New eBook Now Available

 
My new eBook is now available at Amazon:

http://amzn.to/29ZmDCz

Lot’s of information – 85 pages – a great value.security ebook

Kindle subscribers read for free

Dozens of hours of research and writing over a 5 year period.

It includes chapters on Personal Security, Home Security and Safety, Identity Theft Prevention, Computer Security, and Self-Defense.

Topics include crime prevention in stores, parking lots, malls, traveling, and other areas.

Pickpocket prevention

How to avoid being robbed at an ATM machine

Complete home security guide – burglar proof your home

Complete guide to home security cameras including information on how to buy cameras, what specifications mean, etc.

Catching criminals with security cameras

How to avoid ATM skimmers

Computer Security – including information on virus protection, passwords, online shopping, etc.

Complete information on several Self Defense products and how to use them

Many other topics not mentioned here

http://amzn.to/29ZmDCz

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What is a Botnet?

 

The FBI Estimates at Least $10 Million in Direct Losses

The word “botnet” comes from combining the words robot and network.

A Botnet is a network of individual computers that are infected with malicious software, and then controlled as a group. The individual computer users don’t know their computers are being used.

computers in a botnet

The botnet is really a type of virus. The software gets on your computer because of something you clicked on a website or email, or something you downloaded.

This software will then “call home” to the host or “operator”, who is now able to control this network of computers.

On Tuesday October 13, 2015 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) disrupted a botnet responsible for at least $10 million in U.S. losses.

The botnet goes by the name of “Bugat”, “Cridex”, or “Dridex”. It was designed to steal banking and personal information.

American and British law enforcement officials helped disrupt the malware. A man named Andrey Ghinkul of Moldova, age 30, was the alleged head of the hacking operation. He was recently arrested in Cyprus, which is an island country east of Greece. The DOJ is seeking his extradition.

The malware operated mostly by spam email sent with attachments that infected computers. It was said that up to 350,000 of these malware containing emails were sent every day, and that the botnet infected about 125,00 computers a year.

After the hackers had control of the victims computers, they used stolen financial information to do electronic funds transfers of millions of dollars. Here are some examples:

  • On December 16, 2011 – $999,000 transferred (or attempted to transfer) from a Sharon, Pennsylvania, City School District account to a bank account in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • On August 31, 2012 – $2,158,600 transferred from a Penneco Oil account to a bank account in Krasnodar, Russia.
  • On September 4, 2012 – $1,350,000 transferred from a Penneco Oil account to a bank acount in Minsk, Belarus.
  • On September 4, 2012 – Ghinkul attempted to transfer $76,520 from a Penneco Oil account to a bank account in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

The hackers allegedly got the financial information from a “phishing email” sent to a Penneco Oil employee.

If you think you’ve been a victim of these hackers, the United States Department of Homeland Security – Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has set up a webpage for assistance in removing the malware.

You should also make sure you are running some type of antivirus software on your computer, and that it is up to date. We recommend Kaspersky Anti Virus.

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Hacking Into Home Security Cameras

I’ve reported on this blog that many computer viruses originate in Russia, and it’s been recently reported in some news sources that a Russian website was showing hacked footage from home and other security webcams.

The website showed lists of countries, with the number of webcam videos available from each.

Some of the popular home security systems that have monthly monitoring (ADT, Vivint, etc.) could possibly be hacked by someone using a SDR (software-defined radio), even if the system is unarmed. Someone who was tech savy could jam the system or interfere with the signals. Especially if the system used unencrypted communication signals, the culprit could send his/her own signals to the main controls. But he/she would have to be about 250 feet away or less from your house to do this.computers and disks

Most hackers are getting access through webcams (rather then the wall mounted cameras used by the home monitoring companies mentioned above), that are built into almost all laptops, and hooked up to many desktop computers.

You commonly may be bringing your laptop with you to many private places, including inside a motel room, bedroom, etc.  So the criminals could be spying on you there.

Once an intruder has camera access, they can monitor all your daily activities, when people are coming and going, etc.

There is said to be lot’s of information on the internet, and YouTube videos, on “how to hack into webcams”.

The Russian website mentioned above was probably using one of the most common laptop computerhacking methods, which is to change the default passwords that come with wireless devices and routers. Once they change your password, they’ve locked you out of your own device, and can log in, change your WiFi signal, and control your webcam.

The default passwords are usually easy to guess and won’t lock out after several incorrect guesses. So change your passwords to long ones that are hard to guess.

