Monthly Archives: June 2017

30Jun 2017

Kohl's Rewards: Use them or lose them – WCPO


One of the best department store rewards deals round is Kohl’s Cash.

It’s so great, unfortunately, that scammers love it too, So when it comes to Kohl’s rewards, the key phrase might be “use it or lose it.”

Where are my rewards?

Amy Pratt loves Kohl’s, but with two young kids she can’t always get to the store in time to use her Kohl’s Cash rewards.

“They used to let you use it even if it was expired, and then lately they’ve not.”  she said. “I’ve tried to use it before, and they said they no longer accept expired.”

With Kohl’s Cash — if you’re not familiar with it  — you get a $10 cash rebate when you spend $50, during promo times several times a year (especially during holiday season sales).

But its not really cash.  It’s more of a coupon, and you have just a few weeks to use it (typically 2 weeks, according to the store).

Shoppers report  two frustrations: one, missing the deadline for using their Kohl’s Cash.  And two, their rewards disappearing.

Evelyn Sten had a $12 Kohl’s rebate, loaded onto a Visa debit card the store provided her. 

But, she says, “when I tried to spend it, it wouldn’t go through. When I tried to access the information on the back of the card, I found out the card had been totally spent.”    

At first, she thought the store had deducted part of the $12 rebate each month, as some prepaid debit cards do.  But Kohl’s says it does not.

It appears someone got into the account, and used her reward before she did.

Reports of Kohl’s Cash theft

News stories from across the country report vanishing Kohl’s rewards, and a New Jersey couple was arrested and plead guilty in 2015 of stealing $600,000 in Kohl’s Cash from other shoppers’ accounts. Yes, 600 thousand dollars.

The website Krebs on Security says hackers have found creative back doors to order products for people and pocket their Kohl’s Cash, then spend it immediately.

So how can you protect your Kohl’s rebates?

  • Don’t wait, use them in a week or two.
  • Kohl’s Cash has a very short shelf life.
  • If any rewards are missing, call customer service.    

We’re happy to report Kohl’s quickly replaced Evelyn Sten’s rebate. Now she no longer waits to use her rewards. That’s good advice, so you don’t waste your money.

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30Jun 2017

More court challenges expected for Trump's scaled-back travel ban – Chicago Tribune


A scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban is now in force, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January yet still likely to generate a new round of court fights.

The new rules, the product of months of legal wrangling, aren’t so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Refugees are covered, too.

Administration officials promised that implementation this time, which started at 8 p.m. EDT, would be orderly. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Dan Hetlage said his agency expected “business as usual at our ports of entry,” with all valid visa holders still being able to travel.

Still, immigration and refugee advocates are vowing to challenge the new requirements and the administration has struggled to explain how the rules will make the United States safer.

30Jun 2017

Why you should think twice about canceling a credit card – The Week Magazine


Why should you hang on to a credit card that you don’t use very often? Here are two very good reasons: It serves a suitable source of emergency credit if needed, and it raises your credit score by keeping your credit utilization low.

Your credit utilization is the total amount of your credit in use to your overall available credit (the sum of all your credit limits). As you get closer to using all of your available credit, lenders and credit-scoring systems consider you to be at higher risk for non-payment and eventual default — and as a result, your credit score will drop.

Unfortunately, the potential consequences of not using your credit card can be worse than that. If you don’t make charges on the card periodically and carry no balance, the credit card issuer may think that you no longer plan to use the card and can declare the card inactive, cancelling your account.

The credit card company incurs some costs to keep your account open and it recoups those costs through your use of the card. If you don’t use the card enough to cover those costs, the card issuer may make a simple business decision to cancel your account and free up that available credit for a customer who is more inclined to use it.

Card issuers vary on their policies for declaring an account inactive, and those policies are not always public. A good rule of thumb is that somewhere between six and 12 months with no signs of credit activity can result in a cancelation.

