By Kelly Sargent
Honest to goodness, this happened to me yesterday! In my case, however, it was an expensive printer instead of an iPhone. But whether it's an iPhone or a printer, here's how the scam works.
An email pops in notifying you that your Amazon, credit card or bank account has been charged many hundreds of dollars for an iPhone or some other piece of pricey equipment, and careful guardians of your account that they are, they're protecting you by checking to make sure you actually purchased whatever it was. Obviously you're extremely alarmed because you didn't purchase anything of that description for so much money.
There's a number to call to verify the purchase or cancel it, and you're extremely grateful for the catch. . . but it's a scam. They're banking — quite literally — that you'll call, where you'll be connected to an extremely helpful customer service representative who says they can fix the problem. They just need to verify your bank account or credit card number.
Fortunately, I'm onto these phishing scams. First and most foremost, I did NOT open the email. I knew what the premise was because the "notification" about my account being charged was in the subject line. Next I checked with my husband Paul to make sure he hadn't purchased a printer. Then I trashed the email without opening it.
Here's advice from the Better Business Bureau:
Double check the sender’s email address. Phishing emails are usually designed to look like they come from a reputable source like your bank or Amazon. But look closely at the sender’s email to see if it’s really from an official source.
Check your bank for charges first. If the charge isn’t there, it’s likely a scam. Don’t contact the scammers. Erase the email and block the sender.
Never click on suspicious links. It’s best not to click on links in unsolicited emails you receive from unknown senders. These links could download malware onto your computer or mobile device, making you vulnerable to identity theft.
By Kelly Sargent
Rob Tucker, the original founder of Tucker Law is proud of his law partner, Erin Tucker . . . who also happens to be his daughter.
Though I'm not related, I have to admit that I’m proud of her too. In case you haven't met Erin, she is a genuinely kind, a quality that seems to be in increasingly short supply these days. She’s also what I would describe as quietly fierce on behalf of her clients. She’s so calm and even tempered that I don’t think her opponents see her coming — which I think is one of the reasons she’s so successful.
Erin has taken a workers’ compensation case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court on behalf of a client.
Here’s the back story.
Workers' compensation is a form of insurance put into place in Iowa in 1913 that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. Over time, injuries to certain designated parts of the body were listed on a schedule with a maximum amount of allowable compensation for the injury. For example, the benefits a worker who has lost hearing in both ears is entitled to are capped at a predetermined amount, and so on for all the other listed part of the body.
Below is the list designated body part injuries before 2017.
Injuries not listed on the schedule are considered to be injuries to the body as a whole, and the resulting disability is not limited by the schedule but determined instead by how much the injury affects the worker’s future earning capacity, and generally result in greater compensation. A shoulder injury had not previously been on the capped-benefits list, but in 2017 the Iowa Legislature passed a law that added shoulder to the list, limiting the amount of compensation.
In 2018 a worker who suffered an on-the-job shoulder injury came to Erin. Due to lack of education and language difficulties, the worker's opportunities have always been limited to manual labor. Having a disabled shoulder made that work impossible. (All evaluations of injury status, movement limitations and ability to work are all made by doctors and physical therapists.)
According to the list, which by that time included shoulder, the insurance company argued her injury was isolated and she was only entitled to a fixed amount of benefits instead of compensation based on how her life and ability to earn a living have been and will continue to be effected.
Erin took the case to trial, and the ruling was in her client’s favor, However, in September of 2020 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation commissioner reversed the lower judge’s decision and ruled that the injury was a “shoulder” injury, limiting Erin’s client to less benefits, and subsequent cases have been decided the same way.
Erin disagreed with the commissioner, appealed the ruling, and the Iowa Supreme Court agreed to review the case.
Here’s why that’s a big deal:
The Iowa Supreme Court decides cases that involve legal issues of substantial constitutional issues and issues of great public policy importance, and its decisions become case law that lower courts must follow. That means if the ISC were to decide in Erin’s client’s favor, it would change the law for everyone with a shoulder injury going forward and possibly previous shoulder-injury workers if they have appealed a ruling against them.
