10 Tips to Beat a Scam

This weekend just down the roadscam1 in Brisbane, the place will be shut up tighter than a tick with lock jaw. It’s G20 fun time! Along with the obvious threat of a sadomasochist jihadist going about his business, experts are expecting an increase in cyber attacks and scams. It seems a good time to discuss beating these scams, freeing your funds and fortifying your identity.

After you read this, the next time ‘Microsoft’ or any other billion dollar behemoth rings you to help, a series of loud clanging bells should be echoing off in your head! If not I can’t help you and you might as well give all your money now to charity so someone less deserving doesn’t take it from you later.

Unfortunately common sense and I.T savviness is not something we can download and install, so in this blog I’m going to outline some principles and check lists that will spare you unwittingly contributing to a criminal gang in Asia or elsewhere.

There are two things you possess, which criminal gangs want. Though the TV, sports car  and such might attract an certain opportunistic element, criminal gangs mainly want; your bank balance and your identity or both. Identity theft is a booming industry for crooks. Here’s a list of 10 tips I want you never to forget:

  1. Banks and financial institutions never, and I mean NEVER will ask you to enter personal information via email. It’s considered appalling business risk and they’re just not that stupid! If you get an email purporting to be from a bank or such asking for account details 100% chance it’s a scam. Regardless of how legitimate it looks, it’s a scam. This includes PayPal. You can only change PayPal account info once you’re in your account. They will never, again NEVER not after we’ve endured a nuclear winter and hell freezes over ask you for account information.
  1. Companies exist to make money. Microsoft will never ring you up offering to help, it’s not in their ethos. Example: in 1998 Microsoft released a very buggy, impossible to use operating system that was so bad they had to release a second edition months later. Did they give the second edition away to all those unhappy customers? Unhappy Joe was expected to pay for it. I.T. companies don’t recall products or send out mechanics for free to fix their problems. It just never happens.
  1. A legitimate caller will be able to give you a call back number. If you’re ever a bit suspicious, ask for their number so you can call them. Usually they’ll just hang up.
  1. Assuming I’ve now weaned you off using Internet Explorer; without installing some remote software onto your computer, neither me, computer Joe down the road, or Rejani in India can see what’s on it. I’ve heard some claim to be able to ‘see’ a problem with your computer, even when it’s turned off. At risk of stating the obvious, that’s total rubbish!  BTW, If you’re still using Internet Explorer… Why!  It’s like giving a gang of street thugs your keys and asking them to park your car! I’ve said it before in a previous post, but here goes again. Stop using Internet Explorer, instead use Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera; it’s the way the internet is meant to be.
  1. There are thousands of ‘lawyers’ looking for heirs to a fortune some loner left to no one. Yeah right. Seriously how thick do they think you are? If a lawyer couldn’t find an heir to a fortune, he wouldn’t go looking through Facebook and friend you. To start with if it was real, he’d jump on a plane and knock at your door. Why wouldn’t he, given he’d get an all expenses paid trip out of it, the cost of which could be legitimately deducted from the estate. Besides know any honest lawyers? Such a fortune could easily disappear through a plethora of additional fees for administering the estate. And think about this; what bank anywhere requires you to pay a fee to get at your money. They always take it out of what’s there. And really how many well heeled loners are there? As a Bible Proverb rightly says: “Many are the friends of the rich man”. There’s always people around them ready to absorb any crumbs falling.
  1. There is not a universe at least I’m aware off where deleting a system file in Windows does anything positive. There’s lots of suspiciously named files in every Windows installation, that’s because Windows is suspicious, not because something has been stealthily added. Besides if someone was smart enough to add some dodgy software to your system without your knowledge, you’d expect them to hide the files and at least name it with something sounding at least a little innocuous.
  1. Now I’ve mentioned this before in the post ‘10 Steps to Safe Internet Use‘, but let’s repeat it here: If you get an email attachment from anyone you should always scan it for viruses prior to opening it. If someone you don’t know sends you an email along the lines ‘hey look at this… click this attachment’ or ‘for the latest info on….click this link’, run, don’t stop, don’t look back but get out of there it’s a trap! If you click on such attachments you could inadvertently install malicious software onto your computer.
  1. There’s absolutely no point to you being super careful where you go and what you do on the internet if you let little Johnny have a free for all on it when visiting. I’ve fixed countless computers after he’s been over for a visit. (He clearly gets around) Keep the little rat of your PC or at least look over his shoulder.
  1. Never pay for anything online without a secure connection. See the post ‘10 Steps to Safe Internet Use‘ for more information. In a nutshell if the seller can’t offer you a secure online transaction, go elsewhere.
  1. If you already have a website, be very never trustwary of SEOs and domain hijackers. SEOs or Search Engine Optimizers usually offer what just can’t be delivered. For example if someone offers you top rankings in Google search results they’re selling snake oil! The only way to guarantee high rankings in Google search results is to pay Google for the privilege through Adwords. Lots of Adwords dollars if you’re in a competitive market. If anyone tells you otherwise, either they’re ignorant, delusional or seriously dodgy.  Domain hijackers send out renewal letters to domain owners registered with someone else. Usually the price is several times what it should be. It’s best to stick with someone you know. A .com domain shouldn’t be any more than $20 a year.

I haven’t mentioned everything. Take the Russian bride scam for example, seriously guys on that note, check the mirror first (realistically) and ask yourself why a 20 something bombshell is going to travel to the other side of the planet just to be with you.

If you approach anything in life with a kind of realistic skepticism, examine the facts and use common sense, you’ll be pretty much immune the all these scams in the first place. The problem with common sense though, is it’s just not that common.

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