavior to get past your originally effective algorithm. That means you have to continue paying and supporting your data science team so they can continually tweak the behavioral fraud detection algorithms as fraud patterns adjust over time.

In addition, to minimize the number of legitimate transactions blocked because of random, atypical behavior by legitimate visitors to your site, you will need a very large sample of training data (read: potentially millions of transactions).  The resource and data set size requirements for effective behavior based fraud prevention set a high bar that only make clear operational and economic sense for large retailers dealing with many millions of transactions per year. Everyone else has to judge on a case by case basis whether the behavioral based fraud prevention solutions offered on the market truly make sense for their retail operation.

Practical tips for implementation

There are a variety of ways to implement an identity data + behavioral analysis solution for your e-commerce transactions. Many sizable companies prefer to access all their data and fraud tools via a single fraud platform like Accertify or ThreatMetrix. These platforms usually have pre-existing API integrations with data suppliers to make it easier for merchants to pick and choose what data sources they want with relative ease.  Meanwhile, some of the largest e-commerce operations build their own fraud prevention systems in-house and for this they can hook up directly to PIPL and other data providers to integrate the right data into their workflow.

Regardless of automated review products, all merchants that conduct their own manual review of transactions can and do take out subscriptions for manual search tools like PIPL Pro to enhance the speed, accuracy and efficiency of their fraud analysts

To find out more about your options for identity data, read more on PIPL’s website or fill out this contact form.

Original blog post written by former Pipl Technology Evangelist Ronen Shnidman. Ronen is now Managing Editor @ about-fraud.com

The post Finding a Winning Combination for Frictionless E-commerce Fraud Prevention appeared first on Pipl.

What Is Your Date Finding Out About YOU?

The rain patters against the curtain-framed windows as you
wait for the busy waitress to come take your order. With several plates on each
arm, she is really hustling, and you and your date stop talking to watch her.               

You take a moment to study him as he looks up.

Dark brown hair, a little on the short side. A kind face
that always looks like there’s a laugh lurking somewhere inside. A dark sweater
with the sleeves pushed up a little (you can just see the edge of a small
Snoopy tattoo on his right arm).

What do you know about him so far?

Admittedly, not a ton.

Early dating: the
information-gathering phase

Your relationship (if you can call it that already) is still so new that you continue to follow some of those safe dating tips that you recently read.

Of course, you did run a background check on him before your first date. But, while it revealed a lot of information, it wasn’t the FUN type of stuff that you can only learn as you get to know someone.

Still, as you think back on your conversations so far, you
realize that he’s already told you some fairly entertaining things about
himself: The saga of getting his first driver’s license. His self-described
obsession with Full House. The time
he met Michael Bolton. His attempts at writing haiku.

You smile to yourself as you think of these things.

And then you stop smiling as you wonder: Has he run a background check on ME?

Making sure your house is in order

Although you don’t have anything bad in your past, you’d
really like to know what shows up. If your identity was ever stolen, it’s
possible that some really wrong information could be associated with you. (What
if it looked as though you had a criminal past?)

You immediately decide to run a background check on yourself
as soon as you get home. If anything weird shows up, well, you’ll deal with it.

Of course, there are still your social media accounts to
think about. Close to 15 years of sharing thoughts and photos (and friends
tagging you in photos). Wow, that’s a lot of potentially embarrassing stuff
just sitting there in cyberspace.

There were a couple of questionable photos from that one
bachelorette party you attended years ago (but they weren’t THAT bad – were
they?). But he’d have to go pretty far back in your Facebook posts to see those.
Did he even look at Facebook? And what about your Twitter account? You’ve got
some pretty polarizing content there. You’re fairly sure he shares your
political views, but your conversations haven’t really gone there yet. Hmm.

Are you anxious over nothing, or do you need to go do an inventory of your social media accounts?

Dating can sure be tricky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

State-Run Auto-IRAs Are Spreading While Critics Note Shortcomings

In California, a new state-run workplace retirement savings program, CalSavers, will open July 1 with an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 employers participating. Like other state-run retirement programs spreading across the U.S., CalSavers features an automatic payroll deduction into an individual retirement account (IRA) for the 7.5 million California workers with no employer-provided retirement plan.

For businesses with five or more employees, the program is mandatory. They must offer employees CalSavers or a qualified retirement plan chosen by the employer to avoid a penalty of $750 per employee.

Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon, plus the city of Seattle, have similar state-run automatic IRA programs, so-called auto-IRAs, that are currently open or are being put in place. Other states are taking different approaches to promoting private-sector plans, such as Washington state’s program to create an online marketplace similar to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace for health care plans but for state-approved 401(k)s and IRAs. In Washington state, however, there have also been legislative efforts to move to an auto-IRA program.

The various state-run auto-IRAs have similar features that were pioneered by Illinois’ Secure Choice program, which was rolled out last November, explained Angela Antonelli, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives, which tracks state initiatives.

“Small businesses want to provide their workers with a way to save,” Antonelli said May 20 at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) Washington Legislative Update in Washington, D.C. She listed some of the common features of state-run auto-IRAs:

  • Workers are automatically enrolled in the program unless they opt out.
  • Employer contributions aren’t allowed because that practice would trigger compliance requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
  • Employee default contributions are between 3 percent and 5 percent.
  • Investment menus are easy to understand with limited options.
  • Fees are reasonable.
  • Boards are established to oversee the programs.
  • Many programs default savings into a Roth IRA instead of a traditional IRA because accessing the funds, if needed, is easier for workers with the Roth accounts.

State-based programs “begin to finally address a serious problem—the retirement plan coverage gap,” Antonelli said. They can “create new savers now who can start early, save longer and save more.”

In addition, she added, these initiatives “encourage more businesses to set up their own plans,” since the alternative is having to participate in the state program.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Designing and Administering Defined Contribution Retirement Plans]

Criticisms of State-Run Auto-IRAs

Not everyone favors these programs, however, and some fear that state-run options can dissuade small employers from adopting their own plans.

“IRAs are not 401(k)s, so a lot of folks would like to see the employer contribute,” which they can’t do under a state-run auto-IRA program, a benefits manager pointed out at the IFEBP symposium during a Q&A session.

“At first blush, many employers—especially employers that currently offer 401(k) or pension plans to their employees—may quickly dismiss these laws as not applicable,” Arthur T. Phillips, special counsel with law firm Foley & Lardner, wrote recently in the National Law Journal. “However, as employers add small employee groups, resulting from multistate expansion through organic growth or acquisitions, they should be aware of state-run retirement plan mandates to ensure compliance and avoid the accumulation of penalties.”

Aaron Yelowitz, an economics professor at the University of Kentucky and a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. D.C., noted other shortcomings of the state-run auto-IRAs. In an online post discussing Oregon’s program, which launched in 2017, he wrote that OregonSaves initially defaults worker contributions into a conservative capital preservation fund that “has offered a paltry nominal return of 1.52 percent (essentially an inflation-adjusted return of 0 percent).”

OregonSaves also charges an annual administrative fee of 1 percent of assets regardless of investment choices, further diminishing this return.

“Financial-planning websites consistently emphasize paying off revolving high-interest debt before saving for retirement (unless a company offers a match rate), yet auto-IRAs fail to take these investment lessons into account,” Yelowitz noted. He recently co-authored a study, “How Will State-Run Auto-IRAs Affect Workers?” for the Journal of Retirement.

“At an 18 percent interest rate, an unpaid $5,500 credit card debt would mushroom to $28,800 in 10 years. The same amount of money directed toward OregonSaves might accumulate to $12,900 under rosy assumptions about investment returns,” Yelowitz argued. “Ultimately, our study shows a significant number of workers are in situations like this, and auto-IRAs would do more harm than good for them.”

In a 2017 commentary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated that, although well-intentioned, states considering mandating auto-IRAs “are likely to hurt the very workers they think they are helping. The reason is simple—state auto-IRAs are a poor substitute for employer-provided plans.”

Instead, “the time and effort devoted to these state programs could most profitably be used to improve the employer-provided system to expand coverage,” according to the chamber. For example, government policies could help small businesses band to form a multiple-employer plan (MEP), “greatly simplifying the regulatory compliance and reducing the expense of offering a plan,” it noted.

A provision to help small business form MEPs is included in the SECURE Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last month.

Related SHRM Article:

District Judge Says ERISA Doesn’t Pre-Empt CalSavers Retirement Plan, SHRM Online, April 2019

California’s New Retirement Program Gets Under Way, SHRM Online, January 2019

What Employers Need to Know About the Illinois Auto-IRA Program, SHRM Online, August 2018

Connecticut to Implement Mandatory IRA Program, SHRM Online, November 2018

The Forgotten Microphone

If you purchased a piece of smart technology for your home –
and found out much later that it had a previously-undisclosed microphone – how
would you feel?

