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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
July/August 2014

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State employee compensation, benefit changes effective September 1

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Laws passed during the 83rd Texas Legislature will result in changes to some state employee compensation and benefits effective September 1. While TDCJ staff who received a 5 percent pay raise effective September 1, 2013, will not receive an additional increase, other state employees in Salary Schedules A and B will receive a 2 percent salary increase in fiscal year 2015, with a $50 monthly minimum. Law enforcement officers and Salary Schedule C employees with the Office of Inspector General will also receive a salary adjustment beginning September 1.

Other changes to retirement provisions and health care benefits effective September 1 include:

For more information or answers to questions regarding employee benefits, employees should contact ERS directly at (877) 275-4377, their unit or department Human Resources representative or TDCJ Employee Services at HR headquarters in Huntsville at (936) 437-4064.

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Annual medical exams improve health, cut medical costs

Most people do not look forward to getting their annual medical exam, and some folks do their best to avoid it altogether. While a doctor's visit may seem unnecessary when you're feeling perfectly well, an annual physical is an important part of preventive medical care.

doctor taking blood pressure

Parents often make certain their children receive annual physicals, but these exams become increasingly important into adulthood. Even those who maintain a healthy lifestyle, pay attention to their eating habits, exercise and avoid smoking can benefit from annual physical exams. Health professionals use these exams to watch for symptoms which may not be noticeable to the patient, and could lead to serious illness. For those who have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle, annual exams are even more important. State employees' health benefits cover the cost of annual physicals because they help prevent more serious illness and reduce the overall cost of healthcare, and those who undergo annual medical exams benefit from improved health and increased lifespan; they can also provide peace of mind, as people tend to worry less about their health when they are checked once a year.

Most people can easily recall the poking and prodding that takes place during a physical exam, but a majority of the time is spent simply talking to your doctor, answering a list of health-related questions and discussing your family health history. It's important to be honest when answering these questions. Even if you feel that a health problem may be minor and irrelevant, or you find it embarrassing, talk about it with your doctor. Even a small detail can help them more accurately assess your overall health. But don't wait for your annual exam to tell your doctor about any serious or lingering symptoms. Any serious illness or symptom should be examined as soon as possible.

As for the actual physical examination, your doctor will perform a series of checks that are all quick and relatively painless. You might be asked to visit a medical lab before or after your exam appointment so you can provide samples for testing. The results of these tests will be sent to your doctor. During the physical, your doctor will visually examine your eyes, ears, nose and throat; take your blood pressure and listen to your heart, lungs and abdomen to make sure everything looks and sounds normal. Your skin, muscles and extremities will be examined, and your physician may perform any gender-specific exam procedures.

To schedule an appointment for a physical, contact your primary care physician. Note: a co-payment is not typically required for an annual physical, but may be assessed under certain circumstances. Your insurance provider can provide details regarding when co-payment fees are applicable.

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Information security: don't fall for tech-support phone scams

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As automated information security systems improve, cyber criminals are shifting their attacks to target individual computer users, and it's becoming more common for criminals to call potential victims on the phone in an attempt to run a common tech-support con game. Here’s what you can do to avoid being scammed.

Most phone scams are designed to convince an individual to disable their computer system’s built-in security. A caller might say they are associated with Microsoft or another legitimate company. They tell you there is a problem with your computer and it may be infected with a virus. They are calling to investigate the problem and offer to help you secure your computer. Then, they use technical jargon while asking you to perform a series of confusing steps on your computer. Ultimately, they convince you that your computer is infected and scare you into disabling security programs or installing their product.

Some scammers may ask you to download and install a program from their website or use online services that give them remote access to your computer so they can troubleshoot and confirm the problem. These tools are usually legitimate remote access tools, such as LogMeIn.com or ShowMyPC.com, so your antivirus software most likely will not flag them. While speaking with you on the phone, the scammer will walk you through your computer's programs and settings. The caller may even begin to disable legitimate security services, claiming they are actually malicious programs. By disabling your computer's software, they are attempting to frighten you into believing that your computer is infected and the only way you can fix the problem is by installing their product. Their ultimate goal is to gain control of your computer and get your money or harvest confidential information.

Remember, everything these criminals are telling you is a lie; do not fall for such attacks. Criminals use the telephone instead of e-mail because there is no technical protection from phone scams and con games. Phone calls are a powerful way to convey emotion and a sense of urgency, and scammers rely on that to gain your cooperation.

It's important to learn to recognize the difference between a legitimate service provider and a phone scammer. Here are some key steps you can take to protect your confidential computer data.

The IT department's Computer Help Desk has an administrative login which allows them to do their work. If they ask if you know your password, say you do, but do not give them your password. They are only ensuring that you will be able to access the system on your own after the help call has ended. If they need your password, they will specifically ask for it. In any event, you should always change your password immediately after a computer problem has been resolved.

If you are unsure of the individual calling, do not feel guilty for asking them questions. It is their responsibility to identify themselves. Within TDCJ, if you feel that the individual is trying to scam you, please inform the Information Security Office so that appropriate actions can be taken.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding TDCJ Information Security, please contact the Information Security Department at: iso@tdcj.texas.gov or 936-437-1800.

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Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year

The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditor’s Office toll free.

Crime Stoppers 1-800-832-8477 Office of Inspector General 1-866-372-8329 State Auditor's Office 1-800-892-8348

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State employee compensation, benefit changes effective September 1

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Information security: don't fall for tech-support phone scams

Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

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