Showing posts with label Scams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scams. Show all posts

Find a Credit Union for Best and Free Checking and Saving Accounts

Credit unions and certain other financial institutions are ten times better than national banks and credit card companies. Pay fewer, lesser, and no fees.


People often ask,
  • What is the best bank in a given location?
  • What is the best bank for a specific kind of customer?
Rephrasing the question to "What is the best financial institution?" is the way to find what's best.

It is positively amazing how many people put up with all the fees many banks and other financial institutions attach to their savings, checking, and credit card accounts. Those banks and financial institutions will keep on doing this as long as the consumer keeps letting them get away with it. There is no excuse for the consumer to tolerate these kinds of bank fees when there are so many better alternatives available.

Avoid National Banks and National Credit Card Companies

National and local credit unions and local banks are the way to go.

The average consumer should never do business with a national bank or national credit card company. Check out your locally owned banks; even better, check out your local or national credit unions. National debit card companies might be OK: read the fine print.


Customers who have followed the above principles:

  • Have not paid any monthly account fees in decades.
  • Have not paid any check fees in decades.
  • Have not paid any credit or debit card transaction fees in decades.
  • Have always been paid higher interest on their savings.
  • Have always paid lower interest on their loans.
  • Have always experienced the bliss of fewer and lesser fees all-around.

What Exactly Is a Credit Union?

A credit union in the United States is technically a co-op arrangement among members. Those members with money make deposits. Those members who need money take out loans.

The spread between the interest paid to members with savings and the interest collected from members with loans is supposed to be no larger than what will cover the co-op’s expenses.

The covered expenses also enable both savers and borrowers to have free checking accounts, no-annual-fee debit and credit cards, and many other free or lesser fee services. Many countries have these same co-op type institutions; they are just known by different names.

About Credit Union Membership

With banks, you are a customer. With credit unions, you are a member.

It used to be difficult to become a member of a credit union. The usual requirement being you were working for a specific employer. In fact, many times the credit union was actually named after the employer. Many of these credit unions are still in existence today.

Membership requirements these days are much more open. Every credit union has unique criteria.

 Credit unions did not come up with the idea of membership requirements. Federal regulations require members of credit unions to have something in common, usually being the mutual employer scenario.

However, other criteria can now be used; just being a member of a certain profession is a good example.

What opened the floodgates is the now current use of geographical location as to what determines eligibility. In other words, are you and the credit union in the same county? If so, congratulations; you are a member. The credit union website will clearly spell out the eligibility requirements to become a member.

f you do not qualify, it is neither their fault nor yours; federal regulations are federal regulations. The good news is your chances of success are fairly high. Worst case scenario is you merely proceed to your local bank instead.

Internet-based financial institutions are also worth checking out, but be very careful and check their reputations and fee schedules with a fine-toothed comb.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.


About Your Local Banks and Credit Unions: The Good

Here is the normal fee structure at your good, locally owned banks and credit unions:

  • There are no membership fees. 
  • There are no annual or monthly credit card fees.
  • There are no annual or monthly debit card fees.
  • Savings accounts have no monthly or other fees. A minimum balance requirement of a couple hundred bucks or less is acceptable.
  • Checking accounts have no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. The requirement you have a savings or similar account with a reasonable minimum balance to qualify for the free checking account is an acceptable option. Using the direct deposit option to qualify for a free checking account is not always a good idea; getting slammed with a bunch of fees when you lose your job is not the way to go. On the other hand, qualifying based on direct deposit of your Social Security retirement check certainly isn't much of a risk.
  • No debit card point-of-sale fees of any kind.
  • No credit card point-of-sale fees of any kind.
  • Very minimal or no ATM fees on debit card transactions.
  • All other fees are less than what you are paying at your current financial institution.

About Your Local Banks: The Bad

It should be noted some local banks can be even more obnoxious than your national banks. Local banks are just like any other locally owned business. Employee attitude will directly reflect the personality and attitude of the owner(s) of the bank.

Fortunately, the bank’s fee structure is very often a clear indication of the bank’s attitude towards the general public. Ridiculous and excessive fees? Go elsewhere.

About Your Local Credit Unions: The Ugly

Credit unions are well-known for being the better deal. As such, there are bankers-to-be who come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the better reputation credit unions have.

The methodology to do this is not difficult. The banker-to-be simply opens his business via and under the credit union regulations and rules. Then, as far as interest rates and fee structuring goes, they run it like a bank. There is a credit union in San Francisco that is positively famous for this. So just because an institution calls itself a credit union doesn't mean you are home free. Do check out their fee schedule and interest rates relative to other institutions.

The Search

Needless to say, your location will vary.


How to Find Your Local Banks and Credit Unions

Finding them is not hard to do. The usual Yellow Pages perusal and/or an internet search will turn them right up. And it should be noted there are excellent national credit unions as well.

As to finding the good ones, you will need to check their website. Find their fee schedule and you will usually know what you need to know. If they do not have a fee schedule online, then that is a possible red flag. If your choices are limited, then you may have to make a personal visit to the financial institution and check out their brochures in the lobby.

Those financial institutions having the "glass cage" setup you must navigate to enter and exit the premises should be avoided like the plague. For some reason, there seems to be a strong correlation between "glass cage" usage and the treatment of customers as peasants in general.

You can also find a local credit union, plus all sorts of other worthy credit union information, at the federally run Nation Credit Union Administration (NCUA) website.