Nest Secure owners received this unsettling news after learning from Google that the Nest Guard — the hub of the Nest Secure home security system — has a microphone that somehow never got mentioned.

Despite being a component of the Nest Guard since 2017, the microphone was never brought up in advertising and was not included in any of the product information.

So how did this fact finally come to light?

Google recently announced that its Nest Secure system is now compatible with Google Assistant (meaning that users can now ask questions).

What does a virtual assistant need in order to function? The ability to listen so that it can respond to queries and commands – which means that a microphone is a necessity.

This news came as a big surprise to Nest Secure owners.

Business Insider (which first reported the story) received the following statement from a Google spokesperson: “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.”

But is it sufficient for tech companies to apologize after the
fact for omissions and “errors” like this – or should they be more proactive
about prioritizing user security?

A 2018 TechRepublic article shared results from a recent IBM Security Report. The takeaway: Consumers now consider security to be more important than convenience in devices and apps.

If that trend continues, tech companies will have to do a
lot more to help assure potential users that their products are secure (and are
not being used for secret surveillance).

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

Legacy Land Management, Southern Coal and Affiliates Sued by EEOC for Retaliation

Supervisor Told EEOC Witness Never to Testify Against a Coal Company, Federal Agency Charges

 BECKLEY, W.V. – Affiliated companies Southern Coal Corporation, Kentucky Coal Transport, LLC, and Tams Management, Inc., together with contracted hauling company Legacy Land Management, Inc., violated federal law against
retaliation in discrimination cases, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.  The EEOC said the companies retaliated against a truck driver who opposed his former employer’s unlawful
discrim­ination and participated in an EEOC lawsuit against another coal company. 

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Michael Atkins worked as a coal truck driver at a mine in Tams, W.V. When Atkins’s supervisor learned that he was testifying against another coal company, the supervisor took a series of retaliatory actions
against him, including telling Atkins he should never testify against a coal company, giving him the ultimatum of transferring to a remote worksite or to leave his job altogether. The retaliation resulted in the termination of Atkins’s
employment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on national origin, race, color, sex or religion and retaliation for opposing such unlawful practices or for
participating in a Title VII investigation, lawsuit or other proceeding. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Legacy Land Management, Inc., Tams Management, Inc., Kentucky Coal Transport, LLC, and Southern Coal Corporation, Case No. 5:19-cv-00429) in U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its administrative conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Legacy Land and the
affiliated Southern Coal companies from retaliating against emp­loyees for opposing unlawful employment practices under Title VII or participating in a Title VII investigation or proceeding, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other
relief.

“Whether an employee opposes discrimination or participates in a Title VII proceeding against his current employer or against an employer from his past, he is protected from reprisal,” said EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson of the
agency’s Philadelphia District. “A company’s industry affiliation with another company is no excuse for unlawful retaliation.”

Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, “Employers must remember that it is unlawful to punish an employee for supporting another employee’s allegations of discrimination.”

The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC also prosecutes discrim­ination cases
in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Preserving access to the legal system by targeting retaliatory practices that effectively dissuade others in the workplace from exercising their rights under anti-discrimination laws is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC’s
Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
subscribing to our email updates.

Is Your Online Date a Felon?

Author: PeopleFinders on June 5th, 2019

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Online dating is more popular than ever. With dozens of incredibly popular dating apps and websites, it’s common to set up a date with someone you’ve never met face-to-face.

Most dates that are set-up through an app or website go off without a hitch (except, maybe, the lack of a connection). However, occasionally, there’s a story of someone who went on an online date with a dangerous felon and ended up meeting a terrible fate. If you want to make sure you stay safe during your online date, use these tips.

Check the Person Out Elsewhere

On some dating sites and apps, people connect their social media profiles, giving you an easy way to find more information, However, no matter what dating service you’re using, you should be able to get basic information about your potential match, such as a name and location. You can then use that information to find other social media profiles with a quick search. Whether you get it directly or you have to do a bit of searching, it’s important to find the person’s existence outside of the dating service.

