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Scam Alert: I recently received an email supposedly from Microsoft Account Team, ID 133 Email Security Alert (Sept. 2017).
Unusual activity detected--I did not open this but instead took my mouse and hovered over the address. It read From Microsoft.email@example.com
The misspellings in the address were enough to keep me from clicking on the email. Always check the sender when you get a strange email. Do not open it up but delete it right away.
AARP recently reported on new scams just in time for summer trips. Vacations put you in the path of scam artists who want to separate you from your travel dollars.
There is a new samaritan scam. You may be boarding a flight overseas and discover your wallet is missing. Your cellphone rings. A guy on the other end says he found it in the airport. But don't worry, the Samaritan has your name and address and can drop the wallet in the mail today. No need to postpone your trip to deal with canceling credit cards. The point of the call--which came from a disposable phone that can't be traced--is to lull you into giving the thief lots of time to ravage your accounts while you wait for the package that never arrives. You don't find out you've been conned until the bogus charges show up.
Be careful at hotels. Make sure the doors have adequate locks. One scam at hotels: A few minutes after you check in, you get a call from someone pretending to be from the front desk asking you to repeat your credit card number and security code--claiming it was written down wrong. A crook was lurking when you checked in and they need the information to rip you off.
Be alert to strangers claiming that there is a spill on your clothes. This is often a ploy to get close enough to grab your wallet or purse. Also, someone may approach you and offer to take your photograph with your friend or spouse. That's a good way to have someone dash off with your camera or smartphone!
Here are five tech activities to say NO to:
1. Giving strangers access to your computer. You might get an email that looks like it's from Microsoft and claims your account was compromised. It seeks permission "to remove the malware." Instead they just steal your personal data.
2. Opening an email attachment from a stranger. They may post something intriguing in the subject line to entice you to click on an attachment. It may say something like "I love you." If you do, it will install malware allowing them to take over your computer.
3. Using a thumb drive you got for free at a store or computer convention. It may contain malware.
4. Conducting private business on a public Wi-Fi system, such as Starbucks. A skilled hacker sitting near you can pick up everything you type.
5. Posting something on Facebook you might someday regret. Even if you delete the post, it will still be retrievable. Hackers can bypass even privacy buttons.
NEW FRAUDS TO WATCH FOR THIS YEAR
AARP reports that antifraud groups have raised public awareness that a request for payment by wire transfers and prepaid cash cards usually signals a scam, and the Federal Trade Commission has made it illegal for telemarketers to ask for payment that way. As a result, many scammers have turned to iTunes gift cards as their preferred payment method. Watch out for come-ons to purchase a card, load money on it and them provide the 16-digit code. It's a fast and virtually untraceable way to steal your money.
Don't get fooled by fake websites. Suppose you made a typo and left out the letter "c" when typing "Netflix.com" into a web browser. The website you landed on might have told you to update your software.
Sites like these with addresses that are only slightly different from those of real sites often are a scam. This is sometimes referred to as "typosquatting" if you accidentally type an incorrect address or click a link in an e-mail or at a website, not noticing the minor change.
These fake sites might ask you to enter financial information, such as a credit card number or you might be asked to update some software on your computer or download a file (which contains spyware or malware). If you're looking for a product or service, they might redirect you to another similar site that is more expensive than the original one that you wanted.
Victims think they are on the original website that they wanted and may comply. Don't be a victim: Double-check that you have typed the web address correctly before hitting enter . An alternative is to create bookmarks in your web browser for sites you visit often.
What is the new chip card? I just received my new and improved Visa card from the bank. How is it improved? It has an EMV chip.
These chips store your data and replace the card's traditional magnetic stripe. This makes it harder for hackers to make a counterfeit copy of your credit card if they steal your account information. The chips generate a unique code for every transaction so if scammers steal data from a retailer, they won't be able to use that information to make future purchases. The chips have become the standard in most of the credit-card-accepting world, leaving the U. S. as the only major economy that still relies on magnetic stripes.
The EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa and is a big deal. Half of the world's credit card fraud reportedly happens in the U. S.
Credit card issuers have begun sending out EMV-chip-enabled cards to people like me along with a letter that talks about the extra levels of security that these cards provide.
So this is great news, right? I recently went to the store and when checking out saw that the card reader isn't chip-enabled. A chip-enabled reader has a slot into which you insert the card, similar to an ATM machine. I'm able to swipe because my new Visa card still comes with a magnetic stripe on the back.
