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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Is your child at risk of identity theft? 

    Is your child at risk of identity theft?

    When we think about identity theft we often associate with adults. Considering adults are preoccupied with things like credit scores, bank accounts, and mortgages/rent it’s not surprising that we often connect identity theft automatically with adults. However, the Beter Business Bureau is warning parents that their children could be prime targets for identity thieves. The reason children are such lucrative targets for identity thieves is that they’re essentially clean slates. Combine that with the fact that most parents rarely, if ever, check their child’s credit history.

    So how do identity thieves get your child’s information to steal their identity? One way is through social media. While parents have every right to be proud of their children, sometimes they share too much personal information about their child online. In many cases, it wouldn’t take a scammer long to gather the information needed in order to steal a child’s identity. Another way scammers steal a child’s information is by offering child safety kits. While these kits are legitimate and can help keep a child safe from abduction, not everyone who offers them are who they say they are. Scammers will approach parents unsolicited to offer these kits when their true intention is to obtain your child’s personal information.

    So what can you do to protect your child’s identity? The first thing is to be careful who you share your child’s information with. Maybe you shouldn’t share every detail of their lives on social media. You should also routinely check their credit history. Sometimes these identity thefts go on for years before anyone notices which could ruin their credit as adults. If you find out that your child’s identity has been stolen have your child’s credit history frozen immediately. Then contact your local police to report the crime as in most instances the child’s identity is stolen by someone they know.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem? 

    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem?

    The other day, we posted about several scams that are targeting Amazon shoppers. The scams we mentioned all take place outside of Amazon. That’s not to say that there aren’t scams happening within Amazon. While Amazon is not directly responsible for this particular scam, they are said to be taking measures to combat the problem. What we’re talking about is counterfeits of brand name goods that are being sold through third-party vendors on Amazon. This isn’t the first problem Amazon has had with its third-party stores. Previously, there was an issue of some third-party vendors selling items that had been thrown in the trash.

    Fox Business is reporting that Amazon is getting more serious about cracking down on cheap knock-offs of name brands being sold on their platform. These counterfeits have come at a cost for Amazon as some name brands have refused to sell their products on Amazon because of the number of counterfeits being sold. Many of these counterfeits include such brands as Apple, Nike, Under Armour and Sony. Amazon has even faced a number of lawsuits over the number of counterfeits being sold. Since then Amazon has launched a number of programs to help rod their platform of counterfeits and have even enlisted the help of some well-known name brands.

    So what can we as consumers do to avoid buying counterfeits? When shopping on Amazon be aware of prices that are too low for the product in question. Read the Amazon reviews of the seller to see if they have a reputation for selling knock-offs. Be wary of pictures on the item page that are blurry or ill-defined. And if the seller wants you to contact them before you purchase the item, not only could it be a counterfeit product but it could potentially be a scam as well.

     
  • Geebo 9:04 am on January 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 401k, , , retirement fund,   

    Are thieves targeting your 401k? 

    Are thieves targeting your 401k?

    We’ve discussed several different forms of bank fraud before. Whether it’s text message scams or phishing attacks to gain your account information, we’ve talked about the myriad of ways that scammers try to empty your bank account. Now, because of all the news that has gotten out about these scams thieves and cyber-crooks have started targeting a new source of income, retirement funds and 401ks. Is your retirement nest egg vulnerable to being cleaned out? Let’s take a look at how the thieves are targeting 401ks and what can be done about them.

    According to USA Today, since so many consumers and banks have become wary of the typical scams that are used to attack bank accounts the thieves have turned to attack 401ks. The reasoning behind this is because a lot of people don’t pay close attention to their 401k. In too many cases, consumers will either ignore or discard the statements they receive from their retirement fund broker. Then when they need to check their 401k balance they discover that their fund has been slowly drained. Unlike banks, retirement funds aren’t always willing to help you get your money back.

    While the target may be new, the attacks are roughly the same. The thieves use old standards like phishing attacks and weak passwords to gain access to your 401k. In order to prevent these attacks from happening it’s recommended that you review the mailed statements you receive from your fund manager for any suspicious behavior. It’s also recommended that you use a strong password to secure your account with a password that’s not used on any of your other online accounts. Lastly, never click on any links in emails that you receive purporting to be from your 401k manager as they can be used to steal your login information. Instead, always go directly to the 401k website and log in from there to check your account.

     
  • Geebo 8:07 am on January 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , windows 7   

    Windows 7 is no longer supported, what should you do? 

    Windows 7 is no longer supported, what should you do?

    As of today, January 14th, 2020, the Windows 7 operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft. This means that as of today, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for Windows 7 as the operating system has reached its end of life. If you currently have a computer that runs Windows 7, you could be vulnerable to malicious attacks. Not only that but you could also leave any other computer connected to your network vulnerable to attack. In short, if your Windows 7 computer is currently connected to the internet, your data and information are at great risk. So let’s discuss what you can do to correct that.

