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Cyber Security: 5 Steps You Should Take

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I work in the field of cyber security.  Specifically, I focus on credit card information safety. I am sure it comes as no surprise that protecting credit card information is a hot button issue at the moment and people working in security are constantly trying to fend off every conceivable attempt to steal your credit card information.    

So with that in mind, here’s a few goodies to help keep your credit card information safe online:

Do not respond to any email or click on any link when you cannot confirm the identity of the sender:

This one should be obvious by now, but I still hear about tech savvy people responding to a survey or clicking a link to see if they really did win a $1000 gift card to Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart or wherever. Joe and Mr. Walton would not give you a $1000 dollars if their lives depended on it. Relax, I’m sure they are great people that do amazing things in the world, but these types of emails are not from their companies. They are phishing scams meant to steal your information.

Avoid unsecured websites:  

Okay, this one may be a little tricky. Have you ever clicked on a link to a site and a message pops up stating the “site is not secure, click to proceed anyway?” This has nothing to do with the self-esteem of the site or its creators.  

Secure sites are “secure” for a couple of reasons. One reason is to carry a valid ID around so when they get “carded” by your computer, they can be deemed “trusted.”  The ID is called a site certificate and they are issued by a few organizations that are allowed to give them out  or sell them. They verify the site is who it says it is. Just so you know, whenever you click “proceed anyway” you are basically letting in an unidentified site. That’s important to understand.  

Don’t use a credit or debit card linked directly to your account at non-reputable establishments.  

I would like to take this a step further; nowadays there are so many options to build your own prevention plan. There is no getting around the convenience of using plastic. But learn how to be a little covert about it.  

Load up a good pre-paid card and use that instead of the debit card linked to your main checking account. There are some inexpensive cards out there that you can use to protect your main account. And yes, banks are good about returning stolen funds, but sometimes it gets ugly and can take a while. An investigation could take some time, leaving you high and dry.

Be very careful downloading free apps on your Android smartphone.  

This may seem extreme, but I’m going to give you some inside hacker info here people: Those free games and useless apps in Google Apps are written and used to gather and/or steal information from you. Sometimes they are so blatant, they will post the make and model of the phone and the username of the device online to let the creator and other hackers know where the hack works. The software may not automatically grab your card info, but it will send personal information to the hacker’s repository where it can be packaged and sold.  

Keep your home computer safe:

  1. Do everything you can to keep malicious software off of any computer you shop or manage your banking on. Surf and download very cautiously.
  2. Use malware and virus protection software and run it often.
  3. Use a good cleaning utility to clean old temp files and wipe the free space of your hard drive. Remember, things are not deleted when you send them to the recycling bucket. I like CCleaner. It’s free and it has options for wiping clean old deleted files.
  4. Keep your computer up-to-date. Do not ignore updates.
  5. Restart your computer often. This isn’t one you hear about too much anymore, but sometimes information can sit in RAM (this is another type of storage your computer manages) indefinitely and if you are hacked, the files this memory uses could be compromised. Restarting the computer will clear this memory out.

Photo Credit: bykst via Pixabay

About the Author:

Thomas Daley is the Network Security Specialist and certified Payment Card Industry Internal Security Assessor at the PPA.  Tom is a lifelong native of Philadelphia, grew up in Kensington, graduated from Visitation BVM grade school, Northeast Catholic High School for Boys, and Duquesne University. He has 18 years of diverse IT experience, including the incorporation of his first I.T. Consulting Business when he was 24 years old.  Later he worked for Lockheed Martin as an Information Assurance Security Officer (IASO) for the United States Army.

 

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PPA To Enforce TNC Prohibition & Relax Regulation of Taxis in Philadelphia

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(PHILADELPHIA) In a statement today, PPA Deputy Executive Director Corinne O’Connor said, “While we understand that TNC services (Uber X and Lyft) are very popular with the public and many elected officials want to see them continue, with the expiration of Act 85, TNC service in now illegal in Philadelphia and the PPA is committed to enforcing the law.  As a result, the PPA is providing 48 hour notice that it will resume enforcement against illegal TNC service in Philadelphia.”