Because I swiped the card to make a purchase, the chip never came into play. I may as well have had my old card. Chip cards are great fraud fighters--but that is pretty much impossible in America right now. They aren't any good if most places won't accept them. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express have told merchants that if they haven't upgraded their equipment to read chip cards, (Walmart is the big exception) they will be fully liable for their losses in any data breaches.
Most chip cards around the world are of the chip-and-pin variety, most chip cards produced in the U.S. are chip-and-signature cards. There's no PIN involved. You sign for your purchase, as you always have, with your mag stripe.
Putting a chip in a card without also attaching a PIN to it is a wasted opportunity. Why? It's much easier to forge someone's signature than to hack their PIN. The PIN and the security that it offers are the key to making all of this work most effectively. Credit card fraud in the United Kingdom fell by more than a third after chip-and-PIN was implemented.
I'm looking forward to the day when I can break out a chip-and-PIN card to pay for anything, anywhere. Then we will see just how powerful a fraud-prevention tool this technology can be.
SCAM UPDATE: Personal reports of phishing loan rip-offs, tech support schemes and other con games. Search by location or type, or send in your own reports. New from the Better Business Bureau. BBB.org/ScamTracker
Top Scams to Look out for Following the Death of a Loved one
The Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force lists the most frequent scams to look out for following the death of a loved one.
After her husband died, a fraudulent insurance agent called the widow. He claimed that her husband had fallen behind in making payments on a life insurance policy that he had purchased a few months earlier. If she paid him $250 in cash to bring the policy current, she would receive a death benefit of $25,000. He even offered to come to her home to accept the payment. Fortunately, she was too smart to fall for the scam.
It's a shameful story. Scammers like to target people who are recently bereaved--especially widows and widowers who might be especially vulnerable when they are grieving. The crooks read obituaries, skim information about recently deceased people and their families and use it dishonestly.
Identity Theft --You should alert your relatives to hang up the phone if someone calls and requests personal or financial data for any reason. Some scammers have reasonable-sounding reasons for requesting data. They could say that your loved one has not yet paid for a magazine subscription and all that is needed to bring the account current is a credit card number, that a utility bill is past due, or that bank data needs to be "updated." Never provide credit card data in response to an incoming email. If you get an email from your bank that claims that you owe money or need to update data, call or visit your bank to ask whether you really need to.
Fraudulent "Bills Due" is one of the oldest scams directed against grieving people. The scammer calls a recently widowed person and claims that the deceased individual owed money for something. The fraudster could claim that the deceased person put down a deposit on a piece of real estate, a vacation, an insurance policy, or a piece of jewelry that was supposed to be a surprise gift to the widow or widower. If the scammer is also an identity thief, he or she will offer the option of paying over the phone by credit card.
Inflated Bills from Funeral Homes-- The overwhelming majority of funeral homes are run by honorable professionals whose first concern is to provide caring service to families at their time of loss. Even so, stories do occasionally make the news about funeral homes that have tacked on charges for services that people were not expecting.
Be sure that you receive a fully itemized statement of services and costs before those services are provided. Even if you discuss arrangements over the phone, be sure to get a statement via email. If you get everything in writing, you can point to the statement that you received and pay only for the specific services that you requested. If you feel that a funeral home has attempted to engage in dishonest activies, contact the National Funeral Directors, a national organization that monitors the undustry.
Travel Scams -- Not long ago, a recently widowed man received a call from someone who identified herself as his granddaughter. She even used his granddaughter's name when making the call: "Grandpa, this is Sarah."
She said that she needed money to travel to his wife's funeral and asked him to wire funds to Florida. Fortunately, he called Sarah's parents befure doing so. The criminal had read his wife's obituary, which mentioned Sarah's name and hatched a plot.
If a suspicious person calls, say you need to call him or her back. The scammer will hang up, make up an excuse for why the number cannot be given out, or say that he or she needs to call you back later. Note that scammers call from "spook" phone numbers that cannot be traced.
Never provide any information via email or phone, such as physical addresses or credit card data.
Immediately inform any banks, insurance companies, or other businesses that the scammer claimed to represent. They know best how to investigate frauds that use their names.
Are you getting more robocalls than ever before? Robocalls are those unwanted, pre-recorded intrusions into our private lives. You're not safe anywhere, not even on your smartphone. These scams promise free cruises, debt relief, easy money and more.
The Wall Street Journal of June 29, 2016 reports that over 10 billion robocalls have been placed to U. S. phones since the start of 2016, according to YouMail, a provider of cloud-based telecom services including call blocking. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about them are up nearly 50% since last year. Tax scams are also up this year, according to the IRS, and have netted the crooks over $40 million since October 2013.
