Gas Prices Down A Penny

Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are down a penny from last week, according to AAA Southern New England.

AAA’s Sept. 2nd survey of prices in Massachusetts found self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $3.44 per gallon, down one cent from last week. Prices locally are 12 cents lower than a month ago. The current price is a penny more than the national average for self serve unleaded of $3.43. A year ago at this time the Massachusetts average price was 21 cents higher at $3.65.

The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 60 cents, from a low of $3.29 to a high of $3.89. AAA advises motorists to shop around for the best prices in their area, and to make sure they and their passengers buckle up — every trip, every time.

Today’s local gas prices and their ranges are as follows:

Self Serve                                                Grade

$3.449 ($3.299-$3.899)                                    Regular Unleaded

$3.649 ($3.399-$4.059)                                    Midgrade Unleaded

$3.779 ($3.499-$4.199)                                    Premium Unleaded

$3.839 ($3.689-$4.199)                                    Diesel

Find the most up-to-date local gas prices with the AAA Fuel Finder by logging onto AAA.com and clicking on Gas Saving Tips & Tools. AAA members can also obtain a copy of the Gas Watcher’s Guide at their local AAA Southern New England office.

AAA Fuel Saving Tip of the Week

Accelerate smoothly and brake gradually. It’s safer, uses less gas and reduces brake wear.

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The Dangers Of Free Wi-Fi

A summer vacation should be free of worry and potential scams, but your Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of reports of scammers setting up free Wi-Fi connections. Many hotels, airports, and other public spaces offer free Wi-Fi, but unfortunately more and more scammers are trying to steal personal information by creating unsecured networks that consumers can connect to for free.

Although hackers can, and have, set up fake Wi-Fi connections in a number of venues, usually they will target consumers at airports or hotels. When searching for connections, consumers may see a network connection available that could be simply named “Free Wi-Fi.” Thinking it’s the free connection offered by the establishment, they’ll log on. Unfortunately, the network may actually be an “ad-hoc” network, or a peer-to-peer connection.

The user will be able to surf the Internet, but they’re doing it through the hacker’s computer. And the whole time, the hacker is stealing information like passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, and social security numbers. Beyond simply stealing keystroke information as the user enters various types of data, if the laptop is set to share files, the hacker could even steal whole documents from the computer.

BBB recommends the following tips when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks:

  • Never connect to an unfamiliar ad-hoc network—even if the name sounds genuine. A hacker can change the name of his network to anything he wants, including the name of the legitimate Internet connection offered by the airport. Just because it has the same name as the Wi-Fi advertised in the airport or hotel, don’t believe it.

  • Make sure that your computer is not set up to automatically connect to non-preferred networks. Otherwise your computer could automatically connect to the hacker’s network without your knowledge.

  • Make sure your firewall is enabled. A firewall helps protect your computer from unauthorized users gaining access by way of the Internet. This can help decrease the likelihood of scammers installing viruses on your device.

  • Do important online work at home. If at all possible, do your important work, such as banking, at home. If you will end up needing to connect to Wi-Fi, avoid using it for tasks such as this. Financial activity is one of the key activities hackers are looking for. Save that for home or on your mobile device’s network.

For more information, visit bbb.org/boston.

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Two Quincy Projects Featured In National CDBG Video

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Community Development Block Grant Program, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has produced a series of videos and multimedia tools to highlight some of the best projects that have ever been undertaken nationwide through CDBG funding.

Two of Quincy’s very own CDBG projects — Manet Community Health Center and the Germantown Community Center — are prominently featured in HUD’s video entitled, “The Role of the CDBG Program in Creating a Suitable Living Environment”.

In 1978, the City of Quincy allocated $338,974 in CDBG funds for the construction of the Manet Community Health Center in Houghs Neck.  When it opened in 1979, Manet had 3 employees and operated 1 clinic.  Today, Manet has over 150 employees at six health centers.

And in 2005, when St. Boniface Church in Germantown was suppressed by the Archdiocese of Boston, the City of Quincy stepped in and purchased the property with CDBG funds and redeveloped the building into what is now the Germantown Neighborhood Center.

To celebrate CDBG’s 40th anniversary locally, the City of Quincy will showcase the official citywide premier of the video next Friday, Aug. 22 at noon in the first floor conference room of the Thomas Crane Public Library, 40 Washington St., Quincy.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend the premier.