You can find all sorts of interesting information about your local banks at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website. They even maintain a public list of failed banks.

Next is the opening of an account. A driver’s license, Social Security card, and a pleasant attitude are all that should be required. If the bank or credit union employee, or the procedures in general, are unusually obstructive; then forget it and move on. If they require you have an account with them for at least six months before allowing you to apply for a debit card, then you definitely want nothing to do with them.


Worthy Internet Institutions

There are worthy internet-based institutions out there. Just thoroughly check their fee schedule; particularly as relates to their savings and checking accounts, and their credit and debit cards. Also, plug their name and the word "scam" into your search engine and see what pops up. If there are pages of complaints, it would probably be wise to avoid that particular institution.


Only consider doing business with credit unions authorized to display this logo:

NCUA (has all sorts of worthy information)


Only consider doing business with local banks and internet-based financial institutions authorized to display this logo (or other equivalent government signage)


Mental Calculation of Sales Tax to Stop Being Overcharged

Have you been overcharged on sales tax? Here is a way on how to mentally calculate sales taxes on the spot and stop being cheated, catch errors, and prevent fraud attempts.


Business or Store Overcharging on Sales Tax?

When it comes to sales taxes, fraud is not that rare of an occurrence. Many times, smaller stores do deliberately overcharge sales tax. In fact, I’ve seen news stories that even the larger, national chain stores have been caught overcharging sales taxes. And employees in all stores have also been known to make price and thus sales tax mistakes as well.

Mentally calculating sales tax to prevent being overcharged is easy. It all has to do with rounding, no degree in rocket surgery required. You are simply doing a quick approximation to prevent yourself from being a victim of sales tax fraud or simply to prevent being mistakenly overcharged.

[Be forewarned, this page is US-centric. Canada and most European countries have sales or a value added tax (VAT) far exceeding 10%. However, if the VAT tax is close to another round number, one can still make this method work.]

Here are the four main premises of this page:
  • Most sales taxes never exceed 10 percent, but most sales taxes are reasonably close to 10 percent.
  • Most thieves are greedy and will thus exceed the 10 percent amount.
  • Even my dog can mentally calculate 10% of something.
  • Even my dog can mentally add 10% of something to something.

You do not need any of these...

How to Mentally Calculate Sales Tax – Some Examples

The best way for this tutorial to demonstrate mentally calculating sales taxes is by giving lots of examples. In reality, you already know how to do this. You just don't know you know yet. So let's begin. You walk up to the counter and engage in a purchase which sells for...

$49.99
  1. You round the price to $50.
  2. You calculate the 10% as $5.
  3. You add the $50 plus $5 to get $55.
  4. If the counter person wants more than $55, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.

Other Examples...


$29.99
  1. You round it to $30.
  2. 10% is $3.
  3. Total is $33.
  4. If the final price is over $33, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.
$5.99
  1. Round to $6.
  2. 10% is $.60.
  3. Total is $6.60.
  4. Anything over $6.60, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.
$79.98
  1. $80.
  2. $8.
  3. $88.
  4. Over $88, cheated.
It should be noted that honest mistakes do happen. You will find out soon enough if the overcharge was deliberate or accidental.

Is It Sales Tax Fraud?


What to Do When the Person at the Counter is Overcharging You on the Sales Tax

This depends on your mood, time constraints, the amount of money involved, the store and neighborhood, etc. Below are some typical scenarios and what one can do in each situation; followed by what you can also do after the fact.

You Don't Care About the Amount Involved

  1. Say nothing.
  2. Pay it.
  3. Say nothing. Or say the routine "Thanks."
  4. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  5. Leave.
  6. Once outside, note the date and time.
  7. Never go back.
  8. Maybe tell everyone you know.

You Do Care About the Amount Involved (Option One)

  1. Don't pay it.
  2. Say nothing.
  3. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  4. Leave. Be advised however, the counter person (probably the owner) will immediately know that you know he was trying to cheat you. And you took one of his cards... And sales tax fraud is a very serious offense...
  5. Once outside, note the date and time.
  6. Never go back.
  7. Maybe tell everyone you know.

You Do Care About the Amount Involved (Option Two)

  • Politely point out the total is incorrect and explain why you think so.

  • If the counter person reviews and corrects the error...
  1. Pay it.
  2. Call it a day.
  3. Maybe or maybe not give the place another chance in the future.
  • If the counter person denies, disputes, or otherwise argues with your statement...
  1. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  2. Leave.
  3. Once outside, note the date and time.
  4. Never go back.
  5. Tell everyone you know.

Reward for Reporting Sales Tax Fraud?


How to Report Stores and Other Businesses Who Overcharge Sales Taxes

Not only are you doing a good deed for society, you might even make some money in the process.
  1. Find your state's website dealing with all things sales tax.
  2. Find where to report what you experienced. As an example, in California the California State Board of Equalization would be where to go. California does not pay a reward the last time I checked. However, reporting the fraud is still a good idea; wouldn't you like the thief (employee or owner) removed, so you can have an honest, local place to shop? Reports can be made anonymously and will still be investigated.
  3. For other states, determine if you might get a reward. Tell them your experience in detail, including date and time. Give them all the information on the business card. If you don't have the store's business card, that is ok; just be sure the store name and address you are reporting is correct. And don't worry; they're not going to just take your word for it. They will probably send the equivalent of a few "mystery shoppers" to the store to confirm. When they have absolutely verified and proven it is not an isolated incident; only then will the hammer fall on the deserving thief.
More than likely the store location is leased. With any luck, the thieving employee or owner will soon be gone; hopefully replaced with a new, honest employee or business.