The Robocall increase is due to technology. It's so easy--and cheap--for scammers to dial thousands of numbers that they're hitting more of us. They plug lists of phone numbers into software and fire off calls over the internet.
They can even "spoof" numbers, falsifying caller-ID information so callers can disguise their identity or location, even overseas. They can even spoof the IRS's toll-free number.
Here's your best plan of action:
When you receive a robocall, don't answer! Letting the system know you're a real person may get your number placed on a valuable list of confirmed live humans. If you don't recognize an incoming number, let it go to voicemail. If you pick up then realize it is a robocall, just hang up.
Last June, the FCC said carriers could legally block robocalls and automated text messages, if asked by a customer.
The Mayo Clinic reports that seniors who used computers at least once a week had a 42% decreased risk for onset of mild cognitive impairment over a 4 year period. Other mentally stimulating activities include magazine reading 30%, social activities 23%, crafts 16%, and games, such as cards 14%.
Beware Netflix and Flickr photo-sharing Scams
Cyberthieves aren't just invading financial accounts such as credit card and bank accounts--they are also trying to access accounts that most people don't think of as targets--Flickr, Netflix and other video-streaming services.
This trend comes at a time when credit card providers, banks and various other businesses, including retailers, have beefed up the safeguards to protect account information and detect fraud.
The thieves are selling the account information, including user names and passwords, on the Internet underground market (the Dark Web.) Scammers then use the information to hijack your account.
In Netflix, scammers might use your user name and password to access Netflix or other video-streaming services. They can hijack your Flickr account and withhold your pictures from you until you pay a ransom. It could be used as part of a larger identity theft scheme.
Many people are less careful about security for these types of services thinking that cyberthieves wouldn't be interested. Wrong! Don't disregard security precautions when creating accounts for these services. Avoid easily guessed passwords and check your transactions and other activities on your account.
Don't use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Cyberthieves can steal the password and use it to try to access your other accounts. Always back up your photos on a hard drive or a flash drive, not just in the cloud.
Did you know that Gmail and Yahoo Mail scans every word you write?
Then they sell the information to advertisers (although no humans read the text.) Did you know that a software program searches for keywords and compiles data for sale? This is called contextual ad targeting. You have to agree to this practice to be able to use these e-mail services. You may have missed this line hidden in the small print when you signed up for the e-mail. If you reveal private information, let's say you are planning a divorce, you and anyone else who uses your computer may see ads for divorce attorneys in your browser. If this really bothers you, try using Outlook (Hotmail) instead. Microsoft does not target ads to you based on your e-mail content.
What not to put in an e-mail
Quirky text and punctuation can trigger spam filters. This may prevent someone from receiving your e-mail. These include:
If you think that your e-mail did wind up in someone's spam folder, ask the recipient to add you to his/her contact list or address book.
Scams involving chip-enabled cards
No doubt you have been or will be issued new credit and debit cards--which is meant to increase security and deter counterfeiting. This has led to new scams. Thieves disguised as banks and credit card issuers send e-mails asking victims to update their account information in order to get a new chip-enabled card. Giving these thieves existing card numbers and personal information leads to card fraud and identity theft--and clicking on a scammer-provided link downloads malware onto the victim's computer. If you get unsolicited e-mail supposedly from your bank or card issuer, do not respond. Call the number on your existing card to find out if the contact is legitimate and to report any fraud.
Check out Credit.com for more information.
Latest News on Passwords
The Wall Street Journal for January 20, 2016 reports that passwords are getting longer, but not getting stronger. For the first time last year, "1234567890" "quertyuiop" (top row of keys on a standard keyboard) and "welcome" landed spots on the list of the years most common passwords, according to data from SplashData a company that makes password-management applications. These examples are longer than perennial favorites "1234" "12345" and "querty," which still rank high. SplashData CEO Morgan Slain said that if these longer passwords are based on simple patterns they will put you in just as much risk of having your identity stolen by hackers.
THINK TWICE BEFORE CLICKING THAT ONLINE COUPON
During the holidays coupons offering amazing deals at well-known stores are popping up on Facebook. The logo looks real and the deal fantastic.
Who wouldn't look twice at the promise of a 50% off coupon on everything in the store? Or $100 off $120 of groceries at a supermarket chain? Just click on the link.
Shoppers need to take time for a reality check. The deals are just scammers seeking personal information. A neighbor saw a post from a friend for a coupon for 50% off at Kohl's. It said Merry Christmas from Kohl's! To get the coupon, she had to click through a three-step process.