A canceled account may not only drop your credit score through raising your credit utilization, it may also impact another factor. Adam Carroll, founder and chief education officer of National Financial Educators, explains: “What most people don’t understand is that when you have a long-standing trade line, which is what a credit card is considered on your credit report, and you cancel that card for whatever reason, your score will actually go down as a result, because one of the main impacts on your credit score is the length of your credit history.”

If the canceled card is relatively new compared to your other accounts, there will be no significant impact on your average age of credit accounts ­— but if you have used a card for many years and decided to shift it to an emergency backup card, it’s especially important to keep that account active.

How do you prevent cancelation of your card? Obviously, you have to pay your bills and avoid default on that card, but you should also keep your credit score as high as you can. For example, if your credit score plummets because of a student loan default or maxing out a separate credit card, the card issuer may consider you too risky even if your record on that particular card is spotless.

If your card is canceled, follow up with the issuer to find out the reason why. The reason could be something beyond your control, such as the card issuer discontinuing that particular card or no longer offering the same terms. There could also be an error in your credit report, or fraudulent use of your account, that is giving the card issuer an incorrect view of your risk. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.

Aside from those steps, the best way to maintain a card is to make a small charge, perhaps $10 every few months, and then pay the bill off promptly each month. Follow the old axiom “Use it or lose it” — just don’t use it very much.

This article was provided by our partners at MoneyTips.

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29Jun 2017

This Company Is Offering A Month's Worth of Avocado Toast to Millennials Who Buy a House – Money Magazine


When it comes to home ownership and avocado toast, one company believes millennials can have it all.

Inspired by the controversial comments made by an Australian millionaire last month, SoFi, an online personal finance company that targets millennial consumers, will give new home buyers a month’s supply of avocado toast if they purchase a home with SoFi mortgage in July.

“Avocado toast was covered so much as a barrier for millennials getting homes, and we want to show them that’s not the case,” said Joanne Bradford, chief marketing officer for SoFi.

“You can have your toast and eat it, too,” she added.

For those who qualify, the avocado toast incentive program will be delivered in three shipments right to the recent homebuyers’s doorsteps. There is also an option between regular and gluten-free bread. (Of course, they will still have to toast the bread once it arrives.)

Bradford said thousands of people apply for mortgages through SoFi each month. While she said she could not disclose the amount of money the company will spend delivering the avocado toast, she said it will be worth it.

“If we could spend millions on it, we would,” she said.

Geared toward younger generations, SoFi typically holds events like happy hours, singles dating events and brunches for its users around the country.

The marketing decision was ultimately in response to a now-viral interview in May that caused global uproar, in which Australian millionaire and property mogul Tim Gurner said millennials should refrain from buying the popular brunch dish if they didn’t want to quash their hopes of owning a home.

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner told the Australian news show 60 Minutes.

While saving cash can certainly help home ownership prospects, some criticized Gurner’s comments as disregarding larger factors that make it difficult for new home buyers to enter the market — including higher real estate costs and slow wage growth.

He later told MONEY that his avocado toast philosophy applies to a number of other purchases like pricey movie tickets and trips to Europe, saying those expenditures are the reason why millennials aren’t entering the housing market as early as he did.

“I had to sacrifice a lot of social and sporting events I would have loved to take part in but I was always working at least two jobs and when I had my business I was studying at night to complete my degree,” said Gurner told MONEY.

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29Jun 2017

Will California's travel restrictions hurt your college football team? – Sacramento Bee


UCLA and Cal didn’t have great football seasons last year, but they did have 17 players recruited from Texas, a hotbed of high school football.

Whether coaches can return to recruit prospects is up in the air following the state Justice Department’s decision last week to add four states to a list of states to which travel is restricted under a nearly year-old ban. California believes states on the banned list discriminate against LGBT rights.

Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota now join Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee as states into which California has banned most state-funded travel, with the exception of law enforcement officers, tax auditors and those traveling for training events required for grants.