Help with Medical Bills for Seniors and Disabled from Federal and State Websites

These websites will actually help you when a medical entity victimizes you with inflated or outright fraudulent medical bills and/or denied insurance claims.

This includes hospitals, general doctors, specialists, X-ray places, CT scan or PET scan centers, blood test places, and pretty much any other medical facility or entity that engages in illegal or unethical conduct. Emphasis is on illegal, unethical contracts and on illegal, unethical billing practices. Also includes resources regarding insurance company misconduct or for when a Medicare, Medicaid, or Medi-Cal case worker makes a mistake or acts in bad faith. Sooner or later, you will need the information on this page.

Medical Federal and California (and other) State Government Websites That Will Help You When an Insurance Company or Service Provider Victimizes You – Also Some Worthwhile Additional Information


Patients Rights and Financial Help Resource List

A list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. Many provide complaint forms and will actually help you. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable resources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights page and/or patients help page. Needless to say, all are free.
  • MedlinePlus, from the U.S. Library of National Medicine.
  • HealthCare.gov, your rights under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicare.gov, your Medicare rights.
  • The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. , a resource for filing complaints, grievances, appeals, etc.; in other words, a place to rat out medical service providers. The page also promises to provide information, help, assistance, and other services. The page is apparently also the starting point for when you need to deal with Medicare's own shenanigans.
  • CMS.gov, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The particular link I provided has to do with Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight. The page may not especially look it, but these guys are your friend. Sometimes, out of the blue and without any action on your part, they will send you notices a particular medical bill from a medical service provider or insurance entity is not valid and that you don't have to pay it. This website is definitely worth prowling around when you have the time.
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA), another go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • CDSS is another California site that my be able to help you, especially as applies to local office Medi-Cal screw-ups.
  • Google. For folks not in California looking for their state websites, simply do a search for:
    "YourStateNameHere patients rights help site:.gov" (without the quotes and be sure to include the exact "site:.gov" syntax).
If a link suddenly stops working, it means the website moved that particular page. Let me know in the comments section and I'll find and post the new location.

Some Tips for When Dealing with the Medical Bureaucracy

  • The Medicare 1-800-633-4227 number is open 24/7. They have always been friendly, professional, and helpful.
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time. Whenever possible make sure the medical treatment specifications match what the Medicare white book says. This is mostly applicable to preventive services. Not kidding here, make sure the doctor's instructions exactly match what the white book specifies. I've personally saved myself one financial disaster already by doing this.
  • Never walk into a medical service provider's diagnostic center without the proper Medicare COPD 5-digit code included on the referral paperwork. 
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time (did I mention that already?). Always call the Medicare number first and verify the accuracy of the Medicare code on the paperwork before going to the specialist's or medical service provider's office. Confirm with Medicare that the Medicare code number is valid for your circumstances and procedure(s) and that Medicare will approve and pay for the procedure.
  • When referred to a specialist, sometimes a COPD code isn't provided; the specialist adds the code after the fact. Your only defense against this is having diagnostic information showing the necessity of the visit to the specialist, e.g., CAT scan shows potential malignancies in lungs, thus being referred to a pulmonologist makes medical sense. If the specialists uses the wrong code(s) after the fact and the claim is denied, don't just give up. Work with Medicare and the specialist to get the mistake straightened out and resubmit the claim.
  • The referring doctor does not not always know if the referred specialist or medical service provider takes Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. When you walk into that referred specialist's office or medical service center for the first time and have identified yourself, always ask first:
  1. Does Medicare accept you and do you accept Medicare as full payment, secondary insurance covering remaining balance?
  2. Does Medicaid//Medi-Cal/Etc. accept you and do you accept Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. or whatever other supporting insurance applicable in your situation as full payment?
If any part of their answer is no, leave immediately. As a Medicare beneficiary, you have the right to go to any Medicare specialist or service provider center you wish. Tell your primary, referring doctor what happened and they'll take care of it.

An important note. If a medical entity financially victimizes you or is trying to victimize you happens to be a referral from your doctor, first check with Medicare via their website and/or phone calls and find out exactly what is going on. If that doesn't clarify or fix the situation, then tell your doctor's office all about it. They might be able to fix the problem with just one phone call to the offending medical entity; not so surprisingly, your doctor's office will often be quite successful at this.

A personal note. That medical contract you are always forced to sign is basically a blank check allowing the medical entity to do whatever they want. You've given them the right to do anything and everything their hearts desire and then to bill you for whatever insurance doesn't cover. For that reason, I always print directly above my signature the following in caps:

"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY"

If the medical service provider then refuses you as a patient, immediately inform your primary physician that referred you. If that doesn't solve the problem, i.e., your doctor being able to find a different service provider in the area; I'd personally let Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and any other involved insurance/government entity know all about it. I would think they would all want to know about a medical service provider that turns away patients simply because that patient only wants those services that are covered by insurance. Who knows? They might even be able to help you.

