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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: card shimmers, , gas pumps, , , , , , , , , , urban legend, Verizon   

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more 

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week, we’re bringing you a plethora of scams from around the country that you may want to be aware of. You never know when they might come to your area.

    ***

    Some residents of Lauderhill, Florida, have reported receiving phony red light tickets in the mail. Typically, if a motorist runs a red light equipped with a camera, they will receive a ticket in the mail. However, these phony tickets have a few red flags attached to them. In one instance, the date listed on the ticket was February 30th. The tickets also had the insignia of the Fort Lauderdale police for an infraction that supposedly happened in Lauderhill. That’s not to say these phony tickets are harmless. Pictures of the recipient’s license plate appear on the ticket. Police believe the scammers are stalking their victims. If you receive a ticket like this, do not make any kind of payment requested. Instead, contact the police department the ticket is supposedly from to make sure the charge is not legitimate.

    ***

    Residents of the Houston, Texas area have said they’ve received an alarming text message. The text message claims that phones in the area have been hacked, and you’ll receive a call asking about your vaccination status. Supposedly, if you reply to the phone call, your banking information will be stolen from your phone. It doesn’t end there, though. The text message also claims the Department of Homeland Security is advising citizens to top off the gas in their vehicles and keep cash on hand because of the situation in Ukraine. So what’s the scam here? Well, we don’t think there is one. Instead, we believe that this is an instance of an urban legend. This incident hearkens back to the early days of the internet, when people would forward emails about untrue things like Bill Gates giving away a million dollars, or why you shouldn’t flash your high beams at a car that flashes you first. If you receive a text like this, check with legitimate sources first before proclaiming it as fact.

    ***

    Speaking of gas for your car. If you pay at the pump, you may often check the gas pump for card skimmers. These are devices that are attached to the card slot of the gas pump that steals your card information. Most people who do check do so by pulling on the card slot to make sure nothing comes free. However, according to the Better Business of Bureau of Nebraska, there is a new threat at the gas pump to worry about. These devices are called shimmers, and are virtually undetectable. They are paper thin devices that go in the card slot and can also steal your card information. To avoid this scam, you can pay inside the gas station or use a credit card, which has more protection than a debit card.

    ***

    Lastly, if you’re a customer of Verizon, you may have received a text message that looks like it came from your number. The text messages claim to be from Verizon and state that your bill is paid and to click a link to receive a gift. In some instances, customers were taken to a website that asked them for personal and financial information. In other instances, customers were taken to a Russian state media network. As always, you should never click on strange links from people you don’t know personally, and even then, you should still be suspicious. If you receive one of these texts, you should delete it immediately.

    ***

    We hope we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect you from these scams in the future.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Verizon,   

    Text message scams using big name companies 

    Text message scams using big name companies

    By Greg Collier

    We think it’s safe to assume that many mobile phone users would prefer to receive a text message than a phone call. Text message are just so much more convenient than stopping whatever you’re doing to take a call. Except, not every type of communication can be done through text messaging. For example, if you needed any kind of customer service, it would be painstakingly long to do that through text. That’s not even taking into account that text messages have become yet another domain where scammers thrive. Scammers love the anonymity that text messaging allows. This lets them pose as just about anyone, and lately, they’ve been posing as some of the best known companies in the country. We’ve recently read reports that say there a two text message-based scams that happening all over the country.

    The first text message scam we heard about recently is offering COVID-19-based discounts to customers of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone providers. Here is an example of what the text message says…

    “COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon.”

    As you can see, the text message isn’t very well written, which is a great indicator that the text message is a scam. The messages also contain a link that you shouldn’t click on as it could do untold damage to your device, or ask you for personal information you shouldn’t be sharing. Not only are scammers posing as Verizon, but they’ve also been posing as Netflix and Hulu, among other companies. As much as we’d like them to be, these companies aren’t in business by giving away money to their millions of customers.

    The other texting scam involves large national banks Chase and Bank of America. In this scam, victims have been receiving texts that say something along the lines of…

    Chase Bank Fraud. Did you attempt $5,000 Zelle-transfer? Reply yes/no/help.

    Or…

    “Bank of America fraud alert. Did you just attempt a Zelle transaction of $3,500? Please reply yes or no.”

