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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , ,   

    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack? 

    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack?

    Ring Doorbells have become very popular over the past few years. Not only does it offer the convenience of knowing who’s at your door while you’re not home, but it also records any interaction that occurs at your front door. With the assistance of Ring Doorbells, all sorts of interlopers have been caught ranging from porch pirates to home intruders. They’ve become so popular and ubiquitous that police stations around the country are recommending residents install one and become part of a police network of cameras. So, it should come as no surprise that bad actors may want access to your camera.

    Amazon, owners of Ring, recently announced that there was a vulnerability in Ring Doorbells that could have exposed your wifi password to attackers. During the authentication process, the communication between your doorbell and the was unencrypted leaving your wifi password open in plain text and potentially available to hackers. While any attack wouldn’t be able to control the camera itself, once your home wifi is vulnerable an attacker could compromise any number of systems especially if you have a number of smart home or internet of things (IoT) devices.

    Thankfully, Amazon patched this vulnerability before they made it public knowledge. That’s not even taking into account that any attack against the doorbell would have to happen at the precise moment of authentication and the attacker would need to be in range of your home wifi. The chances of a hacker being on your property at the time of authentication are very slim. However, this does show that no smart home or internet-enabled security device is foolproof. When purchasing such a device, do your research in finding out which ones are the most secure and which ones receive regular updates from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you could be as secure as leaving your front door unlocked.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , ,   

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep 

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep

    Today, we’re bringing you a handful of scams from around the country. Remember, just because they may not be happening in your town doesn’t mean they can’t.

    Our first story is out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where unrequested packages have been showing up at random homes. Scammers are allegedly using stolen information to have high-end items like smartphones sent to random houses. The scammers then keep an eye on the homes where the items are to be delivered so they can pick them up. While this was a good attempt by the scammers to cover their tracks, two men have been arrested for their alleged part in the scheme. A good way to help protect yourself against this is to sign up for the US Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service.

    Speaking of unwanted packages, we’ve discussed the brushing scam before. It’s where you’ll receive a number of packages from a retailer like Amazon that you didn’t order. By law, you can keep those packages, however, they’re being sent by third-party vendors from overseas who are looking to use your information to post positive reviews of their products with your name listed as a verified purchaser. It’s gotten so bad for one man in Charlotte, North Carolinas that he says he’s been receiving nearly 30 packages a week since July. If this happens to you, your amazon account may have been compromised. It’s recommended that in this case that you change your Amazon password and check your account for illegitimate purchases.

    Lastly, the state of Texas is warning its residents about a potential insurance scam. The Texas Department of Insurance is reporting that a group claiming to be the Consumer Insurance Association is offering discounted insurance rates over the phone. This group is not licensed in the state of Texas and could be part of an identity theft operation. Never just give out your personal information over the phone to anybody who cold calls you. If you feel like they may be a legitimate company, research them first before divulging any sensitive information.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, cash, , Western Union   

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you 

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you

    In many ways, we are moving to a cashless society. Whether it’s payment apps like Venmo or cashless banking in general, many consumers no longer carry cash on them. While this is an inevitable outcome with the march of modern technology it does have the consequence of alienating those in our country who may not have access to banking. That’s why it came as a surprise that the nation’s largest online retailer has started to accept cash as a form of payment.

    Amazon has partnered with Western Union to start accepting cash payments for goods sold on Amazon. It works by the customer being issued a QR code once they indicate their intent to pay by cash. The customer can then go to any Western Union outlet, show them the QR code and then pay Amazon with cash. This is somewhat a shocking turn of events for Amazon as previously they wanted to go cash only in their mostly automated Amazon Go stores.