And so on February 23 Erin argued her client’s case before the ISC. It will be at least another month before the court releases it’s decision. Fingers crossed.
By Erin Tucker
Recently a friend of Kelly's who lives in Iowa asked me a question about the jurisdiction of a potential employment case, should she decide to file suit. She was uncertain about where she can file because although she lives in Iowa, she works remotely for an out-of-state employer. She wondered whether she had to file suit in her employer's state, or if she could file suit here Iowa where she lives.
Given the substantial increase in remote work taking place since the COVID pandemic, her question is becoming more frequent. Generally, if a company does business in Iowa, and the worker is located in Iowa, unless there is a contract which states otherwise, the company is subject to the laws in Iowa. In other words, Kelly's friend could file a claim in Iowa even though the company is based out of state.
With more jobs being performed remotely, there's bound to be in increase in cases involving employees who work for out-of-state companies. In case you or someone you know has an employment grievance, I thought it might be useful for you to know a little more about what your options are. As always, we're here to help if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
Over the past few weeks here in Central Iowa, temperatures have fluctuated by 40 and even 50 degrees!! Going from a high of 35 Fahrenheit one day to a low of 15 below the next. Bottom line: you need to be prepared. Here are a few tips for surviving, sometimes literally, in cold and snowy weather.
Cold Weather Driving Tips
Tips for Driving in the Snow
By Kelly Sargent
Have you been getting text messages notifying you that such-and-such company has a “reward” or gift card for you? Paul and I have been getting one from “ATT “ (notice it’s not AT&T) about every other day. The message says, “ATT Free Msg: November bill is paid. Thanks, Here’s a little gift for you: . . . “ There are more words after that, but I never click on it to see what else it says because I know it’s a scam.
For awhile I was getting frequent text messages supposedly from Home Depot offering me a “reward”. My guess is that the perpetrators targeted me using the Home Depot name because we had made a large purchase from the company some months before, probably in their minds making it more likely that I'd fall for it.
Speaking of gift cards, the Better Business Bureau issued a bulletin warning about gift cards scams — not the offer of a ‘free’ one as we were just discussing, but ones that are available for purchase either online or in stores.
Here are their tips and cautions:
Beware of obscure websites advertising gift cards for popular retailers at steep discounts. These websites may be using these offers to steal payment card numbers or other personal information. Instead, go directly to the merchant and purchase a card from them.
Also be wary of websites that offer to check your gift card's balance. Some websites that claim to check your gift card balance are really a means of stealing money off your card. These sites ask for your card’s ID number and PIN or security code, and use the information to drain the money off your card.
It you're buying a physical gift card, look carefully at the packaging for any tears, wrinkles, or other indications of tampering, and see if the PIN is exposed. Thieves are known to remove gift cards from the display rack and record the numbers associated with that card, including the activation PIN. If anything looks suspicious, it’s best to take a different card and turn in the compromised card to the store’s customer service desk.
Treat a gift card like cash. If it's lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Most issuers have toll-free telephone numbers printed on the card or available online to report a lost or stolen card.
By Kelly Sargent
A big thank you to everyone who shared our posts in the interests of finding Little Ginger Boy a home — and of course special thanks to Erin and Rob for letting me borrow the Tucker Law website and Facebook page to look for a home for him. The good news is that at last he has one.
You may remember his story; he was dumped on a gravel road in a very rural Iowa, a few miles north of the Missouri border. By the time a kind woman found him, he was skinny, flea-infested and had worms and ear mites. With all the other animals she already has on the farm to take care of, she didn't feel she could afford one more. He would have had to live in a shed if he stayed with her, and she didn't want that for him, so she contacted me to see if I could find him a home.
Due to the circumstances, a compassionate veterinarian charged next to nothing to vaccinate and neuter LGB and for medications to treat his infestations. Meanwhile I was writing and posting about his need for a home.
One woman was interested right out of the box, but unbeknownst to both of us, she wasn't getting my private messages and of course not responding to them since wasn't seeing them, so I kept looking. I heard from a second interested party from Fort Dodge who wanted him, but a tragedy occurred in her extended family, and she stopped communicating.