    Most people would probably text no back to the sender. However, the senders are just scammers who are fishing for your banking information. Once someone replies to the text, it’s followed up with a phone call from a scammer posing as bank customer service. The scammers will then walk you through a process on Zelle that allows them access to your bank account. Before you know it, it’s been cleared out. What makes this scam so problematic is that banks do sometimes text their customers to let them know if there has been fraudulent activity on their account. In this case, it’s always best to call the customer service number on your debit card than responding to the text.

    A good way to protect yourself from such scams is to verify any text you receive about money with a phone call. Even if it’s from people you know because any phone number can be spoofed.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Verizon   

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality? 

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality?

    Proponents of net neutrality have almost completely resigned themselves to the idea that the FCC will revoke the Title II status that currently regulates internet providers. Title II treats internet service as a utility, like electricity or water. This means internet providers can only provide a stream of internet and can’t throttle internet speeds for different tiers of service. The President Trump-backed FCC has already stated their intention to remove Title II status in the name of ‘over-regulation’. While Title II has not yet been removed, some customers of a wireless internet provider are claiming speeds for certain services are already being throttled.

    Many Verizon customers are claiming in the past week the wireless company has been throttling speeds to video streaming services like YouTube and Netflix. A number of Verizon customers have gone online to complain and to suggest using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to get around the speed ban. Verizon has said they are testing a ‘video optimization system’, however, the optimization test is said to have resulted in lower quality video streams and excessive buffering for video content.

    While Verizon says its optimization test falls well within net neutrality exceptions, what was the test actually designed to gauge? Was it really designed for video optimization, or was it to test customer reaction to a potential slowdown for tiered data plans? Either way, Verizon didn’t appear to pass the test.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Verizon,   

    Google loses major advertisers amid hate speech controversy 

    Google loses major advertisers amid hate speech controversy

    Whether you want to admit it or not, the internet runs on advertising. Most of the sites we use that we consider free are actually built on advertising revenue from Facebook all the way down to your local news site. That’s why even an internet mammoth like Google stands up and takes notice when it loses major advertisers. In the wake of YouTube’s recent hate speech controversy where advertisers complained about their ads showing up on or near hate speech videos, both Verizon and AT&T have pulled their advertising dollars away from Google.

    While this move will cost Google hundreds of millions of dollars, AT&T and Verizon’s decision to withdraw their advertising dollars may have less to do with hate speech and may have more to do with business. Many tech insiders have speculated that this move may mean that Verizon and AT&T are looking to launch their own YouTube competitors. One could also assume that each company would give traffic priority to their own respective platforms over YouTube.

    While there are many video streaming sites and apps out there, none have captured the global imagination more than YouTube. They were the first and have remained the king of the mountain since. However, not every king stays king forever and while YouTube has shown some major flaws in recent days are Verizon and AT&T big enough names to take on YouTube as they’re basically two Davids against YouTube’s Goliath? Probably not, so even with all their flaws expect YouTube to continue to thrive.

     
  • Geebo 11:52 am on February 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Verizon,   

    The hits keep coming for Yahoo’s hacked accounts 

    The hits keep coming for Yahoo's hacked accounts

    There is now another chapter in the story of the close to one billion Yahoo user accounts that have been compromised. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Yahoo’s systems may be impossible to integrate with potential financial suitor Verizon because of all the compromised systems that Yahoo has. The report also states that many of the compromised systems and accounts remain compromised to this day.

    Even though Verizon is sticking with Yahoo for the time being, can Yahoo’s brand take any more damage? Can the Yahoo name even be trusted by consumers and can it potentially hurt the Verizon brand if they see the acquisition through? Verizon just garnered some great PR with their new seemingly unlimited wireless plans, but they could lose a lot of that goodwill if Yahoo’s problems bleed into theirs.

     
  • Geebo 10:57 am on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Verizon,   

    Yahoo reveals that hack was worse than previously thought 

    Yahoo reveals that hack was worse than previously thought

    It seems that getting any kind of vital information out of tech dinosaur Yahoo is like pulling teeth, from a rabid badger. It was made public recently that Yahoo’s infamous hack that compromised 500 million accounts was worse than just stolen passwords. Now Yahoo is revealing that some of the accounts were compromised using a forged cookie.

    A cookie is a piece of code that allows your browser to remember such information as your username for certain sites and in some cases your password. This means that someone with a forged cookie doesn’t even need your password to access your account. Yahoo claims that the hack was carried out by a state actor which means a government sponsored attack.