Another very common method hackers use is email links. They use Trojan Horse attacks to infect your computer with malware. This malware allows the hacker to remotely control your computer, including the webcam.Kaspersky Internet Security 2015

The best way to prevent this is to NOT click on ANY links in emails. Whether it’s an attachment or link that appears to come from a friend, your bank, free music download, etc., I would not click on ANY link in any email.

 

More Tips to Avoid Security Camera Hacking:

  • Ask your home security system rep what measures they are taking to make sure their cameras and network are not being hacked into.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software.
  • Make sure your firewall is turned on.
  • Set your security settings at a high level.
  • Make sure your wireless connection and all security cameras have secure, unique passwords.
  • Put a cover over your webcam when not using it, and/or unplug it from the USB port.
  • Don’t put a laptop computer with a webcam in a bedroom.
  • Be careful who you communicate with online, and what personal information you give out in emails.
  • Be cautious about any computer repair people you allow to work on your computer.
  • Don’t buy security cameras from strangers.
  • Don’t buy used security cameras.

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Another Bogus Bank Email

 
I recently received another bogus bank email.  It claimed to be from a very large bank.  It was one of the most official looking bogus emails I’ve seen.

So as not to be accused of defamation, I won’t disclose the actual bank name.  But I will say it is one of the largest banks in America.

bogus bank email

I’ll change their name in the email text below and just call them “Large Bank”:

Subject:     Large Bank Alerts: Sign-in to Online Banking Locked

Attachments: Form – xxx

Dear Valued Customer,

For your security, access to Online Banking has been locked because the number of attempts to sign in exceeded the number allowed,
As a result we are making an extra security check on your personal and financial
information in order to protect your information from online theft.

Your Online Banking has been temporarily suspended, to prevent further
unauthorized access for your safety. we have decided to put an extra
verification process to ensure your identity and your account security.

Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you
and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience

We have attached a form to this email. Please download the form, open it and
follow the instructions on your screen.

Email Preferences

This is a service email from Large Bank. Please note that you may receive
service email in accordance with your Large Bank service agreements,
whether or not you elect to receive promotional email.

Privacy and Security

Keeping your financial information secure is one of our most important
responsibilities. For an explanation of how we manage customer information,
please read our Privacy Policy.

You can also learn how Large Bank keeps your personal information secure
and how you can help protect yourself.

Large Bank
Address of bank

Large Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender
Large Bank Corporation. All rights reserved.

Open Attachment: Form – xxx

There was one big problem with this email.  I don’t have an account at the bank!

Another problem – see at the bottom where it says “please read our Privacy Policy” – there was no link to any privacy policy.

Also notice that the grammar isn’t correct in the paragraph starting with Your Online Banking has been  This could indicate the email comes from a foreign source that doesn’t know how to phrase sentences in English.

Also notice “…access to Online Banking has been locked because the number of attempts to sign in exceeded the number allowed”I‘ve never heard of any bank limiting the number of times you can log into your account.

If you receive an email like this:

  • Don’t click on any links in the email.
  • Don’t download or open any attachments.
  • Don’t try sending an email asking questions to the email address you see at the top of the email.

If you click on any link in the email or open an “attachment”, you could be putting a virus on your computer.  This could include a Keylogger, which works in the background and monitors your keystrokes – copying any passwords or personal information.

The virus could also be a Browser Highjacker or a Rootkit.  These are two of the worst kinds of viruses, that can basically hold your computer hostage and/or prevent you from having any internet access, until they get removed.

If curiosity gets the best of you and you download the “attachment”, you may see a very official looking form, that appears to be from your bank.  It may even have a bank logo.  It will probably say something like “Verify your personal information”, and ask you to enter your name, address, account number, social security number, password, etc.

If you get one of these emails, and you actually have an account at the bank it’s supposedly coming from, you could make a paper copy of the email and bring it in to your local bank manager.  It might help them in efforts to catch the criminals behind it.  After making the paper copy, delete the email.

I would not try sending or forwarding the email online.

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The Right Way to Install or Uninstall Kaspersky Anti-Virus Software

I’ve used several different anti-virus programs and recommend Kaspersky.

You can buy and download programs direct from the Kaspersky website, but you will have to pay extra to have an actual disk mailed to you.

kaspersky anti-virus 2014I think it’s better to buy from Amazon.  You’ll probably get a better price, and you’ll receive a box that looks like the one at the left – it has a disk inside.

