Posted on September 25, 2018
Heard from any robots lately? You’re not the only one. Robocalls are exploding. There were 4 billion robocalls placed nationwide in July 2018 alone (up from 2.6 billion the previous year). That’s around 12 calls to every person in the United States – in one month! In fact, almost half of all calls made on any given day are robocalls.
Many of these calls are legitimate, of course. Like maybe your dentist calling to remind you of that root canal. But many are worse. Worse than root canal? Yes. Many robocalls—and live calls from people you don’t know—come from scammers trying to swindle you.
And their techniques are getting better. Techniques like “neighbor spoofing,” which makes it appear that a robocall is from a number in your area and, therefore, perhaps a call with an honest purpose. Maybe it’s your kid’s school or your car mechanic—so you answer. A lot of people do. And some of them are cruelly scammed. Some lose their life savings.
Federal and state regulators are taking action, in large part because robocalls are annually their number-one consumer-complaint category. But regulatory action alone will not stop robocalls. Regulators are up against the combined forces of internet technology, profit motive and geography (a lot of robocalls come from outside the U.S.)—and they’re losing.
So you should take measures to protect yourself. Here’s what you can do.
Register your number in the National Do Not Call registry
This is a good first step. Once your number is listed here, most legitimate companies won’t call you anymore. But the Do Not Call registry prohibits only sales calls. You may still receive calls from political campaigns, charities, debt collectors and survey takers.
In addition, a company can call you if it has recently done business with you. Although if you ask a company not to call you again, it must stop. Make sure to record the date of your request if this happens.
Dismiss calls you don’t recognize
If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry for more than 31 days and you get a sales call or any kind of robocall, the simplest approach is to ignore it.
This is not always easy to do, of course. What if it’s important? If you do answer a call from a number you don’t recognize and it does turn out to be spam, don’t interact in any way. Don’t press a button to be removed from the call list or to speak with a live person. Doing this will flag you as a target and likely lead to more calls.
Instead, hang up and report the call to the FTC.
Get a call-blocking app
(Standard disclaimer: App creators’ views and values are their own and are not endorsed by CREDO Mobile. Before downloading any app, please confirm that it meets your personal standards for corporate ethics and protection of privacy.)
There are hundreds of call-blocking apps on the market now. Most work a similar way: they check incoming calls against a robocall database and block them. But they can only stop calls from known robocallers, so calls from fresh numbers may still get through.
One highly rated free app is Hiya, which is available for Android and Apple phones. Other free apps to check out include YouMail, Mr. Number and Truecaller. If you don’t mind a small subscription fee, there are paid apps that claim to do more, like Nomorobo ($1.99/month) and RoboKiller ($2.99/month).
One fun app is the Jolly Roger Telephone Co. (“Our robots talk to telemarketers so that humans don’t have to”). It’s 99 cents a month but that small fee might be worth the satisfaction of sticking it to the scammers. For a few laughs, go to the Jolly Roger blog and listen to the remarkably lifelike Jolly Roger bots give clueless scammers the runaround. Score one for our side.
AT&T and Robocalls
While we’re on the topic of robocalls, we’d like to tell you about a recent robocall campaign by AT&T that was aimed at stopping California’s landmark bill to preserve net neutrality in the state and ensure that California residents have access to a free and fair internet, without throttling and price gouging by Big Telecom.
Specifically targeted at senior citizens, the AT&T robocalls spread misinformation, claiming that California’s net neutrality legislation would increase cell phone bills and slow down data connections. This is not true. The truth is this: California’s net neutrality safeguards would serve as a model for other states to fight back against Big Telecom’s efforts to drive up already-massive profits. That’s why AT&T wants to kill the bill.
If you’re an AT&T customer, you should be angry. Do you really want to send a monthly payment to a company that interferes with your internet so it can make more millions?
Instead, consider CREDO Mobile, the only carrier fighting for your rights and a free, open internet. For more than a decade, CREDO has been fighting for strong net neutrality protections. We’ve mobilized hundreds of thousands of CREDO members to take more than 4 million actions, through petitions and phone calls to key decision-makers, and through protests in Washington, D.C., and across the country. We also worked with partners to pressure the California legislature to pass net neutrality legislation – generating more than 30,000 petition signatures, 2,750 phone calls and 15 in-district meetings – in support of the bill, and we are working with partners to make sure Gov. Jerry Brown signs it.
