Attorney General Harris Offers Safe Shopping And Donating Tips

With the holidays comes shopping and donating – and the increased risk of becoming a victim. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has issued tips for safe shopping and charitable giving during the holiday season. Check out the recent press release here.

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Stress Less During the Holidays

shutterstock_65364775The many joys of the holiday season—giving (and receiving) gifts, cheery decorations and sharing time with those you care about—always come with some level of stress. For some, loads of added stress.

There are worries over busting your spending budget at the mall; traveling itineraries, possibly with costly air travel involved; or perhaps hosting a holiday gathering with a house full of relatives who don’t always get along.

Several things can help you cope with stress during the holidays:

  • Temper expectations. Forget about the perfect gift, the perfect meal, the perfect celebration, the perfect family. Accept imperfections—yours and those of others.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your needs and feelings. Participate in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Be mindful of your diet, exercise (spending time outdoors when weather permits), and get plenty of sleep.
  • Stick to a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and stay with it. Running up charge cards can trigger feelings of guilt later.
  • Make connections. Visit friends. Accept support from those who care about you.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress.
  • Don’t automatically participate in family traditions or activities if they are particularly stressful solely because that’s just what you have always done—consider alternatives.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist or other mental health professional. Here are some resources:

Two New Publications from the California Bureau of Real Estate

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The California Bureau of Real Estate has two new publications available on its website, http://www.calbre.ca.gov: the Quick Guide for Tenants Renting a Home and the Quick Guide for Landlords Hiring a Property Manager.

The guides feature important questions to ask for potential tenants and landlords seeking a property manager, as well as information on contracts, resources for research, and possible red flags tenants and landlords should be aware of to avoid being a victim of fraud.

Take a look!

Occupational Therapy Assistant Convicted Of Felony For Illegally Practicing As An Occupational Therapist

SACRAMENTO – A Los Angeles County Occupational Therapy Assistant has been convicted of a felony for illegally practicing as an Occupational Therapist, and has been sentenced to three years’ probation and 44 days of community service.

An investigation into Dean Anthony Theodore by the California Board of Occupational Therapy and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office determined Theodore was illegally representing himself and practicing as an Occupational Therapist. Theodore is licensed by the Board as an Occupational Therapy Assistant and does not possess an Occupational Therapist license.

“An individual performing work they are not licensed to do is not only illegal but it also compromises patient safety,” said Heather Martin, Executive Officer of the Board of Occupational Therapy. “We want to remind consumers it is very important they always check the licenses of individuals they are receiving services from.”

For more information about the California Board of Occupational Therapy, visit www.bot.ca.gov.

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The Department of Consumer Affairs promotes and protects the interests of California Consumers. Consumers who wish to file a complaint against a licensee can contact the Department of Consumer at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.dca.ca.gov.

Staying Safe On Roadways This Winter

The onset of falling temperatures and inclement weather makes it an ideal time to prepare your vehicle for the winter driving season, especially before you take off on any road trips you may have planned.

shutterstock_62063233Any routine maintenance you have been putting off should be addressed this time of year, and a winter-specific safety kit can provide peace of mind before you hit the road.

DCA’s California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has a useful checklist to help motorists get prepared.

  • Start with your owner’s manual: Be sure your vehicle is up to date on its recommended maintenance schedule, including changing the engine oil and filter, and fluids such as antifreeze and coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper, and steering.
  • Carry chains: Driving in the foothills and mountains can be treacherous if a storm system brings snow.
  • Check the battery: Corrosion, cracks, and dirt can affect battery cables and hinder performance.
  • Be sure your brake system is in good shape: Have a licensed adjuster check pads and linings. Visit the BAR website (www.bar.ca.gov) to find a licensed brake station.
  • Inspect the lights: This includes turn signals, brake and fog lights, and high beams. Cleaning your car’s lenses can maximize visibility.
  • Check hoses and belts: Look for any cracks, soft spots, or bulges that could be a potential problem, and find a qualified technician for any repairs.
  • Test your vehicle’s heater and defroster, and change out your wiper blades if they are cracked or worn. Don’t replace your wiper fluid with water.
  • Inspect tires: Balding tires reduce traction and can be a safety hazard. Having plenty of tread on your tires could be the difference between driving safely on snow and ice or in the rain or sliding all over the road. Check the air pressure in your tires regularly, including the the spare.

Assembling a winter safety kit can be invaluable, particularly in an emergency. Before leaving on long-distance trips, be sure your kit contains battery jumper cables; a flashlight and extra batteries; basic first-aid supplies; an extra blanket and warm clothes; a tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench); bottled water and nonperishable food; road safety flares; and a windshield ice scraper.

You should watch weather reports closely, especially before road trips, and be prepared to delay a trip when particularly rough weather is expected.