I think it’s important to have this disk,  which you can use to install the program, or use as a backup disk, in case of problems

If you’ve never used Kaspersky before, first uninstall any other anti-virus programs on your computer.  Then you can just insert the disk into your CD drive, and the program will load.

Don’t throw away the envelope your disk comes in.  It has an “Activation Code” at the bottom, which you will need.

If you don’t have a CD drive, or if there is a problem with the program loading from the CD, you can go to this page to download from the internet.  Scroll down to where it says:

Get the Latest Kaspersky Version

If you already own a Kaspersky product you may download the latest version from the lists below.

Find the product you want and click on it – this section will not ask you to “order”, or for credit card information, because it assumes you’ve already paid for the product.

After clicking, it will show a file to download to your computer.

Give the file time to load and then Run it.  Near the end of the download process it will ask for the Activation Code mentioned above.

What if you already have Kaspersky and are just updating – renewing your subscription for another year?

kaspersky anti-virus

Go to the Kaspersky program on your computer and click on the Licensing button at the bottom right of the window.

It will ask for your Activation Code and then add another 365 days to your subscription.

I recommend waiting until you only have a few days left on your subscription before you do this.

Your computer will still look like it has the old version on – for example if you had Kasperky 2012, it will still say “Kaspersky 2012” when your new subscription starts, but you will have the latest software.

What if you want the look and feel of the latest year?

Let’s say you’ve been simply been renewing your subscription since 2012, but in 2014 you decide you want your computer to show the “2014 version“.

Then you simply uninstall the 2013 version from your computer first, then install the 2014 version.

remove kaspersky anti-virus

Go to All Programs >> Kaspersky Anti-Virus >> Remove Kaspersky Anti-Virus

It should say “Save the following data:“, and there should be a box checked that says “License information“.

If you leave this box checked it will save the remaining days for you when you install the new 2014 version of Kaspersky – install using the methods above.

Special Note:

In both of these cases – whether you simply renew a subscription, or uninstall an old version to install a new version (for a new look), you won’t see 365 (days) added to your remaining days.

Let’s say you have 4 days left on your subscription when you get ready to renew.  Your “days remaining” counter will count down each day4, 3, 2, 1.

On the last day of your subscription it will say “0 days remaining“.  At midnight on that day the counter will change – if you look again after midnight, it will say “365 days remaining.

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Your Computer is Locked!

Computer Virus is Still in Operation

How to protect yourself and remove this virus from your computer.

Don’t be alarmed – “Your Computer is Locked!” is just the title of this blog post.

This computer virus was first reported by the FBI in August of 2012, but is still in operation today (it has been reported as being used this monthJanuary 2014).

This type of virus is called “Ransomware“. It is put on your computer by you clicking on a link on a webpage or Email.

It can also install itself simply by you going to a website from a search engine listing.

A window will pop up on your computer with a heading at the top that looks similar to those below:your computer is locked

your computer has been blockedNext to the words “Your Computer is Locked” there may be a flag of the country you live in, an FBI logo, a United States Department of Justice logo, or even a Police Department logo.

Then there will be a message underneath that may say “your computer’s IP address was used for pornographic activities”.

It will then say your computer has been blocked to prevent further violation, and to unblock your computer you have to pay a “Ransom” of $100 or more, possibly as high as $300.

Sometimes the virus can turn on your web camera, snap a picture of you, and put it next to the warning message.

You are instructed to use MoneyPak or some other money card to pay the ransom, and links are even provided.

They ask you to use money cards because they aren’t traceable.

The virus completely blocks the use of your computer, and there is no way to remove it. Resetting your computer doesn’t help.

The FBI calls this the “Reveton virus“.

“Free” methods being published online that may have very limited use in removing this virus:

Safe Mode – Since this virus blocks any use of your computer, you can’t run a virus scan to remove it. Going into Safe Mode may allow you to run your anti-virus program, but I have tried this with viruses and it often doesn’t work.

To get into Safe Mode you have to Shutdown and Restart your computer. As your computer boots up, continually tap the F8 key and you should see a black screen with a Menu allowing you to choose Safe Mode. On this screen use the down arrow to get to Safe Mode and then hit Enter. You can try accessing your anti-virus program in Safe mode, but it doesn’t always work.

System Restore – This Windows utility allows you to restore your computer to a previous state (before the virus came on).

Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore.

You should see a Welcome page where you can select the option “Restore my computer to an earlier time“.

You should pick a date at least a day or two before you think the virus came on, for a “Restore Point”.