Step one: Share on Facebook.
Step two: Like on Facebook.
Step three: Click here and take a survey, including a section that will ask for your personal information so you can be "sent" the coupon.
Even if you are suspicious of the coupon, by the time you hit step three, you have already shared the link to your friends.
Social media sites have been inundated with coupon offers claiming consumers can obtain an extremely high-value coupon at many locations.
Some of the chains are Aldi, Kohl's, Target, and ShopRite.
Consumers should avoid downloading Internet coupons. If a friend emails you coupons, especially high-value coupons, they are most likely counterfeit. The scammers use surveys to get personal information for ID theft. Or malicious software can be downloaded onto your computer if you click on a link. Some counterfeit coupons involve specific products such as Coca-Cola or Kellogg Eggos.
Remember that plenty of real coupons exist in newspapers and on store websites, especially during the holiday shopping season. Stay safe.
This dangerous malware is known as the Cryptolocker Virus.
Melissa was stunned when an "FBI" alert popped up on her computer saying her files had been locked due to illegal activity. The sender demanded $400 to release her files. She Googled the alert and realized she wasn't dealing with the real FBI. She had been targeted and was the victim of a ransomware attack.
After you click on an infected ad, e-mail attachment or website, hackers access your computer via malicious software (malware), locking or blocking access to files. Fail to pay by the deadline and they'll leave data irretrivable. Many hackers require Bitcoin, an untraceable virtual currency. McAfee Labs reported attacks rose 165% in the first quarter of 2015!
How to protect yourself:
I'm so old I remember when a hashtag was a pound sign AND we played tic-tac-toe on that!
New SMIShing Scam
Most people are alert to suspicious e-mails and phony phone calls, so scammers are trying new ways to con you. The latest is the "SMIShing" scam--the term for a phishing (or phone) fraud. It starts with a text (also called SMS)--that relies on our tendency to automatically reply to a text without a second thought.
Here's how it works. You receive a text message that appears to come from Google and contains a verification code. Then you get another text saying, "Google has detected unusual activity on your e-mail account. Please reply with the verification code sent to your mobile device to stop unauthorized activity." DO NOT REPLY TO IT. If you type in and send the code, the scammer will now be able to access your e-mail, gather information about you, and even change your account settings. They may even be able to forward future e-mail messages to their account!
Never send a verification code to anyone by text or e-mail. Use those codes only on the log-in page of the account for which they were sent. If you get a verification code that you didn't request, it could be that someone is tampering with your account. Contact your e-mail provider.
This scam uses Google in order to look legitimate. In the future, it may pretend to be your bank or brokerage account. Always be on the alert and when in doubt, contact your real account provider.
There are hundreds of Web trackers checking on you as you browse the Internet. One way to know is to install Ghostery. It is a browser extension that has a pop-up on your computer screen and it shows who is watching what you do online.
Web searchers accept Web trackers. The Web trackers assure us that we get benefits such as discounts and more relevant ads. Most Americans are unhappy with the trade-off but are resigned to it, thinking that they are powerless to do anything to protect their online privacy.
Ghostery is one way to enhance your Internet privacy. You can find it among Add-Ons in Firefox or Extensions in Chrome. You can also download it from Ghostery.com for Safari or Internet Explorer. It has an “Alert Bubble” feature, which displays a list of trackers active on each site you visit. Sometimes there will be dozens on a single page. Ghostery can be set up to block tracking, also.
There are similar add-ons called Disconnect and Privacy Badger. If you take advantage of these tools to block tracking, you will find that ads no longer seem to follow you around from site to site.
Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, a Paoli-based company that offers tracking-free Internet searches said that “People think of Google as a search engine, but really it’s an advertising company.”
Don't Get Fooled by Fake Survey Calls
The Federal Trade Commission warns that people are getting automated calls that claim to want your opinion but they may be after your money instead. Phone surveys are exempt from rules that ban automated “robocalls” and calls to numbers on the federal Do Not Call Registry. One cruise line robocalled millions of phone numbers with what seemed to be a political survey. People who responded were told that they could receive a free two-day Bahamas cruise for their trouble. They were then connected to a salesperson who tried to talk them into paying for parts of the “free” cruise. What should you do if you get such a call? If someone tries to sell you something during a phone survey, hang up immediately.
If a robocall tells you to press a button on your keypad to be removed from the call list, don’t do it! Pressing this is likely to increase the number of calls you receive. First visit DoNotCall.gov to confirm that your phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry. Next, visit Nomorobo.com to find out if its free robocall-blocking service is available for your landline and/or cell phone carrier.