Regarding taxi regulations, O’Connor announced “immediate waivers of certain existing taxi regulatory requirements,” pending formal board approval and a full review and promulgation of new permanent regulations, as follows:

1.      Upon installation of an approved camera system, operators may remove shields.  Operators are free to propose alternative systems for approval, particularly in light of the fact that they may operate without a shield if they have a camera system.

2.    While the 8 year age limit is statutory; we will  Increase mileage limit to 350,000, consistent with PUC mileage limitations.

3.      Waive requirement for semi-annual inspections until a vehicle reaches 200,000 miles.

4.      Waive requirement for two-way radios, with the caveat that we will continue to demand compliance with the panic switch requirement to protect drivers.

5.  We will allow operators to use stand-by vehicles to be used in the event of some problem which will cause the medallion vehicle to be out of commission; the Authority will determine an implementation plan within 30 days. 

 6.  We will allow all driver training (standard and WAV) to be done by operators or third parties, provided that a training program and syllabus is first approved by the TLD. The Authority will continue to conduct training for those who do not wish to pursue other training.  The Authority will continue to accept all driver applications for the processing of background checks and conduct testing for the issuance and renewal of driver certificates.

7.     We invite and will expedite consideration of new meter technologies, and are willing to grant experimental/condition authority for such new technologies.

8.  We invite and will expedite consideration of any petitioner for alternative rate arrangements (for example, differential rates applicable to trips book in advance through applications).

Concluding, O’Connor said, “we want to make clear that we will consider any other petition seeking a waiver of regulatory requirements to the extent it is permissible under law.  We cannot waive or relax statutory requirements.”

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Signs: Who Handles What?

SignsAs you park your car in the streets of Philly, and before you feed the meter , what are you likely to see? You guessed it—signs.

With a multitude of signs scattered throughout our city blocks, it’s important to remember one thing: Make sure you read them before parking so you can avoid getting a ticket!

Aside from helping manage the traffic flow on city streets, signs also serve as a guide for on-street parking options. But here’s the thing: The Philadelphia Parking Authority manages some of these signs, while others are managed by the Philadelphia Streets Department. Check out the list below for an outline of who handles what.

PPA handles:

  • Time Limit Parking
  • Disabled Person Reserved Parking Spaces
  • Passenger Loading Zones
  • Truck Zones
  • Valet Zones
  • Residential Permit Parking
  • Electric Vehicle Only
  • Philly Carshare

If you have a question, or spot a damaged sign managed by the PPA, reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook.  

Philadelphia Streets Department handles:

  • Street cleaning
  • Authorized zones
  • Bus zones
  • No parking in this street
  • No truck parking in this street
  • School Zones

If you have questions about the signs that are managed by the Streets Department, you can get in touch with Philly 311.

A Word to the Wise:

PPA SignThe green lettering on signs highlight the hours and days that parking is permitted at a particular location.

The red lettering on signs indicates when parking is restricted or just flat out not allowed.

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Parking Fails: Volume XI

Parking: To some it’s still a science that is beyond comprehension. Luckily the lack of parking comprehension still provides for some good comedy, as you’ll clearly see in this edition of Parking Fails.

pfail 31Parking Fail #1

PSA: Chevy Silverados are now considered compact vehicles — at least in the mind of this driver.

Who knows? Maybe someone painted the word “compact” while the driver was shopping to make this look like an even bigger parking fail. Either way, it was parked squarely in the middle of two parking spots.

 
pfail 32Parking Fail # 2

Apparently if you park illegally in this city, you’ll not only get the boot, but your car will also be marooned on a concrete island.

Seriously though — at that point, why didn’t they just tow the car?

On a side note: Take a look at how to avoid our boots here.

 
pfail 33Parking Fail #3

This guy wanted to test his parallel parking skills at the expense of others in this parking lot.

Was this just merely an act of defiance? Or did this guy just legitimately think he was parking the right way?

You be the judge, but after scratching their heads in disbelief, a Parking Enforcement Office or a police officer would most definitely be giving this guy a ticket.

Spot an illegally parked vehicle in area we patrol? Let us know by calling 215-683-9775 and we’ll send someone out to take a look.

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Parking Fails: Volume X

Nothing good comes out of a bad park job. Think about it: Most of the time it’ll result in a ticket, and other times some people take a more aggressive approach to point out a parking mishap. In this edition of Parking Fails, we’re taking a brief look at those aggressive — and in some cases illegal — approaches.

pfail28Parking Fail # 1

OK, so we’re not sure if this is a prank or if someone was really ticked off at this guy’s park job.