After you pick the date and click “Next”, System Restore brings your computer back to the configuration on that date, and then restarts your computer.

After using System Restore, you may find your computer is back to normal. If so, try running a virus scan.

Even if your computer appears to be back to normal, the virus may still be on your computer. A week or two later you may find the virus popping on again. This is because the virus file was never removed.

There are some programs you may find in online searches that claim to remove this virus. I can’t recommend any of them. Also, some YouTube videos try to show you how to use a Command Prompt, go into your computer files, and delete the virus file.

The problem with this is you need to be very sure of the date the virus came on, and also very sure of what the virus file looks like. You may have to guessif you delete the wrong file you could really mess up your computer.

If you’re a victim of this virus, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

My recommended methods for dealing with the “Your Computer is Blocked” virus:

FIRST – Make sure you have a good anti-virus program. I recommend Kaspersky. The post before this one talks about Kaspersky, and you can find more information HERE.

FixMeStickSECOND – Buy a FixMeStick now, before you need to remove this virus. If this virus is on your computer, even Kaspersky may not help, because access to your anti-virus program will be blocked.

FixMeStick is an external USB device that runs while your Windows operating system is not running, so malware can’t interfere with it

With no programs on your computer running, the virus can’t power up or hide.

It works great on Ransomware such as the “Your Computer is Blocked” virus, because this malware has to have your machine’s operating system running, which is not required with FixMeStick – so it finds and removes the malware.

It removes viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, trojans, rootkits and more that cannot be removed by software security programs.

It uses software from 3 of the world’s leading antivirus companies (Kaspersky Lab, Sophos, and GFI).

Updates are automatically downloaded and stored on FixMeStick.

It works an unlimited number of times on up to 3 PCs.

It won’t harm your PC.

How well does FixMeStick work?

There is a Systems Analyst who works for the Department of Defense and knows how to write code that can bypass anti-virus programs.

He used FixmMeStick on some of this “virus code”, and FixMeStick was able to catch it.

Discounted Price at Amazon and get FREE SHIPPING

Great Reviews on Amazon – read them here.

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Kaspersky Wins Top Honors in Latest Independent Lab Test!

2014It’s a new year and time to start thinking about updating your Anti-Virus and Internet Security software.

Kaspersky Lab is a global security software company that recently won the top honors after being tested by AV-Comparatives.org.

Austrian lab AV-Comparatives.org regularly tests security products to see how well they scan and clean up viruses, and how well they detect new, unknown threats.

They regularly conduct Real-World Protection Tests. They test 22 different anti-virus software providers – on an A-Z list they go from AhnLab to Trend Micro.

Some of the top labs that test Kaspersky and other anti-virus software are AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, Virus Bulletin, ICSA Labs, and West Coast Labs.

kaspersky internet security 2014 Security Watch at PCmag says “Asked to rate the various independent testing labs, most respondents rated AV-Comparatives highest“.

The Real-World Protection Test that AV-Comparitives conducted from August to November 2013, found Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 blocked 99.9% of malicious files and websites, topping every other company in the test.

With Kaspersky, there was also ZERO wrongly blocked domains – also known as “false positives”.

You can see Kaspersky Lab at the top of the list in the chart below:

kaspersky-avcomp-table-122113

Table courtesy of AV-Comparitives

CLICK HERE to see a FULL INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC with the complete test results.

A lot of companies make it into the 90% range, but it’s rare for a company to block virtually 100% of viruses in tests.

Kaspersky won the top AV Comparitives rating for all of 2013, and only missed one month in 2012 (2 Stars in October) getting the Top 3 Star Advanced Plus rating.

I’ve used several anti-virus programs, both free and paid (read about my experience with other programs here), and have spent hundreds of dollars in repair bills and lost programs, after using other anti-virus software that failed – including AVG, Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender.

To be fair, there are several very good anti-virus programs besides Kaspersky. Some brands do rate higher than Kaspersky in some tests.

However, I was using programs that were considered among the best, and still had damage from viruses that cost me a lot of money.

After all my experience losing hundreds of dollars worth of programs (due to corrupted hard drives), and having to pay hundreds more in computer repair bills, I finally starting consulting with computer technicians that test many different anti-virus programs on a year by year basis.

They recommended Kaspersky, which I’ve used for several years now with good results.

If you’re not happy with your current anti-virus software, you should give Kaspersky a try.

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Bogus Emails on Christmas Day

I received an Email today that I can guarantee you was bogus.