Did you know that phone scams cost consumers nearly $8.6 million in 2014? The average loss was $488.80. You can protect yourself:
Are you on Facebook?
Check your privacy settings. Here’s how to manage privacy settings. Click “Timeline and Tagging,” then set “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” to “Enabled.” Also set “Who can post on your timeline?” to “Only Me.” Also, click “Privacy,” then set “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” to “No.”
Here’s a Great Trick to Protect Your Password
When signing up for a website, don’t answer security questions honestly—such as your birthplace or first school. Write these wrong answers down and use them for all future security questions.
What is the difference between http and https?
Http stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The S stands for "secure". Most websites begin with http://. This means that the website is "unsecure". The website is talking to your browser and it is possible for someone to eavesdrop on your computer's conversation. If you fill out a form on the website, it is possible that someone could see that information. This is why you never, never enter your credit card on an http website. If you need to enter your credit card info, look to see if the web address begins with https://. If it doesn't, do NOT enter your credit card number. There is one caveat: even scam artists can have https sites so make sure you only do business with reputable firms.
Enjoy a blast from the past! Listen to music from the year of your choice. Note: There is a short ad before each song.
"Never believe every quote you read on the Internet."
Be careful searching online for comedian Jimmy
Kimmel or singer Bruce Springsteen! Searching for these celebrities online could expose your computer to a virus or something worse. According to Google statistics, on average there are almost a quarter-million searches for Kimmel every month. Cybercriminals know this, so they create malicious websites. When you go to such a site, you might end up downloading malware that lets criminals steal your personal information. Other celebrities on the most dangerous list include singers Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Blake Shelton and Britney Spears.
How can you avoid celebrity traps?
Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to put a virus on your computer or some other nasty surprise. Don‘t be a victim. Look for a site with a picture of a lock at the beginning of the address or the words https, not just http. Even https isn't foolproof--scammers have https websites too. Know what you are getting into.
I just saved a bunch of money on Christmas presents by discussing my political views on Facebook.
Make sure you secure your old phone beforehand. Remove any SD or Micro SD memory card. Take out the SIM card, which gives your phone its number and identifies it on your cell network. Use a pin or open paper clip to pop it out. Make sure you wipe the phone's built-in memory and return it to factory setting. To do this in iOS, choose "Settings/General/Reset/Erase All Contents and Settings." In Android look in "Settings" for words such as "Backup & Reset"--exact words vary for different manufacturers. In a Windows Phone, go to "Settings/About/Reset Your Phone."
A type of virus is hitting many of our fellow residents. It runs in the background and causes numerous pop-ups, like one that tells you that you need computer help. It also sets up certain words on your browsers to look like links to other web sites - they are, but you really don't want them.
To get rid of malware, first download the free version of malware bytes - go to www.malwarebytes.org and click on free download. When that happens, run it. It should clear away the malware. If it doesn't you will likely have to call for tech help.
Many YouTube videos are not worth viewing but now you can see the best ones on Devour.com. Devour picks the best ones daily and posts them to the site.
How about comics? Try this site: GoComics.com
Daily updates of newspaper comic strips (also web comics).
Retronaut: images, audio and video from the past. Reels from old Warner Brothers films—also, bloopers. Retronaut.com
Buzzfeed: Fascinating stories of adorable animals, celebrities, etc. Buzzfeed.com
Press any key---no, no, no, not that one.
The definition of an upgrade: Take old bugs out, put new ones in.
"64K ought to be enough for anybody." Bill Gates, 1981
TIRED OF ROBOCALLS?
On a single day recently, a resident of Ann’s Choice had three phone calls with the same pre-recorded message. It claimed that she could win $3,000 worth of groceries if she’d answer a few questions. “I tried to opt out and got a message that they were removing my number from the list but the calls kept coming.”
You might feel smug and think: I put my telephone number on the Do Not Call List last year. Think again. Scam artists don’t care about screening out the more than 220 million phone numbers on that list. They are often overseas and enforcement is challenging. Calling 888-382-1222 may help a little but scammers are ahead of the game. Advances in technology have made it easy and cheap to send thousands of pre-recorded calls per minute using autodialers and fake caller IDs that make tracing hard. The Federal Trade Commission receives more than 150,000 complaints about robocalls each month.
IF YOU PICK UP A ROBOCALL, HANG UP IMMEDIATELY. Pressing a number signals that the autodialer has reached a live number and can lead to more calls.