    While this opens up a whole new market for Amazon there is a potential downside to this new enterprise. The first is that many Western Union outlets are in the brick and mortar locations of some of Amazon’s competitors. This could lead to these competitors no longer doing business with Amazon which in turn would leave less Western Union outlets which many consumers depend on. The other problem is that we can already see the potential for this service being abused by scammers. One example is when scammers try to get you to pay for something using gift cards. Now, they could possibly use the Amazon QR codes instead of gift cards for their scams.

    While this is great for those who live on a cash-only basis, they should always be on the lookout for the potential pitfalls of such a service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, ,   

    When free stuff from Amazon isn’t free 

    When free stuff from amazon isn't free

    We’ve briefly touched upon the brushing scam before. In the brushing scam, a third-party amazon vendor will send you items for free that you didn’t actually order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep anything that you didn’t order. Sounds like a good deal right? Who doesn’t want to get free stuff? As with most things that sound too good to be true, there is a more deceitful plot at hand. A plot that could cost you money and your privacy in the long run.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, if you’re receiving these packages it’s more than likely that your Amazon account has been compromised. These third-party vendors are usually from overseas and are sending you the packages to make it look like you’re a verified purchaser. This way the vendors can post positive reviews of their product on Amazon in your name. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales. Just think of the amount of information contained in your Amazon account. Not only is your home address listed within, but your payment information as well. These supposedly free items could be costing you without you even noticing it at first.

    So, what should you do if you start receiving these unsolicited deliveries? The first thing you should do is immediately change the password on your Amazon account. Since the scammers may have also compromised your email account you may want to consider changing the email address attached to your Amazon account also. These deliveries should also be reported to Amazon itself so they can take down any fake reviews in your name which is against their policy. If any of your debit or credit cards have been used in this scam you’ll want to cancel them and have new ones issued. The only consolation to the victim of this scam is that they can legally keep the items sent to them, however, they’re usually not the type of items you’d normally want to keep.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , Realogy, , TurnKey   

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house? 

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house?

    Having a ‘smart’ home has been a craze for tech’s early adopters for some time now. Whether it’s smart lights that can operate on voice command or thermostats that can be operated remotely, the number of gadgets that can be installed in your home seem to be in a never-ending supply. However, it seems that a near-monopoly has been created in the smart home market with either Google or Amazon buying up most of the startups that initially gave rise to the modern smart home idea. Now one of those companies wants to help you buy a house with their devices already built in.

    Amazon has teamed with realtors Realogy to help you get into a new home and not one of the prefab tiny homes you can order on Amazon. The reason this partnership has been made was for Amazon to get you integrated into Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. For example, if you purchase a home worth $700,000 or more you’ll receive $5,000 in Amazon smart devices and services. This includes Ring doorbells, Amazon Echos, among other Amazon-related smart home gear and services. This program, called TurnKey, has launched in 15 major cities including San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and Chicago just to name a few.

    Of course, there are drawbacks to owning such a home. The first concern is privacy. Amazon has courted controversy with its almost always-listening Echo devices. Reportedly, Echo devices not only record your voice but keep it stored in Amazon’s cloud servers indefinitely. The second concern is obsolescence. While these devices and services may seem like a convenience now, what if Amazon decided for whatever reason to stop supporting these devices. The majority of these devices rely on Amazon hosting these services in the cloud. If Amazon decides to pull the plug one day, you’d be left with a bunch of defunct gadgets in need of immediate replacement. More immediately, what if Amazon has any downtime on these services? If these services go down nationally that could potentially make your home a target as we’re sure any kind of outage like that would make national news.

    While the allure of free Amazon devices may seem like a strong one, you may want to weigh your options before giving into it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , ,   

    Amazon workers need consumers to support strike! 

    Amazon workers need consumers to support strike!

    Right now, Amazon is having its annual mid-year sale known as Prime Day. This year, the sales are taking place over two days with today being the last. Prime Day is only second to Black Friday in terms of purchases made online. Prime Day has gotten so huge that even other retailers are trying to get in on the action. Since this is one of Amazon’s busiest times of the year it should come as no surprise that Amazon workers are probably working extra hours and possibly even extra shifts to get all the merchandise delivered in a timely manner. However, a number of Amazon employees used Prime Day as an opportune time to protest working conditions in the Amazon fulfillment centers.