Either way, this driver is going to have a longer commute home when they get wrapped up at work. In fact, they’ll probably have to run back to the office and grab a pair of scissors.

 

pfail29Parking Fail # 2

Let it be known that if you park incorrectly at this parking lot, your car will be vandalized beyond recognition.

A bit overboard? Yes.

Illegal? Most definitely.

Still an atrocious park job? You betcha.

 

pfail30Parking Fail # 3

This is a perfect example of getting the job done at all costs.

Painter: Yo, boss. Finishing up the last spot, but someone is blocking it.”

Boss: You know what to do.”

Alright, so this photo is likely edited, but it literally paints a good picture of how not to park in a public garage.


Remember: If you see an illegally parked car in an area we patrol, let us know by calling our communications line at
215-683-9775.

 

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Parkadelphia: Understanding Philly’s Parking Regulations

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Remember the residential parking map that Lauren Ancona threw together a while ago? Well, she went and kicked it up a notch with her newest creation, Parkadelphia.

Let’s jump right into it: In March, Ancona, Senior Data Scientist at the City of Philadelphia Office of Innovation and Technology, launched Parkadelphia, a helpful and comprehensive visualization tool that helps visitors and residents better understand city-wide parking regulations. By using data we released to Philadelphia’s open data portal, Ancona plotted out active residential parking districts and their corresponding blocks. More meticulously, however, Ancona also mapped current meter, kiosk and scooter corral locations while providing the corresponding parking regulations.

In other words, Parkadelphia helps explain when and where you can and can’t park throughout Philly.

Here’s the thing: Ancona will be plugging away and adding new features, and hopes to have it done in the near future. In the meantime, fool around with Parkadelphia a bit — you could learn something new about Philly’s parking regulations and (hint, hint) avoid getting one of those blue and white notices placed on your windshield.

Also, if you’re a map aficionado, take a gander at our map primer for other useful information.

 

Note: The data provided to Philadelphia’s Open Data Portal is current up to the date it was released. The Philadelphia Parking Authority cannot guarantee the accuracy of information provided in Parkadelphia as regulations are always subject to change.

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Philly’s Art Scene and Where to Park

When you think of Philadelphia’s art scene, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s jogging up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps while doing your best Rocky impression, you’re not quite right — but location-wise, you’re pretty close.

Think about it for a second: How long can you walk down a city block without being reminded that Philly has a robust art scene? If the countless murals weren’t enough of a reminder, just take a stroll down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where these two gems are:

Art Museum

1. The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Arguably the city’s most famous and noticeable landmark, the Philadelphia Museum of Art boasts a world-renowned art collection of more than 227,000 pieces.

In fact, to make things even more enticing for visitors, the Museum of Art offers a Pay What You Wish entry fee on the first Sunday of every month and on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

 

barnes-foundation-gallery-rkennedy-900vp.jpg2. The Barnes Foundation

If you’re a fan of the arts, you may have collected a few nice pieces over the years, right? No offense, but the Barnes Collection will probably put it to shame.

Don’t be so hard on yourself though. It’s hard to compete with 3,000 masterpieces, including 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 16 Modigli­anis, seven Van Goghs and much more.

By the way: On the first Sunday of each month, the Barnes Foundation offers free admission!  Plan your trip ahead and get all the details here.

Now before heading to the Parkway to gaze at all the masterpieces, make sure you’re getting a cheap and convenient parking spot. Luckily we have two locations within close walking distance. Check out the locations below and get at us on Twitter or Facebook with any questions!

Gateway Parking Garage

Rates:

  • Up to 20 Minutes – $3.00
  • Each Additional 20 Minutes (or portion)  – $3.00
  • Up to 10 hours – $16.00
  • Over 10 hours – $20.00

Specials:

  • Early Bird – Enter by 9 a.m., exit by 6 p.m. – $14.00
  • Weekend Rate – (Saturday and Sunday, must exit by Monday at 9 a.m.) – $7.00 per day

19th & Callowhill Lot

Rates:

  • Up to 1 hour – $6.00
  • Up to 2 hours – $10.50
  • Up to 12 hours – $16.50

Specials:

  • Weekends – $10.00 (Flat Rate Per Day)
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#TBT: The Terrible Tow

#TBT The Terrible TowTow trucks: Probably not the most popular topic of conversation among motorists, but believe it or not, they have quite a history. In fact, there’s actually a Towing Hall of Fame and Museum down in Chattanooga, TN.

