Here Are Some Tips to Avoid Telephone Fraud

Fraudulent schemes range from peddling water purifiers, vitamins, and make-up kits to stock investments and abusive “900” numbers. According to the Alliance Against Fraud in Telemarketing (AAFT), Americans lose an estimated $40 billion each year to telemarketing fraud. Con artists and swindlers use the telephone more and more as their “weapon” to hold up victims.

If a sales pitch sounds too good to be true, just hang up. If you don’t, you may become the next victim of telephone fraud.

Top Phone Scams

While some of the following products and services can be and are legitimately sold by reputable telemarketers, the Division of Consumer Protection has identified seven areas where fraud can occur and does the most damage to the consumer’s wallet:

Free Prize Offers: If you receive a phone call that you have won a free prize, be cautious! Usually there are conditions to securing those offers such as substantial handling fees, shipping charges, membership fees and/or the purchase of other merchandise.
Ask the telephone solicitor what the prize is worth. It may be of little value, and it may not be worth the money you will have to spend to receive it. A “contest” or an offer of a “free” prize or gift is only a sales tactic. No one is in business to give things away. Look for strings attached. Telemarketers must be registered with the Division of Consumer Protection. Call the Division to verify current registration.

Charitable Solicitations: Telephone solicitation is one method used by charitable organizations to raise funds from generous consumers. Unfortunately, fraudulent charitable operators may call you, too. State law requires charities to inform donors if they are registered with the state, what the permit number is and what percentage of your donation will actually go to the charity. Call the Division of Consumer Protection to verify the information they give you.

When you make a donation, it is a good idea to pay by check and make the check out to the organization, not the person collecting the donation. Be cautious of organizations that pressure you to pledge money on the spot or tell you they will send a representative immediately to your home to pick up your donation. A legitimate charity will gladly accept your donation today, tomorrow, or a month from now.

Travel Offers: It can be quite tempting to purchase a bargain-priced travel package over the telephone, but be careful. Many of these scams operate by enticing people to join “vacation clubs” or offering consumers “free trips.” Often the vacation club or free trip has many hidden costs or conditions attached. Your bargain or free trip could end up costing you a lot of money.
Investment Fraud: Many unsound investment opportunities are peddled over the telephone. Fraudulent sales pitches usually involve such statements as “you must act now,” “there is no risk” or “this must be kept a secret.” Promoters will often try to make you feel guilty or silly for asking questions or exhibiting doubt. Stop and think before you quickly turn your money over to an investment promoter calling on the phone. Ask for written information. And, if you are receiving undue or uncomfortable pressure, or if other “warning flags” arise during the conversation, hang up.

“900” Numbers: When you call a “900” number, you are charged either a fee for the number of minutes you are on the phone or a flat fee for the entire call. These fees can add up rather quickly after you have spent more than a few minutes on the telephone.

Some services will keep you on the line for an extended length of time before you get all of the information you called for, making it a very expensive phone call. Find out the costs of the call before you make it, and never call any “900” numbers that doesn’t disclose the costs up front.

Recently, unscrupulous telemarketers began transferring calls made to toll-free “800” numbers over to “900” numbers. This improper practice makes it more important today then ever before to know who you are calling. You should also listen carefully to any recorded information at the beginning of the call.

Advance-Fee Loan Scams: These scams often target people who are out of work or have poor credit ratings. Con artists promise “guaranteed” loans, no matter what your credit rating is, in exchange for an up-front processing or application fee. You may wait weeks or months to find out credit has been denied and the processing fee is not, as promised, refunded. Or, you may never hear from the company again, and may even find the company is withdrawing from your credit card or checking accounts using information you disclosed over the phone.

Credit Repair Schemes: If you are having a problem getting credit, you may be tempted to listen to telephone solicitors who advertise quick and easy solutions to credit problems. Unfortunately, in many cases, these companies take your money and do little or nothing to improve your credit history. Credit repair companies cannot remove bad credit information from your files. If there are genuine mistakes on your credit file, you can remove them yourself–for free. Credit repair companies must be registered with the Division of Consumer Protection. Call the Division to verify their registration.

First Line of Defense

Your best defense is yourself. Follow some basic rules, and arm yourself with the tools to safeguard your hard-earned money from telephone con artists.

Introduction to Nursing Theory

One of the most important required classes that you will take in nursing school is Introduction to Nursing Theory. Nursing Theory has a fairly broad definition, encompassing many different schools of thought on what nursing should be or how it should be practiced. The study of Nursing Theory includes learning about the numerous models of nursing that have been proposed, many of them in the last twenty years or so. Understanding the various models of nursing can help nursing students formulate their own theories and develop their own models and beliefs about their profession.

An introduction course in Nursing Theory will expose you to the various models of nursing that have been proposed and followed in hospitals throughout the country, and provide a frame of reference for your own beliefs and methods of nursing. You will learn about the major nursing theorists of the 20th century and since, and how to formulate your own models of nursing in order to be a more effective caregiver and medical assistant.