CREDO Mobile is the only U.S. mobile carrier standing up for a free and open internet, and through our donations program, powered by our customers, we’ve donated more than $2.6 million to progressive groups fighting for net neutrality.
Are there other tips to block robocallers that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them!
Posted on September 22, 2018
On Sept. 8, 2018, more than 250,000 people spanning all seven continents took to the streets for the Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice marches to demand that world leaders transition from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In San Francisco, tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out for “what is being hailed as the largest climate march the West Coast has ever seen” ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit which will bring leaders and experts from across the world to discuss the climate crisis.
CREDO members, many of our staff and our Rise for Climate posters were out in full force on the streets of San Francisco marching with our fellow activists. Here are some our favorite homemade posters we saw during the march.
Posted on September 19, 2018
We have recently learned that the Trump administration plans to force a “Presidential Alert” to nearly every cell phone in America as part of the new FEMA emergency alert system, which is in addition to alerts for “Imminent Threats to Life and Property” and “AMBER Alerts.”
Though this “Presidential Alert” category of emergency message precedes Trump, it is especially unsettling and disturbing at a moment when a clearly unstable authoritarian is in control of the White House. I personally don’t want any member of this administration, especially not Trump, communicating with me through my phone, and I know you don’t want Trump communicating with you, either.
Here at CREDO, we are 100% against the idea of this administration having direct access to our CREDO Mobile members in this way. If there is any way to abuse this system, we know Trump and his corrupt associates will find it.
Here’s what we know: according to FEMA, all major mobile carriers are participating in this new Wireless Emergency Alerts program. Since CREDO Mobile service is provided through these major carriers, we are unable to prevent the emergency message test. We have asked our carrier partners for the ability to control this functionality and will continue to escalate our requests.
Currently, members can opt out of all message types with the exception of the presidential alerts. We understand there will be an initial test of the presidential alert system on October 3, 2018 at 2:19 pm EDT and 2:20 pm EDT. The FEMA site confirms the details as we understand them today.
What can you do? Join us in protesting by turning off your phone during the alert.
Presidential Alert message tests are currently scheduled for:
October 3, 2018 at 2:19 pm EDT and 2:20 pm EDT.
This administration has been overt about its racism, xenophobia, misogyny and corruption and I know that for many of us this message and test is unwanted, intrusive and potentially triggering.
Please know that we stand with you and your progressive values at CREDO and we are fighting the authoritarian practices of this administration in everything we do. If we have further updates, you’ll be able to find them here on our blog. And in the meantime, please know that we are doing everything we can to extract our members from this test.
Posted on September 19, 2018
This August and September, CREDO has been honored to provide our allies at the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence with anti-gun violence artwork we created ahead of the March for Our Lives events earlier this year.
The coalition’s billboards have been displayed across the Lansing, Michigan area to raise awareness about stopping plans to arm teachers in the classroom and preventing gun violence in schools.
Last year, CREDO members in Michigan generated more than 6,000 petition signatures calling on the Michigan legislature to reject a bill that would allow loaded weapons in schools. The bill passed the state senate but stalled in the Michigan House.
You can learn more about the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence’s work here.
On Sept. 14, we were honored to host Washington state’s progressive leader, Gov. Jay Inslee, for a special conversation at CREDO headquarters to discuss his work combating climate change, resisting Trump at the state level and key governors’ races across the country.
If you missed the original live broadcast, you can view it below or click here to watch the full interview.
Please join us for a special conversation with Washington state’s progressive leader, Gov. Jay Inslee, who will discuss his work combating climate change, resisting Trump at the state level and key governors’ races across the country.
