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Telemarketer Fraud

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IIf you hate telemarketers, you’re not alone. Legal Beagle reported that in 2017, Bank my Cell conducted a survey that revealed that out of 1,200 people, 75% of them actively avoided calls that they knew were from telemarketers. 85% of the people who responded to the survey reported that even the thought of dealing with telemarketers triggered anxiety-related issues.

The reason most of us loathe dealing with telemarketers is that the calls are time-consuming and the person on the other end of the line keeps pushing even though we’ve told them no several times. Most of us also hate feeling guilty when we have no option but to hang up on the irritating telemarketer.

It turns out, there’s another reason to avoid telemarketers. That reason is telemarketing fraud.

Cornell Law School defines telemarketing fraud as: “Phone and telemarketing fraud refers to any type of scheme in which a criminal communicates with the potential victim via the telephone. Because many reputable companies use telemarketing to conduct business, criminals can often effectively use the method as a way to obtain a victim’s credit card information or identity and then use this information to make unauthorized purchases elsewhere. Victims have difficulty distinguishing between reputable telemarketers and scam artists. Frequent victims of telemarketing scams include the poor, the elderly, and immigrants without strong English skills.”

Examples of common telemarketing fraud include:

  • Selling a fake product via the telephone.
  • Telling you that for a seemingly nominal amount of money, you’re eligible for a free product/service/trip that the telemarketer has no intention of giving you.
  • Fake debt collection calls.

Telemarketing fraud is illegal in California. Cases involving telemarketing fraud are covered by California’s general larceny statutes which are defined in California Penal Code Sections 484-490.

In California, if the amount of money/good gained through a telemarketing fraud case is less than $900, it’s considered a petty theft case. Sentencing can include six months in jail and a large fine.

If the telemarketing fraud case involves damages greater than $900, the accused will face felony charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a full year in prison, charged up to $10,000 in fines, and ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

One of the biggest challenges connected to telemarketing fraud is that many of the cases happen in different states or even different countries, which makes pursuing legal action difficult.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud is not agreeing to any offers or providing any financial information until you’ve had a chance to thoroughly research the offer/business.

 

Racketeering In California

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If you’ve ever gotten hooked on one of TV’s procedural crime shows, it’s likely you’ve heard the word, RICO, thrown around in a few episodes. The word refers to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, which was passed over fifty years ago in 1970. The purpose of the act was to crack down on racketeering.

Investopedia defines racketeering as, “criminal acts, typically those involving extortion.” Investopedia goes on to say that most racketeering charges involve the use of corrupt and illegal methods for acquiring businesses.

While racketeering is most commonly associated with business dealings, it’s not unusual for racketeering charges to also involve additional criminal activities such as:

Most people associate racketeering with organized crime though there have been several cases that involved an individual or a single business.

California’s lawmakers are serious when it comes to racketeering charges. In addition to federal laws that are designed to discourage racketeering, the state also has individual laws which are covered in the California Penal Code Section 186.

If the police and prosecutors are able to put together a case that indicates that you were involved in two or more related crimes that fall into the category of racketeering, that involved the acquisition of property valued at $100,000 or more, the two crimes can be folded into a single criminal proceeding and you can face consecutive punishments for the felony offenses.

Basically what that means is that while the court can handle the separate racketeering charges as a single case, if you’re convicted, you could be sentenced as two separate cases.

It’s worth noting, that in this situation, by two separate crimes, the prosecution has to prove that you used “racketeering” methods on two different victims, or on the same victim but in two different situations/instances.

While the exact sentencing in racketeering cases varies based on the defendant’s history, the value of the property they acquired, and the exact circumstances of the event, possible sentencings include:

  • 20 years in prison
  • Felony probation
  • Felony parole
  • Being detained in your home
  • Large fines
  • Restitution (which can be up to three times the amount of the actual damages)
  • Court ordered forfeiture of assets
  • Court-ordered counseling

Mounting a defense against racketeering charges isn’t easy. It’s something you shouldn’t do without the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

 

Do You Reveal Misdemeanor Convictions And Charges To A Potential Employer?