An update (Medical Hack(?)). Someone sent me this. I do not know if it is true or not. It sure would be interesting to find out:


I'm continuing to look for other government medical websites that help patients when it comes to money issues. If you happen to know of one, please mention it in comments. I'll be happy to include it on the list. Federal sites are preferred, but sites specific to your state are also welcome.

Beware and Dealing With Medical Contracts

Medical Service Provider Corruption - Patients Forced to Sign SWAG Medical Contracts Under Duress

[This page was originally entitled "Medical Imaging and Diagnostic Centers Saying Medicare Part B Reneges on Paying for Preventative Services" and was about a local incident. The page has since been expanded to include other local incidents and as they relate to the national issue. Bottom of the page has a list of government bookmarks for helping patients deal with unethical medical conduct. There is also a phrase I add whenever signing a medical contract.



October 13, 2016 (first local incident)

Per doctor's written instructions, I went to an imaging/diagnostic center (name temporarily redacted) for chest/lung X-rays. I had been to this place before a couple years ago and there hadn't been any problems.

As with most medical service providers, I was first directed to the Hallowed Contract Signing Room. And there is where everything fell apart...

They placed a second contract in front of me that basically said (paraphrasing):
  • We will take the X-rays.
  • We will bill Medicare.
  • Medicare will then decide if the X-rays were medically necessary or not.
  • If Medicare unilaterally decides the X-rays were not necessary and refuses to pay, then you must pay instead.
  • If you refuse to sign this contract, we will refuse to do the X-rays your doctor ordered.
The reason they did this was because they realized the doctor had filled out the requisition incorrectly regarding Medicare reimbursement. Instead of informing me of this so that the error could be corrected, and thus having a loyal patient and referring doctor for life, they tried to make me financially  responsible for the clerical mistake.

As a side note, I asked for a copy of the contract to show the doctor as to why I didn't get the X-rays and the imaging/diagnostic center flatly refused.

October 27, 2016 (second local incident)

Per doctor's written instructions, I went to a local blood lab (name temporarily redacted) this morning. While in the back room, they came in with a contract saying certain medical codes were missing and I would have to agree to pay for what Medicare wouldn't pay because of the missing codes. I declined, at which point they said they would contact the referring doctor's office and get the codes.

They then came back and said they had got the codes and proceeded to take my blood. I never had to sign anything and all appeared well.

When I got home, it occurred to me to call the doc's office to see if the blood lab really did call them and get the codes.The Doc's Office Said They Never Received Any Such Call. They further said they would look into and deal with it, and that I would not be responsible for any bills.

I'll wait to see how this sorts out before acting further. I never signed or agreed to anything. So if I do receive any sort of bill, I will perceive it as attempted fraud on the part of the blood lab and will indeed name names, unlike my still withholding the name of the imaging/diagnostic center.

When I first reported about this second incident, I received input from others stating such things as...
  • They have been nothing but trouble for people with Medicare or PPO health insurance.
  • Credit card numbers demanded in advance before agreeing to do blood work.
  • Collection agencies being used on unwarranted/disputed bills.
This incident is considerably worse than the first incident, in fact it makes the first incident pale by comparison. I'm waiting to see how my situation turns out before acting accordingly.

November 15, 2016 update: still no bill received.

Early November, 2016 (third local incident)

Per doc's referral, I went to an eye doctor place (name temporarily redacted) and made an appointment. After making the appointment, I then perused their frames selection. The prices were literally double to triple the prices that can be found elsewhere, presumably the lens prices would be equally exorbitant.

The place was packed with patients/customers, noticing that caused me conflicted emotions...
  • On the one hand, I am pro capitalism. If a business entity discovers an unending supply of customers who voluntarily pay double to triple the going rate for a product or service, then you really can't fault the business entity for taking advantage of that.
  • On the other hand, pretty much all the patients/customers there were extremely old people who just plain no longer apparently had the mental faculties to know any better or the ability to realize what was going on. I'm not an attorney, but this could easily be perceived as a case for elder abuse. Most insurance does not pay for frames and lenses, only for the exams.
At any rate, I mulled things over and cancelled my appointment. I may or may not work up the energy to look into this particular situation further.

The National Problem

[This page started out being about the actions of a single medical service provider. However it has now become about the national issue of medical service providers denying patients medical care unless the patient agrees to sign what are known as SWAG CONTRACTS.]

Continuation and Update

I called the doctor's office. Yep, apparently most imaging/diagnostics centers are now pulling this stunt.

A patient being held responsible for a bill, because they falsely claimed they were insured, is indeed as it should be. However, a service provider attempting to force a patient to be held responsible for an insurer's breach of contract, bureaucracy, bad faith conduct, mistakes, or even just a misunderstanding is not.

The contract is between the service provider and the insurer, it is their responsibilities to understand and agree to the terms. Any attempt by a medical service provider to make a patient responsible for an insurer's actions is, to me, an essentially bad faith action on the part of the provider. Basically, the medical service provider is extorting the patient to insure the provider against the actions of the insurer, the threat being the withholding of needed medical care if the patient refuses to do so. In other words, patients are being forced to sign under duress.

Proposed Solution


Is it any wonder most countries think America has the most corrupt Medical Establishment on the planet? Our government keeps trying to fight it. But the greed and corruption is so entrenched, ingrained, embedded, and widespread (there are media reports almost daily on the subject) that nationalization of the medical industry may indeed be the only answer.