The Parts of a Nursing Model

All nursing theories or models have several essential parts. In order to be considered a valid nursing theory, a model must include a method of assessment to determine a patient’s individual needs, and a method of implementing and measuring appropriate patient care. Most nursing models can be used to produce a care plan that will document a patient’s treatment by all the healthcare professionals and workers who come into contact with him or her. The care plan should be flexible, so that it can be changed and evaluated daily as the patient’s needs and abilities change.

The care plans themselves will be shaped by the theories behind the nursing model. Care plans fall roughly into five categories: metatheories, grand theories, mid-range theories, min-theories and micro theories, in order from the range of factors considered.

A Brief History of Nursing Theories

Originally, the role of the nurse was to carry out the orders of a physician. Nursing theories that arose from this model of patient care were essentially biomedical and focused on treating diseases rather than patients. These theories allowed little variation in care based on a patient’s individual needs and abilities. The biomedical theories of nursing assume that all patients with the same illness have the same problems and require the same care. These theories do not take into account differences in patient knowledge and abilities due to socioeconomic, psychological or cultural differences.

Social models of nursing, by contrast, consider the patient from varying degrees of holistic viewpoints. They take into account differences among patients due to culture, economic and social status and other factors. One of the first nursing theorists, though her work is only considered a body of nursing theory” in retrospect, was Florence Nightingale, who published her thoughts on nursing during the Crimean War in, Notes on Nursing: What it Is and What it Is Not, in 1859.

Nightingale’s beliefs about nursing have influenced the shape of the profession for well over 150 years. She was the first to view the nurse as more than a servant carrying out the orders of a physician, but rather as a caregiver in her own right, who could manipulate the environment and situation to influence the patient’s well-being. Since then, there have been many models of nursing proposed and accepted by various communities and types of nursing. The most familiar names in nursing theory include Madeleine Leininger, who brought concerns of recognizing cultural needs into nursing care, and Hildegard Peplau, who introduced the idea of nursing roles and the nurse-client relationship as major influences in quality of nursing care.

Using Nursing Theory in the Real World

As a student nurse, you will be expected to learn about and be able to describe various bodies of work and knowledge about nursing and nursing theories. Some programs may require you to develop and articulate your own nursing theory to help you formulate nursing care and nursing plans, and differentiate yourself as a nursing professional. In the real world, however, you will often find that different fields of nursing subscribe to specific theories of nursing.

While there is a great deal of semantic debate about whether the abundance of “nursing theory” is beneficial to the profession or splits it needlessly, there is no doubt that the study of nursing theory can help you understand nursing as a profession from multiple viewpoints, and can afford you the capability to begin to formulate your own concept of what it means to be a nurse, and how your actions fit into a full plan to best care for your patients.

Five Considerations for Point of Sale Hardware and Software

Whether you own an apparel boutique, gift shop, sporting goods store, or any other consumer merchandise outlet, deciding upon a point of sale (POS) system implementation can become a crucial factor that affects whether you store succeeds or fails. Here are five elements to consider before you buy:

1. Getting the Right Implementation Team

Out-of-the-box solutions may work for some enterprises, but most will benefit from a professional analysis and implementation. Companies that are experienced in, for example, Microsoft point of sale implementations can help guide you toward selecting the right hardware, as well as installing the underlying network and customizing the software.

2. Choosing the Software that Fits Your Needs

If you own a boutique, your software needs are different from those of a restaurant owner. Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (also known as Microsoft RMS or Microsoft Dynamics-RMS), for example, is tailored to small- to medium-sized retailers. It can automate inventory, automate purchasing management, and streamline transaction processing, while being scalable to meet your needs as your business grows.

3. Minimizing Disruptions

Implementing new hardware and software necessitates a certain level of disruption, but you should choose a solution that is specifically designed for easy implementation and adoption. In other words, your store should stay open for business and your employees should be able to quickly learn the system. Microsoft POS solutions, for example, utilize build-in wizards and intuitive user interfaces to make learning the system quick and painless.

4. Integrating with Other Software Solutions

Even if the software you select streamlines POS transactions, unless it’s integrated with your other systems you won’t get the most out of your investment. Ideally, your point of sale software should connect to your business information and processes and be able to communicate with, for example, Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel.

5. Enhancing Marketing Efforts

The best point of sale software can become an important component of your marketing toolkit. Thanks to tracking features, POS software can enable you to launch highly targeted marketing to select customers, such as those who have purchased certain items in the past or those who have indicated a preference for certain merchandise. In addition, it should allow you to set up promotions and discounts, as well as suggest up-sells at the register so your employees can talk about the products to your customers.

Keep in mind that, when you select a point of sale software solution, you should be able to get all of the features you need. For example, you may want to quickly add new items to your database, or enable a matrix that allows you to differentiate between similar items (such as the same dress style) by attribute (such as size and color). Likewise, you may wish to print out customized labels for your price tags. Perhaps you need software that will work for multiple stores, or maybe customized reporting and metrics are critical to your business. The bottom line is that, with the right implementation team, point of sale software and hardware can catapult your retail business to the heights of growth and success.

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