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Everyone knows that a misdemeanor charge is not nearly as severe as a felony charge/conviction. Because of this, many people assume that they don’t have to worry about revealing the issue to a potential employer. If you’re operating under this assumption, be aware that it could cost you your dream job, especially if the potential employer specifically asks you about your criminal history.

While a misdemeanor charge isn’t as severe as a felony charge, it is still a part of your criminal history. It proves that you broke the law. It doesn’t matter if it was for something minor or something more severe, it will still show up on a criminal background check. The good news is that according to California law, the misdemeanor will only appear on the formal criminal background check for seven years. Failing to mention this to your employer when they ask, could result in them questioning your integrity and wondering what else you might be hiding.

Another assumption you want to avoid making is thinking that just because you haven’t yet been convicted of the misdemeanor that it won’t appear on the criminal background check. It will. Pending charges appear just like convictions do. Arrests that are still open cases will appear on criminal background checks, but arrests that don’t result in convictions will be dropped from the background check once the case is closed.

One of the things you want to keep in mind while you’re applying for a job is that even if something doesn’t appear when the employer runs a criminal background check on you, it could be revealed when they interview your references. This is why it is very important to be honest when they start asking you questions. It’s always going to be better that they get the information from you rather than someone else. Revealing the information yourself means you can put your own spin on the story, which is always a good thing.

If a potential employer fails to ask you about your criminal background, it is up to you to decide if you should disclose the information or not.

 

About Background Checks

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Background checks are becoming routine. If you are interviewed for a job or fill in a rental application you can expect that the person handling the application will run a background check on you. Knowing that a background check is in the process always makes people curious about what kind of information the background check reveals.

The exact information that appears on the background check can vary a little depending on what filters the person running the check put into place. Most of the background checks are set up so that they show any criminal activity you’ve been involved with. Felony convictions should always appear on the background check. Misdemeanor and pending convictions don’t always appear on the report.

Different states take different approaches when it comes to pending charges and background checks. According to Criminal Watchdog, California has a policy that enables all pending charges to appear on a background check, this includes pending charges for misdemeanors as well as felonies. It is even possible for a person to set up a background check so that they receive an alert when/if the pending charge becomes a conviction.

According to I Prospect Check, California’s background checks for criminal convictions only go back seven years. The seven-year rule is regulated by the Civil Code 1786.10. The information that disappears from the background check after seven years includes indictments, misdemeanors, arrests, convictions and police complaints. It’s worth noting that arrests that didn’t result in a conviction, pardons and expungements are not supposed to appear on your background check.

You should also be aware that employers who run a background check are required to file and keep the background check for two full years after they’ve run it.

Don’t assume that just because more than seven years have passed since your last conviction or arrest you don’t have to worry about it impacting your ability to obtain a job or rent a place. It still can. While the information might not be on the background check your employers run, it could be mentioned when they check your references which will likely include former employers, friends and family. It can also appear if they Google your name and find an old newspaper article, social media post or police report.

Considering how easily criminal information can be uncovered even when it no longer appears on a formal background check, it’s in your best interest to reveal any unsavory parts of your past right away. This gives you a chance to appear forthright while also sharing your side of the story.

 

The Legal Ins And Outs Of Catfishing

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Catfishing isn’t the art of catching the bottom-dwelling fish that taste greatly fried. Catfishing actually refers to the act of using a false social network profile that allows you to pretend to be someone you’re not. This differs from a ghostwriter creating an account for their writing profile because the catfisher’s account exists purely for malicious purposes.

Each catfisher has their own reasons for creating the fake profile, some use the account to extort financial information, some use it for bullying purposes, some like to get compromising photos of their victims. The end result is that the catfisher almost leaves victims in their wake.

While it seems like catfishing should be considered fraud and illegal, at this point, there are no actual laws pertaining to the actual act of catfishing. But, in many cases, the catfisher uses their fake social media identity for some sort of illegal activity. In many cases, the catfisher knows that they’re engaged in illegal activity but assumes that since they’re using a fake profile, they won’t get caught.

Catfishers also hope that their victims will be so embarrassed that they were taken in by the fake profile that they won’t even report the crimes. Another challenge victims who do report the crime is that the catfisher may live in a different state, making it difficult to pursue legal action.