There would still be private sector medical professionals, but the government would be the single insurer and the only legally responsible payer. And it would be illegal for any private sector medical entity to try to coerce a patient into signing any sort of contract. Proof and authentication of identity would be all that is required, pre-authorization for medical procedures implemented on an as needed basis. Premiums would be based on income. Service providers (including hospitals) would no longer have to worry about being paid. Patients would no longer have to worry about being thrown into financial hardship or outright bankruptcy.

Meanwhile and for the time being, if a service provider hands you a contract such as the one I described in the above bulleted list.... Inform them that if they are unwilling to trust the insurer, then neither are you. You will no doubt immediately be thrown out, but at least you wont be a patsy.

You might try suggesting the service provider get pre-authorization from the insurer. However and for some unknown reason, there are apparently some medical service providers who refuse to make the 3-minute phone call, the initially mentioned imaging and diagnostic center being one such case.

On a personal note, I am aware versions of this situation have been going on for decades. I have always circumvented the problem by simply adding the following sentence directly above my signature in caps:"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY". I am not an attorney, but it seems to work. The service provider then gets everything pre-authorized and there has never been a problem.

This Has to Stop

A Bookmarks Reference List of Patients Bill of Rights Resources

I figured while I was at it, I might as well compile a list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable sources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights and assistance pages. I might add to this list from time to time.

Year 2019 Update:

List moved to Government Help for When Subjected to Medical Misconduct Victimization. Particularly relates to financial and billing misconduct.

NZT Substitute and About Brain Food

Is NZT Real? No, It Is Not.

I discovered a series on Netflix called Limitless awhile back, an excellent show by-the-way. A major part of the plot is a memory-enhancing, mind- expanding, fictional drug called NZT-48.

[Side Note. There actually are some real brain and anti brain natural foods. They are listed towards the end of the page. Meanwhile, onto the NZT...]


NZT Is Not Real

Along about episode five or six of the show, it occurred to me on a whim to do an internet search for NZT. I was nonplussed to discover there were both ads and websites purporting to sell this imaginary drug or a substitute. The prices that I noticed ranged from $50 to over $100. I shall not comment about those ads or websites.

It then occurred to me to do a search for any real OTC drugs that can enhance memory and boost brain function.

How to Make Your Own "NZT" at Home

It appears the only widely recognized, memory enhancing, brain-boosting, OTC "drug" out there is the well-known herb, ginkgo biloba. Valerian is a well-known herb that reduces stress. The St. John's Wort herb has been scientifically proven to increase the brain's serotonin levels; serotonin is the well-known brain chemical that enhances one's sense-of-well-being.

Quite frankly, it has been my experience that taking these herbs in their original capsule form has no effect whatsoever. I suspect this is because 90% of it passes through the digestive system undigested. Tea form, however, is an entirely different matter. Like many beverages, it passes directly from the stomach to the bloodstream. In this form, the effects can increase 10-fold.

3-Herb Synergistic Tea Recipe "NZT" Concoction

  • 2 capsules ginkgo biloba
  • 1 capsule valerian
  • 1 capsule St John's Wort
Note the milligram content of the respective capsules. You are striving for a 50%:25%:25% mixture ratio. Over time, you may decide to formulate your own ratios. Be forewarned. The herbal supplements industry appears to be completely unregulated. Buy only reputable brands from reputable stores.

If needed, this particular herb article explains exactly how to turn the capsules into tea, i.e., taking apart the capsules, microwave times, etc. A reminder that tea eventually stains teeth.

Do not drink more than one cup of this tea per day. If you drink more, your digestive tract will probably issue a rather unpleasant complaint. For that matter, even the first-time, single cup might elicit a sit-down as well.

Will it do what NZT does? Of course not, but it is better than nothing. Besides, without the imaginary enzyme to protect you against the imaginary NZT, the imaginary side-effects would eventually kill you anyway.

This 3-herb, tea concoction will temporarily impair your ability to drive, operate machinery, climb a ladder, or even safely use a pair of scissors, etc. So don't do any of those things or anything similar for awhile. The valerian component could very well induce a pleasant, afternoon nap. The ginkgo biloba and St. John's Wort components won't begin to have the sought-for effects until maybe a week's worth of daily tea consumption. However, the possibly disorienting side-effects occur almost immediately along with the valerian sedative effect.

 Effects are much more pronounced on an empty stomach.

A Necessary Medical Warning as to the St. John's Wort Component

As noted in the above referenced herb article relating to converting capsules into tea, St. John's Wort is the real deal when it comes to alleviating anxiety and depression. The effects are significant enough and pronounced enough that many websites advise when St. John's Wort is mixed with certain other medications, there is the possibility they may not interact well; this includes certain prescription drugs. If you are taking St. John's Wort in any form, let the doctor and pharmacist know. And read the warnings and cautions on the St. John's Wort container. And check the documentation included with any prescriptions you are taking to see if St. John's Wort is mentioned. Actually, it's a good idea to tell your doctor about all herbs and supplements you may be taking, even plain old multivitamins.


And while we are at it, here is a relevant article from the National Institute of Health about brain foods and anti-brain foods.