Here is what the Email said:

From:  Costco Shipping Manager

Subject: Express Delivery Failure

Unfortunately the delivery of your order COS-(numbers inserted here) was cancelled since the specified address of the recipient was not correct. You are recommended to complete this form and send it back with your reply to us.

Please do this within the period of one week – if we dont get your timely reply you will be paid your money back less 21% since your order was booked for Christmas.

The “order number” starting with “COS” had a link to a “dot NL” URL which is in the Netherlands.

Most of these Phishing attacks and computer viruses comes from European countries such as the Netherlands.

Russia especially is a common source for many virusesKrebs on Security says credit cards/numbers from the Target hacking attack (affecting up to 40 million customer credit and debit cards in late November to early December), are probably being sold by a guy who operates online stores in Russia that sell stolen card data.

I don’t even do business with Costco, and the Email address (my Email address) the above Email was sent to isn’t given out to anyone who would be sending me a Christmas present

If you get an Email like this you should DELETE IT, and never click on any links no matter how curious you may be as to who may have sent you a Christmas present, or what it might be.

Phishing Emails such as this can appear to be from a legitimate store, bank, financial institution or some other source.

If I clicked on the link in the Email I received, I can guarantee you I would either have put a virus on my computer, and/or been led to some page that looks like it’s the Costco website, with a form asking me to put in some personal information.

Emails appearing to come from your bank may ask you to click on a link which leads to a website appearing to be you bank’s website, and when you enter Login information, this is stolen and your bank account is emptied.

If you get an Email like this and think there’s a chance it may be real, you should contact the store or bank directly by phone and ask what’s going on.

However, if you’ve never done business with this particular store or bank, I wouldn’t bother contacting them at all – just delete the Email.

computer-green-screen-296x72

It has been estimated that around $500 million has been lost due to phishing attacks, and up to 5% of people respond to these bogus Emails.

It has always been illegal to send unsolicited Emails, but only occasionally do large spam operators get sentenced to jail.  One example is a couple in Virginia that had sent more than 10,000 spam messages an hour in 2004 and were sentenced to nine years in jail.

Opinions may vary on this, but my advice is to not to put a block on the Email addresses these Phishing Emails are coming from. Many of these crooks are sending hundreds or even thousands of these solicitation Emails randomly, and they don’t know who’s actually receiving them.

If you block an Email address it sends a message back that the Email was blocked and from what address. This lets them know someone received the Email. These spammers have unlimited Email addresses. So they will then send Email from another address – if you block that one, they will send from another and on and on. At this point you’ll probably find that the number of unsolicited Emails will start to multiply. So my advice is simply to delete all these Emails.

Many web based Email accounts such as Yahoo come with a spam folder, so “spam” Emails automatically go in there. You don’t even have to look at them and they are automatically deleted after 30 days.

Or if you want to delete them earlier, you can just click at the top of the list and delete your entire Spam folder at once.

In a few more days I’ll be publishing a post with my recommended anti-virus software, but even the best anti-virus program may not be able to stop a virus if you click on an Email link, so don’t do it.

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Cyber Bullying Causes 12 Year Old Girl to Commit Suicide

In Florida a 12 year old girl recently committed suicide due to cyber bullying. The sheriff there said that he wants to file charges against possibly more than a dozen girls who sent cruel messages, such as “Go kill yourself” and “Why are you still alive?”.

The girls who sent the messages could be charged with felony cyberstalking, because the victim was under 16 years old.

child on the internet

These messages are being sent with cell phones, from social media outlets, some based in foreign countries.

Statistics show that more than 80% of teens use cell phones regularly, and more than 40% have been bullied online.

It’s also reported that only 10% of the cyber bullying victims will tell a parent or a trusted adult about the abuse.

girls whispering gossipAs was the case with this 12 year old girl, a lot of the cyber bullying is a follow up to actual physical bullying and abuse, at school or somewhere else.

Cyber Bullying can happen any day of the week, 24 hours a day, and can often happen while a child is alone.

Since many children aren’t mature enough to deal with these things, parents should become more proactive and know what’s going on.

Get information here about a device that allows parents to remotely supervise your child’s mobile/cell phone use:

    • Protect your child from predators or school bullies.
    • Stop your child from using violent or sexual Apps, or visiting inappropriate Websites.
    • Know if your child is texting while driving.
    • Receive App Alerts for Spyware and Malicious actions, such as stealing your personal information or sending secret Text Messages that will cost you money.

monitor childs phone and internet use

 

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Modern Online and Texting Scams

I did another post on Online Dating Scams, and decided to follow up with this post revealing more online scams that are going on.