Examples of laws catfishers commonly break include:

  • Copyright fraud
  • Computer hacking crimes
  • Fraud (uses false pretenses to gain money/goods/services)
  • Identity theft
  • Soliciting minors
  • Illegally recording or photographing someone without their consent

A catfisher can destroy your life so it’s important to know the steps you can take to avoid interacting with a catfisher.

If you’re contacted via social media by someone you don’t know, spend some time checking them out before you respond to their friend request or personal message. See if they have anything in common with you such as a mutual friend or shared interest. Explore their own profile and make sure it contains the type of content usually found on a social media account, this includes interactions with other people.

Even if you’re confident this new contact is a legit person, you still need to be very careful about the type of information you provide them. Keep all of your interactions impersonal.

The single best way to avoid falling victim to a catfisher is to pay attention to your instincts. If you get a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, you should block them from your social media accounts and stop all interactions. In this day and age, it’s better to play it safe than to be sorry.

 

Tips For Kids Going Back to School

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The threat of your young child disappearing when they go back to school is far greater than you imagine. According to Child Find of America, approximately 2,300 children are abducted every single day in the United States. The National Center of Exploited and Missing Children reported that in 2020, an estimated 1 in 6 missing children were victims of sex trafficking.

Stranger danger and abduction prevention lessons are something you and your children should always be working on. With the start of school, now is the time to sit down with your child and review everything they know about stranger danger and staying safe.

Use this time with your child to review the rules you should already have in place regarding accepting rides from strangers. The rules your child should already be familiar with include:

  • Never get into a stranger’s vehicle.
  • Always staying several feet away from a stranger’s vehicle.
  • Knowing that if a person makes them feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, that they should immediately seek out the assistance of a trusted adult.

Abductors usually don’t bother with children who are traveling in packs, which is why it’s important to teach your child that they should always have a friend or two with them wherever they go. The more friends they have with them while walking home from school, playing in the back and riding bikes, the safer they will be.

Now is the perfect time to teach your child how to be aware of their surroundings. This is something you should do by example. Put your phone in your pocket and actively survey your surroundings when you walk to and from buildings. Teach your child to notice strange people that are hanging around places like the playground. Teach them to be particularly aware if they notice that the same person shows up in multiple locations your child is at and to let you know about this person.

Make it very clear that it doesn’t matter if a stranger has candy, is saying they are lost/hurt or has kittens/puppies to play with that your child is not to approach them. That their best course of action is leaving the immediate area and finding a trusted, familiar adult.

Teach your child to scream. If the worse does happen and a stranger approaches your child, the screams will cause the adult to quickly decide that your child isn’t worth the effort and they will flee the scene.

Don’t assume that just because your child is older that you no longer have to worry about abductions. According to the Missouri Child Identification and Protection Program, 81% of abducted minors were 12 years old or older.

 

Leaving Your Pet Inside Your Hot Car In California

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Dogs love their owners and want to be with them all the time. In an attempt to keep our dogs happy, many of us take them with us when we run errands. On cold days, this isn’t an issue, but now that it’s summertime, it will be a while before Californians experience cool days which means it’s time to rethink taking your dog along on your grocery store runs.

California lawmakers passed laws that make it illegal to leave your pet in your vehicle at any time that there is a chance that they will be hurt before you get back. This includes when the temperatures soar to a point that your vehicle turns into an oven.

This means that even when the outdoor temperature is cool, you can’t leave your dog in the car all day if they don’t have access to fresh food and water. You also can’t leave them in the car if you have items in the vehicle, such a plastic shopping bags or heavy items that could topple.

The heat simply makes things works. The problem in the summertime is that many dog owners think that since they’re only running into the store for a minute or two, their dog will be fine. That’s not the case at all. It doesn’t take long for the car to get extremely hot. As the car heats up, your dog overheats, and heat stroke becomes a real threat. If you don’t return shortly, your dog will overheat to death.

As soon as the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to be careful. Studies indicate that on a sunny 70-degree day, the interior of your car can reach 115 degrees in less than 30 minutes. Dogs start to experience heat exhaustion when it gets to 103 degrees.

If it’s warm out and someone spots your dog in the car, they’re legally allowed to break your vehicle’s windows and rescue your pet.