Brain Foods

  • Fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids
  • Spinach, nuts, and other foods rich in vitamin E
  • Curcumin (found in the spice, turmeric)
  • Coffee and other foods/beverages containing caffeine (but not to excess)

Anti Brain Foods, i.e., What Foods to Avoid

  • Cheese, butter, whole milk, cream, regular ice cream, fatty fresh and processed meats, and any other foods high in saturated fat
  • Candy, cookies, doughnuts, cake, lemonade, sodas, punch, and any other foods or beverages high in refined sugar
As for the anti-brain foods and needless to say and like everyone else, I eat these foods anyway. It's just the way it is.

The aforementioned NIH article has additional information and is worth the read.

Credit Card Numbers Search

Do Not Do an Online Search for Your Debit or Credit Card Account Numbers

Epic Fail!

MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express ( AMEX ), etc.
This website has discovered people are doing that. I'm guessing people do so in an attempt to see if their credit or debit card numbers have been stolen and are being posted online anywhere. Unfortunately by searching online for your card number, you have just made your credit and/or debit card account number available to any website you then happen to land on; the website owner now has your card number.

What Happens When You Do a Search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Other Search Engines

Sequence
  1. You do a search for your credit or debit card account number.
  2. A list of search results comes up.
  3. You click on one or more of the results.
  4. Now here is where the problems start... The vast majority of website owners automatically track what search terms bring people to their websites; they do this for perfectly benign and legitimate search-engine-optimization-related reasons. Your card number was the search term bringing you to the website and so is nicely displayed to the website owner along with all the other more usual search terms being recorded by the site. Now if you landed on an honest website, then your account number is simply ignored. But if you landed on a dishonest website who is looking for these kind of numbers...
Be wise, do not look for your credit or debit card account numbers online.

Online credit card account number searches are a bad idea...
Online credit card account number searches are a bad idea...

Unfair Consumer Contract Terms - Just Say No

Beware Consumer Contract Fraud

- Contracts and the Law and You and the Judge -

A short, cautionary note. Unethical contracts are the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen Without a Gun).


"But, your honor!?!" I said to the judge...

Judge, “You signed a contract.”

Me, “You mean that paragraph at the bottom of the application form?”

Judge, “Yes.”

Me, “But every bank in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “What clause?”

Me, “The sentence that says I’ve read and agreed to their charter; that I’ve read and agreed to all their bylaws; that I’ve read and agreed to all their rules and regulations. All of that stuff would be a stack of paper from the floor to the ceiling; and they wouldn’t even have copies at the branch for me to read anyway.”

Judge, “I know. But anything you sign is a contract.” (He is right of course.)

Me, “But every financial institution in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “I know.”

Me, “But if we don’t sign, we can’t get a checking account, savings account, credit card account or loan anywhere!”

Judge, “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

Me, “What do I owe?”

Judge, “Well, let’s see what they made up... Yep, that’s what you owe.”


The above story is fictional, but versions of it happen in real life thousands of times every month. That is why I never do business with national banks or credit card companies. Finding a local credit union is the only way to go; they have versions of the same clause, but most of them are not thieves (see referenced article).

Needless to say, unethical consumer contracts don't just apply to national banks. In fact, there are credit card companies out there that are 10 times worse than any bank. Cable companies are another example, which is one reason why customers are leaving them in droves. Some cellphone carriers are also less than scrupulous, their contracts sometime include a clause stating you have to pay them even when they don't provide the agreed upon services. And then there is the worst of the worst, otherwise known as private sector contracts having to do with anything medical.

Rants, Warnings, Alerts About Consumer Contracts

  • You have no civil rights when you blindly give them away by signing a multi-page, fine print contract without reading it. This happens all the time. The days of trusting an entity just because they are a large corporation or an established business are long gone. This is especially applicable as to credit card companies, medical entities, financial institutions, auto repair entities, and pretty much any and all other service-related entities. Corporate greed is the rule, not the exception.
  • Read the contract. If it’s too long for you to read and understand at the time, don’t sign it. If any of the print is too small for you to read, don’t sign it. If there is anything in it you don’t like or understand, don’t sign it. If it's incomplete, don't sign it. If you don't know what you are doing, don't sign it.
  • By definition anything you sign is a contract; whether it be just a single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or a hundred page document. Whenever someone tries to get you to sign something, it is for their benefit, not yours.
  • Reading a contract will give you an education; not reading a contract will give you an “adventure”.
  • Unethical contracts and incompetent/unethical civil laws victimize more people than all legally defined criminal activity combined. It is the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen without a Gun).

Beware Contracts

About Class Action Lawsuits

A class action lawsuit can result when a significant number of consumers have been victimized. Sometimes the company made an honest mistake, a defective product for example. Many times, however, class action lawsuits can result from SWAG consumer contracts or other behavior so egregious that it can't be covered up anymore. Personally, I think some of these cases should be in criminal court as opposed to civil court. If you happen to notice a class action lawsuit you are eligible to join as a member, you might as well sign up for it. You may not get much in the way of compensation, but at least you will get something.

Legal note: I am not an attorney, but one does not have to be a thief to recognize a theft.

Side note: The thief/theft reference is in regards to contracts. Any attorney or legal firm who specializes in defending/protecting/helping consumers and patients are welcome to post links to their websites in the comments section below. Any attorney or legal firm doing consumer-related or patient-related class action lawsuits are also definitely welcome to post relevant links.

RFID Microchip Society

RFID technology. Welcome to your future. The future is now.



What Is, About, and How RFIDs Work

RFID is the acronym for Radio Frequency Identification Device. In other words, it is a small microchip that broadcasts whatever information is put in it. These devices have been around for years.