Posted by CREDO Mobile on Friday, September 14, 2018
Editor’s Note: Aimee and her team at She the People just put on an amazing summit in San Francisco where they brought together visionary women of color from across the country, including Alicia Garza, Ai-jen Poo, Linda Sarsour, Barbara Lee, and Pramila Jayapal, who are transforming American politics and shaping the future of our country as leaders, organizers, and strategists. It was a beautiful, inspiring day. You can watch it here now and look for highlights via She the People on Facebook and Twitter.
-Heidi Hess, CREDO Action Co-Director
Women of color are far from just another data set to be analyzed by the recently fascinated strategists in our country. Each upset win reveals women of color candidates are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s not by chance. We are the saving grace of our democracy. It is the very group that has been ignored, taken for granted, discounted and dehumanized that will lead a desperately needed political, economic and moral shift. After all, we are the most deeply affected and harmed by the cruel policies and practices implemented across the country.
We are taking matters into our own hands, leading a multiracial democratic coalition that will win in swing states and beyond this year and in 2020. And these victories are not simply about electing Democrats.
The plans are much bigger.
We’ve launched She the People to call on the nation to elevate women of color fully into our fierce and loving leadership and collective power. She the People is founded on an inclusive, multiracial coalition that will transform our country’s politics. It tells the story of the remarkable candidates, voters and strategists that are already guiding us through what feels like the end of our democracy.
We’re seeking economic and racial justice. We want a country where people can live lives of dignity. This means full access to health care, housing and education. This means moving into a democracy we’ve dreamed of but have not yet realized.
People of color are 38 percent of our population and will soon be the majority. We are growing fast as the most progressive voters and the most reliable Democrats. It’s been tough work to convince political strategists, donors, and party leaders to change their assumptions and biases about what it takes to win elections. It was difficult to get resources for voter engagement and voter turnout for communities of color. For example, in 2016, Democrats spent 75 percent of their billion-dollar plus war chest going after white moderate and conservative voters. And we know how that turned out.
We know that 53 percent of all white women voted for Trump, making him president and costing us both the House of Representatives and Senate.
It’s time to burn the old playbook.
As 2016 marked a new beginning for the resistance, women of color have proved to the nation since then that we are on the cusp of a new progressive and political era. The key is to invest in what has driven a progressive future for our country, the New American Majority, the multiracial coalition of voters who elected Barack Obama.
We at She the People are telling the story of Stacey Abrams, Ayanna Pressley and the legion of women of color running for office this year, because in them and in us are the hope of our nation. Stories about how women of color are saving our democracy. Right now in swing states like Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia and now Mississippi – places whereTrump won – women of color are leading the charge by engaging new and young voters, and people of color. We understand that our swing voters are not the ones moving from red to blue. The swing is from non-voters to voters. Right now, Latina, Asian-American, Native American, and Arab American women are poised to lead victories for progressives running in the swing states in Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Women of color are claiming space in blue districts where tired moderate Democrats don’t fight for us, challenging the GOP in places like California where the majority of women are black and brown and the majority of voters are women.
Women of color, who are the most underrepresented group of elected leaders in our nation and most likely to face primary challenges from other Democrats, are finding new paths to leadership.
This is what She the People is about. It’s about finally getting everyone in formation with women of color. We’ve shown up for all of you. Will you be here for all of us?
Join us for the live stream of the She the People Summit – an unprecedented gathering of women of color who are transforming American politics, and leading the nation as leaders, voters, and strategists. #SheThePeople18
Posted by She the People on Thursday, September 20, 2018
Tuesday Tip: How to digitize your old photos
Photographs. On paper. Remember them? If you’re of a certain age, you probably have a bunch of them in a box somewhere. Probably some really cool ones that’d look great on your social media pages (#fbf anyone?), not to mention those old family pictures that you’d like to preserve and share.
In order to make this happen, what you need to do is digitize those photos. Here’s how.
Before you dive in, take some time to arrange your photos into categories. This may sound obvious—and perhaps unnecessary—but keep in mind that you’ll be storing your newly digitized photos on your computer, external drive or in the cloud with a service like iCloud, Dropbox or Google Photos and it will be a lot easier to store your pictures and find them again if you’re well organized from the start.
Now, once you’ve got your photos sorted into categories, it’s time to scan them. You have several options to do this.
