Tag Archives: scam calls

Securing Your Online Persona

I had coffee recently with a super fun group of ladies. The topic came up about personal information available on the internet when one mentioned she’d received an email from Facebook asking for her phone number. She ID’d it as a scam and deleted it. I believe it was probably a legit email, but it never hurts to be careful.

That discussion, and a request from a dear friend, warranted a blog about securing your online persona (a.k.a. choosing what people can see about you on the internet).

There are a loComputer Identity2t of articles dedicated to getting off the grid or becoming invisible on the internet. We’re not interested in going that far. People can know we’re on the internet, but if you’re like me, you want to control how much personal information leaks out. Me? I like to keep my public personal information to a minimum. My friends and family know how to contact me and that’s what’s important.


In case you were wondering, here’s why websites ask for our phone numbers.

Reason One: New website security these days includes what they call “two-step” verification. Step 1: you log in with your normal user ID and password, Step 2: a security program sends a code to your phone via text, voice, or mobile app. You enter the newly sent code to log on.

Do you have to do this every time? No. There is a box to check or a question telling the security program to stop flagging the computer where you just logged on and to allow logging on from that computer without the code in the future.

Reason Two: Websites, such as Twitter, are allowing log ins with only a telephone number. There’s no user ID or password. You get a security code texted to that phone number and use it to enter the website.

cell phoneReason Three: The website is using marketing apps. Advertising texts, including coupons, and voice mail marketing are part of this.

Reason Four: Websites where you transact business will ask for your phone number as well as your address. These websites usually have your info on a secure page (denoted by https:// at the beginning of the URL address).

Bank, broker, auction, and other financial or sales websites are different than social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. I don’t put my phone number on social websites; I don’t want to be that social. Facebook would like to be the next Amazon, and does offer advertising packages. But for the majority of Facebook users it’s still just another social media site. No hate mail please, Facebook lovers.

Whether you give out your phone number or not is up to you. I do on financial and sales sites because I want them knowing they can call me if there’s a problem. On social media sites, I do not. They have my email address; they can email me.

There is also the fact that typing my landline number into any search engine (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc)  will pull up my address. If you know my cell phone number, my name and address can be requested for a fee.


 Securing Your Online Information

Let’s talk about securing what personal information is floating out in cyberspace. The one we’ll tackle today is social media.

social mediaWe all love social media. There are so many wonderful things about it. It keeps us in touch with distant friends and relatives, and lets us know in real time what’s happening in people’s lives. We can view photos of loved ones we don’t see regularly, and follow businesses and events.

In my opinion, the best of all worlds is to be able to utilize social media while keeping my personal information safe.

I’ve included a few the largest social media sites in the U.S. below. Believe it or not, there are dozens of others in almost every country around the planet. If your favorite isn’t listed, I bet you’ll see a trend in the below examples and be able to find your way through your site.

Facebook Privacy

Not long ago, Facebook redesigned its site to make it very easy to tighten up your personal information and security.

Find the padlock in the top right corner of your Facebook page. 1) Left-click on padlock, and select 2) Privacy Checkup.
Facebook privacy checkup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The screens to update your information look like example screens, but they’re actually interactive so you can click and adjust your information.

First Step is “Your Posts”. Remember, Facebook Terms of Service allow that your intellectual property rights (pictures, videos, etc.) are “subject to your privacy and application settings”. So if you set your privacy to “public”, Facebook assumes you mean anyone and everyone.
fb checkup options

Second Step is setting “Your Apps”. These are sites you’ve logged onto with Facebook. Remember being asked by a website if you want to use Facebook to log on? This is where the sites you said yes to are listed.
Connect with FB

FYI: Being a paranoid individual, I rarely sign on with Facebook. Exceptions would be benign website like National Geographic, Washington Post, Fox News, etc. I’m okay with these sites knowing as much about me as Facebook.

Third Step is “Your Profile”. You can make this as secure or as public as you wish. I bet you didn’t know you had an individual Facebook email address, did you? Now you do.

Twitter Privacy

Adjusting Twitter privacy settings are pretty much like any standard website. You can tell people as much or as little as you’d like by what’s in your profile.

1) Go to the Me tab, 2) left-click the Account gear, then 3) Settings. Under Settings you will see how your information is presented on Twitter. 4) Edit profile will allow you to edit your information.
Twitter Settings

 

Pinterest Privacy

PInterest’s privacy settings are accessed in the upper right corner under your name. 1) Left-click the gear, then 2) left-click Account Settings. You don’t need to click “Edit Profile” because you can adjust that under Account Settings.