Though that may sound pretty cut and dried, several state entities still don’t entirely know how the restriction affects them, including the athletic departments at University of California and California State University schools, and scholars who typically receive state grants to attend academic conferences in states such as Texas.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office is working on a legal opinion to sort things out for the athletic programs, determining whether the ban applies to UC and CSU athletic teams. Among questions the schools hope Becerra will answer is` whether their teams can travel to banned states to compete and recruit, given that coaches and support staff are state employees. The upcoming season remains unaffected in many cases because the law provides an exemption for contracts entered into before Jan. 1, 2017.

What happens next is less clear.

The ban – intended to avoid supporting states that have enacted laws that leaders in California view as discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – could deliver a huge blow to recruiting from high schools in Texas and the other seven states.

A spokeswoman for CSU said the system’s athletic teams are waiting for answers.

“I’m not sure how the expansion of the ban to add four states will affect post-season play or recruitment,” said Toni Molle, director of public affairs in the California State University Chancellor’s Office. “This is something the CSU will be reviewing. The CSU fully intends to comply with the laws, and we will not be using any state funds to pay for travel expenses to any of the banned states.”

Diehard fans may not be too concerned, but it also remains unclear whether, if qualified, the UCLA or Cal football teams would be able to play in the national championship semifinal game at the Cotton Bowl in Texas in late 2018.

UCLA, Cal and other California college teams could be prohibited from playing in the first or second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament if they’re sent to Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., Wichita, Kan. or Dallas, Texas. Even if the teams can travel with private funding, their coaches and other state-employed staff might not be able to make it to half of the NCAA tournament sites of 2018, including the Final Four in San Antonio.

In December, a UCLA spokesman told The Bee the school wouldn’t schedule games in banned states. But in March, the Bruins’ men’s basketball team progressed to the Sweet 16 in Memphis, Tenn., deciding not to let the travel ban block the team from the NCAA tournament. They lost that game, 86-75.

Academics also are waiting for answers about their ability to attend conferences and conduct research in the banned states if they are unable to afford the travel without grants from the state.

“The statute has a significant impact on us, especially as the list of prohibited states grows,” said Dianne Klein, press secretary for the University of California Office of the President. “Our academic and medical researchers work collaboratively with their counterparts in other states such as Texas, which is a huge state with top-notch universities and medical centers.”

Steven Filling, professor of accounting and ethics at California State University, Stanislaus, said he thinks it’s possible that academics could forgo the trips, or the state will experience a brief brain drain.

“A lot of people come to us from graduate schools in the banned states, and they tend to maintain connections with research groups at the graduate school they attended,” Filling said. The change, according to Filling, could make California schools less attractive to researchers until changes are either made as exemptions in the language of the bill, or until grant proposals change to accommodate the bill. “It may be a first-generational problem that affects people only now.”

Kevin Wehr, professor of sociology at California State University, Sacramento, and bargaining team chairman for the California Faculty Association, said the restriction could make it difficult for some professors to fulfill their job descriptions.

“Some of the banned states are places where academic conferences happen on a regular basis,” Wehr said, “and there’s a number of important universities that folks may have research collaborations with that will now face interruptions.”

He said California can be influential in determining where conferences are held.

“Organizations that put on the meetings I’m sure are on the lookout for places to hold meetings that are not in states on the travel ban because there’s a great number of folks coming from California to those meetings,” Wehr said. “As California goes, so do many other states. If a large academic organization makes the choice not to have their meeting in Chapel Hill (North Carolina) because Californians can’t go there, that means those dollars are driven to another state, creating ramifications throughout the nation.”

One organization, the National Communication Association, sent an email to its members last week assuring that the association was “seriously and sincerely considering a number of possible options regarding the 103rd annual convention in Dallas this November.”