Use your phone or tablet
If you have just a few photos to scan and you want to expend minimum effort (which, after all, is pretty much what today’s on-demand society is about) you can simply put a photo down flat and take a picture of it with the camera on your phone or tablet. This is easy—but it won’t deliver the best result.
A better (less easy) method is to download a scanning app and use that. There are some good ones out there now, although not as many as you might guess. Here are two photo-scanning apps available in both Android and iOS versions.
- Google PhotoScan: If you’re looking for quick-and-easy quality, this is it. The app is simple to use (it’s designed specifically to scan photos) and it virtually eliminates glare, which is the bane of many other photo-scanning apps. It takes around 25 seconds to scan one photograph.
- Photomyne: The advantage of Photomyne is its time-saving ability to scan more than one photo at once. It also gives you the option to tag photos with names, dates, locations, and descriptions. Color rendering is good, though other apps do a slightly better job. If you want to save a lot of albums with Photomyne, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee.
Get a good scanner
If you have a lot of photos to scan and you want high quality, this is the way to go. Yes, it’s an investment. But you can use your new scanner for much more than photos: documents, receipts for expenses, your passport when you travel—a lot of stuff.
There are several different types of scanners on the market. What you want is a flatbed scanner, which looks a bit like the top half of a copying machine: a glass bed where you lay your photo, a lid you close, a button you push to scan. Flatbed scanners, because they’re larger, produce the best image quality.
You can get a decent flatbed scanner from a recognizable brand for around $100. And nowadays even the lower-end scanners have handy features like photo editing and direct uploading to the cloud, which lets you send images straight to your cloud-storage account.
Choose your file format
Once you’ve scanned a photo, you have to save it—and when you do, you’ll have to choose a file format, most likely JPEG, PNG, TIFF or GIF. Which is the best? Depends on what you plan to do with your newly digitized photos.
The most popular format for photos that are uploaded and emailed, and probably the one you should choose. JPEG supports a full spectrum of colors and it’s practically universal—just about all devices and programs can open and save JPEGs. JPEG files are smaller than other formats, which means they’re compressed. This is good if you’re storing a lot of photos. But it’s not so good if you plan to edit your photos extensively. Each time you open, edit and save a JPEG, you lose quality.
A format designed to preserve quality. The upside is you can edit TIFF photos often with no loss of resolution. The downside is TIFF files, because they’re not compressed, use a lot of storage space. Almost any editing app will work with TIFF files.
A small file size that also maintains original quality, because PNG uses “lossless” compression. Unlike JPEG, the PNG format keeps text and logos crisp when posting online, so PNG is good for social media images with text and PowerPoints, etc.
Best for simple web graphics, not so good for scanned photos because the GIF format does not support a full spectrum of colors.
You’ll also have a choice of DPI (dots per inch) settings when you scan.
- Print – 300 DPI: for printing photos, 300 DPI is fine, because that’s the most your average printer is made to handle.
- Screen – 72 DPI: If your photos will be seen only on screen, choose 72 DPI, which is standard for most social media platforms and will produce smaller files that don’t take up too much storage space.
- Fine Art – 600 DPI: Scan at 600 DPI to ensure you capture maximum color and detail. Scanning above 600 DPI will make your files larger but won’t give you more image detail.
Scanning your old photos takes a fair number of hours, true, but the satisfaction of having your pictures digitized, stored, and easy to share is worth the time. Enjoy.
Posted on September 17, 2018
The 2018 midterm election is one of the most important midterms in decades. It’s the first since the presidency was decided by just 80,000 votes. And it’s the first midterm election since voter turnout scraped by at the lowest level in 72 years. As we all know, we’ve seen an ugly drive to make it harder for many Americans to vote.
So much is at stake – so what can we do to make sure that this election is fair, free and accurate?
Every one of us can play a role to #ProtectTheVote in 2018.
First, let’s understand the threats.