PInterest account settings

Youtube Privacy

Settings are in the top right corner by your picture. See a pattern here? Many, if not all, setting options are in the upper right corner of your browser window very close to where your picture is or would be if you uploaded one.

1) Left-click your picture, 2) left-click the Settings gear icon,
Youtube

 

 

 

 

3) The left margin contains areas you might wish to adjust.
Yourtube privacy

 

Google+ Privacy

If you don’t know what Google+ is you might not have an accounGoogle+t. But, if you have Gmail for your email provider, you might have an account and don’t know it. To find it, in the top right of your email main page you’ll see your name with a + behind it. Left-click on that to get into Google+.

Google+ Privacy settings are…you guessed it, upper right corner by your picture.
1) Left-click the menu arrow beside the picture area, 2) click Privacy.
Google plus

 

If you hover over the Home area to the left, you’ll get more options. You can edit your profile here and access Settings at the bottom of the list.
Google plus Home

Don’t forget to update the Audence tab (1). This lets you determine who can see your Google+ stuff.  It’s under Settings.
Google plus privacy

 


I hope you now know a bit more about how much of yourpersonal information is accessable through websites.

There is  great government website that addresses these issues also: Guide to Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Secure 2015 .

Rest easy with your new social media piece of mind, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


Other security articles you might find interesting:

Facebook: LIttle Known Tips and Tricks Tip Six three-fourths of the way down the page also talks about public posts on Facebook.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

Creating the Safest Passwords

Spotting Hoax Emails


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

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Tax Time 2015

scrabble taxI’m recycling a past blog as the timing is right for it.

Remember there are a lot of telephone scams that sound legit. Be safe everyone.

Click this link to read all about it.

Scammers Posing as the IRS

Have a fantastic rest of the week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Happy Holidays! It’s the season of giving, peace on earth, Untitled-1and goodwill to man.

Unfortunately, wrapped up with all the holiday cheer is an upsurgence in unscrupulous people.

After all the looting recently in St. Louis, I wondered how many kids got stolen merchandise as gifts. And how many knew it was stolen?  Envision the exchange at a looter holiday. “Here, Johnny, I got you this sparkling new bike.” “Wow, you’re the  best uncle in the world!” Yeah, right.

Hey, Looters! Ever think of setting a good example, you thugs? You’re not protesters; you’re criminals who steal and destroy your neighbors’ hard work by looting and burning their stores.

dog snow tongueThen there are those who steal delivered packages off the front porches of others. Last week a few got their comeuppance. A couple in Washington, D.C. — tired of having their packages stolen from their front porch — rewrapped a special gift for the porch package pilferers. They videotaped the gift exchange so they could enjoy it for years to come, and share it with local law enforcement. The box they left was filled with dog poo. Ah, pooetic justice at its best.


Now for the real point of today’s blog: telephone scammers who ask for your personal information and credit card number.

Recently a friend received two calls in as many weeks asking for his credit card number. Both of these calls could’ve been legit, but he’s very smart and didn’t give out any information. The first caller identified themselves as from his bank; the second said they were from his new cell phone service.

The “bank” caller asked him to verify his social security number. He didn’t. Then they asked for him to verify his address. He said, “Um, you’re my bank. Shouldn’t you already know my address?” Then they asked for a credit card number and that tore it. He had a few choice words for them at this point and hung up.

shopping cart iconThe cell phone caller went immediately for the throat. They said his calling limit had been reached, and if he wanted to continue he needed to give them a credit card number. He just bought the phone the week before so he knew that wasn’t the case.


By the way,  it’s legit in our age of technology to charge items to your cell phone account much like you do to your credit card account.

In fact, this past October, the FTC reached a $105 million settlement with AT&T for adding unauthorized charges — technically known as “cramming” — to their clients billings.

The FTC has some great tips on protecting yourself from cramming and what to watch for on your telephone bill. Click here.


Today’s Important Lesson Number One: Never ever give out a credit card number to someone who calls you. Only give it out if you initiate the call.

Today’s Important Lesson Number Two: Never call back a number given to you by a caller then give them your credit card number. Scammers  can intercept calls and/or set up phone numbers to look like legit businesses.


Now you’re armed a bit better for scam callers. Don’t feel bad if the calls are actually from a company you do business with. You just did them a favor by advising them their policies need to be brought into the 21st Century.