    This comes at a time where Verizon is still trying to negotiate a price to purchase Yahoo. Verizon just recently requested a $300 million price cut on the pending acquisition. Then again, if it wasn’t for this acquisition we may have never heard about these hacks at all.

    If anyone is still using any Yahoo services that deal with any kind of personal information you may want to think of deleting your account. While any online service can fall victim to a large-scale hack of this nature, Yahoo seems to be inordinately porous when it comes to user security.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Verizon,   

    Yahoo kicking itself while it’s down 

    Yahoo kicking itself while it's down

    It was bad enough when it was revealed that Yahoo had been hacked to the tune of 500 million users, now it turns out there nay have been more. Many AT&T and SBC-Global email accounts were set up through Yahoo servers and many users have been reporting that they’ve been unable to change their passwords.

    Then, in what could be considered a bad PR move, Yahoo has temporarily disabled email forwarding. That means if you were leaving Yahoo and wanted your email forwarded to your new address, you wouldn’t be able to do that now. It can be understood that Yahoo would want to stop hemorrhaging users, but to use technical sleight of hand to prevent them from leaving is questionable at best.

    So it should come as no surprise that with all of Yahoo’s problems, Verizon is asking for a $1 billion discount in the asking price for Yahoo. Can you blame them? It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Verizon even decided to back out of the deal.

    If Yahoo continues to have these kind of controversies it may find itself in the ever-increasing graveyard of tech companies that failed to achieve their full potential.

     
  • Geebo 9:52 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Tumblr, Verizon,   

    Tumblr tries to straddle a fine line when it comes to ads 

    Tumblr tries to straddle a fine line when it comes to ads

    After being classified as ‘worthless’ in the Yahoo-Verizon deal, micro-blogging site Tumblr will be rolling out ads on its users’ blogs today. The problem is that Tumblr has the unenviable task of trying to be profitable without alienating their core user base.

    Tumblr’s main demographic tends to skew much younger than most comparable services like Twitter or Facebook. Due to their users’ naiveté, Tumblr’s users tend to not only be resistant to change but they tend to resent any kind of corporate influence into what they perceive as a fragile ecosystem. When Yahoo first purchased Tumblr in 2013, many of its users took to their keyboards to voice their displeasure (NSFW language), to say the least.

    What their young minds may not understand is that not a lot of people run a free service on the internet purely out of the goodness of their hearts, and in no uncertain terms, advertising is the currency of the internet. Tumblr needs to make money in order for it to survive and Tumblr users are already raging against the advertising machine. If Tumblr continues to be valued as basically worthless, then new parent company Verizon, may decide to shutter Tumblr altogether. If Tumblr’s users want to keep their favorite platform, then it might be time for their user base to do some growing up.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Verizon,   

    Yahoo: What could have been 

    Yahoo: What could have been

    Yesterday it was announced that Yahoo has been purchased by communications giant Verizon for $4 billion. While that may seem like a fair price for the aging internet icon, it pales in comparison to what might have been for Yahoo.

    Although hindsight is 20/20 Yahoo has made some financial decisions that even through the looking-glass of history seem questionable. For example, Yahoo had the chance to buy Google twice. In 1998, Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin were trying to sell their company, that would later become Google, for $1M. Both AltaVista and Yahoo turned them down. In 2002 Yahoo entered into negotiations to purchase Google but walked away from Google’s asking price of $5B. In 2008, Microsoft sought to purchase Yahoo for upwards of $40B. Once again, Yahoo walked away from the deal. However, the question has to be asked, if Yahoo did purchase Google, what’s to say that they still wouldn’t be a floundering tech company today? Not to mention we’d be without a lot of Google services that many of us rely upon today. If history is any indicator, Yahoo would more than likely find themselves in the same situation they’re currently in.

    The news isn’t all bad for Yahoo though, at least not as far as Verizon sees it. Verizon already owns another massive tech property in AOL. While the AOL brand may not have the same punch it once did it still has such properties under its banner as TechCrunch and the Huffington Post. Business Insider purports that with the addition of Yahoo to its portfolio, Verizon could have a bigger web network than both Google and Facebook. That may not be hyperbole since Yahoo was once the most visited website in the world and still holds a place in the top ten.

     
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