On Thursday, they announced that the conference is still on, waiving registration fees for attendees from California and promising a list of vendors in the area that “support equality and justice, thus enabling NCA members to come to Dallas knowing that they can shop, dine and relax in institutions whose values mesh with [their] Credo for Ethical Communications and [their] Statement on Diversity.” Californians will still have to find other ways to fund their transportation and housing for the conference, as they won’t have access to state grants.

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, and the author of the law, said the point is not to create problems for the scientific and athletic communities.

Plenty of auxiliary funds for researchers and athletics departments can be used to underwrite their trips into the banned states, Low said. The point of his bill and the extension, he said, is to keep taxpayer money out of states that encourage “bigotry or hatred.”

“The California state budget is a value statement,” said Low, who is chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. “When we put dollars toward education, health care and social services, it’s a reflection on the values we have via our democracy and our representatives. This bill ensures discrimination will not be tolerated beyond our borders.”

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29Jun 2017

Credit Card Suspects Hit Stores In Several Communities – CBS Local


DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Investigators in several communities are searching for two men wanted in credit card thefts.

Police in Parker, Aurora and Castle Rock have joined forces with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in identifying the suspects from the credit card thefts.

(credit: Parker Police Dept.)

The incident in Parker happened early in the morning on May 1, when the victim’s vehicle was entered and her purse was stolen. The victim’s credit cards were used to make fraudulent purchases at various locations along the Front Range and Pueblo.

Surveillance videos of the suspects and their vehicle were obtained from the Walmart on May 1, May 17 and May 25. The suspects drive a blue or silver older model truck with a truck bed topper that extends past the bed of the truck.

dougco credit card theft Credit Card Suspects Hit Stores In Several Communities

(credit: Parker Police Dept.)

In the May 25 incident, the truck did not have a topper.

Police urge everyone to lock their vehicles and remove all valuables from vehicles.

Additional Information from Parker Police:

If you have any information about the identity of these two individuals or any information about these cases, please contact Parker Police Detective Hier at 303.805.6569.

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29Jun 2017

Pacers see potential rewards in drafting Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner – Indianapolis Star



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T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Edmond Sumner discuss getting drafted by the Pacers.

INDIANAPOLIS – They sat together on the sidelines. Ike Anigbogu and Edmond Sumner watched the Pacers’ summer league team’s practice Wednesday. 

They were joined there by team president Kevin Pritchard and his top advisors, Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh. Anigbogu and Sumner would have preferred to be on the practice court inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, sweating and competing next to their new teammates.

Yet, the reason why the Pacers were able to acquire Anigbogu and Sumner in the second round of the draft is the same reason the two players were not in practice jerseys Wednesday. 

Anigbogu, a center, and Sumner, a point guard, have each sustained multiple injuries in the past year. Pritchard, though, was willing to gamble on them to bolster the Pacers’ roster with more young talent. Even with Anigbogu and Sumner in the midst of their rehabs, the two rookies have the potential to be a part of the Pacers’ rebuilding plan in the post-Paul George era.

But first, Anigbogu and Sumner understand they need to watch their teammates, learn the playbook and, most importantly, get back to full health.

“It’s a blessing to be with the Pacers, but of course sitting on the sideline and watching everyone else play, it’s kind of frustration,” said Anigbogu. “I’m just going to follow what they’re telling me and go through it.”

Anigbogu, 18, tore the meniscus in his right knee during a practice before his freshman season at UCLA. Despite having surgery on his knee, Anigbogu was able to return. He played in 29 games for the Bruins and averaged 4.7 points and four rebounds per game. Coach Steve Alford helped manage Anigbogu’s health by playing him just 13 minutes per game.

At 6-10 and 252 pounds, Anigbogu was eager last month to show NBA scouts and executives his strength, athleticism and defensive skillset during the predraft process. But, working out for the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 22 in his fourth predraft tryout, Anigbogu tweaked his right knee. It prevented him from doing other workouts before the draft.