The broken car window will likely be the least of your concerns. If the police get involved, you can be charged with a $100 fine per each animal that was in the car. The amount will be higher if it’s not your first offense. If the pet needs medical attention, the maximum sentence increases to a $500 fine and six months in jail. In many cases, you’ll also face animal cruelty charges.

Now that the temperatures are consistently staying above 70 degrees, it is in your best interest to leave your dog home when you’re running errands.

 

Is It Legal To Break A Window To Save A Child Or Pet From A Hot Car

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Summer is in full swing. Not only does this mean that the kids are out of school for the season, but the temperatures are at their peak. Summer holds a number of problems for parents. Not only do they have to try to figure out what to do with their children while still managing their normal work schedule, they also have to make sure their kids keep cool.

Nobody likes being in the heat for prolonged periods, and young children are especially susceptible to high temperatures. Younger kids don’t know how to take care of themselves and have to rely on their parent’s judgement. This means that a parent should never leave their child unattended in a hot situation.

One particular situation that might seem obvious to some, but is still shocking to others, is leaving a child alone in a car on a hot day. Some parents still think that this is an acceptable thing to do, but that is not the case. Something as simple as this can turn dangerous, or even deadly, in minutes.

Cars Equal Ovens: How Hot Does Your Car Get?

While driving a vehicle on a summer day, people often have the air conditioner cranked to the max. This fills the cars with cool, comfortable air while it is being driven. However, the minute the car is shut off, this cool air disappears. Some parents believe that this cool air will last for five minutes while they are in the store. Their kid should be fine in the car alone for just a few minutes, right? Wrong.

Cars are like giant, solar-powered ovens. Many people know the unpleasant experience of going down a metal slide on a hot day as a kid. Just touching metal that has been in the sun for a little bit is unpleasant, try being inside of it. On top of that, the glass windows of cars act like a magnifying glass and amplify the Sun’s rays. This, combined with the lack of air movement inside the vehicle creates an oven that even cracking the windows or parking in the shade can’t fix.

Cracking the windows just a little bit does not allow enough air movement to cool the car down. Anyone who has ever been stranded on the side of a desert road will attest to the fact that even having the door fully open doesn’t allow enough air movement inside the vehicle. Parking in the shade may slow the process slightly, but the hot air surrounding the vehicle will still increase the interior temperature of the vehicle.

Most experts agree that once the outside temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it is too hot to leave anyone in a vehicle. At this temperature, the inside of a car can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, then the inside temps can reach 100 in just 10 minutes.

Basically, don’t leave anyone, child or pets, unattended inside a vehicle in weather that is warmer than 70 degrees.


When to Smash a Window to Rescue a Child or Pet Locked in a Hot Car

Unfortunately, people still have a tendency to leave children, and pets, inside their vehicles while they make a “quick” trip into the store. An estimated 22 kids have died in 2018 after suffering from heatstroke caused by being left alone in a car. This causes many people to want to help out if they see a child, or even a pet, alone in a vehicle on a hot day. However, this is a bit tricky in California.

Last year, in 2017, the state of California passed a law that allows people to break into vehicles in order to save the life of an animal trapped inside. AB 797 amended California Civil Code and Penal Code to ensure that a person who damages and/or trespasses within a vehicle will not face any criminal charges if the damage and trespass occurred while rescuing an animal from the vehicle. The protections only occur if they are breaking into the vehicle that was the last resort and that other methods were not tried first. This means that before anyone springs into action, they should first call 911. The operator can send help and may be able to guide the person through some other ways of getting into the car without causing large amounts of damage.

It is important to note that the law specifically states this only happens when the person is rescuing an animal, not a child. The law makes no mention of protection if the actions are done to save a child’s life. This means that legally, you cannot break into a car to save a child inside who is suffering from heat stroke. If you see a child alone in a vehicle on a hot day, alert the proper authorities immediately, and stay close to the vehicle to keep an eye on the situation.

Summer Heat Is Here to Stay

As the summer progresses with its intense heat, parents need to be aware that they should never leave their child, or pet, inside a vehicle on a hot day. Several kids have already died this year to heatstroke cause by doing this, which is something no parent wants to face. If the kids can’t be left at home, then they need to go into the store with their parents. Simple as that.

