Fraud Alert: Immigration Scams

I recently received the following from the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman:

“In light of increased fear and anxiety in immigrant communities……, I have issued a fraud alert warning immigrants to be aware of potential scammers offering immigration services. My office and other legal aid organizations have received an increased number of calls and reported scams in recent weeks”…


For more information please watch the following video found here: Press Conference:Immigration Scams

To report potential immigration scams, contact the Attorney General’s Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline at (866) 390-2992 or email This office will never ask for your immigration status or share immigration information with federal authorities if you contact the Immigration Services Fraud Unit Hotline.

We also want to provide some key resources for New York’s immigrant communities to seek immigration and naturalization-related support.  Managed by Catholic Charities Community Services, the New Americans hotline is a toll-free, multi-lingual hotline that provides live assistance in receiving immigration and naturalization information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. All calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous. Call 1-800-566-7636 (toll-free) anytime between 9:00am to 8:00pm Monday through Friday.

Fingerprints on the window


The title of my blog post today started out to be something along the lines of ‘How to lead through uncertainty’ or…. ‘Talking to your staff after the election’…with the crux being how leaders can put things into perspective when it feels like the whole world has tipped on it’s axis…and then I remembered. Wisdom from the two most influential women in my life. Something my Mother always said and the most memorable story my Grandmother had ever told me.

“This too shall pass“…my Mother’s favorite saying no matter how bad things seemed. She believed that one way or another, the issue at hand will be resolved. And only the permanent (in life) and the people in our lives were what really mattered. This memory from my mother was to be the first half of my lesson.

The second was the sobering story my Grandmother had told.

Grandma was the eternal optimist. I saw it until the absolute end of her 99 years on earth. And I honestly wondered how, knowing she had lost two children as a very young mother. A daughter at age 6, her son just a toddler of 2. She had told me the story of losing her little girl and only a short year later her tousled hair baby boy.  She told of how he would toddle to the old wooden windows that hung low enough in their house that he could reach the window panes on his own. And there make handprints when it rained. Where warmth met cold and he could play on his tablet of glass. His favorite place in their little apartment.

Her lesson to me  – at the time – was to learn that by trying to control things and make them better, we often make them worse. By my grandmother’s second loss she was left literally speechless and in a dark hole of sorrow. Her mother-in-law had been summoned to come stay in order to offer comfort and temporarily take over the household.  The visit was ended – and punctuated with horror – when my grandmother came out of her bedroom one morning to touch the pane of glass that still held little Benjamin’s fingerprints – only to discover they had been wiped away by the hand of his grandmother. Trying to remove a memory she thought would be painful to her daughter-in-law only cracked her soul once again… As she realized those precious fingerprints were gone forever.

What it reminded me of today is that the bad – the stress – the unknown in life is not what should matter. It is the people that we love. Who will not always be here. The family, the memories. The fingerprints we can hold onto.  All other things… ‘shall pass’.


Nondiscrimination Rule – Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

affordable care act text write on blackboard

We have recently received several calls regarding telephonic interpreting and translation of medical materials due to the new Nondiscrimination Rule 1557 that took effect this month. This covers the requirement of having translation services for particular items.

Medical practices/facilities will need to post notices of nondiscrimination and taglines that inform patients with limited English, the availability of language assistance services. The taglines are sentences written in the top 15 languages in the state regarding this service. This includes postings in office, in materials and on websites.  This federal mandate recognizes 15 top languages in each state that must be recognized and translated. The top 15 languages in New York State (required) are:

1 Spanish

2 Chinese

3 Russian

4 French Creole

5 Korean

6 Italian

7 Yiddish

8 Bengali

9 Polish

10 Arabic

11 French

12 Urdu

13 Tagalog

14 Greek

15 Albanian

Please contact us at Empire Interpreting Service if you need any materials for your office/website/patient records translated in any language. We can quickly assist in satisfying these compliance issues.  Call 844-620-8594 (toll free) or email our Director of Spoken Languages, Corissa Hedrick – at for more information.





A matter of life or death

Even I have to be reminded sometimes of the daily communication that happens around the world and how miscommunication can mean the difference between living and dying.

As I watched the endless coverage of Hurricane Matthew I was drawn to the Interpreters standing next to community and national officials, warning citizens of the danger. Explaining where the storm would hit next. Begging people to evacuate in high risk areas. One official stated ‘This storm WILL kill you – evacuate’!

But what if the only way for you to receive this information was via an Interpreter? And that Interpreter was unqualified for the task at hand?

I saw many skilled and proficient Interpreters, working hard to convey these life-saving messages. Painstakingly fingerspelling names of roads, towns and localities that were being affected. Putting the urgency of the speaker on their hands and faces – warning people of the imminent danger.

However there was also the one or two Interpreters I saw that were not up to the task. One Interpreter actually signed “water-high-bad-bad-bad” when what the town official said was “You must evacuate now as the flooding is currently at a level where we will not be able to send aid if you should become stranded” – quite a difference.

Professionalism always matters. It matters in warnings and storms. In hurricanes and evacuations. In life and death……….

Palm tree in wind

Ahoy Elizabeth!

We often talk of bad customer service (I certainly have here on the blog) and how it can affect a business. So it goes without saying that we should recognize excellent customer service as well. The following story is a shining example of a company who not only ‘does it right’ – they know how to handle customers with a bit of humor and outreach that will bring them back again and again…..

So I am often sent pictures from my son and daughter-in-law of our grandson throughout the day. We Skype, we Facetime, we text. They live far away and although we are not there often, our iPhones have kept our relationship growing throughout the last few years. So much so that the little one knows Grandma is always waiting for a communique and definitely a soft touch when it comes to her grandson.