“I felt pretty good,” Anigbogu said of his Pacers’ workout before landing awkwardly during shooting drills. “I came down off of a screen and I kind of pivoted off my foot and just twisted it a little bit. It kind of, like, locked up. I didn’t think it was serious at the time. They were like, ‘Yeah, we’ve seen enough.’”

Anigbogu, who the Pacers selected with the 47th pick, will not play in the summer league. The Pacers have not determined how long his rehab will be, but the medical staff plans to announce a decision on his timetable in the next two weeks. Anigbogu said he hopes to be fully healthy when the Pacers begin their training camp in late September.

“I’m just a guy who’s going to give it his all — energy, passion, a little emotion, rim protection, rebounding,” he said. “Just do the dirty work. That’s my game right now.”

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Sumner’s rehab is expected to be much longer than Anigbogu’s.

Sumner tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January, which ended his redshirt sophomore season at Xavier. He had surgery on his knee in March. Last month, after attending the NBA combine, Sumner had surgery to repair his left shoulder. Those injuries knocked Sumner out of the first round of mock drafts. The Pacers acquired Sumner in trade from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for close to $1 million. The Pelicans selected Sumner with the 52nd pick.

“I knew teams we’re going to have to take a risk on me, so I just wanted to be able to get an opportunity,” Sumner said of entering the draft despite his injuries. “That’s all I really needed. I’m going to prove myself.”

Sumner is not sure when he will be healthy enough to play. He is not expected to be ready when training camp begins and it’s possible his rehab could force him to miss most of next season. Summer did light spot-up shooting Tuesday for the first time since he tore his ACL. 

“They don’t want me to rush back,” Sumner said of the Pacers. “They just want me to get healthy. That’s the main priority right now, just getting healthy. I’m not going to rush.”

Xavier coach Chris Mack said in a podcast last month that Sumner could spend next season as a redshirt rookie to be better prepared for the 2018-19 season. If the Pacers choose such a plan, Pritchard could sign Sumner in July to the NBA’s new two-way contract that could be worth as much as $300,000. Such a deal would allow Sumner to be under the Pacers’ exclusive rights through their affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, in the Gatorade League.

“Yes, that has been discussed,” Sumner said of a possible two-way contract. “Whatever is best for the organization, I’m ready to go through the process.”

As a speedy point guard at 6-6 and 176 pounds, Sumner showed in college that he can be an elite athlete on offense and an aggressive defender with his length. He averaged 15 points and five assists per game last season before his injury. 

One area that Sumner knows he needs to improve on is his perimeter shooting, which he plans to incorporate into his rehab.

“With my length, athleticism and speed, I’m great at creating for myself and others,” he said. “That’s something that I feel like is my go-to in getting into the paint.”

As for their immediate future, Anigbogu and Sumner will travel with the Pacers’ summer league team to Orlando, Fla., The summer league starts Saturday. And Anigbogu and Sumner are expected to be on the bench watching their teammates next to assistant Popeye Jones, who will coach the team.

“I think first of all they get what we’re about around here,” Jones said when explaining the benefits Anigbogu and Sumner can gain by being with the summer league team. “Both kids are really, really likable and they’re sitting on the sideline. I know they’re not in the drills, but they’re getting terminology, words that we use on the offensive and defensive end that’s universal to our systems.”

Call IndyStar reporter Nate Taylor at (317) 444-6484. Follow him on Twitter: @ByNateTaylor.

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Where will Paul George end up? Insiders Nate Taylor and Clifton Brown discuss what the Pacers can get for Paul George.
Clark Wade/IndyStar

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29Jun 2017

As Trump Travel Ban Takes Effect Thursday, Many Questions Still Up in Air – NBCNews.com


The Trump administration’s travel restrictions blocking foreigners from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees fleeing persecution will take effect Thursday, following the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week to temporarily uphold portions of the ban.

David Lapan, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, confirmed to NBC News Wednesday evening that the order “will begin to be implemented tomorrow and detailed guidance will be provided to DHS professionals.”