Bummer. Then out of the blue, the first interested party found my messages, contacted me and said, "Yes, I really want him! I just didn't get your messages." We were golden — or so I thought. But on the very day we were picking up LGB to make the transfer, she called to tell me she wouldn't be able to take him because her dad had just been put into hospice care.
We had to start all over. In the meantime, we kept LGB and were taking conscientious care of him. We took him to our veterinarian to get him tested for feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency and feline coronavirus. Fortunately he was negative for all three. We also had the vet thoroughly check and clean his ears and perform a fecal analysis to see if he was clear of worms. No more worms, but his ears still required medication.
His original rescuer had told us several times that he was "very energetic". We weren't sure if that was code for "troublesome mischief-maker", but oh my goodness, he turned out to be such a loving little boy. We were completely smitten and would have kept him in a New York minute, but we have a resident cat of many years named Shye — so named because she is — who really needs to be an only cat.
It was less than ideal for Shye and LGB to be kept alternately sequestered, but we had no other recourse. Our solution was playing musical cats 18 hours a day. We'd bring LGB downstairs and give him the run of the house while Shye was shut in the bedroom. Then we'd transfer LGB to our upstairs office while Shye was able to roam freely.
In the last week, there was a sudden flurry of interest. One woman in particular seemed perfect: recently widowed, she's retired and lives alone, but is young enough to be able to be with him his whole life. Our thought was that they could help each other heal.
We delivered LGB to her Monday night. She has named him Henry, and he's going to get lots and lots of attention. And yes, we miss him. We'd had him for a full two weeks, which was plenty of time for Paul and me to get quite attached to him. (I shed a few tears today as I wrote this.) But we're thrilled to see him in established in such favorable circumstances and adapting so well.
Above photo: My husband Paul and LGB having one last snuggle. The first of the below photos is of LGB and his favorite place to be at our house. The bottom three are of LGB aka Henry in his new home.
By Kelly Sargent
Erin is graciously letting me hijack Tucker Law one more time to see if we can find a home for this little ginger boy. We thought we'd found a home for him, but they've gone quiet.
He's getting neutered and vaccinated on October 20, and we'll pick him up from southwest Iowa on the 30th. If you don't have room for him, will you ask friends and family if they might have room for him? Surely there's somebody somewhere who will love him.
By Kelly Sargent
I’m hoping you will excuse this personal note. I feel lucky to work for a law firm led by attorneys who are genuinely compassionate. They're letting me borrow this forum for a moment to look for a home for an abandoned cat.
Over course of a week, I was contacted by two different women, one from Lucas County, one from Oskaloosa, each looking for help finding a home for a cat. Thanks to a bucket brigade of people from South Carolina to Utah, we found a home for one of them, a sweet (so sweet) little Bengal whose pet parent had the magnanimity and moral courage to recognize that with five children of her own, seven daycare little ones and a dog in her home, it was too chaotic an environment for a cat to be happy.
She posted on Facebook's Cat Lover's Community, someone from Utah commented, and a friend who lives in South Carolina, alerted me that this kitty, currently in Oskaloosa, needed rehoming. I wrote about it, my husband Paul shared it, and a college friend of his saw it, and said, "I'll take her!"
I launched out for Oskaloosa with a kennel in the back of the van, we got her transferred by putting the owner's kennel open end to end with mine. She cried all the way home to my house.
I was feeling pessimistic about my chances — and hers. I'd been warned that she was a hider who would scratch and claw if I tried to get her out from wherever she would hide, but I didn't want to leave her in the kennel all afternoon until Paul got home and we could leave for Omaha. When I came back into the den half an hour later, she was invisible, but to my surprise, she called to me. She had climbed up into the top of a very tall closet where I would not have been able to remove her, and then contrary to what I had been led to expect, she warmed up quickly. Soon she was sitting next to me on the couch and finally laying in my lap purring.
