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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Banks Should Install Security Cameras in Foreclosed Homes

It happens all over the United States.

In Florida a homeless man pocketed about $1,375 by renting out a vacant home. Another Florida man was said to have collected more than $16,000 in “rent money” in one month.

In New Jersey a man collected more than $15,000 in rent and security deposits.

A California man collected about $26,000 over a seven month period.

These were all cases of thieves renting out foreclosed or vacant homes they did not own.

Real Estate people say that many banks will make very little effort in managing or even trying to resell foreclosed houses. Often all they will do is hire someone to keep the lawn mowed.

home for rentThe thieves find these vacant homes just by driving around and being observant. Or they may use the Multiple Listing Service or other computer records to find foreclosed properties.

Then the scammer will pretend they are the owner and call a locksmith to have the locks changed or rekeyed.

Then they can simply run a rental ad. The homeless man mentioned above used Craigslist, and this has been a popular spot may other thieves use to run ads to rent homes they don’t own.

The victims of these crimes end up losing thousands of dollars, which they usually never get back. Since the victims have also signed a “fake lease”, they are forced to move out of a home they have settled into, because they are legally considered squatters.

Since the banks or other owners aren’t watching or managing these homes, these crimes often go on for months or years, and aren’t discovered unless somebody suspects something suspicious.

The crook(s) could be long gone before police find out about the crime. To find the crooks, police undercover officers may have to pose as potential home renters.

Considering many victims are losing thousands of dollars in these scams, I think banks and/or owners should take more responsibility with these properties.

One or two outdoor security cameras could be set up without too much effort.

Also, indoor IP security cameras could be set up. Both the outdoor and indoor cameras could have the feature of surveillance being recorded 24 hours a day. Cameras are also available which include motion detectors that will alert a cell phone if there is activity.

Even if no bank officials want to bother getting alerts to their cell phone, a DVR security system could be recording all activity.

If someone is seen showing up with a locksmith, or taking people inside and showing the home, at least there would be video evidence for police. Then action could be taken to stop the fraud scheme before it gets too far along.


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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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An Inexpensive Tool That Could Save Your Life


There is a small, inexpensive tool that many people have never heard of or think about, that could save your life.

It’s called an Auto Emergency Tool.

Here is the first situation that has happened to many people.  Imagine you’re in an auto accident where your car or truck rolls over several times.  Perhaps your airbags work OK.  You are conscious and alert and don’t appear to have any life threatening injuries.  However, when you try to get out of your vehicle you find that your seatbelt latch is jammed and you can’t get free from the seatbelt and out of the seat.

seatbelt cutterThe first function of the Auto Emergency Tool is a Seatbelt Cutter.  It has a razor-sharp blade that hooks onto the side of your seatbelt.  You just slide it across to cut the belt.

There was a woman driving on the highway with her young son in the back seat. While he was sleeping he twisted the seatbelt around him.  He spent several minutes trying to get the belt untangled, but made it even worse.

It became so tight he was having trouble breathing, so the mom used her Auto Emergency Tool to cut it off.

There is another situation which also happens many times.  In the accident described above you could still be trapped after cutting your seatbelt, because the windows are up.

Or your car is on fire, and you need to get out quickly.

Or many times people end up in a body of water, such as a lake or river and the windows are up.

There have been many incidents where people were talking a to a 911 operator while their car was sinking into the water, and they were trapped inside.

You may thiwindow breakernk that you could smash a window out with your foot or fist, but when you try you aren’t able to do it – you’ll find it’s harder than you think.

There are thousands of vehicles that sink in lakes or canals every year, and AAA estimates this results in almost one death every dwindow break punchay.

The next function of the Auto Emergency Tool is a Window Breaker.  This is a special metal punch – with just a single motion the metal tip pops out and shatters your window when you press it against the glass.

                    Lifehammer         resqme

The tool on the left above is called LifeHammer and includes a mounting bracket.

The one on the right is called ResQMe – it’s the same tool, but with a strong clip that hooks to your keychain.  Both are less than $20.

Police and fire departments use these, and they should be legal for anyone to buy in most areas (check your local laws), as long as you’re not using the tool to break into cars.

Many people will keep one in their glove compartment and another on their keychain.


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Beware of “Free” Home Security Offers

free home security with conditionsYou may see “Free Home Security system” ads on TV, in magazines, or even on inserts that come with your utility bill or credit card statement.

Usually there is an 800 number to call.

Be aware that if you call an 800 number you can’t block caller ID, so even if you don’t buy anything on the initial call, you’ll probably keep getting solicitation phone calls.  You may also get more calls trying to sell you different products.

On a TV ad you might not be able to see the “fine print”, or the print may not stay on the screen long enough to read.

A typical offer will say you’re getting a “Free” security system, but it’s NOT free.

Simplisafe keypadBy signing up you may be agreeing to an “installation charge” of $99 or more, and as much as a 3 year (36 month) agreement to pay a monthly fee of around $35.00 to $45.00 or more.

So a “free” 3 year system may really cost you about $1360.00, or even more.

Your contract may also auto-renew without you realizing it.