    Amazon employees from around the globe took to the picket lines to protest what they consider to be problematic working conditions. In Europe, many of Amazon’s employees are unionized but here in the US, they are not. That didn’t stop several Amazon employees from protesting in Shakopee, Minnesota. The protesters believe that they are expected to reach unobtainable production goals at the cost of their health and well being.

    If Amazon was to decrease the demands of their workers that would affect the overall shipping process. Instead of being able to receive a package in two days it might be four or five days instead. Would consumers who are already used to Amazon’s quick delivery be willing to give up such convenience? In order to really send a message to Amazon, the protesters would really need to get a rather large amount of Amazon’s consumers on their side. Without the support of consumers voting with their wallets, we might not see working conditions improve for Amazon fulfillment center employees. Short of government intervention, which seems unlikely at this point, consumer persuasion is probably the only way Amazon will change.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , pregnant employees   

    Is Amazon firing expecting mothers? 

    Is Amazon firing expecting mothers?

    Amazon, once again, finds themselves being portrayed in the media in an unflattering light. They’re coming under fire again for their alleged treatment of their employees in their fulfillment centers. In the past, Amazon has been accused of not only overworking their employees but pervading every instance of the employees’ lives. Reportedly, many Amazon employees are so afraid of losing their jobs that they’ll work sick or injured which only further exacerbates their mental and physical conditions. Now, Amazon is being accused of unfairly firing a group of employees that should be protected by law.

    Recently, CNET published an expose into Amazon’s supposed practice of firing pregnant employees. Amazon is facing several lawsuits over this practice and there could even be more victims of this practice that are either too afraid to sue or just can’t afford legal representation. However, one woman who claims to be a victim of Amazon is speaking out about her treatment by the company. The woman claims that Amazon would use declining production standards as a way to terminate her while she was pregnant even though by her doctor’s orders she couldn’t perform the same tasks in the fulfillment center. She also claims that Amazon was unwilling to accommodate her in such a way that would benefit both parties. Amazon’s infamous bathroom break policy which sees employees get written up if they take more than 10 minutes and are only allowed so many breaks per day. As you can imagine, this policy is not very amenable to pregnant workers.

    She’s not the only former employee suing Amazon as there have been six other lawsuits filed against Amazon in the past four years over similar treatment. That may not sound like a lot but Amazon has settled out of court for other former employees claiming wrongful termination. Sadly, Amazon isn’t the only multi-billion dollar corporation that allegedly discriminates against pregnant employees but is at the top of the ladder when it comes to being visible in the public eye. Unfortunately, it seems they’re setting a bad example for the rest of corporate America to follow.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, ,   

    Amazon offering first HQ2 jobs 

    Amazon offering first HQ2 jobs

    Amazon’s proposed development for HQ2 in Virginia

    Even though Amazon withdrew their plans for their second headquarters to be built in New York after a grassroots campaign drove them out, the retail leader seems to be all in with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Just recently, Amazon announced the first opening positions for the new headquarters that is planned to span through both Alexandria and Arlington. The first positions have already been posted to Amazon’s job website. This comes along with the promise of 400 more jobs by the ends of the year and an additional 25,000 jobs in the coming years. However, just as it was in New York, Amazon’s presence in Virginia does not come without controversy.

    Much like what happened in New York, Virginia and Arlington County have offered multi-million dollar incentives for Amazon to develop their headquarters there. While many politicians in Virginia supported these incentives, there have been detractors. These detractors are concerned that Amazon will not be hiring many local employees and instead will be hiring people from out-of-state. That, in turn, could potentially make the already strained housing market even worse, especially for lower-income families. Amazon’s proponents say that Amazon will bring Virginia a windfall of tax revenue, however, it has to be mentioned that Amazon has been accused of taking advantage of tax loopholes where they paid no federal income tax last year.