Have a very blessed holiday season, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!Scammers Posing as the IRS.


 

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

 

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

I received a message last week from a female robotic voice saying, “Your computer is generating some serious errors, please press 1 to talk to Microsoft service. Please press 1… ” While I was deciding how to track the number and find the thief, the recording stopped and the call disconnected. Hm. Maybe scammers can read my mind now.words only scary microsoft

I’ve had this happen before, but this was the first time I’ve actually had an outerspace robot on the other end. Live people have called me a few times. All of them with foreign accents.


Our conversations went something like this:

“This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages. Would you give me the _______ [I forget what computer info he wanted]?”

“Which computer?” I asked.

“Your main computer”, he replied.

“Which one? I have a few.”

Click. Dead air.


The conversation for another call was similar to the above except I was in teacher/preacher/mother mode.

“”This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages.”

“The company you’re working for is scamming people.”

I think he denied this. I added, “I’m sure you’re a very smart man. You should find a legitimate company to work for. Have a nice evening.”


Smiley phoneMy cousin tells the caller to hold on while she looks for the information they’re requesting. Then she sets down the phone and continues whatever she was doing when they called. Twenty minutes later she checks the line  and — you guessed it — they’ve usually hung up.


There’s a comedian who will engage the caller or telemarketer in normal conversation — How are ya’? How’s the weather there?, etc — then he’ll ask, “Oh, can you hold on a second?” Then he has a one-sided conversation in the background while the caller listens. It goes something like this:

“Hi, how was the doctor’s visit? Hey, what’s the gun for?”

Pause.

“No, No, NOOOOO!!!!!”

He drops a book or bangs something loudly.

“Oh My God!”

He picks up the phone again, and in a panicked voice he includes the caller in the crisis situation.

“Oh my God, oh my God. She shot herself. Call the police! No, Call an ambulance! No! Call a coroner!”

By this time the caller has hung up. Quite effective, don’t you think?


Now for the Serious Stuff

When scammers call you, they aren’t just trying to sell you phony services, it can be much worse.  Their goal is to do a number of things.

  • Download software that captures your passwords and information.
  • Install malicious trojans or viruses.
  • Take control of your computer remotely.computer handshake

What? You don’t think they can take control of your computer? They can. And when they do, they gain access to all your online banking/investment information, your personal data, and a ton more. Not cool.


How to Stop Them

1) The easiest way is don’t fall victim in the first place.

Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Windows, your internet service provider, or software  security companies (Norton or McAfee are the major ones) won’t call your home…ever.

They are too busy helping the people who call them — which they expect you to do — to go looking for business.

  • DO NOT ask for a phone number to call them back. They can have those rigged, too.
  • DO NOT go to any website they give you. Even to receive a $1000 refund from Microsoft. You know that’s not happening…ever, plus they probably have software on that website to capture your I.D.’s and passwords.

Remember, if it’s too easy or too good to be true, it is. Most of the time those greedy enough to pursue these kinds of offers end up wishing they hadn’t.

2) Disable Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a function of Windows that allows someone not near your computer (via the internet) to access your computer information and settings.

Scammers will try to walk you through enabling Remote Desktop. Just tell them it’s disabled on purpose, and you can’t reenable it without talking to your computer tech first. The scammer will probably hang up.


How to Disable Remote Desktop:

With Windows 7 or 8, a) open File Explorer (the file icon on your task bar), b) right-click on Computer in the left margin, c) click Properties  in the dropdown menu.


You can also get to the Systems window the long way. I wouldn’t.

In Windows 8, a) hover over the top or bottom right to open the Charms Bar — yep, it has a name — b) click Settings at the bottom of the bar, then c) Control Panel toward the top, d) scroll down to System.

In Windows 7, a) click the Start button on your task bar, b) select Control Panel in the right column, c) click Settings, then d) System.


In the System window, 1) open Remote Settings in the left margin.
Windows 8 remote settings

 

2) Uncheck the top box, and make certain the radio button is blackened in front of Don’t allow remote connections to this computer.
remote desktop disable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) click Apply, and 4) OK.

Congratulations. You’re done.

You may wish to read in the System Properties window What happens when I enable Remote Assistance? and Help me choose. Especially, if you’re considering applying this to an office computer. You can always re-enable Remote Assistance at any time if you actually need someone you know or you’ve called to access your computer, then disable it again later.


Have a safe and successful computing week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

Related blogs: Creating the Safest Passwords; and Spotting Hoax Emails;


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.