A senior administration official told NBC News that it’s likely the ban won’t go into effect until the evening.

The high court’s ruling allowed President Donald Trump to place a 90-day ban on foreign travelers from six countries — Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — as well as a 120-day ban on refugees fleeing persecution from any country when they have no “bona fide relationship” with an entity or person in the United States. The Supreme Court has granted full review of the travel ban and oral argument is set for October.

Related: Supreme Court Reinstates Much of Trump’s Travel Ban, Will Hear Case in Fall

At least one Supreme Court Justice was skeptical that a temporary solution was workable. Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent said that the Court’s “compromise” would “invite a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits, as parties and courts struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a bona fide relationship.”

While it’s not clear how many travelers could be affected by the ban, State Department data suggests many if not most foreign travelers to this country have family connections in the United States.

For instance, of the 12,998 immigrant visas issued from Yemen last year, nearly all of the recipients — 12,563 —had immediate family in the United States.

Plans Are Still in Flux

But just how broadly or narrowly federal agencies charged with implementing the Supreme Court’s order will write the guidelines remains to be seen. Both DHS and the State Department had said they were waiting on the Department of Justice to clarify the Court’s decision and have largely remained mum on what the new guidelines may entail.

DHS did issue a statement in the immediate aftermath of the Court’s decision, asserting that the Executive Order “will be done professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.”

Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters on Tuesday that the guidance was still “in flux.”

“People here are hard at work with Department of Justice and also I believe Homeland Security to try to figure out exactly what this term ‘bona fide’ should mean and will mean, and then we’ll get that information out to our folks across the world,” she said.

Related: Who Will Be Affected by the Supreme Court’s Travel Ban Ruling?

Most visa screenings are done by U.S. consular offices in the applicants’ home countries. The Trump administration already has stated that its revised order would not apply to those with existing visas. Rather, the ban would only bar applications for new visas.

But immigration experts worry that airlines and border agents may not be adequately prepared to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision reinstating a portion of the ban, potentially leaving foreign travelers in the lurch.

Image: Federal judge halts President Trump's

Demonstrators from Syria protest at Los Angeles International Airport on February 4, 2017.MIKE NELSON / EPA

Immigrant Advocates Worry About Repeat of Travel Ban Chaos

“It’s very hard to make sure everyone reads the rule and applies the rule consistently,” said Greg Chen, an attorney with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He added that, even for those border patrol agents operating in good faith, they can “read a piece of paper and draw different conclusions.”

Advocacy groups say they are lawyering up in anticipation that things may go awry.

“Anywhere there are international flights coming into the United States, we’ve been working with attorneys to make sure they’re on call and prepped in case there are illegal detentions at that airport in violation of the Supreme Court order,” said Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, a New York City-based advocacy group.

What Does “Bona Fide Relationship” Mean?

Immigration advocates note that the term “bona fide relationship” is vague and worry that the Trump administration, in issuing new guidelines, will give too much discretion to border patrol agents or consular officers who may inconsistently interpret the Supreme Court’s meaning.

The justices did point to concrete examples of the type of familial relationships that could qualify, such as a spouse or a mother-in-law, and also suggested that those travelers with acceptance letters to American universities or offers of employment with an U.S. company should also be allowed to enter.

Yet Gerald Neuman, co-director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School said whether relatives outside of an immediate family, for example, aunts and cousins, will be allowed to enter is an outstanding question.

“I think there’s going to be a gray area and we’ll see how much disagreement there is about it and how people respond to it,” he said.

A Lack of Transparency

Neuman also said a lack of transparency about how border patrol agents make on-the-spot decisions at airports could further complicate matters.

“It’s very difficult to know what’s happening with people who arrive in airports in non-public areas,”Neuman said.

Despite having a visa, customs and border patrol can still lawfully prevent foreign travelers from entering the country for a range of security and public health related reasons.