BUYING ONLINE SCAMS
If you go online to shop, most sites include a photo of the item for sale, but a few say “E-mail me for a photo.” DON’T. There’s a good chance that they’re trying to scam you. If you request a photo of the item, opening that photo might load a virus onto your computer. Or you might see a web page that looks like a well-known shopping site—perhaps eBay or Amazon.com. It will ask you to enter your user name and password. Then it will fall into the hands of the scammer. Don’t let them E-mail you a photo.
THE JAMAICAN LOTTERY SCAM
Jamaican scammers took $1 billion from Americans, mostly the elderly, in the past four years! One in every five Americans age 65 or older has been abused financially. The ability to recognize fraud can fade with aging, even among people without dementia and seniors can lose thousands of dollars or more before their families notice. Law enforcement is lax. There were 36,000 cases in the last six months alone and they are expensive and difficult to pursue by law enforcement! Federal authorities often decline to investigate cases involving less than $100,000.
Here’s how it works. First the scammer phones the victim. They use a contact list with the victims name and phone number on it. They may say cheerily, “Great news! You have won $1.5 million and a car in a lottery.” If you reply, “I didn’t enter a foreign lottery.” They will respond, “You probably were entered automatically at a store. What color car do you want? Oh---there is the matter of a few small fees.” The victim then goes to the bank to buy a payment card to send money.
Scammers sometimes phone a dozen times a day, forging personal relationships with lonely victims. The con artists pretend to be car transporters, lawyers, bankers, even an FBI agent and a U.S. Marshal, all needing funds to solve problems.
Other common scam lines: “Your check was misplaced. We need another.” “This is the IRS. You have to pay withholding tax.” The scammer may get belligerent and say, “You had better pay those fees!”
The elderly victim may become frantic as scammers phone repeatedly, escalating their demands or pretending to be a government official.
After the victim sends thousands of dollars, the family may finally find out and step in to freeze bank accounts and change the phone number.
THE GRANDPARENT SCAM features a scammer pretending to be a grandchild on the phone.
“Is that you, Billy?” the grandparent responds. “Yes!” says the scammer. “It’s Billy. I’ve been kidnapped in Mexico. Wire $2,000 or they will hurt me! Don’t tell my parents.” A surprising number of people send money. Now scammers are pretending to be a friend of the grandson and call during spring break or during summer months when they are more believeable. "Hello. This is Sam. I'm a friend of your grandson. He's been hurt in an accident..."
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SCAMS
New scammers came out of the woodwork with the new Affordable Care Act. Here’s how it starts:
A friendly voice is on the phone claiming to be from the government, calling to tell you about the great new services for Medicare recipients under the Affordable Care Act.
To get those new ACA benefits, there’s a one-time fee, which you can pay with a credit or debit card. And, oh, the caller can help by taking your information right over the phone! Don’t reach for your wallet. This is a new scam. You do not have to log on to healthcare.gov, pay a fee, get a new Medicare card, or sign up for a special ACA/Medicare card.
But scammers aren’t deterred. They’re riding the confusion from the rollout of the ACA website to steal money from the trusting elderly. These scams are used to get your Social Security and Medicare numbers or bank account and credit card numbers. Many seniors are scared that they will lose coverage, or they are confused about the changes. Some scammers are sending out mass mailings that look official. They almost always ask for personal information. Some resort to outright threats that the senior will lose their benefits if they don’t sign up. Never talk to someone on the phone who asks for personal information. Just hang up.
Scammers in general are getting more sophisticated in their approach. The misspellings or poor English from the African prince who wants to share his wealth are gone and the letterheads now look authentic.
The February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine advises people to file long before the tax deadline. Thieves usually claim tax refunds by filing returns before their victims do. You may not know you've been a victim of tax-related ID theft until you get an IRS notice. It may say that you collected wages from an employer you don't recognize, for example, or that your Social Security number has been used on more than one return. Report incidents of ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov. Then set up a fraud alert with one of the three big credit bureaus: Equifax (Equifax.com/creditreportassistance 888-766-0008); Experian (experian.com/fraudalert, 888-397-3742); or TransUnion (transunion.com/fraud, 800-680-7289). The bureau you choose will share your alert with the other two; all three will give you a free credit report. You can also request that the bureaus issue security freezes to prevent any new credit from being issued without your permission.
At irs.gov, fill out Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit. The IRS will issue you an "identity protection personal identification number" (IP PIN) intended to prevent further fraud.