    Getting back to the potential housing crisis coming to Virginia, Amazon states that the median income of its HQ2 employees will be over $100,000. Many local leaders fear that the area will become more gentrified than it already is. This could potentially drive many lower-income families out of the area. However, with the proposed scope of the construction of the new headquarters that could result in thousands of construction jobs for several years.

    Are you from this part of Virginia? If you are, how do you feel about Amazon coming into your area? Do you think it will be an economic boon for Northern Virginia, or will it result in more economic inequality? Please let us know what you think.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , Nashville,   

    Are secret shoppers and Instagram deals for real? 

    Instagram counterfeits, secret shopping jobs, and Amazon to open Nashville hub

    If you’ve ever been approached by a street vendor to buy a ‘genuine’ Rolex watch, you’re probably already familiar with the counterfeit market. With the advance of digital technology those type of vendors have moved online and seem to be particularly prolific on Instagram. According to NBC News, Instagram is full of phony vendors selling knock-off products while claiming to be such brand names as Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Dior. NBC advises you should be wary of ads that contain the word ‘replica’ or vendors that instruct you to communicate with them over encrypted messaging apps.

    ***

    Previously, we’ve warned about secret shopper scams many times. In too many cases ads for these type of jobs are scams designed to get you to deposit phony checks and wire back the difference to scammers. Once the check is found to be phony by your bank you could be on the hook for the full amount of the check. So are there real secret shopper jobs out there? Yes, according to CNBC who direct you to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. CNBC goes on to call the MSPA the BBB of Mystery Shopping. However, you should also be aware that secret shopper jobs are better suited for supplemental income rather than as a full-time position.

    ***

    Amazon is set to open a retail operations hub in the Nashville Metro area. This has not been without controversy as Amazon has been promised a $17.5 million incentive package by the Metro Nashville Council in exchange for 5,000 jobs. This appears to be a routine tactic for Amazon as they previously pulled out of New York City after many vocal opponents of the plan objected to the incentives that the city and state were promising Amazon as they felt the funds could be better spent elsewhere. It remains to be seen if this will start to become a trend elsewhere in the country.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , , minimum wage, Notre Dame Cathedral,   

    Hold off on Notre Dame donations, Facebook’s latest privacy accident, and an Amazon employee puts Bezos’ boast into perspective 

    Hold off on Notre Dame donations, Facebook's latest privacy accident, and an Amazon employee puts Bezos' boast into persepctive

    By now, we’re all familiar with the events that took place in Paris where fire ravaged the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. While multitudes across the globe were moved to the point where they were willing to dedicate money you may want to wait on doing so. The BBB of Canada is warning consumers there to beware of phony donation scams on social media and crowdfunding sites. The BBB suggests that you wait until there is an official Notre Dame rebuilding fund donation program if you’re so inclined.

    ***

    Facebook is finding itself in yet another privacy kerfuffle as they claim that they ‘unintentionally’ harvested the email contacts of about 1.5 million of its users during the past three years. When new users would sign up for a Facebook account, Facebook would ask for your email password. Anybody who gave that information to Facebook would have their entire contacts list harvested. Facebook says this practice, which has since ended, was used to “help build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend other users to add as friends.” If your contacts were harvested, Facebook will reportedly contact you.

    ***

    Last week, we posted about how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos taunted WalMart on Twitter for not paying their employees $15/hr. WalMart fired back asking when Amazon was going to pay its fair share in taxes. More recently, the news blog Splinter has received an email from an anonymous Amazon employee who works as a customer service agent. It seems that the wage increase may have come at the expense of other benefits. According to the anonymous employee, Amazon took away incentive bonuses and stock grants leaving the bottom rung of Amazon’s corporate ladder basically in the same place they were when they started.

     
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