Animals enjoying Christmas


Just for the holidays, we bring you an array of videos of animals enjoying Christmas. And if you don’t get your fill here, try our Cats & Dogs of Christmas 2015.

First up – Internet favorite pooch Maymo is surprised by a puppy for Christmas

How to protect your tree

Gift wrapping tips

Not many people know it, but Santa often makes the rounds to the world’s zoos before he visits children. Here  are a few of his early stops.

Don’t let email scams hijack your holiday!


illustration of thief robbing santa

As seasonal shopping ramps up both on and offline, there are many opportunities for scammers and thieves to separate you from your hard-earned money.  Dial up your fraud awareness radar to the max – particularly when shopping online. Today, we’ll focus on email scams, a favorite tool for crooks. We’ve been monitoring our email spam folders and monitoring news reports to bring you some common scams this year.

Shipping status phishing emails: Be alert for emails telling you to login to check shipping status for recent purchases. This often works because it uses the names and logos of large retailers that you might actually have made a recent purchase from, such as Amazon or Walmart. Or it might be an email pretending to be Fedex, UPS, or another shipping service. Take the time to check these out carefully – did you make a purchase? Look at the information of the sender in the email header – is it legit? Hover over the link to read where it is taking you before you click. If there is any doubt, go back to the site where you made your purchase and check shipping info form there.

Emails using your name. There are many ways that scammers can get your name so that is no guarantee of legitimacy. They can even spoof your email address so that an email looks like it is coming from your own account. Here are some recent scams we’ve see using our name:

  • Cash advance for {your name}
  • Verify this charge to your {name of large retailer} account
  • Are you {your name)
  • We found your missing money {your name}
  • Hey {your name} !! Do You Remember me ?
  • Why did you text me (your name}

Gift card scams. Be alert for emails or phone calls telling you that you’ve been selected to get a $50 card or that you’ve been sent a card. In the last few weeks we’ve had malicious email attempts touting McDonald’s, Kohl’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, CVS, Apple and PayPal. Some of these mails can look very legit. Here are a few tips to stay safe:

  • Don’t buy gift cards from emails or from online auction sites. If you want to a purchase a gift card, go to the actual vendor site or their offline store.
  • When purchasing a gift card, never give private information such as your Social Security number, bank account number or date of birth.
  • Only use gift cards at the intended sites. If a caller or an online vendor tells you they only accept payments via gift cards, beware. Don’t give anyone gift card claim codes. Also, no reputable vendor or service will ask to be paid in Amazon or Apple gift cards, or any other gift cards.
  • If you purchase a gift card in a retail store, ask the cashier to scan the card to verify that the card actually reflects the stated amount and correct balance.

The TN Department of Commerce & Insurance has a good list of common holiday scams: Letter from Santa? Or is it bait from a scam artist? It’s worth glancing at their list of scams as well as  checking out their tips to stay safe.

Other common email scams and pitches we’ve seen in our spam folder lately that lead to malicious sites:

  • Check you Experian score
  • Letters from Santa offers
  • Instant loans: Get approved for $15,000 Immediately
  • Credit card offers
  • Pain drugs and medical marijuana offers
  • You have been selected for clinical trials
  • Please confirm receipt
  • Free samples

A few common signs of scams:

  • Offers that are too good to be true – they usually are fake.
  • Demands or threats to take action now to avoid consequences; emails saying “Final notice.”
  • Requests to update your information or change your password

Crooks have a lot of tricks and are good at exploiting human weaknesses. Here are a few sites that will help you learn more about current scams and improve your online safety savvy.

 

 

Veterans Day 2017 – New England events and tributes


Veterans Day banner

On Veterans Day, we owe a debt of deep gratitude to all military service members, past and present, for their service to our country. Thank you!

There are many events this weekend offering tribute to our veterans … we’ve gathered a few listings – both for veterans and for those who want to find a way to pay tribute to their service.

The Boston Red Sox have various activities to honor vets and raise money and awareness for veterans. And don’t miss this: On Saturday, the Red Sox will open up Fenway Park to veterans with free tours available from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Here are some other events, commemorations and tributes this weekend.

Veterans Day deals: Where vets get freebies and discounted meals, haircuts and more

Free Meals for Military Personnel on Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2017: What’s opened, what’s closed

Boston Veteran’s Day Events, 2017

Veterans Day events in R.I., southeastern Mass.

Veterans Day ceremonies, parades in southwestern Connecticut

CT Veterans Day App Launch, Ceremonies, Parades

NH Veterans Day events

Pumpkins, perils & more: Have a fun, safe Halloween


halloween pumpkins in front of a scary house

It’s the season of the pumpkin! Everyone seems to love pumpkin flavored foods, and there may be a reason for that. Psychologist think that the smell  of pumpkin spice produces a nostalgic feeling that brings us right back to Grandma’s house.

But have we gone too far? Eater magazine designates 65 Pumpkin Spice Foods That Have No Business Being Pumpkin Spiced. It’s pretty subjective – some people just can’t get enough.

Apparently, animals of all species have caught the human pumpkin craze, too – here’s how zoos around the world are celebrating Halloween with pumpkins for their residents.

Some people prefer to carve pumpkins rather than to eat them. Want to carve some pumpkins that will be the envy and fright of the neighborhood? Here are a few ideas for extreme Halloween pumpkins from Tom Narvone of  ExtremePumpkins.com. One of our other favorite pro carvers is Ray Villafane – you can see a few samples of his work and get a few tips in the clips below.

Remember to carve safely – use kits or patterns to make things easier and make carving an adult activity. We think the scariest place to be on Halloween is the emergency room.

Here are some other Halloween safety tips:

Home Safety

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Kid Safety

  • Consider parties and visits to charity based Haunted Houses as an alternative to Trick or Treating
  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or light-reflective tape to their costumes.
  • Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes and masks don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick is very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.

Pet safety

  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • More: Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Celebrate spring with Easter Egg Hunts, Patriots’ Day and Marathon Monday


This weekend, most of the country’s celebrations include Easter and Passover, but for many of us in New England, it’s also Marathon Monday weekend. In Massachusetts, Monday is celebrated as a state holiday, not for the Marathon, but for Patriots’ Day – which is only celebrated in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Maine.

Every year, the Boston Marathon has been held on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April.  And since 1959, the Boston Red Sox have also been scheduled for a home game.

You can learn more about Why Boston Holds a Marathon on Patriot’s Day at a story that ran in The Atlantic a few years ago.

If you plan to attend the Marathon, the Boston Discovery Guide offers a Boston Marathon Guide featuring maps, schedules, routes, times, transportation, viewing tips and more. But if you prefer to celebrate the historical significance, see their guide to the Patriots’ Day Reenactment Schedule – 2017

Hopefully, none of the marathon runners or patriots will be stepping on Easter Eggs in their travels. Saturday is a huge day for for Easter Egg hunts, with many scheduled throughout the region – a great way to celebrate Spring outdoors with your kids.

Here is where you can find one near you:

Connecticut Easter Egg Hunts – 2017 and 2017 Easter Activities in Connecticut

In Massachusetts, find Easter Egg Hunts Around Boston; 2017 Easter Guide to absolutely every Easter event in Greater Worcester! and the Big list of Pioneer Valley Easter Egg Hunts.

Easter egg hunts and events this weekend in Rhode Island

New Hampshire Easter Egg Hunts 2017

In Maine, find Easter Egg Hunts for greater Portland

Vermont calendar of Easter egg hunts