To start, there are cybersecurity risks. Russia attacked our democracy in 2016. It went well beyond stealing DNC emails. Hackers penetrated registration rolls, counting systems, even – unsuccessfully, we think – voting machines. As voting rights experts and intelligence experts agree, Russia will be back – and so will others. Those in the CREDO community won’t be surprised to learn that our enemies took advantage of vulnerabilities in our voting system and many of the solutions are those we’ve all demanded for years. Paper backup ballots. Audits. Stronger systems.
Congress authorized nearly $400 million earlier this year for states to buy new machines and take other steps. But that’s too little and too late to have the full impact this year. It’s up to all of us to make sure that state and local officials do their part to protect our democracy. Some of this money should surely be directed toward ensuring voter-verified paper records of every single vote. Those records can be used to make post-election audits standard to confirm that machines produced an accurate count.
Then there are the ongoing threats to voting rights. Since 2010, 23 states have enacted new laws to make it harder to vote for the first time since the Jim Crow era. That’s outrageous. It’s based on a lie: the myth of widespread voter fraud. When Donald Trump claimed he had really won the popular vote, because of 3 to 5 million “illegal” voters, he set up a task force to try to prove his bogus claim. It was guided by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who did so much to push anti-voting laws. The task force couldn’t find evidence of misconduct, then imploded before it could even issue a report.
The big risk over the next two months is when local officials find mischievous ways to keep eligible voters from voting. Take voter purges, for example. The voter rolls are full of errors, and we do want to make sure that they’re accurate. But too many states drop voters from the rolls recklessly and in ways that illegally boot eligible voters. A Brennan Center study found that 16 million voters were purged over the last four years. States once covered by the Voting Rights Act – before the Supreme Court gutted it in 2013 – have engaged in what NBC News called “a frenzy of purging.” Let’s guess that’s no coincidence. Read More
Posted on September 11, 2018
Tuesday Tip: How to Live Green in Your Dorm Room
A lot of young people will be going off to college soon and many will be living in dorms. You might be one of them. Or you might be a parent or grandparent of a soon-to-be dorm resident.
If you’re someone who cares about our planet (which obviously you are if you’re reading this blog)—we have good news: it’s easy to bring along an environment-friendly lifestyle when you go off to college. Here are a few tips for doing that.
Normally we’d suggest that you don’t buy new stuff when you move. But if the alternative is shipping your furniture to a dorm room where you’ll probably only live part of the year—and burning gallons of fossil fuel to do it—we say: buy local.
Most college towns have thrift stores and flea markets where you can pick up good cheap furniture, lamps, and accents, maybe even a velvet Elvis that will arouse the envy of your friends. Or check out eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can also find free stuff at sites like Freecycle.org.
If you’re looking for sheets, look for organic. Organic cotton is widely available these days and it’s a lot better for the environment than the alternative. Organic cotton uses no toxic chemicals (conventional cotton is one of the most-sprayed crops on the planet) and needs 71% less water and 62% less energy. It does far less damage to the soil than conventional cotton and often benefits the soil because it’s intercropped.
Organic cotton also feels better next to your skin. The fibers are longer and, since organic cotton is handpicked, the fibers are not weakened or broken during harvest, which means sheets made of organic cotton are softer and more durable.
Get a few plants
If your dorm doesn’t have a rule against them, plants make excellent roommates. They produce oxygen, which helps you sleep better. They absorb CO2 and other pollutants, which improves air quality—especially if you live in one of those dorms with sealed windows. They release phytoncides, which boost your white blood cells and neutralize microorganisms in the air.
Plus having plants around improves your mood—a bit like a pet and a lot less trouble. Although you do have to give your plants some attention. Water them, make sure they get sunshine and nourish them with compost. OK, we hear you. How do you compost if you live in a dorm room? Well, it’s easier than you might think. Read our post on composting for apartment dwellers.
The mini-fridge is as much a part of dorm life as leftover pizza and a neighbor who plays music too loud. But small refrigerators are big energy users relative to their size. That’s because they’re made with less insulation than large fridges, in order to save space.
When shopping for a mini-fridge, make sure to look for the Energy Star rating.
Even mild dehydration causes a loss of concentration, reduces your cognitive performance, erodes your motor skills, dulls awareness and dims your mood. So you’ll likely be drinking a lot of water in your dorm room and taking H2O on the go.
