Internet Savvy

Since this be a serious topic, I will try to typing it in regular English for clarity’s sake. There has been some recent discussion about safeguarding email addresses.  And my mother was a recent scam target and nearly sent $17,000 to the scammer.

So I am providing a few thoughts about  the internet, privacy, scams, safety and you.

  • You need to be aware that as an internet user, any page that you can access, millions of other people can access too.  (It is a World Wide Web, after all.)  On public sites such as blogs, social networks, forums, chat rooms, etc. millions of people can read what you write.  Even if it is a “private”  forum, people can copy what you have written and paste it into an email and send it to others.  If you don’t want your words reaching the “wrong” person, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it on the web.
  • Wifi is convenient when you are away from home.  But there are ways for the unscrupulous tech-savvy people to capture what you are transmitting….. whether it is text or passwords or credit card numbers.
  • The  internet knows more about you than you probably want it to.  Whether or not you use the internet, the internet knows about you.   If you know someone’s name you can enter it in a bazillion searchers and find  out their address, phone number, age, and more.  Ancestry.com  is full of personal info.  Yellowpages.com has a people search. Zabasearch.com will search by name or phone number.  Facebook (and other sites) have searchers that will go through your email address book and find matches to people with accounts on their sites.  And it goes on and on.
    • Once someone has an address, they can go to Google maps, enter the address, get a close up overhead view, and in many places, get a street view, too!
  • It is next to impossible to keep your email address private.  When people forward email (jokes especially) they often do not delete all the addresses in the email and send  it to all their friends using the To: option instead of the BCC: option that hides addresses.  This allows anyone getting the email to harvest email addresses.   Be kind to your friends and strip email addresses when you forward things.
  • Remember to keep yourself safe online.  Deal only with reputable firms when making purchases, and check to make sure the “padlock” symbol is present when entering your credit card or bank info.  If you are dealling with a new (to you) merchant, check the product reviews, they often include comments about how the merchant handles problems with products and customer service.
  • I have found it helpful to have several email addresses:
    • One that I keep private for use in ordering things, banking, paying bills, etc. online.
    • Another not-so-private one for friends and family to use to keep in touch.
    • One very public address for my blogs.
  • They all get spam, but the public one gets about 15 to 45 spams a day — waaaay more than my more private addresses.  Many of these are what is called a Nigerian scam or a 419 scam (419 refers to the section of the Nigerian penal code that covers fraud) because that is where a bunch of such scams originated.  These scams claim to be from someone with access to the account of a deceased millionaire with no heirs.  The sender says they will split it with me if  I will claim to the heir. What they want me to do is use my money to open up a joint overseas account that they will transfer the money into.   Other emails tell me I have won millions of dollars (or British pounds) in lotteries I haven’t entered; all I have to do is pay a fee/tax.  Anytime someone wants you to put money in a bank account they have set up for you, they will take your money. Bottom line: if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • By using pseudonyms, people can pretend to be someone they are not. Look at the sender’s address.  I got one scam claiming to come from the FBI that had an address @msn.com!  🙄 The FBI doesn’t send mail from msn.com!  Any government employee will have an email address that ends in .gov.
  • Do NOT give out private info to people you don’t know. If you get an email asking for your age, address, country, marital status, etc. DO NOT RESPOND!!! If you think you have received a scam email, go to  www.snopes.com and check it out.  Also see the Phishing Links below.
  • For safety’s sake,  I use LifeLock to protect my identity.  In case someone does get access to my vital statistics and tries to establish credit using my name, I will be contacted and can stop trouble before it starts.
  • I do have two ICHC related blogs, the Cheezpeepz map and Cheezpeepz Burfdayz that provide personal information.  In order to protect other people’s privacy, I only include people  who send an email to cweenmj@gmail.com asking to be included.  On the map, I put the marker on the town the person lives in (or in the general area if a person requests it); and on the birthday list, I use month and date only, not the year of birth.
  • Have  a healthy wariness of people you meet online; there are people out there who have no conscience and will pretend to be your friend while planning to exploit you in one way or another.  And, while Cheezmeetz are fun, be cautious – meet in public places, meet in groups.  We tend to think of Cheezpeepz as “safe” people; but there are predators on the web, and there is no guarantee that there aren’t any on ICHC.

For more info on Internet Safety, check out this web site:  http://www.wiredsafety.org/

The FTCs  Identity theft page:   http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft//

Phishing Links:

http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/phishing.aspx

http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/alerts/phishing.html

For more info on the Nigerian scams :

http://web.archive.org/web/20020802151417/http://www.secretservice.gov/alert419.shtml

http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/08/07/419scams/print.html

For more info on the lottery scams :

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/advancefee/lottery.asp

http://www.fraudaid.com/scamspam/lottery/index.htm

3 thoughts on “Internet Savvy

  1. Mai hubby has just told me that WP has been hacked, which is probably what accounts for the problems some ICHC sites are experiencing.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/13/wordpress_hack_attack/

    He is a Software Developer/ Purrgrammer/ Techy, and knows his stuff…just thought you all might like to read about it, and see if anyone knows anything…

    I didn’t want to put this on ICHC so I hope here is OK…if nawt, pleez to be mooving/deleting as apurrpriate.

  2. Thanks for putting this up, dear Cween. I only found it today, but it’s well worth reading. Although I do miss the lolspeak. Well, can’t have it all. Clarity rules in this case, and I would not want a learner of lolspeak not being able to understand how to protect themselves. I feel very safe with you.

  3. O hai.

    Very good advice.

    May I offerify a couple of other thoughts? –

    A current scam in the UK (probably operating in other countries too) is people calling phone numbers at random (on the basis that a lot of people have computers) and saying they are ‘from Microsoft’ (or ‘from your internet provider’) and saying they have identified a problem with your computer.

    Their ‘fix’ either involves you paying them, or involves you following their instructions and compromising your computer’s security. (or possibly both.)

    Needless to say, they are nothing at all to do with Microsoft or your ISP.

    Another one is e-mails that purport to be from an organisation you (might) have some sort of online account with (e.g. bank, Paypal, even an e-mail account) which either is something to do with a ‘security upgrade’ or says they have detected unauthorised activity / change of e-mail address on your account, and asks you to click on a link and enter your logon details to sort it out.

    These are almost invariably scams. Ways to detect them –

    Any business communicating something like that would usually address you by name, not “dear customer” – and they certainly wouldn’t send the same e-mail to loads of people with all e-mail addresses visible (some scammers are that stupid)

    The more urgent they make it sound that you do something, (e.g. “if you don’t do this within the next 20 minutes we’ll lock your account”) the more likely it is to be fake.

    If you hover your mouse over the link they want you to go to, it might be obvious that it’s not what it purports to be (although this can be faked.)

    If in doubt, go to your normal logon page for the account via your web browser and see if there’s a message there. If the message isn’t there, you can be sure it’s fake.

    Obviously, if it’s a bank you’ve never had an account with, then you can be sure it’s a fake!

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/InYourHome/KeepingSafeAtHome/DG_10038607 is the UK government’s advice page for this sort of thing.

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