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The Most Common Crimes That Occur During the Holidays

Most of us associate the holidays with happiness, family, and love. While many of us focus on the good things during the holiday season, police departments throughout the United States will quickly tell you that crime doesn’t stop during the holidays.

What members of law enforcement have noticed is that certain types of crimes seem to take place during the Christmas season.

DUI

Police expect that most of the arrests they make during the holidays will be related to DUIs. More people make the bad decision to drive after they have been drinking during the holidays than most other times of the year. There are several reasons this happens including:

  • People drink more than they realize during holiday parties
  • Some people realize how lonely they are during the holidays and drink to make themselves feel a little better
  • Teens have more time on their hands after school lets out for the holidays, giving them more time to party and drink

Before you go out to a holiday party or to a bar to meet up with friends, take time to figure out how you’ll get home. If there is even a chance that you’ll have a few drinks, it’s in your best interest to arrange things so that you’re not even tempted to drive.

Shoplifting

Shoplifting crimes happen all year long, but they seem to be especially common during the holidays. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that there are more shoppers in the store. It could be that because employees are so busy during the holiday season, people who wouldn’t normally shoplift spot an opportunity and decide to take advantage of it. Or it could be that some people would like to purchase a nice gift for their loved ones but don’t have the money and are unable to resist the impulse to take the items that have caught their eye.

Fraud and Scams

The sad reality is that the holidays bring about more fraud and scam crimes than other times of the year. One of the reasons fraud and scam crimes are so prevalent during the holiday season could stem from the fact that people are busy, so they don’t pay as much attention to what is being said as they normally would. Loneliness, which is often felt more during the holidays, could be another reason so many people fall victim to fraud and other types of scams during the holidays.

While you want to enjoy the current holiday season, you also have to be vigilant and take steps to protect yourself against crime this holiday season.

What is the difference Between Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol?

In California, driving under the influence means driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Many people often wonder if there is a difference between driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In terms of the charges connected strictly to your driving, there’s not much of a difference if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will face some serious fines, probably be ordered to get some counseling, lose your driving privileges, and possibly spend some time in jail.

What is different is that if you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs, you’ll not only face the same charges connected to driving under the influence, but you’ll also face any charges that are connected to the use of the drugs you have in your system. A perfect example of this is a person who is caught driving while under the influence of prescription drugs that they don’t have a legal prescription for. They will also face charges for not having a prescription, illicit drug use, and possibly additional charges.

The other issue to consider is that some prescription medications interact badly with alcohol. If you mix the two, you could be charged with a DUI if they react strongly with one another.

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Tips for Earning a Little Extra Money This Holiday Season

Times are tough right now. We could all use a little extra income, especially with the holidays right around the corner. The good news is that now is a great time to explore the possibility of a side hustle that will put some extra money in your pocket.

Consider Drive Share Programs

If you like to drive and have reliable transportation, you may consider joining a drive-share program. With so many people worried about the possibility of getting drunk at holiday parties, they are turning to drive-share programs for a designated drivers. Demand for drive shares is high during the holidays.

While it’s possible to make some really good money while doing a drive-share program, you do need to consider how much wear and tear it will put on your car as well as the possibility that your car insurance rates will go up. You need to calculate these expenses against your possible earnings.

A Second Job

The holidays are a great time to look for a second job. Many businesses are hiring seasonal labor to get them through the holiday season. If you think a seasonal job is a great way to earn some additional money this holiday season, look for one that:

  • Can be scheduled around your current employment
  • Offers a decent hourly salary
  • Provides a steady schedule during the time you’re working there
  • Is a relatively short commute

Spare Jobs

Check out a local job board or community social media page. You’ll likely find a few people actively looking for someone to clean their house, do some yard work, watch their kids, or do some sort of other odd jobs. These spontaneous odd jobs can be a great source of extra income during the holidays. If you’re going to pick up a few odd jobs make sure that you and the person who is hiring your services are very clear about the type of work you’ll be doing, how long they’ll need your assistance, and how much you’ll be paid. It’s in your best interest to get as much on a contract as possible.

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The Smartest Way to Handle a Big Lotto Win

With the Powerball jackpot soaring to over a billion dollars, people are stocking up on tickets. Even people who have never played the lotto before are purchasing a ticket and daydreaming about what they will do if they strike it big.

Since there is always a chance that you could win, dedicating a few minutes to learning what you should do if you happen to have the winning numbers is a good idea.

Sit on the News

The best thing you can do if you find out that you’re holding the winning numbers is to put your lotto tickets in a really safe place, like a safe deposit box, and sit on the news for a while. Don’t tell your family, don’t go directly to the state lotto office, and don’t make any huge purchases. Give yourself some time to come to terms with what has just happened and to think about how this will change your life.

It’s also a good idea to spend some time thinking about what major life changes you want to make and what you want to remain the same.

Seek Financial and Legal Assistance

Before you contact the lottery office, it’s a good idea to connect with both a legal advisor and a good lawyer who has a solid financial background. Both of these professionals will help you explore all of your options so that you can best decide how to handle your lotto winnings.