The Internal Revenue Service urges taxpayers to be aware that tax-related scams using the IRS name proliferate during tax season. Tax scams can take many forms, with perpetrators posing as the IRS in everything from e-mail refund schemes to phone impersonators. The IRS warns taxpayers to be vigilant of any unexpected communication that is purportedly from the IRS at the start of tax season.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be on the lookout for phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any advice, shortcuts, tidbits, anything about the Internet, PC's, and even appliances that we use, etc. that could help all of us, send it to us using the Contact Us page.
Several residents have reported receiving calls supposedly from Microsoft saying that there was something wrong with their computer - either a Microsoft problem, a security issue or the expiration of some software. One resident reported that the person who called specifically said that they were contacting people at Ann’s Choice. The caller then asks to be connected to the computer to “correct the problem”. This is probably a scam. Do not allow anyone to connect to your computer unless you have initiated the call. Do not use a number that the caller gives you but contact the company using a number that you have independently obtained.
How the Internet Started
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.
Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.
And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"
And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."
Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success.
Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.
To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew To The People (HTTP).
And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.
And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.
And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.
And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others."
And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."
And Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators." "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.
Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE). . . . and that is how it all began.
And now you know how the internet started.
What you also know is Al Gore was temporarily assigned the position of GOD during this time frame.
A new scam is called “smishing” which means fishing for personal information. A resident from Ann’s Choice received a text message on his cell phone from Best Buy letting him know he had won a $1,000 gift card! His first reaction was, “What great news; just in time for the holidays!”
The text directed him to follow the link to their website in order to enter the code # that was included in the text message. If he had followed the link, it would have led him to a page set up to look very similar to the legitimate Best Buy web page. He would then be required to enter information such as his birthdate, Social Security number and credit card number in order to claim the “gift card.” This would make him a victim of identity theft.
Always ignore a “smishing” message. Do not respond at all. Even simply replying “get lost” or “I know this is a scam” could lead the con artist to think they have reached a person who is willing to engage with them somehow. If they know the phone number is active, they may load you with other scams. Contact your cell phone provider to inquire about blocking unwanted messages.
Six Wholesome Habits for Computer Users
Back up your data. It could save you hours of time in lost work, not to mention valuable family photos.
Keep your apps updated. Windows, Adobe Acrobat, your Web browser and your security suite should all have automatic update options and you should use them to keep your PC safe.
Always use safe passwords. Have you been using your name spelled backward, your pet’s name or the word “password”? Shame on you. Use a different password for each important account. It should be at least eight characters, including numbers and letters.
Avoid e-mail attachments. Never, never open e-mail attachments from an unknown e-mail address.
When sending e-mails, never hit ‘reply all’ in response to a message unless every single person needs to see it. Don’t send messages with large attachments. 5MB to 10MB should be the limit. Never send messages written in all caps. When forwarding e-mails, please remember to delete all previous recipients before sending.
Ann’s Choice residents know they should recycle their old or unwanted technology products. But how do we do it?
Best Buy has a recycling program. They have in-store kiosks for ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, wires, cords and cables. Their location is 1130 Easton Road in Willow Grove.
Amazon doesn’t charge people to recycle Kindle e-readers or batteries (working or not). You can print free UPS labels for shipping old Kindles to be recycled. Just go to ecotakeback.com/kindle. Then you simply drop the Kindles off at a UPS store.
Staples stores will accept a variety of products, including laptops, monitors, mice and GPS devices but not TV’s. Our local Staples is located at 1075 Main Street in Warrington, near Wegmans.
If you buy a new Dell computer, just select “free recycling” and the company will take the old one, even if it is not a Dell.
Goodwill will take PC’s, laptops, tablets and keyboards, but not mobile phones. A Goodwill store is nearby at 1487 West Street Road.
HAVING TROUBLE READING WEB PAGES?
Web pages aren’t always as easy to read as they should be. You can zoom in or out of any Web page by holding down <Ctrl> and rolling the scroll wheel up or down to zoom in and out as you like.
Another way to enlarge the print on web pages: In Internet Explorer, click on 'view' from the toolbar>select 'text size'> and click on the text size that you want. If you are using Firefox, Opera, Safari or Chrome, press and hold Ctrl while pressing + to increase the font size. Press and hold Ctrl while pressing - to decrease the font size.
If you are on the Internet, you have most likely seen a CAPTCHA. They are the crooked and stretched collection of letters that you have to type before you can post a comment or send an email.
The CAPTCHA was created at Carnegie Mellon University in 2000. The name is short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Websites need CAPTCHAs to prevent the bots of spammers. The little puzzles work because computers are not as good as humans at reading distorted text. Google reports that people are solving 200 million CAPTCHAs per day.