Road and highway conditions can be checked by calling the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) at (800) 427-7623 or visiting their website at www.dot.ca.gov.

If you plan to be driving in a remote area, use a detailed map rather than relying solely on GPS navigation, which can be unreliable in some areas and may get you lost instead of leading you to your intended destination.

And finally, be sure to have a cellphone and car charger in case you encounter any problems and need to call for help.

With these tips, you are on your way to being winter road trip ready!

News from Covered California: Open Enrollment Is Here!

Covered CA Logo

Do you have health insurance?  Do you know someone who needs health insurance? If so, Covered California has good news – Covered California open enrollment starts November 15, 2014 and lasts until February 15, 2015.

This is your opportunity to compare health insurance plans for yourself, your family, or even your business.  Covered California is also the only place to get financial assistance for health care coverage. Covered California makes it easy – by going to www.CoveredCA.com you can compare available plans and also see if you qualify for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal.

Covered California is the state health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act. For more details and information about Covered California and open enrollment, please visit the Covered California website at www.CoveredCA.com.

Canine Care, Inc. Ordered To Pay $150,000 In Restitution For The Unlicensed Practice Of Veterinary Medicine

Read more at The DOI Page.

Don’t forget to follow the The DOI Page to get all the latest from the Department’s Division of Investigation.

Cosmetic Contacts: Halloween Fun or Just Plain Scary?

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When getting your costume together for Halloween, you know what takes your look to the next level, don’t you? Your eyes. Because it doesn’t matter how cool your costume is, you can’t go halfway when paying tribute to your favorite character—it’s all or nothing.

It’s also all or nothing when choosing costume contact lenses. Buyer beware—if you put cheap, nonprescription contacts in your eyes, you may damage your sight or lose it completely.

The bottom line is, just like their corrective counterparts, costume contacts (also known as fashion, Halloween, color, or theatre contacts) require a prescription. It’s the law.

Just because costume contacts are an accessory doesn’t mean you should buy them at a gas station, flea market, street vendor, beauty supply store, novelty or costume shop, or other business. Businesses that sell costume contact lenses to you without a prescription are operating illegally. Even though these contacts are not used for vision correction, they still need to fit your eye correctly. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), any kind of contact lens that does not fit your eyes correctly can cause:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Corneal abrasions—a cut or scratch on your cornea (the top layer of your eyeball)
  • Infection
  • Impaired vision
  • Blindness

The FDA also advises that when wearing any type of contact lenses, pay attention to signs of possible eye infection, including:

  • Redness
  • Pain in the eye(s) that doesn’t go away after a short period of time
  • Decreased vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to see a licensed eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) immediately. Eye infections could become serious and cause you to become blind if not treated.

Buy your contacts—including the decorative ones—from an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, a registered dispensing optician, or from a reputable online vendor that requires a prescription. Make sure you’re buying FDA-cleared or -approved contacts lenses. Also, the person or company that sells you the contacts must get your prescription and verify it with your doctor. The FDA says that if they don’t ask for the name and phone number of your doctor, they are breaking Federal law and may be selling you illegal contacts.

If you do not have a prescription you will need to get an eye exam; if you wear contacts now, ask your eye doctor for a copy of your current prescription. And, when you get your contacts, make sure you follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses. If you don’t receive directions, ask for them!

Check the license!

Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons who are licensed by DCA’s Medical Board of California. They perform surgeries for problems caused by diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, and also treat eye diseases and prescribe corrective lenses.

Optometrists are licensed by DCA’s State Board of Optometry. They conduct examinations to determine the overall health of the eyes, screen for diseases, and also prescribe corrective lenses.

Registered dispensing opticians are also licensed by DCA’s Medical Board of California. They run businesses that fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses. They cannot prescribe corrective lenses.

You can check Medical Board licensees’ records online at www.mbc.ca.gov, and State Board of Optometry licensees’ at www.optometry.ca.gov.

Make sure you’re doing the right thing for your eyes; you might be dressing up for one Halloween night, but your vision is forever.

 

Investigation Finds Two Women Practicing Medicine Without Licenses

Read more at The DOI Page.

Don’t forget to follow the The DOI Page to get all the latest from the Department’s Division of Investigation.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month and to be hosting a multi-department Diversity & Disability Awareness and Resource Fair on October 15, 2014. Each October, a national campaign is held to educate employees and employers in all industries about diversity and disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. DCA is firmly committed to supporting the message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.

  • Date:         October 15, 2014
  • Location:  Dept. of Consumer Affairs, 1625 North Market Blvd.,  Sac, CA 95834
  • Time:         Resource Fair – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Learn more about NDEAM by visiting their website at http://www.dol.gov/odep/