Try not to buy water in plastic bottles. As you no doubt know by now, plastic is a huge problem for our planet and a health threat to you. If you’re worried about water quality in your region, get a good water filter. When you’re taking water with you, put it in a reusable bottle. Here are four quality choices.
Don’t waste food
Imagine you take nearly half the food you buy and throw it away. In fact, that’s what we do as a nation every year. Around 40% of the food we produce is wasted—an average of a pound per person per day. Students don’t toss out as much food—around 142 pounds a year—but still, that’s a lot.
There are many steps you can take to waste less food, such as shopping and cooking smarter, eating all your leftovers and ignoring expiration dates (most of which are arbitrary). Check out our post on ways to avoid food waste.
Wash in cold water
You’ll probably spend a lot of time in the laundry room. Not only is it a good place to wash clothes, it’s also a great place to meet people and make new friends. But go easy on the hot water. A whopping 90% of the power consumed by a washing machine is used to heat the water for warm-water washing.
Switch to the cold-water setting and you’ll save a lot of energy. Cold water also cleans clothes, especially if you buy a cold-water detergent. These actually are formulated to work better in cold water (the claim is not just marketing).
Close your curtains
When the weather is warm, exposed windows are radiant heaters for your room. Shut your curtains or blinds and you can cut heat gain by 45%. Blinds are best but even a medium-color curtain with white backing can cut heat gain by 33%.
If you are headed off to school, we wish you luck and learning. Enjoy your year.
Posted on September 7, 2018
What it was like to be arrested at the Kavanaugh hearings for standing up for our beliefs and for CREDO’s values
“This is an attack on women’s rights and an attack on democracy. Shut this hearing down now!”
“Americans are scared. That’s why we’re here. We cannot go back.”
That’s what we shouted when we stood up inside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room this Tuesday during the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, seconds before we were pulled away in handcuffs by Capitol Police.
We were arrested fighting the nomination of Trump’s extreme Supreme Court pick – and we would do it again.
You can watch the video here.
Many people have asked us what it was like to get arrested for standing up for what we believe in. We’ll be honest – it was empowering, but it was also emotional and downright frightening.
The hardest part, after waiting for what felt like an eternity to enter the hearing room was that last moment before each of us decided to stand up. We saw what happened to the people before us. We knew that the Capitol Police would drag us out — literally drag — and we could see all the disapproving looks of the people around us. But when Senator Grassley continued saying things so outrageous and wrong about Kavanaugh’s record, he actually inspired us further.
Once we stood up, the words came flooding out. This nomination hearing could not continue without us speaking up to say that this is not right, that his nomination is a threat to our democracy and that we were here to stand up and defend it.
But our arrests have not been the only action we’ve taken this week to prevent Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court.
This act of civil disobedience is just one tactic in our long and public fight to stop a criminal co-conspirator from stacking the court with another right-wing extremist who will greenlight Republican attacks on women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people, people of color, workers, the environment and our democracy as whole.
We’ve known that the only way to stop Trump from installing Kavanaugh on the bench would be to ensure that every single Senate Democrat stands together in opposition, and the responsibility to hold his caucus together falls directly on Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer who has been failing miserably at his job.
That’s why we sent a scathing letter, along with a number of our allies, to Schumer on Wednesday urging him to immediately unite all Senate Democrats in opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But that’s not all.
To ensure Schumer got the message loud and clear that progressive activists would not allow him to sidestep his responsibilities, CREDO Action members drove a mobile billboard around Capitol Hill for eight hours a day, calling on Schumer to keep Senate Democrats united in opposition to the Supreme Court nominee.
This overwhelming pressure and resistance to stop Brett Kavanaugh has only been possible because of CREDO members who are standing up to Trump’s destructive, extreme and dangerous agenda to reshape the judiciary and our democracy.
Over 250,000 CREDO members have signed petitions calling on Senators to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination, and more than 3,000 CREDO members have placed calls to Schumer’s office. And CREDO customers who use our products every day are helping to directly fund this activism. Thank you.
We know this is a cause worth fighting for, and we’re not letting up any time soon.