If a person comes across a vehicle in a parking lot with a pet locked inside on a hot day, he can break into the vehicle to rescue the animal. Provided he has tried every other option and has contacted the local authorities already.

When it comes to finding a child in the same situation, legally, the person cannot break into the car. He should contact emergencies services and proceed from there. Once he has done that, his next move is up to him.

 

Who Can Own A Gun In California?

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It’s no secret that the U.S. Constitution contains a statement about the right to bear arms. When the Constitution was originally drafted, men were allowed to own a gun, but over time that has changed. For various reasons, laws and attitudes have shifted, and now some people simply aren’t allowed to own a firearm.

If you live in California and plan on purchasing a gun, you should know that California has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. It’s worth noting that California’s most restrictive gun laws are constantly being challenged in Federal court and are subject to change so it’s in your best interest to routinely check the state’s current gun laws.

One of California’s gun laws is that to purchase a handgun, you must be at least 21 years old. Be prepared to provide proof of both your identity and your age when you purchase the handgun. If the identification is outdated or the person selling the gun feels it doesn’t look legit, they will stop the sale.

You also must earn your Handgun Safety Certificate. The written portion of this exam is designed to prove that you have a solid understanding of handguns and that you won’t misuse them. The test questions are designed to test how well you understand how to handle your gun, how it operates and to make sure you’ll use the gun responsibly.

Not every person who lives in California is allowed to own a gun. Several people are explicitly forbidden from owning guns, including:

  • Anyone who is currently involved in a probation program that prohibits gun ownership.
  • Anyone named in either a permanent or a temporary restraining order.
  • Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military.
  • Anyone who is a registered sex offender.
  • Anyone with a diagnosed mental illness that the court believes indicates that they could be a danger to others and themselves.
  • Anyone who is currently addicted to drugs.
  • Anyone with a history of violent crimes.
  • Anyone with a past that includes a felony conviction.
  • Illegal residents.
  • Anyone who has been convicted of a type of misdemeanor named in Penal Code Section 29805.
  • Sex offenders who have been diagnosed with mental disorders.

If you are convicted of a violent crime or do something else that causes the state to revoke your privileges regarding gun ownership, you’ll have to get rid of any guns you currently own. The police are legally allowed to confiscate any weapons they find after your ownership rights have been revoked.

 

Leaving Kids In Hot Cars In California

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Kids and hot cars are never a good combination. Everyone knows that, yet there is still an average of 38 children who die each year after they’re locked into a hot car.

In all fairness, nearly all of these cases are an accident. The child is strapped into their car seat in the back of the vehicle and the driver simply forgets that they’re there until it’s too late. There are even situations when the parent accidentally locked the car keys in the vehicle with the child.

While accidents do happen, children overheating in the car is something everyone would like to forget. If you’re traveling with a small child who can’t possibly let themselves out of the car, you need to figure out what steps you can take to make sure they aren’t accidentally forgotten. The hotter it gets, the more you’re going to have to worry.

One of the things that might help you remember that your child is in the backseat of your car is understanding that it’s illegal to leave your child there. California passed Kaitlyn’s Law in 2001. The law was created in memory of Kaitlyn Russel, who was only six months old when she died after her babysitter forgot her in a hot car for over two hours.

Kaitlyn’s Law not only makes it illegal to leave an infant in the car, but it also makes it illegal to leave an infant in the care of anyone who isn’t at least 12 years old if the vehicle is running or there are keys in the ignition and if there are unsafe conditions, such as overheating.

Kaitlyn’s Law makes it illegal to leave your unsupervised infant in the car period. So even if there is no danger of them overheating, you still have to bring them into the store or appointment with you.

Leaving a child under the age of six in a vehicle when they have no supervision can result in a $100 fine. It’s not unusual for the judge to waive the fine after you’ve completed a community education program.

In many cases, leaving a young, unsupervised child in the car, especially on a hot day, will result in you being charged with child endangerment. It is one of California’s wobbler offenses. In felony cases, you could face up to six years in prison. In misdemeanor situations, you could be sentenced to a year in county jail. In both situations, the Child Welfare Service will likely become involved and decide if you should retain custody of your child.

 

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