Sarah Paoletti, director of the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania law school, said, beyond border patrol agents, she fears airlines may refuse to issue tickets if they believe foreign travelers lack a credible tie to the United States.

Related: Trump’s Footloose Foreign Policy Keeps His Own Team Guessing

“How will the airlines and Customs and Border Patrol treat arriving immigrants from any one of these countries?” Paoletti asked. “The airlines don’t know immigration law and are now left to figure out what this all means.”

Advocates point to the chaos that ensued in January after President Trump issued his first travel ban that went into effect while many immigrant travelers were already in the air and bounded for the United States.

This time around, Paoletti thinks that travelers are more likely to face issues at their point of departure, as airlines will have to check if their travel documents meet the requirements for the issuance of a boarding pass.

The Airlines Weigh In

Most U.S. airlines do not even service the countries affected by the ban, said Penny Kozakos, vice president of communications for Airlines for America, a Washington D.C.-based trade organization.

She said carriers simply follow American regulations when making decisions about who can board an inbound flight.

“Airlines carrying inbound passengers to the U.S. are required to ensure that those passengers are properly documented for entry — this includes a passport and a visa, if required,” Kozakos wrote in an email. “The Supreme Court decision this week has not changed any U.S. government procedures that airlines follow for inbound international flights.”

Meanwhile, British Airways, which services three of the six countries — Libya, Sudan and Iran — said in a statement that it would comply with new requirements from the U.S. government.

“The safety and security of our customers and colleagues is our top priority at all times,” BA said. “We will comply with the new requirements from the US Government and our flights will continue to operate as normal.”

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29Jun 2017

Credit card skimmer protections head to House – Detroit News – The Detroit News


Lansing — Gas stations would have to install new safety measures at fuel pumps to ward off would-be credit card skimmers trying to steal financial information under a plan the Senate approved Wednesday.

Senators passed the bill in a 35-1 vote with no debate on the last day of session before they reconvene in September for full session. Two session days are planned over the summer.

Pumps that read credit cards would have to include new security measures such as “pressure-sensitive security tape,” a device that would shut down the pump or credit card scanner if a panel were opened without official authorization, encrypting credit card information or other methods to thwart potential thieves, according to the legislation.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration. It seems unlikely that the House will take it up over the summer during lawmakers’ legislative break.

Machines called skimmers can be installed into gas station pumps to steal credit card information.

In 2015, a spokeswoman for the department charged with keeping tabs on the issue, Jennifer Holton, called the problem “unprecedented” and said the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development began requiring the state’s 14 gas pump inspectors to check for such devices.

Michigan has more than 100,000 gas pumps across the state.

Stolen credit card information can be financially devastating to people if they don’t check their bank statements regularly, although liability can often fall on banks that issue the cards.

Most of the state’s gas stations were already aware of the problem and have been voluntarily making use of safety measures outlined in the legislation, said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association, which lobbies for gas stations and convenience stores across the state.

Griffin said the association did not take a position on the bill, but said it might help educate the public that skimming is a major issue.

“There might be some folks that just haven’t gotten the word yet,” he said, “but I think … it raises the public awareness and that’s really what needs to be done.

“If anything we wish there was the ability for law enforcement to do more … and that’s not addressed in the bill,” he continued. “It’s a nationwide problem, it’s not unique to Michigan by any means.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com

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29Jun 2017

5 Tested Tips from a Top Tier Flyer – HuffPost


When you’re up in the air a couple of times a month or more on business, you learn a thing or two about working the airline system and appreciating the differences between real value and service vs. marketing spin.  We talked to top tier status frequent flyer business executives and entrepreneurs to learn what they value, what they’d like to change about air travel, and which habits and tips have made flying a better experience.

Meet Dave Poplin, regional manager at Radius Solutions, LLC, a leading provider of retail point-of-sale technology solutions.

Dave flies every three weeks, on average, and holds membership on all US-based frequent flyer programs. He is a Platinum level member on Delta, which is his airline of choice.