Las Vegas casinos put them in their higher denomination chips. So when you walk around the casino, show up at a blackjack table etc.; casino personnel know about those chips in your pocket.

Retail stores randomly hide small, button-sized RFID’s or their equivalent in their merchandise throughout the store. So if you pick up an item and “forget” to pay for it, when you try walking through the scanners at the front door; you are dead. A word to the wise.

As far as I’m concerned, so far so good as to the above uses for RFID’s. Nailing shoplifters is always a good thing. And as for Las Vegas, I haven't been there in decades.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to end there.Welcome to your future (actually, it's already here).

RFID microchips have arrived on credit cards, debit cards, passports and drivers licenses. In many cases, all one has to do is just wave their card at the point-of-sale (POS) machine to complete a transaction, or maybe even just stand in front of the thing.

Unfortunately, there is also a very deleterious offshoot to this technology. Namely, anyone with a scanner can just stand close to you and instantly acquire your card account number and possibly all your personal information. ID theft is entering a whole, new realm.

And if you happen to have a specific store credit card when you visit that store, the employees will instantly know everything you ever bought there, the last time you visited, your home address and telephone number, etc.

All of this is not a good thing…

How to Block RFIDs and RFID Scanners

However, there are ways to combat this vulnerability. There are already metal cases and such that you can buy online to prevent this kind of ID theft, simply place the cards in the metal envelope to prevent information access. The store thing doesn’t bother me that much, but a person standing close to me in the checkout line is an entirely different matter, or someone "accidentally” bumping into you on the street, etc.

Personally, the first one of these cards I'm forced to use, I’ll try wrapping it in aluminum foil and see if that works.

Hopefully this post will prevent an ID theft or two.

Year 2019 Update: Past, Present, and Future

As everybody knows, RFID chipping in pets has been going on for years. Mandatory RFID chipping of humans has now become a major privacy concern; so much so, that many states have actually passed laws against it.

Personally, I see the future clear as a bell here. Within 50 years or less, it will be standard practice to implant RFID chips in newborns; just as it has been standard practice for decades to fingerprint. And you will need that RFID to function in society, e.g., going to school, getting a job, medical care, driving a car, all monetary transactions, you name it.

And it will all be considered no bigger a deal than getting a passport, drivers license, credit card is now. For that matter, all forms of paper and plastic identification will be a thing of the past.

The Leaflet Scam

The Pizza and Fast Food Delivery Ad Leaflet Scam

For that matter, any phone number on a leaflet should be confirmed via a second source.
Scam Alert

Yes, the credit card thieves are still doing this. Do you live in an apartment complex or are planning on staying in a hotel, motel, or resort soon? Well, there's a not-so-new scam in town. It has to do with when you find a pizza menu or other food delivery leaflet or ad slid under your door or placed on your porch. Just where did that ad really come from?

The Front Door Menu Con

It works quite simply really.

You find a pizza menu or other fast food leaflet or ad slid under your door or on your porch.

Feeling inspired, you call and place your order, giving them the requested credit or debit card info.

Alas, the phone number on that menu did not go to a pizza place or any other fast food or restaurant business. It went to a thief and your credit line or checking account will be maxed out or emptied within the hour.

And now you are going to have to deal with your credit card company or bank and get those $5000 worth of new charges all straightened out. Even worse, in many states debit cards do not have the same consumer protections that credit cards have; you might actually be liable for the charges.

So next time you find a leaflet or other ad outside your door or on your porch, check the Yellow Pages or internet to verify the validity of the phone number first.

May all your pizza and other food order experiences be of the benign kind.

Beware the 801 Area Code Phone Number Scam

Includes information about other phone scams; it's mot just the 801 number being used. Other area codes and phone numbers are also being used as well for all sorts of telephone solicitor and phone scams. Updated through 2019. These days, it is unwise to call back any unknown number, page explains all. As an example, everyone knows that the 900 number charges exorbitant fees if you call that code. Turns out that other numbers or codes that look like regular area codes will also do the same thing to you.

Is 801 a toll free number? No, it is not.
Area Code 801 Scams

Everyone knows the 800 number is a toll free call (there is a list of other legitimate toll free codes further down the page).

There are media reports companies are using the 801 number in place of the 800 number in their advertising. The apparent intent being to deceive people into thinking the 801 phone number is a derivation of the 800 phone number and would therefor also be a toll free call. It is not.

The 801 number is the area code for a part of Utah. Don't know if the companies are actually putting call centers there or just having the number forward to where the company's call center really is. Either way, your next phone bill will include full long distance charges for your call to Utah.

Any company unethical enough to pull this stunt is more than likely routinely doing other unethical things as well. If you see an 801 phone number and the company isn't already known to actually be located in Utah, it would probably be advisable to avoid that 801 number and company altogether.

Update, 2013

The 801 area code phone number is also being used in text message scams.

Update, 2014

Beware emails having the 801 number listed in their message.

Update, 2015

The 801 area code phone number is also being used as a fake caller ID number for phishing and outright fraud and other scams. If receiving a call from this number, simply do not answer. If you see an 801 area code in your voice mail list, do not activate the message; simply delete it. Malware can as easily be sent to a phone as to a computer.