    The first thing you want to do is back up all your data. Most security experts recommend the 3-2-1 method. That means make 3 backups on 2 different forms of media with at least 1 copy kept offsite. The easiest way to proceed from here would be to purchase a new copy of Windows 10 for over $100. That’s as long as you don’t have an older computer that doesn’t meet the requirements to run Windows 10. Microsoft says that no computer over 3 years old should install windows 10, however, Windows 10 has been known to run on older computers. A good rule of thumb may be to only install Windows 10 on a computer that had Windows 7 or 8 pre-installed.

    But if you don’t feel like spending a lot of money to upgrade to Windows 10 there is an unofficial way to get the update for free. While Microsoft isn’t advertising this method, they’re not discouraging it either. The steps for that process can be found at this link and they’re not as hard as they may seem. Be warned that this isn’t a guaranteed method for everyone.

    If your computer is not capable of running Windows 10 all is not lost. There are a number of free operating systems that fall under the Linux umbrella that should be able to be installed on your computer. If you want one that resembles Windows 7 there is a Linux distribution, or distro for short, known as Zorin OS. They have instructions on how to install their system on your computer. One of the benefits of using Linux over Windows is that Linux is more secure. While Linux does not run Windows programs natively there are many Linux versions of your favorite apps. There are also Linux alternatives for most of your favorite Windows apps.

    Just remember to back up all of your data before attempting any of these upgrades or changes.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scams that use the Amazon name 

    Scams that use the Amazon name

    Over the weekend, a number of reports came out independent from each other that detailed separate scams that are using Amazon’s name and logo to fool victims into handing over personal or financial information.

    In the first scam, scammers are sending out emails with the official Amazon logo attached to them. The email thanks you for purchasing an Amazon e-gift card. The email then says that if you didn’t purchase the e-gift card to click a link to cancel the purchase or receive a refund. This is a phishing attack that will lead you to a website that is not Amazon where the scammers will try to get you to input personal or financial information in order to get your ‘refund’. In one instance, a victim was asked to buy Amazon gift cards from a local retailer to fix the problem. If you ever receive an email like this you should never click on any links. Instead, go straight to the retailer’s website to check your account.

    The second scam was reported as happening in the Pacific Northwest. In it, the scammers are sending consumers letters stating that their Amazon purchase didn’t go through. What’s troubling about this scam is that the scammers have gained access to information that allows them to know what you purchased from Amazon and how much you paid for it. The letter instructs you to go to a website in order to but again, asks you to input personal and financial information. It’s unknown how scammers have gotten the purchase information so if you receive one of these letters, it’s recommended that you change the password to your Amazon account.

    In the last scam, if you’re thinking about signing up for Amazon Prime or you have a technical issue with Prime, be careful of what links you click on after a web search. In some cases, if you do a web search for ‘Amazon Prime’ or ‘Amazon Prime customer support’ you may be presented with ads that take you to third-party sites that are definitely nor Amazon. In other cases, these ads will list a phony customer service number for Amazon Prime. Security researchers have stated that these ads will take you to sites that will try to get you to pay for services that would be free if performed by amazon. This is also known as the tech support scam. Again, if you have customer service needs that Amazon needs to address, go to Amazon.com in order to find the correct information.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: military draft, , , , whobbly wheel   

    Text message scam threatens victims with being drafted 

    Text message scam threatens victims with being drafted

    Leave it to scammers to use any opportunity to implement a new scam. With the recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran, scammers are using the fears of war to their advantage. The U.S. Army is warning the public about text messages that are being sent out threatening recipients with jail time if they don’t register for the “official Army draft.” It’s believed this scam is designed to garner personal information from the victim in order to commit identity theft. While Selective Service is still a thing, there hasn’t been a draft since 1973. Plus, if there was a draft the military would not use text messaging to find draftees.

    In other scam news, a car scam has claimed 50 victims in Houston. The scam is being called the ‘wobbly wheel’ scam. In it, a driver will honk at another driver telling them one of their wheels is loose. It just so happens that the person who noticed the bad wheel has the very part needed to fix the wheel. Once the wheel is ‘fixed’ they’ll ask for money or gift cards as reimbursement. These scammers have said to be targeting female drivers that have children with them. Four of six known suspects said to be committing the scam have been arrested. If you’re approached with this scam it is recommended that you notify police.

    Lastly, we have another story about being careful who you rent from. In Minnesota, a couple was scammed out of money and left without a home after responding to an ad for a rental property. The ‘landlord’ said that he couldn’t meet them or show them the property because he was out of state. However, the scammer was able to access the lockbox used to house the keys and gave the renters the code once they sent him money through a payment app. Not being able to show the property is always a red flag as is sending money through apps or wire transfers.

    Keep an eye out for these scams in case they come to your area.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Was Ring caught looking at customer cameras? 

    Was Ring caught looking at customer cameras?

    Amazon-owned Ring Cameras did not have the best 2019. If customer camera feeds weren’t being hacked then user information was allegedly being exposed in a data breach. Unfortunately for Ring, it doesn’t look like their 2020 is shaping up to be any better. In previous gaffes made by Ring, there was a kernel of truth in their claim that some of these privacy invasions could have been prevented by better user security. For example, by enabling two-factor authentication and not using the same password on all online accounts. But what happens when the security company is the one invading your privacy.