What are your frequent flyer ninja moves for enjoying as many perks via the airlines as possible?

1. There are routes that have fewer numbers of Diamond members, which will allow a Platinum member more of a chance for an upgrade.   An example:   If I fly from Grand Rapids, MI to Florida or other spots West of Chicago and I go into Detroit, it is very difficult to get upgraded.  Conversely, if I connect to Atlanta instead of Detroit I will almost always get upgraded.

2. Also, if you are into getting bumped for a free future travel voucher, there are routes that are always oversold.  Look at how full the plane is and over time you will learn the routes that will allow you to get bumped most times.

Vouchers are good for a year.   BonusTip: You only have to book travel in that year, you can fly the following year, which really gives you 2 years to fly from the time the voucher is activated.

3. There is NO reason if you are Platinum or higher to ever pay for a Delta Comfort seat.  Once you book coach you will get an upgrade to Delta Comfort the next day for free.   But, be careful on what Comfort seats are available, there can be some risk that you go from an aisle in coach to a middle seat in Comfort.  Look at the seat maps, if there are a lot of First Class open, then Comfort customers will get moved up and open aisle seats again.

Remember, Comfort gets free movies and drinks. Aside from meals being included on a 2+ hour flight in First Class, there is really no difference between Comfort and First Class, especially on Delta.

4. If you are unhappy for ANY reason and you have flight status,  ALWAYS write a quick email to customer service.   You can count on being compensated for your hassle — 10-20k frequent flyer miles, at a minimum.    Don’t be afraid to ask.  Just recently, Delta canceled my flight. They wanted me to get a hotel (which they would pay for) and fly the next day.   I was only two hours from home, so, I decided to drive.  Unfortunately, the agent wouldn’t pay for the rental car even though it was cheaper than a hotel. I complained and got three things:  My rental charge reimbursed, half of my ticket reimbursed, and 20K frequent flyer points.

5. Use an Airline credit card.   I use the Delta card for all my business and personal expenses. Due to my expenditures, I was automatically given 10K frequent flyer points once I spent $25K. I was then given more miles and an automatic upgrade from Gold to Platinum once I reached $50K in spend.  You also get additional free luggage and a reduced cost in the lounge.

I see no reason to pay for the higher cost Delta credit card to access the lounge. I think it is $400 a year.  You can pay $29 per day when you have longer layovers and get a day pass.   You get free wifi, drinks, food and a nice atmosphere.

What’s your biggest bragging right about scoring something from the airlines and how did it come about?

On one occasion, I was bumped three times in a row (every hour). I picked up $1500 in vouchers for three hours of my time.  Also, I have been bumped to other flights, arrived home before my regular flight, and still received a $400 voucher. If you sign up for a bump and don’t get it, ask for First Class. Since you were being nice, many times they will give that to you.   If they are having a hard time getting enough people to be bumped, ask for more money and First Class on your new flight.

Anything else that other business travelers should know to help them make flying more enjoyable?   

When you fly internationally, your Passport MUST be good for at least six more months prior to expiration.  You would think that as long as you complete travel by the expiration date on your Passport you would be ok — Not true.   Don’t get caught in that.

Also, get on the plane first. Too many travelers are now carrying on large luggage and if you wait, you won’t be able to fit yours in the overhead.  One loophole that I do not agree with is when the gate agent asks if people need to get on early due to “requiring more time”. It seems many ineligible people are jumping the line to take advantage.

If you could change one thing about traveling for business what would it be? 

I would say more Delta Comfort seats for the Platinum and higher level flyers.  Also, lower costs for flight changes ($150 is ridiculous).  Give a number of free lounge visits per status level  (Gold 3 free, Platinum 8 free, etc.).

Chris is the President and Co-Founder of ExpertFlyer.com, a service that helps travelers get out of the “Middle Seat” by providing in-depth flight info and alerts when Awards and Upgrades are available.

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