I personally don’t recommend buying anything over the phone.  You don’t know who you’re giving your credit card number to, and once they have your number, they can put a lot of unauthorized charges on your account, that may be very hard to get removed.

If you call one of the “free system” ads you may also be confronted with a high pressure salesman trying to sell you a long-term contract.

Also, the people running those ads are often just dealers or sub-dealers, so the installation and service may not be that great.

People also report problems such as some components not working properly, or expensive charges to replace a broken part.

If you want an easy to install system, with no long-term contracts and a low monthly fee, I recommend Simplisafe.


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The Best Way to Protect Your Valuables

Aside from taking security measures to protect your home or business from burglary and break-ins, one of the simplest and inexpensive things you can do to protect your valuables, is to use an Engraving Tool.

You may have items you don’t think will ever get stolen, but can be expensive to replace.

Things like power tools, special carpentry and automotive tools, lawn mowers, power saws, drills, bicycles, cameras, toys, etc.

Some of these items may be stored in a garage or outside shed that is less secure and easier to break into.

If you have them marked with your name and a unique ID number, you can have added peace of mind.engraving pen

Engraving tools are inexpensive and can actually discourage thieves, because the items marked with a name and ID are more difficult to sell.

It’s also easier to catch and prosecute the thief, and there’s a much better chance the police will be able to return your items to you.

You can also take photos of the items, as well as taking photos of things too small to engrave – keep the photos in a safe place.

engraving tool

The engraving tool shown above includes letter and number templates, and can engrave plastic, wood, leather, hard steel, ceramics, porcelain, and even glass.

Millions of dollars worth of property is stolen every year that the police can’t return to the owners, because the owners can’t be found.

Or, a crime victim who contacts the police might not be able to prove that recovered property belongs to them.

Typically, what a police department might ask for is:

  • A police report about your crime, describing the stolen property
  • Manufacturers serial numbers
  • Identifying marks, numbers, or engravings that you have put on the items

When they can’t find the owners or prove ownership, the police often end up selling stolen property at auctions, and even use online auction sites to sell the items.


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How SD Cards Are Used in Security Cameras

This is a follow-up to the post I wrote about DVR Cameras and Security Systems. Micro SD Cards are probably the most commonly used cards in security cameras.micro sd cardsThere are 3 sizes of SD (Secure Data) Cards – SD, Mini SD, and Micro SD. They have a memory capacity of up to128 GB (Gigabytes).

sd card-128gbA 128 GB card costs more than $100, but the one shown above is twice the speed of other cards. It’s usually used for Android tablets and Smartphones.

SDHC (Secure Data High-Capacity) have a memory capacity from 4 GB to 32 GB.

SDXC (Secure Data eXtended-Capacity) – like the 128 GB card shown above, have a memory capacity from 32 GB to 2 TB (Terabytes).

SD Cards have a notch on the left side which is a write-protection notch. Many have a sliding tab – sliding the tab up allows you to write on the card and sliding it back down protects what’s on the card from being overwritten or erased. Mini and micro cards don’t have this notch.

Micro SD Cards were created by SanDisk. One of these cards is almost small enough to fit inside a dime.

micro sd card with adapterAn SD Card Adapter looks like a regular SD Card and the Micro Card fits inside the bottom as shown in this photo.

You could actually use an SD Adapter with a Micro card inside just as if it was a plain SD Card. The plain card with the micro inside could then be placed in your digital camera.

However you don’t even need a regular size SD Card (or an adapter), as many of the hidden security cameras use a Micro card. You insert these cards with the gold pins pointing inward. You just have to make sure the card is turned the right way when inserting.

Sometimes a small diagram on the side of the device will show you the correct way. Whether or not you see a diagram, insert the card slowly. If you feel too much resistance, try inserting it the other way.

You may need to use your fingernail or some other object to push the card inI don’t suggest using a screwdriverthe cap of a Bic stick pen or something similar works good.

You will feel the card lock in place. To remove the card you push it in again slightly and a spring pushes the card out.

After you have taken pictures with your security camera the images are stored on the SD Card.

You could actually take a Micro SD Card from your security camera and put it into a USB Port of your computer to read, but you’d probably have a hard time getting it out.

micro sd card readerThis is why a Micro SD Card Reader was invented. This is just a longer device that you put the micro card into.

It’s like a handle – after you insert the micro card you have something to hold on to and more easily pull in and out of your computer’s USB Port.

As shown in the above photo, many of these readers also have some type of string and/or ring so that you can attach it to something and keep it from getting lost.

Again, you have to be careful when inserting this into your computer. Don’t force it in.

You may find that you have to angle the reader a little to the side to get in to go in because your computer’s USB Port may not be perfectly straight.

When you insert the card (inside the reader) into your USB Port correctly, you will see a small blue light on the side of the Reader and hear a short bell tone.

You should see a window come up that saysSD Card“. You will see options to Play, Open Folder to View Files, etc.

When taking videos with most security cameras, every time you start and stop the camera you create another file. You can click on the different files to view the videos. You can also delete any of these files if you want.