There are hundreds of different kinds of CAPTCHAs and one of the biggest is called reCAPTCHA. You will find it on Google who offers it for free. People spend nine seconds solving a reCAPTCHA, and 92% get it right. The letters will only get more distorted as more spammers come aboard. Some spammers now employ people in foreign countries to solve the CAPTCHAs.
Seniors have the most trouble reading a CAPTCHA. They are more likely to have cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration—eye diseases that can make vision blurry. Older people read best when there’s high contrast and more space between letters. The trick to solving CAPTCHAs is to just type what you see. Don’t think about it too much and you’ll have better success.
You can create a more secure password by starting with a simple phrase. For example, let's use a quote from Ogden Nash: "Happiness is having a scratch for every itch."
If we use the first letter of each word, and substitute 4 for "for", we get:
This is a reasonably strong password but we can improve it a bit by adding some special characters:
We can use our new password on several different websites by adding a prefix or suffix with a mnemonic link to a particular site. Let's use the first letter and the next two consonants in the site name.
Just to add a bit more randomness we'll alternate upper-case and lower case, and if the first character in the site name is a vowel we'll start with upper-case. To mix things up a bit more we'll use the same rule to decide whether to add the site mnemonic to the left side or the right side.
#Hihas4ei:AmZ for Amazon
fCb#Hihas4ei: for Facebook
#Hihas4ei:YtB for YouTube
dRm#Hihas4ei: for Drumbeat
This is just one possible rule for picking the prefix or suffix that you use to customize your password for each web site. Reversing the order of the letters in the suffix, using only vowels, only consonants, or adding some other characters that come to mind when you think about the web site are all possible approaches that will improve security.
While this technique lets us reuse the phrase-generated part of the password on a number of different websites, it would still be a bad idea to use it on a site like a bank account which contains high-value information. Sites like that deserve their own password selection phrase.
Take a moment to think of a phrase that's meaningful to you. Use that phrase to create a secure password that you can customize for each website you visit.
For more information on choosing secure passwords, check out the blog post on Shiny Pebbles.
www.duckduckgo.com for private Internet searches. It does not track what you do. Give it a try.
Cleaning a flat screen (LCD, LED, or Plasma) monitor:
Has Your Email Address Been Compromised?
There is a new online service called PwnedList (https://pwnedList.com) where you can find out. PwnedList has nearly 5 million names in its database of stolen personal data. Just type in your information and click check. If you are listed in the database, it does not necessarily mean someone has tried to break into your account; however, you should consider changing your passwords.
Quick Fixes for Browser Annoyances
Recover your URL bar. If your grandkids used your computer and your URL bar disappears, here’s what to do: In Internet Explorer, right-click on any toolbar and check Address bar to bring it back. In Firefox, go to View Toolbars and check Navigation Toolbar. And in Safari, press <Ctrl>-<Shift>-\ (or <Command-<Shift>\, if you are on a Mac.
Bring your tabs back. Did you accidently close a tab or more? Each browser has an easy way to get them back: In Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome use <Ctrl>-<Shift>-T; Safari uses <Ctrl>-Z.
Print only what you want. Most often, printing a Web page results in ink and paper wasted on images, Links, and ads. A good solution is a handy bookmarklet called PrintLiminator. (find.pcworld.com/72466).
First, install the PrintLiminator bookmarklet in your browser by dragging it to your bookmarks bar.
The next time you want to print a page, select the Printliminator command instead of Print. A small toolbar will appear in the left corner of your browser. You’ll have four options: ‘Remove All Graphics’, ‘Apply Print Stylesheet’, ‘Send to Printer’, and ‘Undo Last Action’. To remove the graphics on the Web page, click Remove All Graphics’. To delete certain elements of the Web Page---links or buttons, for instance—click Apply Print Stylesheet. Printliminator will organize all of the printable elements into sections on the page. To remove a section, put your mouse over it, and a red box will appear around it. Left-click the selection and the object(s) in the box will vanish.
When you’ve finally configured the page as you want it to appear and are ready to print, just click the Send to Printer button.
Another free resource for removing ads and other elements before you print is PrintFriendly.com
How to copy an email to Word: Highlight the words you want to copy. Press CTRL C. Minimize the screen. Open a new word document. Press CTRL V.
Get less e-mail. A free service to manage e-letter subscriptions and junk e-mail. Choose to get them all together as a single daily message or unsubscribe to any that you no longer want: Unroll.me
Questions/comments about this page -- contact email@example.com