While you’re working with your financial advisor, it’s a good idea to have them consolidate your debts so that the first thing you do with your lotto winnings is paid things off. Knowing that all of your outstanding debts are handled allows you to sit back and enjoy your winnings.

Have a Plan in Place to Deal With Loved Ones

It’s possible that learning about your stroke of good luck will bring out a side of your loved ones that you’ve never seen before. Some will be genuinely happy for you. Some will be jealous. Some will believe that you are now the perfect person to hit up for money.

Before letting your loved ones know of your windfall, sit down and decide how you want to handle financial gifts and loans. Not only should you determine who will benefit from your lotto win, but you should also have an explanation ready for when you find yourself in a position of having to tell someone no, you won’t help them out.

Look To the Future

One of the mistakes that some lottery winners make is assuming that the money will be around forever. They go on a spending spree and drastically change their lives only to find out that the money spends faster than they thought, especially when tax season rolls around.

Before you start spending your lottery winnings, you should think about how much you need to add to your retirement fund, how you’ll pay your way as you get older, and potentially have to deal with health problems and other expenses that could crop up. The more of your winnings that you can set aside for your future, the better.

Explore Tax Deductions

Taxes will eat into a large chunk of your winnings. And they will continue to do so. Sit down with your financial advisor and learn about the different things you can do to minimize the amount of taxes you have to pay. Some choices you can consider include charitable donations, and maxing out your 401K.

Once you’re satisfied that you have thought through everything, have set up a good financial plan, and are fully prepared for the different ways the winnings will change your life, it’s time to contact the nearest lotto office and start the process of collecting your lotto winnings.

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Money Saving Tips for the Holidays

All the signs point to us being poised on the brink of a recession. Between inflation and the outrageously high price of fuel, most of us are looking at the holidays and wondering if there is any way we can save a little money yet still enjoy the holiday season.

The good news is that yes, it is possible to cut back on your spending and still have a fantastic and memorable holiday with your loved ones.

Put Your Credit Cards Away

Make this the year that you don’t use your credit cards to finance your holiday. The problem that many people run into is that since they are using a credit card, they don’t pay attention to how much money they are actually spending while holiday shopping. When the credit card statement arrives, it’s always a shock. Even more alarming is how quickly the interest adds up.

You’ll be amazed by how much more aware you are of your spending when you stick to cash or your debit card. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about any surprising bills showing up in January.

Stay Home

One of the biggest expenses many people run into during the holidays is the cost of eating out. There’s something about the holidays that inspires people to go out. While this is fun, it can quickly become expensive. Rather than going out to eat dinner, look for fun and innovative ways to dine at home. Try new recipes, prepare picnics, and cook favorite meals you don’t eat often. You won’t believe how much money you save.

When you invite loved ones over for the holidays, consider asking them to bring a dish to pass. Not only does this help you save a little money, but also ensures that there is at least one dish on the table that they’ll enjoy.

Make Your Gifts

Giving gifts is a great way to lift our moods, but it’s also a drain on your bank account. Rather than buying expensive gifts for friends and family, try getting creative and making a few things. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out your local community center, many places offer fun courses that not only end with you bringing home a fun craft project that you can turn into a gift, but also the skills needed to make more so that everyone can benefit from your handiwork.

Consider a Side Hustle

If you have the time, a side hustle such as getting a seasonal job or selling products online is a great way to put aside some extra money for the holidays. If you really want to get the maximum value from your side hustle, try using just half of the bonus income for the holidays and putting the other half into savings.

Cut Back on the Traveling

If you’re the type of person who likes to make lots of little day trips during the holiday season, this is the year you should consider cutting back. Look for ways you can combine several of your holiday excursions into one day so that you don’t spend as much on fuel.

What money-saving ideas do you plan on implementing this holiday season?

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What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of an Internet Crime

In 2018, the Cyber Security Breaches Survey revealed the shocking news that approximately 43% of all businesses fell for some sort of internet crime. The costs associated with these crimes really added up. It’s estimated that in California alone, businesses collectively lost more than $214 million to internet crimes.

And businesses aren’t the only ones who fall victim to internet crimes. Every single day, there are multiple reports of people who lost thousands as a result of some internet crime.

We get so wrapped up in how victims handle internet crimes that we forget there is someone on the other side of the crime. Even worse, there are routinely people who are wrongfully accused of perpetuating an internet crime.

The first thing you should do when you’re accused of committing an internet crime is following police instructions. If you’re getting arrested, don’t try to resist. Resisting arrest not only makes you appear guilty, but it can also result in even more charges. When you’re told you’re being arrested for an internet crime, stay calm, cool, and collected.

Don’t say anything to anyone about the alleged internet crimes unless your criminal defense attorney is with you. In addition to making sure both your civil and legal rights are being upheld, your lawyer will stop you from inadvertently saying or doing something that could get you into even more trouble or that could be used to mount an even stronger case against you.

If you’ve been falsely accused of committing an internet crime, don’t fall for the temptation of accepting a plea deal because you’re tired of all the legal drama or have gotten scared because of what the police and the prosecuting attorney are telling you. As soon as you accept a plea deal, you will have a criminal record that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Trust your lawyer to get the charges dropped.