The next challenge was getting her back into the kennel for transport. I wondered whether I could succeed or if I would finally meet the scratching, clawing cat I was warned about. I carried the cage back in the room, put the big blanket back in and sprayed it heavily with anti-anxiety cat pheromones. The aroma attracted her and she walked into the kennel of her own accord. Whew!
I told Paul that I thought we should be silent on the drive because from Oskaloosa to our house, talking to her only made her cry louder. We drove half the way not speaking, but I couldn’t bear how miserable she sounded, so I climbed into the back of the van and opened the cage to see what would happen. She climbed up in my lap and stopped crying! I petted her all the way to Omaha.
She is now happily ensconced in her new home where she is the only pet and utterly adored.
Now we need to find a home for this sweet little ginger boy picture above who was dumped on a gravel road far out in rural Iowa. The woman who found him is caring for him, but can't afford to keep him. Can you help me form another bucket brigade and find him a home? I will drive him anywhere within a day's drive of Des Moines. He will already have been neutered and vaccinated.
By Erin Tucker
Whenever there’s a calamity — local, regional or national, there will always be scam artists intent on taking advantage of people who have been impacted by preying on their misfortune and fear.
Recently, the Better Business Bureau issued a report citing numerous cases of scammers impersonating representatives of high-profile companies, offering COVID-themed discounts.
Here’s how the scam runs:
You receive a text message from a large, reputable company. The message claims that due to the pandemic, the company would like to help people by offering them a deal. They range from free or discounted services to gift cards and cash
Below are two fake offers the BBB listed that unsuspecting consumers have received lately.
“COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon”
“Due to the pandemic, Hulu is giving everyone a free 1-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here [link].
Of course these messages don’t really originate with that company. They’re phishing attempts from con artists who are trying to steal your personal information.
If you click the link, you may be prompted to log into a lookalike website that scammers use to get hold of your login ID and password. With that information, scammers can access your accounts and even make purchases using your saved payment methods.
The latest BBB report mentions scammers impersonating Hulu, Netflix, and Verizon, but watch out texts that pretend to be from other companies too. If one name stops producing victims, these fraudsters simply use another company's name.
Here’s what the BBB recommends to avoid being taken in by text message scams
Treat messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.
Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous
website, or you could download malware onto your device.
Confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is
legitimate, go to the company’s official website and send them an email, or call to inquire. The company can
let you know if the deal is real or not.
Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text
messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware
and alert you before you open a malicious website link.
Tucker Law appreciates the work the Better Business Bureau does to alert consumers to potential frauds and scams. Rob and I and the rest of our staff are always here if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
There’s still enough time to enjoy some warm-weather swimming in ponds, lakes or pools, but here’s a word of warning.
According to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is one of the leading causes of death from unintentional injuries in kids ages 1 to 19 . Of those, 75% are boys. Teenage boys 15 to 19 in particular are 10 times more likely to drown than girls.
The AAP report also found that In the specific category of swimming pool deaths, Black children aged 5 to 19 are five-and-a-half more likely to drown than White children.
In very young children, 1 to four, drowning isn’t just a major cause of unintentional-injury related death; it’s the leading cause.
Dr. Linda Quan, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Seattle Children's Hospital, who is the author of the AAP report, emphasized that young children must be supervised at all times when they’re in any kind of water including a bath because they’re not able to prevent themselves from drowning.
Quoted by CNN, Dr. Quan said, “It seems ridiculous, but I've watched my own 2-year-old stumble and sit down in a body of water covering her nose and do nothing to save herself. I had to yank her up to standing."
Unsurprisingly the most child drowning deaths take place between May and August. The riskiest hours are between 4 PM and 6 PM, — that surprised us, during which about half of child drownings occur.
In addition to supervising children at all times when they're in water, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that bath water should be drained immediately after the bath. Infants should never be left unsupervised because bath seats can tip over.
As an additional measure of protection, AAP suggests that parents enroll children in swimming classes beginning at the age of 1. And if you have a pool in your yard, install a fence surrounding it that's at least four feet high and has self-closing gates.
Water can be fun, but it can be dangerous, so keep your eyes on those kids! And as always, if you need us, call us.
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