The video premier will mark the 40th anniversary (to the day) when President Gerald R. Ford signed a law creating the CDBG Program on August 22, 1974.  The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 merged seven individual competitive grant programs into a single block grant providing local communities the flexibility to decide for themselves how best to meet their own community development needs.

Over the last 40 years, thousands of cities, urban counties and rural communities have come to rely upon this critical resource, investing $144 billion to undertake a wide variety of activities from improving public facilities to producing affordable housing. Each year, CDBG funds are distributed to state and local governments according to their population, poverty, and other housing variables.

CDBG’s impact can be measured in every corner of the U.S. and in the lives of millions of Americans.  Last year alone, the program allowed state and local governments to help nearly 28,000 individuals to find permanent employment or to keep the full-time jobs they have. CDBG also supported the rehabilitation of nearly 95,000 homes and financed public improvement projects that benefitted an estimated 3.3 million residents in communities from coast to coast.

 

During this 40th anniversary year, HUD is encouraging CDBG beneficiaries to connect with each other to share experiences and reflections about CDBG at #CDBGturns40.

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Governor Signs Gun Safety Legislation

Governor Deval Patrick has signed gun safety legislation that seeks to curb the gun violence that impacts families and neighborhoods across the Commonwealth.

“Our communities and our families are safer when irresponsible gun sales and use are reduced,” said Governor Patrick. “This Legislation moves us in that direction.”

This legislation builds on the Commonwealth’s Nation-leading gun laws by making Massachusetts compliant with the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), creating new firearms crimes such as assault and battery by discharge of a firearm and enhancing sentences for existing firearms crimes like trafficking in firearms and gun related deaths. It also increases the safety of children while attending school through mandated the creation and review of school emergency response plans and direct communication with local police and fire departments.

The new law requires the Commonwealth’s courts to transmit all relevant mental health and substance abuse commitments, domestic violence convictions, restraining orders and guardianship appointments to the Massachusetts criminal justice information system for inclusion in NICS available to all states for the sole purpose of firearms licensing. Further, the law makes a felony conviction a lifetime disqualifier for all firearms licenses and adds a suitability determination to Firearms Identification cards (FID), by which local licensing authorities may petition the district court to find an FID applicant unsuitable. Firearms dealers will also be required to conduct Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks on employees.

The legislation also:

  • Eliminates the distinction between Class A and Class B Licenses to Carry (LTC);
  • Requires the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) to create a “real-time web portal” to revamp the private firearms sale process;
  • Requires the Chief of Police and school Superintendent to assign a school resource officer to each school district; and
  • Requires schools to address mental health needs of students and staff.
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College Students Warned Of Apartment Rental Scams

Better Business Bureau is warning college students to be on the lookout for scammers on Craigslist and other online classifieds when searching for an on or off-campus apartment to rent. Phony ads for rental properties are always popping up, and are specifically aimed at stealing money from unsuspecting students.

“Online classified ads have made finding campus rental properties much more convenient,” said Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the local BBB. “Unfortunately though, what is convenient for college students is often just as convenient for scammers, who have found a way to take advantage of unsuspecting, college renters.”

Students typically fall victim to this scam after responding to an online classified for a rental property. Scammers know that finding a great apartment either on or off-campus can be difficult, especially when there’s a time crunch. Be wary of any rental property that offers a great place for a cheap price, as it could lead to a scam. Make sure to do a comparison of similar properties in the area to know if it’s legitimate.

BBB recommends students ask their friends if they know of any apartments opening up in the area first. It’s also important for students to do their research before signing a lease or handing over a deposit. Online classifieds are a great way to find a rental, but students should visit the apartment in person and carefully review any paperwork provided.

BBB advises college students searching for rentals to look out for these red flags:

• The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure in victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced, and if the rental comes in suspiciously low, walk away.

• The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate via e-mail. Scammers might say they have just been relocated out of the country for a job or missionary work – don’t believe it.

• The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the home. Don’t pay any money before inspecting the home, inside and out.

• The landlord asks the renter to wire money through wire transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Money sent via wire transfer service is extremely difficult to retrieve and once the scammers have picked it up, there is little recourse—if any—for getting your money back.

For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/boston.

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