If you have committed an internet crime and are convicted, you should know that the details surrounding your case determine whether you’re convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. If you’re convicted of felony internet crimes, you could be fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to spend up to 20 years in prison. If you’re convicted of misdemeanor internet crimes you’ll only face a fine of about $1,000 (plus court costs.)

In many misdemeanor cases, the judge opts for probation instead of actual jail time, especially if this is the first time you’ve been in trouble with the law.

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4 Facebook Scams You Should Know About

Most of us spend a surprising amount of time on Facebook. We love posting about the exciting things taking place in our lives, we enjoy looking at the photos loved ones share, and we often treat it like an interesting party line that provides a legal way to spy on the lives of others. We seldom stop and think about how dangerous Facebook can be, even though we routinely hear about friends whose accounts have been hacked or who have encountered a Facebook scam.

While you don’t have to completely stop using Facebook, you’ll get more out of the social media giant if you are aware of the most popular Facebook scams and know how to identify and avoid them.

Phishing

Phishing on Facebook is just like other forms of internet phishing, it just takes place on Facebook. The way it works is someone creates a fictitious Facebook account that suggests they offer a service or own a business. When you express interest in the business/service, the mastermind behind the account steals a great deal of your information, including your Facebook password, and uses it for personal gain.

The best way to spot a Facebook phishing scheme is by looking at the website you are directed to. If the URL has anything other than facebook.com on it, it’s a scam and you need to exit it and clear your browsing history right away.

Counterfeit Products Promoted on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook marketplace has become a popular place for people who have cheap products to make a quick buck by promoting them as if the product was name brand or high quality. The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to study the pictures closely and read the seller’s reviews. If the product looks suspicious or there are many bad reviews, move away from that seller and look for something else to purchase.

Bogus Job Scams

Even though Facebook isn’t the first place most people look when they’re hunting for a new job, there are some legit job opportunities posted on the social media site. The problem is that there are also some surprisingly convincing bogus job scams available on Facebook.

The purpose of the bogus job scams is the same as other scams, the person behind the scam wants to extract specific information from you that they can use for their own gain. The best way to protect yourself from a bogus job scam found on Facebook is to never give away any personal information, change your password each time you message the person responsible for the job listing, and carefully research the company that allegedly posted the job.

The Scam Involving Gift Cards

The general rule of thumb is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s certainly the case with many of the gift card offers floating around Facebook. One of the reasons so many people are conned by fake gift card scams is that the person behind the scam hacks an account and makes it appear like the offer is coming from a loved one. And the wording is both persuasive and authentic.

The scam is twofold. Since you’re asked to click a link and provide information about yourself, the person behind the scam collects information from you that they can use to help steal your identity. They also ask you to share the post, making it possible for them to connect with your Facebook friends so they can run the gift card scam on other people.

The best way to avoid getting drawn in by a Facebook scam is to limit your social media actions to dealing with people you know well and always confirm their identity before clicking on any links or secondary accounts.

Learning How to Be Aware of Your Surroundings

In this day and age, you can’t afford to not be aware of your surroundings. It doesn’t matter if you’re strolling around the block near your home or walking across a busy parking lot after getting groceries, you must be aware of your surroundings.

The world has become a dangerous place. Not only do you have to worry about muggers and careless people, but horror stories about people being snatched from relatively busy places and becoming a part of human trafficking are also becoming increasingly common. Things go wrong so fast that all it takes is one moment of inattention for you to get into trouble.

Yes, many of these crimes are completely random incidents but that doesn’t mean that victims were picked at random. What often happens is that the person who commits the crime notices someone who simply isn’t paying attention to their surroundings. The person’s lack of attention makes them the perfect victim.

What does this mean to you? It means that the better you get at recognizing your surroundings, the less likely you’ll be victimized.

Eliminate Distractions

A distracted person is far more likely to attract trouble than someone who is paying attention. And do you know what the number one distraction is? Your cell phone. Instead of scrolling through social media or answering your emails keep your phone tucked into your pocket until you are safely indoors or locked in your car.

Conversely, if you do sense trouble. It’s not a bad idea to be talking on your phone. In a loud voice, let the person you’re speaking to know what is happening, your exact location, and a description of the person who has triggered your concern. Simply hearing you provide this information is enough to make a potential assailant dismiss you as a victim.

Be Alert

When you’re walking by yourself, be alert. Keep your head up and your eyes moving. Make sure you’re looking all around you. Keep your head on a swivel. This alertness not only makes you unattractive to an assailant but also gives you time to prepare if you do see someone approaching you.

Have an Escape Route in Mind

It doesn’t matter if you’re simply out for a stroll or in a parking lot, don’t let yourself be boxed in anywhere. Always pay attention to your surroundings and know how you would get away if someone suddenly started approaching you in a sinister manner.

Be Prepared to Get Help

There is nothing wrong or shameful about going into a store and asking someone to walk you to your car. This is a far better plan than trying to be brave and potentially getting hurt.

Learning how to pay attention and to always be aware of your surroundings takes time and practice. The good news is that once you force yourself to become more aware of your surroundings and the potential dangers, it will quickly become a habit. A habit that will go a long way towards keeping you safe.