So when I received the following picture taken in a local toy store:


…with the caption “Your grandson! Insisting I send you this picture of what HE wants…lol!” …I immediately couldn’t take the cuteness and said – It’s his! Of course…who could resist that face right? …

Unfortunately the Shark Bite Pirate Ship had some issues and we all know how disappointing that can be for kids – so his Mom immediately contacted the company and this is what she quickly received in her email:

Ahoy Elizabeth!

Shiver me timbers, I was sad to hear that your son’s ship was not up to performance.  Can’t gobble up those scallywags in the ocean if the mouth is not opening fully.

What I m going to do is send you out a new Shark Bite Pirate Ship right away. That should arrive at your doorstep within 7 business days.

Our team would really like to take a look at the ship your son has to see what s going on, so I m also going to send out a separate email with a prepaid USPS return label and detailed return instructions in it. That email will arrive within the next 24 hours in your inbox. Just as a heads-up, it comes as an attachment, so it could get filtered into your spam or bulk folders.

Once we receive your return, we ll also send you a voucher for $20.00 as a small  thank you  for all your help. When your return arrives in our warehouse, our returns team will process it, and afterward you ll get an email saying that we received the correct items. Shortly after that, your voucher will be processed and mailed straight to your doorstep. It s valid at any major retailer that sells our products with the exception of online or catalog purchases.

Yo ho ho!  Hope this is satisfactory!

All the Best,
Crewman Robin S.

…now THAT is the way to keep customers – Moms/Dads and little pirates…happy and coming back for more ‘Shark Bite accessories’ …nicely done Mattel, nicely done!

Valuing Customers

Small business owners know that their customers are what keep not only forward momentum, but daily keep the doors open. They are counted, valued and should be protected at every front.

Small business owners will talk to, reduce prices for, write off finance fees for and negotiate prices …in order to keep our customers. Our prospective is that we cannot afford to lose anyone. Or the reputation that may leave with our customer.

So it is that much more frustrating when I am the customer and am callously treated. When I am dismissed or marginalized and the only person I can talk to – that might care – does not have the authority to make me a happy customer. Case in point…..

I ordered a specific printer – partly because we are a Mac based company and these printers work well with Macs and partly because this printer gave me everything I needed as a mobile “all-in-one” printer to have on the road.

The printer arrived and seemed to really fit the bill – until I tried to scan or copy. It would only print. After hours of reading through the manual, searching online for support and finally getting someone on the phone from support – it was determined this was a faulty printer. The solution was to send me a replacement – not a new replacement – a refurbished replacement and I would pay $29 to have it expedited to me so that I could work while away from my office.

The printer arrived in 2 days – and it was obvious ‘out of the box’ that this printer had been water damaged. It also did not work. So I called the company  again – waited on hold – forever – and was told to send it back and I would then be credited my $29 back. I must have heard “I apologize for the inconvenience”25 times, but no offer to replace the printer and/or send me a refund or a new one. (This printer cost $331)

I hung up the phone feeling like I had just banged my head against the wall repeatedly for the duration of the call……….

Maybe companies as large as this one do not need to value every individual customer. Maybe I should not have ordered it on line and I could have driven it back to a store for a replacement. Or maybe it is a point of difference that I can relay to my customers. We may be a small business that you are dealing with – but we will not forget how important you are to our everyday. So to the (purposely unnamed printer company)..

Thanks for the business lesson.

Printer and picture with menu in a restaurant

Letting go…

“It’s only real estate”…keeps going through my head. It’s an early Saturday morning and the offices are hot – really hot, because it’s a kind of a heat wave in an upstate NY city where it rarely sees a week of temperatures above 80. The concrete is sticky under my bare feet as I paddle up and down the hallways, packing up my business.

My brick and mortar business that’s about to go virtual. I know it’s the right move for the business. I know getting rid of overhead keeps us competitive and lean. I know my heart wants to be home and more available to my family. It doesn’t escape me that many of my staff have/are working successfully from their home offices and the business keeps humming…..

“It’s only real estate”.….I remove the framed thank you from the Bhutanese community for sponsoring their community event commemorating the first Bhutanese family arrival to the city.

I remove the framed E-I-S that is fingerspelled by an Intern who spent several months in our midst and became our ‘little sister’…. my gift of her beautiful fingers portraying the name of my business in sign language….

I pack away the framed handprint of a 5 year old with Cystic Fibrosis who sent his own special thank you to us for sponsoring a fund raiser. A charity near and dear to us as we lost a beautiful ‘member’ of the Slater family to the disease. I hold it close to my chest for a moment before it meets the cardboard box….

Many of my contemporaries are watching. Other business owners that want to make this jump and see it as a way to do business in the future want to know ‘how is this working? did you make this move?…was it the right thing to do?’

There are no books about taking your business virtual. I’ve looked for blogs and articles, videos on YouTube. Scattered advice on how to digitize your files, back up to the cloud, set up servers for software and send paychecks out via financial services. I’ve done it all – encrypted to Hipaa compliance – hired the IT people – have the phone systems and software systems in place. It’s a go. It’s present-day. It’s modern-day. It’s contemporary. It makes sense.

But no one prepares you for the tug of your heart. What you built. The chatter in the hallway that will be gone. The people in the building you will miss. The community around your building you will be departing from…

….the memories you nail to the wall and look at every day. The pictures you take down that remind you of why you do what you do. The melancholy that must happen before the move. No matter how necessary.

Exhale……..It’s only real estate.