[This sure is a heck of a note for the folks who live in the 801 area code part of Utah. Wouldn't be surprised if the State of Utah were to eventually have the number changed to one that couldn't be mistaken as toll free. Not to mention the fact the number's reputation has been completely ruined anyway. (An update regarding the affected areas of Utah... The 801 area code area now has an overlay area code of 385. In other words, residents can choose which area code to be associated with.)]

Updates, 2016

The scams continue. In fact, they are getting worse. And not just the scams involving the 801 number. There are media reports all other phone scams are being ramped up as well.

There Are Six Legitimate 800 Number Toll Free Codes

(Date Last Updated/Reviewed by FTC: Friday, September 8, 2017) According to the FTC, the current toll free codes are:
  • 800
  • 888
  • 877
  • 866
  • 855
  • 844

Updates, 2017

I've noticed I haven't always been notified when comments have been made and need to be moderated for publication. So if your comment doesn't show up right away, that is the reason. Going forward, I will regularly check the unmoderated comments section whether notified or not.

Please do keep posting suspicious 801 numbers. The search engines eventually index those numbers and will continue to point future potential victims here to be warned.

Three Worthy Resources to Read and Share at Your Leisure


Update, 2017, October

Do you get phone calls that when you answer, it just disconnects? It is highly unlikely you are being stalked. It is just a robocall machine ascertaining at what days and times you usually answer calls. It then duly reports that information to the telephone solicitor boiler room. The telephone solicitors then know on what days and times to call.

Well, actually you are being stalked; but it's just by telephone solicitors.

Update, 2017, December

New scam. Got a robocall informing me my IP connection had been compromised and would be disconnected withing the next 24-48 hours. It then asked me to press "1" for help. I immediately hung up.

How did I know it was a scam? Simple, they did not identify themselves. Whether automated call or real human, a legitimate caller would have first identified themselves, e.g., "This is XYZ support", etc. Also, I highly doubt such a call that was legitimate would be a robocall. It would be a human who would first identify themselves and ISP  and would then ask for me by name. What a farce; it just never stops. In fact, it just keeps getting worse.

Be careful out there.

Updates for 2018

#1 An addition to the October 2017 update. Never call back an unknown number out of curiosity that called you and then hung up. Not just the 801 area code, but any area code. Turns out that the 900 number isn't the only premium code number where you are billed major fees for calling. There are other numbers that look like area codes that will do the same thing to you.

#2 Got the well-know, phony IRS robocall claiming to be from IRS collections or whatever. Instead of hanging up, I set the phone down so as to tie up their line as long as possible. Probably caused at least three fewer people from getting that call today. Depending on my mood, I do that with most of my landline robocalls.

#3 This is off topic, but still the perfect place to include it. From Census Bureau:

[Quote]
Census Bureau - April 5, 2018
Someone is at your door and claiming to be from the census bureau. Legit or scam? Turns out it is probably legit. Here's how to tell:
- They will be wearing an identification badge.
- They will be able to provide you a verification phone number.
- They will not ask you for money, credit card numbers, or your social security number.
[Unquote]

If interested, here's a census bureau podcast about it.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't interact with anyone calling and claiming to be from the Census Bureau. I don't even think they make such calls.

And since am off-topic today; here's a short, non-census-bureau At Your Door Leaflet Scam Alert you might want to quickly scan.

#4 "Is Pat there?" Yep, appears to be another scam resurrected from year 2016. Back then they used the name "Miguel". You will receive repeated calls, I've gotten 5-6 already. He always says, "Is Pat there?" Your reply should be, "Pat is at area code (xxx) xxx-xxxx." As for "(xxx) xxx-xxxx", it can be:
    A.  Your local police non-emergency phone number.
   Or
   B. Select a number from the FBI alphabetical list of field offices near you at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices.

Needless to say, you forget to mention where the phone number you gave actually goes. Hopefully, the hint will be taken and the calls will stop. If they are actually stupid enough to call the number without checking first; with any luck, the caller's phone number and physical location will automatically be trapped. You've certainly done nothing wrong, you were just trying to help them find "Pat". After those previously mentioned  5-6 calls, I opted for option "A". If that doesn't work, I will then do option "B". If that doesn't work, then it's just immediately hanging up as I normally do with all telephone solicitors and scammers these days. [Update.  I never heard from them again after doing option A.]

#5 June already. Telephone solicitor activity actually seems to be on the decline. However, telephone scammer activity seems to be on the increase; and they know your name. So if a caller knows your name, it still doesn't necessarily mean it is a legitimate call. Always ask who is calling. And if they start asking for personal information, then it is hanging-up time.

#6 Telephone scammers are also using the survey technique. They will tell you they are doing a survey and then ask an innocuous question for your opinion, but then they follow up by starting to ask you questions about your personal information.

#7 The usual charity scams abound this Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season. Needless to say; never, ever donate via phone call.

Updates for 2019

#1 Media reports say robocalls will increase and calls from humans will decrease.

#2 Well now; hopefully, all carriers will do this: Verizon will give subscribers free access to anti-robocall tools. There is other worthwhile information there as well.

[An update: regretfully, due to excessive spam, comments have been set to moderated. I check daily, so legitimate comments will indeed be displayed usually within 24 hours.]

#3 A very worthy, informational, and entertaining read from Wired Magazine About Robocalls. After reading it, I've gone back to not hanging up and just setting the phone down to tie up the robocaller's line as long as possible. Needless to say, don't do that if your phone service plan makes you pay for the length of incoming calls.