Many scams involve receiving text messages.  The experts and even news reports always advise not to click on, or even to just delete unsolicited Emails (or text messages), but there are some real clever scams going on.

You may receive a text message saying you’ve won a car in a drawing.  You are given instructions to obtain a “MoneyPak” card and load it with a sum of money to pay tax for the car.

After you do this they drain your bank account.

A MoneyPak transaction in untraceable.  Scammers used to ask for wire transfers of money, which are also untraceable, but now use MoneyPak because it’s convenient.

Another texting scam is that you are told you’ve won a gift card from a major retailer.  The gift card amount could be quite large – say $500 or $1,000.

You are then directed to go to a website and enter a PIN number and other information.  You then land on a page offering you to apply for a credit card.

If you get an email or text message like this you should contact the retailer directly to see if the giveaway is legitimate.

One of the most common Email scams are phishing scams.  You receive an Email that supposedly is from your bank asking you to verify your Email address, and may say that your account has been hacked.

You are given a link that leads to another page that is actually fake, with a fake form (just like fake internet browser update forms) where you are directed to enter your PIN and credit card or account number.  The scammers can then access your bank account or make charges on your credit card.

Another popular modern online scam is an overpayment scam.  When you advertise something for sale a crook may send you a check or money order higher than the asking amount.  Then they will tell you they made a mistake and ask you to send money back.  Your check is good – their check turns out to be badYou may not find out their check was bad until days after you have already sent the item and your good check.Girl searching online

Work From Home and Make $486 Dollars a Day!!

You may see an ad with a line similar to the one above, and a picture of a young woman holding a baby.

When you click on the link, you will land on an official looking “News website” complete with a stock market ticker at the top, weather reports, etc.

There will be an “article” about making money at home with Dollar signResponses” underneath – supposedly comments from people who have used the plan.  These are all very cleverly written, and I believe all totally made up.  There are no actual faces of real people shown.

You will probably see a “3 Step Plan” described with another link to click on.

A typical scheme I checked out had:

  • A $97 dollar “registration fee”.
  • An additional “membership fee” of $8.78 that would be charged monthly to your credit card.
  • A “Web Builder” fee of $77 dollars.
  • Another $47 dollar fee for access to products to sell that could be “dropshipped”.
  • Another fee of $9.95 for a Marketing Guide.

If you don’t find and read the Terms and Conditions on every page you land on with these offers, you may have a lot of charges put on your credit card.

Some of these may be monthly recurring charges, as described above.  You’ll have to call a phone number or make an email contact to try and get these charges stopped.

Paypal is much safer to use, because you can actually cancel these types of charges (including monthly recurring cahrges) right in your paypal account.  However, a lot of these schemes may not allow purchase through Paypal.

Tips to avoid online and email scams:

Don’t use MoneyPak for online transactions.  Anytime someone specifically requests MoneyPak for an online transaction, it’s probably a scam.

Don’t pay up front fees for anything.

For spam text there is a service where you can forward texts to 7726, which spells SPAM.

This alerts your carrier to block texts.  It’s called GSMA Spam Reporting Service and represents about 800 mobile operators.  However, this is only a tool.  Your phone carrier still has to take action against the spammer, and this can be a long process.

Don’t click “stop” or “no” on your phone to prevent future texts.  That will show the spammer they have an active number.

Don’t wire money to anyone.

Don’t respond to emails, or texts from an unknown source.

Don’t click on links in Emails or text messages.

Find and read the Terms and Conditions on every page of every offer you are considering.

I don’t know of any banks that send Emails asking you to verify addresses/information, or to put your PIN and account number in a form.  If you get that type of Email, you should call the bank to ask what’s going on.  My personal preference is to actually go to a bank branch and talk to someone.

Online Search tip:

When you look at a Google or other Search Results page, many people don’t realize the listings at the top – there could be as many as 6 or 7 – are actually Ads.  You will see the word “Ads” or “Ad related to” at the top, and a very faint box around them.

The same ads (that look like more Search listings) may also appear at the bottom of a page – again, look for the word “Ads” and a faint box outline.

Scammers pay for these ads/listings and many lead to bogus web pages with bogus information.  Some of these ad listings also put malware on your computer.

When you are searching for a product, I think it’s better to look below the ads to the actual search listings.

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