Anyway, let’s get back to Philly. Back in the early 1900s tow trucks were actually tow trailers and were in use throughout the city. But if you compare the picture to the left with one of our current tow trucks, you can see there’s definitely been upgrades over the years.

Nowadays in the city, you’ve probably seen our tow trucks every so often. If you’ve been towed, here’s what to do to get back behind the wheel in three steps:

  1. Call 1-888-591-3636 to confirm your vehicle has been towed. We will be able to tell you where your vehicle was taken.
  2. After confirming where your vehicle is located you must pay all outstanding tickets as well as tow and storage fees, plus all outstanding tickets and fees on any previously owned vehicles. These payments can be made at the Parking Violations Branch at 913 Filbert Street, near the bus station, or the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) Impoundment Lot at 2501 Weccacoe Avenue, off Columbus Boulevard.
  3. After making all outstanding payments, go to the impoundment lot where your vehicle is located. You can find a full list of our Impound Lots here. Upon arriving, you must present the following documents to our Impoundment Lot staff:
  • Your valid driver’s license
  • Proof of current insurance for the vehicle
  • Current vehicle registration
  • Cashier’s receipt(s) along with the accompanying Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA)/Parking Violations Branch (PVB) Release Authorization for payment and/or adjudication of the tow and storage charges
  • Release authorization from the Philadelphia Traffic Court (only applies to vehicles impounded through Live Stop)
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What to Do if You’re Booted—And How to Avoid It in the Future

bootMost boots are meant for walking, but if you’ve been the recipient of one of our yellow boots, that means you have at least three or more unpaid parking or red light camera tickets.

In the long run the best way to avoid getting the boot is to not ignore your tickets.

Here’s the scoop: After you receive a parking ticket, you have the option to either pay or dispute it. But if you wait too long to pay or dispute your tickets, you could receive up to $65 in late fees to boot (no pun intended).

For the complete run-down on what happens to a ticket that’s just flat-out ignored, go here.

Now let’s get back to the boot. Let’s say you do have three or more unpaid parking or red light camera tickets and you come back to your car only to see a big ol’ yellow boot latched to it. Here’s what you need to do:

Pay the Outstanding Tickets and Boot Fee

Before a boot can taken off your vehicle, all outstanding tickets and a $150 boot fee must be paid. In this case, calling 1-888-591-3636 and pressing 2 after hearing the language options is the quickest way to make the payment. However, you also have the option to pay all outstanding tickets and the boot fee online.

Once payment is received, our booting crew will be notified to remove the boot from your car.

Have you been given the boot and have more questions? Let’s hear them on Twitter and Facebook!

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Mother’s Day in Philly: What to do and Where to Park

momdayphillyWhen you think of Philadelphia’s history, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Being the first capital of the United States? Betsy Ross knitting the first American flag on Arch Street? Or how about the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

You get the point — Philadelphia’s history is filled with many firsts for the United States. The list goes on and on, but one piece of Philadelphia’s history tends to go unnoticed: Mother’s Day.

In 1908, a Philadelphian named Anna Marie Jarvis held the first ceremony to honor not only her mother, but all mothers around the world. Following this first ceremony, Jarvis tirelessly lead efforts to recognize Mother’s Day as an official holiday. After six years, Jarvis’s efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson  declared Mother’s Day an official holiday in 1914.

Now, here we are in present-day Philadelphia for the 102st Mother’s Day. Aside from continuing to be any history buff’s dream, it’s also the perfect setting for treating the mother in your life to brunch, dinner or day out in the city. In fact, Visit Philadelphia offers some great ideas for your day out with mom. Check them out here.

Whether you’re wining and dining in Center City, or just taking a midday stroll through Old City, we can help you and your mom find convenient parking. After deciding how to spend your Mother’s Day, check which one of our garages best suites you, or feel free to use our parking locator!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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