    Motherboard is reporting that Ring had to fire a number of employees who were caught accessing customer data that was not part of their jobs. In short, they were looking at customer video that they should not have been. While it can be expected for a company to monitor some of the user data for quality control purposes, it’s alleged that this was not the reason that certain employees were viewing customer videos. Considering that many Ring customers use the cameras inside their homes this can be especially off-putting knowing that Ring employees may be watching you at home.

    Depending on how this story gets picked up by the media, this could be a devastating blow to Ring’s reputation. How are consumers supposed to trust a company to help keep us safe when their employees are violating the privacy of the consumers? Granted, the number of people who were said to be doing this at Ring was low and they’ve all been relieved from their positions. But still, this seems to be yet another black eye for the security company that used to be the darling of families everywhere.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Work at home job scam cost victims thousands 

    Work at home job scam cost victims thousands

    Working at home is the dream for many, especially those who are currently looking to get back into the workforce. Because of that. many scammers use phony work at home positions to try to lure suspecting victims into their clutches by promising them good pay for easy work. However, with most things online, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Recently, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police have received reports of a work at home scam that has cost its victims thousands of dollars. Money that they’ll probably never be able to get back.

    The victims, in this case, found these jobs on a legitimate employment website. They even went through an application process and an interview. After they were ‘hired’ they even spoke to a phony human resources department. It seems like these scammers were willing to pull out all the stops to make sure this looked like a legitimate job opportunity. The job itself entailed the victims depositing a check into their own bank accounts before being told to use the money to purchase a laptop. Then the remainder of the money was sent to various clients through platforms like PayPal, Zelle, wire transfers, and, of course, gift cards.

    As you might have expected, the checks the victims were sent were fake checks but the money was already spent by the time their banks noticed. With the money being sent to various places, the victims are now on the hook for paying the money back to the bank. Any job that asks you to process business funds out of your own bank account is more than likely a scam. Not only that but since the victims went through an entire application process, the scammers have their personal information as well. So potentially these victims could also be victims of identity theft in the future.

    No matter how legitimate a job may appear, if they want you to use your own bank account or your own funds to do the job it’s probably not a job at all.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Your old credit card numbers may still be online 

    Your old credit card numbers may still be online

    When you use any one of many online retailers they may ask you if you want to save your payment information with them in case you use that vendor on a frequent basis. This can be quite convenient especially if it’s a vendor that you use all the time. However, with many things online, convenience can come at a cost of security. If you use the vendor long enough, you may have changed your credit or debit card information several times. Each of those card numbers could still be listed in your online account. Even if the numbers have expired they could still mean potential disaster for you.

    According to LifeHacker, there is a scam that relies on you leaving your old card numbers on your online accounts. For example, they talk about how if an Amazon account becomes compromised a bad actor may find old and expired card numbers linked to the account. Scammers will then try the expired numbers to see if they can still be used to make online purchases. Some card companies allow their users to make purchases even if the card is expired in case the user has just forgotten to update their information. The scammers know which cards and which vendors have more liberal policies when it comes to these purchases.

    In some cases, these purchases can show up on your doorstep. The scammers will normally keep an eye on your porch to try to grab the purchase but sometimes just knowing that the old card number works is enough. The best way to prevent this kind of fraud is to make sure that you delete your old card numbers from your online shopping accounts. It’s also recommended that you use only one card for all your online purchases as it makes it easier to keep track of any discrepancies. There are also services you can use that give you one-time use numbers that you can use for online purchases. It would mean you’d have to enter a new number with each purchase but sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to keep your information secure.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2020, , date changing,   

    What’s the truth about writing out 2020 in full? 

    What's the truth about writing out 2020 in full?

    Shortly after the new year and decade began, a warning went out over social media about the year 2020. The warning was that if you make out any checks this year, do not abbreviate the year by simply using 20 as your year designation. For example, in standard American date abbreviation, today is 1/6/20. The wisdom behind this warning is that someone could use the abbreviated year format and alter it to look like another year. A bad actor could potentially turn 20 into anything from 2000 to 2021 or even beyond. Since social media isn’t always the best source for news, is this really a danger?

    Those who warn against abbreviating the year say that if a check is altered to a year in the past, it could appear as if you’ve had an ongoing debt since that time. If the check is altered to a date in the future, uncashed checks that have expired can be made active again. They also recommend that you should write the date out in full such as January 6, 2020, to prevent any kind of date tampering with legal documents. While this all can sound menacing, what are the odds of something like this happening to you?

    According to the internet investigators at Snopes.com, it’s unlikely that anything will happen if you forget to put the full date on a check or legal document. Snopes notes that there are many other forms of check alteration that are more likely to occur that are more lucrative for bad actors. Not only that but there are many ways to prove the alteration of the check took place so you could protect yourself against legal ramifications that could come from an altered check. However, it doesn’t hurt to write out the date in the full as it’s easier to do to prevent any potential problems than trying to fix them after a check has been altered.

     
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