Once you find those profiles, check the person out thoroughly. Browse his or her posts and make sure they sound natural. Check that your match is friends with other people, and then ensure those friends are legitimate. Look at newly created profiles with a bit more skepticism.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

When you first go to set up your date, listen to your gut. Your first interaction should be very lighthearted and make you feel safe. It doesn’t matter how much you like someone. If you feel like something is wrong, be very cautious. An easy way to avoid danger is to set up a first date in a public place, to ensure safety.

On top of date locations, it’s important to pay attention to the way your date communicates online. Pay attention to how long it takes to receive a response, as well as whether he or she becomes upset when you don’t respond right away. A video chat is a great way to get to know someone a bit better, and it helps you verify the other party to an extent.

Be wary of any conversations relating to money. Even if he or she isn’t a felon, the person may lie about being married. Or, they may be attempting to scam you.

Use a Public Search Engine

If you’re looking for evidence that your date is safe, a public search engine such as PeopleFinders might help you discover if your date has a nefarious past. With PeopleFinders, it’s easy to search for warning signs. You can perform a background check just by providing the other person’s first name, last name, city, and state. With that info, you can potentially get a list of all the public records information you need to know.

Criminal records are an important part of this snapshot. You may get information about any times the person has been arrested, if there are crimes for which they’ve been convicted, or any sex offense data that exists. And a background check doesn’t just involve criminal records.

You can also simply check that the person actually exists, and that the name you see online isn’t a fake identity that a scammer created. In addition, you may be able to see if the person is already married, or if his or her address doesn’t match up with what you were told.

Is It Safe to Meet My Online Date?

Online dating is extremely common; around 40% of Americans use some sort of online dating service. Clearly, many of those dates go well, and people return to online dating over and over again. However, that doesn’t mean you should immediately throw caution to the wind. Instead of blindly walking into a date, use PeopleFinders to make sure your date is safe.

Don’t take any chances when it comes to your safety. No matter how long you’ve known someone online, PeopleFinders is a great way to check things out before going to an in-person date.

Image attribution: PhotoPlus+ – stock.adobe.com

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Younger Workers Put Student Loan Aid Near Top of Desired Benefits

​Millennials workers and their younger colleagues just entering the workforce are more likely than older workers to choose—and stay with—employers that offer them financial security in an uncertain world, new research shows.

Health insurance, paid time off and student loan repayment aid—in that order—were the top three benefits identified by recent college graduates and those approaching graduation when asked what benefits they most value from an employer.

The findings, based on responses from 547 job seekers who graduated from college in the last 24 months, or who will graduate in the next 12 months, were released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Young Adult Job Seekers’
Top Benefit Choices

Benefit Chosen in Top 3 by:
Health insurance 54%
Paid time off 45%
Student loan repayment 41%
Working remotely 38%
401(k) fund match 36%
Tuition reimbursement 25%
Pension 15%
Paid parental leave 13%

Source: AICPA.

 

Tellingly, respondents with college debt most wanted any new benefit dollars from their employer to go toward helping them repay their loans.

It could be that a relatively low number of respondents (36 percent) selected 401(k) match as a top benefit because retirement may seem like it’s in the distant future, said Gregory Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s national CPA financial literacy commission.

He warned, however, that not contributing to 401(k) or similar accounts early in their careers can leave workers with insufficient retirement savings decades from now.

“A mentality of ‘I’ll start saving when I get a bit older’ often results in retirement savings being put on the back burner,” Anton said. “By beginning to save toward retirement as early as possible, new graduates will benefit from decades of compounding growth.”

Student loan debt can also cause new graduates to overlook an employer’s benefits package and focus solely on the salary offer.

“Wide disparities between health insurance options, employer retirement contributions as well as vacation and sick leave underscore the need for prospective employees to fully understand the value of the benefits being offered to them,” Anton pointed out.

Survey results are posted on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website, which also features calculators to help individuals with decisions regarding 401(k) contributions, loan repayment and monthly budgeting.

Health Care Is Still Benefit No. 1

Despite the buzz being generated around student loan aid, a very traditional benefit—health insurance—remains the top offering sought by all generations.

“More and more, our Millennial employees are realizing that they need to pay attention to their health care benefits,” said Jocelyn Durfield, vice president of HR at Strike, a pipeline and energy infrastructure firm with employees across the U.S. “With many just coming off of their parents’ plans, they often are unsure about what to consider when selecting a benefits plan, and how to best use it for care throughout the year,” she said.

Strike educates Millennial employees on their options, “so they can pick the plan that best meets their needs, and then effectively leverage that plan to make smart, cost-conscious health care decisions for any treatment they require year-round,” Durfield said.

In engaging Millennials about health care benefits, “it’s important for us to meet them where they are,” Durfield said. “We’ve had success reaching out to Millennials via text messages–sending them links to our benefits page,” developed with DirectPath, a benefits education, enrollment and health care transparency firm. “The more mobile you can go, the more you can get Millennials to pay attention,” she noted.

The company has also had success using incentives, “such as raffling off Apple watches or gift cards during open enrollment to encourage employees to complete their plan selections early,” Durfield pointed out. 

Keeping Millennials Onboard

HR consultancy Mercer also recently examined younger workers’ attitudes about pay and benefits. Earlier this year, the firm’s analysts mined a data set of over 2 million employee records across different industries to ascertain the top reasons, by generation, that employees quit jobs. For Millennials ages 24 to 39, the research showed the following:

  • Base pay matters. The higher base pay is as a percentage of total compensation, the stronger the retention effect on Millennials, Mercer found. Other studies have noted the importance of salary as well. Because they feel financially insecure—due largely to student loan debt—Millennials may be more averse than their older counterparts to having pay tied to their performance, rather than guaranteed. In other works, they aren’t certain that variable, performance-based pay—ranging from bonuses to stock-based compensation—will be reliable sources of income.

Response: Communicate how variable pay works by showing clear connections between performance goals and financial rewards. Demonstrate how performance-based pay can help workers increase their income.

  • Career advancement matters. Recently promoted Millennials are substantially more likely to leave their employers, so they might be using promotions to secure better opportunities elsewhere. Interestingly, high performance ratings don’t seem to keep Millennials from leaving employers and are, instead, associated with higher turnover. This suggests that positive feedback inspires confidence and encourages these workers to seek better pay and career advancement.

Response: Develop and share career path trajectories, showing younger workers how they can earn higher pay and leadership status in the organization.

  • Supervisor relationships matter. Compared to other generations, Millennials are far less likely to leave if their supervisor is highly rated or a woman, and they are substantially more likely to quit if their supervisor quits. Because their loyalty tends to be to the person they report to, they’re prepared to leave when that relationship no longer anchors them to the organization.

Response: Show workers that the organization values and cares about them. Here’s where benefits such as financial wellness offerings—including student loan aid, if feasible—play an important role.

Workplace flexibility such as alternative work arrangements have long been touted as a retention benefit. But they may be overrated when it comes to Millennials, Mercer found. Offering flexible employment did less to retain Millennials than older workers, the analysis showed, perhaps because younger workers are waiting to have children until their careers are further along.

“Hard dollars, predictable variable pay and effective supervisors may be what it takes to improve employee experience and motivate the Millennial workforce to stay,” concluded Tauseef Rahman, a Mercer principal and co-author of the report.

“While these findings were detected in our statistical modeling across our dataset, effects vary from company to company,” he added. “It’s important for each company to understand the statistical drivers of turnover for their workforce by generation—and what these statistical drivers reveal.”

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Design an Employee Benefits Program]

Facing an Uncertain Future

Additional findings about Millennials, also called Generation Y, are highlighted in Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, based on responses from more than 4,800 employees and 1,600 HR leaders. This study found that:

  • One in three Millennial employees are concerned that AI and automation will replace their job in the next three years, more than older generations.
  • They are more likely than older generations to take on a new project at work without extra pay or benefits, or to exchange vacation days for experiences in other departments, to help diversify their skills “portfolio.”
  • At the same time, they are more willing than older workers to consider freelance or contingent work (84 percent of Millennials vs. 74 percent of Baby Boomers), if they feel it will lead to better opportunities down the road.

While the “potential for long-term career opportunities” is Millennials’ number one reason for joining an organization, job security and opportunities for professional development are the main reasons they remain loyal, the study found. As with all the generations in the workplace, competitive compensation is the main reason they leave.

Related SHRM Articles:

Billionaires Paying Off Student Loans Isn’t a Solution to Debt Problem, SHRM Online, May 2019

In a Tight Talent Market, an Employer’s Help with Education Expenses Can Turn a Candidate’s Head, SHRM Online, May 2019

Welcome, Generation Z: Here’s Your Benefits Package, SHRM Online, July 2018