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Personal Security Tips for Students on Spring Break

Spring Break will be starting for many high school and college students in March and April.

First of all, if you are traveling by plane, some good airport security tips include: wearing shoes that are easy to take off, not wearing jewelry, don’t bring a water bottle (on the plane), and don’t make smart remarks to your friends, like “that would be a good place to put a bomb”.

students on spring break

Criminals will hang out in the areas where spring breakers are, so here are some personal security tips to stay safe:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Use an ATM inside a hotel, instead of one outside.
  • Don’t flash your cash.
  • Don’t flash your jewelry.
  • Try to keep a low profile.  You may want to impress your friends, but it may be safer to not look like you have a lot of wealth and money.
  • Don’t brag or let people know that you have money on you, or valuables in your hotel room.
  • If you have expensive jewelry, it might be a good idea to only bring the “cheap” jewelry with you on vacation.
  • Stay in groups and don’t wander off by yourself.
  • Keep your cellphone in a pocket where it can’t be grabbed easily.  Don’t leave it laying on a bar or table.
  • Don’t leave you car unlocked, your keys in your car, or your engine running.
  • The hotel or bar staff may not be trustable either – be watchful for employees that might be thieves.
  • If you are going to consume alcohol and are underage, be aware that the penalties for having fake ID’s are very severe – bouncers and law enforcement will be on the lookout – not worth trying.
  • Tell your friends where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • If you’re traveling by car is always, make sure it’s in good condition – check tires, battery, etc.
  • Check your car before getting in to make sure that no one is hiding inside.
  • Do not leave packages or personal items in open view in the car.  Place them in the trunk.
  • At night, park only in lighted areas.
  • Have your keys ready before going to your car.
  • Avoid secluded places.
  • Consider carrying a security whistle or self-defense spray.

Spring Break Health and Safety Tips


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How DVR Cameras and Security Systems Operate

A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) works like a VCR, but is much more efficient, because it records video images and stores them in a digital formatno tapes are used like a VCR, but pictures can be stored on computer files or a Compact Disc.
keychain hidden camera
Even mini hidden cameras, such as the Keychain Hidden Camera  above, have a built in DVR. So the DVR circuitry doesn’t have to take a lot of space.

The difference between the “mini” DVR security cameras and larger systems, is that with the mini cameras, images are recorded on to an SD card (usually a Micro SD card). Then you insert the card into an Adapter, insert that into your computer’s USB port, and watch the video.

There is a different file recorded every time you start and stop the camera. These files can also be deleted.

Many of the mini or hidden cameras operate for about 2 hours on a single battery charge.
alarm clock hidden camera
Other DVR hidden cameras, such as an Alarm Clock Hidden Camera, can record for up to 10 hours or more. The alarm clock shown above is a fully functional alarm clock with a hidden camera inside that uses up to a 32 GB SD card.  It also has motion activated or continuous recording.

A DVR Camera System includes a DVR that’s like the hard drive of your computer. DVR’s come in stand-alone models or a PC based system, which actually puts the software in your computer.

A stand-alone system will probably only allow you to use 16 DVR Security Cameras, while a PC base system will allow you to monitor and record up to 64 cameras.

You can log into these systems remotely and see your cameras over the internet in real time. Up to 16 cameras can be viewed at any time on a single monitor – it’s better to buy a larger size monitor for security camera system

You can also see the pictures on your cell phone, if you have the proper 3G or 4G internet access.

You can archive video with these systems for up to a month in many cases.

Many systems include motion-detection recording, and they can also be set up to record at scheduled times, or to record continuously. Specific cameras can be programmed to come on at specific times. Cameras are grouped into zones.

The better DVR Camera Systems have search features for the archived videos that will allow you to simply enter the dates and times for videos you want to play back. The images themselves are also stamped with the time and date.

More professional systems may also provide watermarking of the videos. The watermark is an assurance the video hasn’t been tampered with and is a valuable tool for law enforcement.

Better systems with higher quality cameras, will also allow you to adjust the cameras (even remotely) using PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) features.

They will also allow viewing of your DVR cameras by several people (many times an unlimited number). This means that whoever you authorize with the login information and passwords can view videos from any location.

Depending on your situation, you could have a security company monitoring cameras at your home or business at specified times. Also, several family members (even in different states) or authorized employees could check cameras from anywhere in the world they have any internet connection, at any time.


Complete security systems. No monthly fees. Easy-to-install.

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Surveillance and Wiretapping Laws

Many people wonder if/when it’s legal to use security and “spy” cameras, so I wrote this post to make things clearer.

My first advice is to not rely on everything you read here – consult an attorney, or your local police department about the surveillance laws in your area.

In most cases I don’t think you should have too many problems, as long as you’re using surveillance cameras for the right reasons.

mini motion detection camera with audioThe most common question concerns audio combined with video surveillance. Some websites even say that audio recording isn’t available in a security camera, but this isn’t true – it depends on the company – several online companies sell cameras that combine audio with video recording. The camera on the left is one example.


Even if your security cameras don’t record audio, Digital Voice
digital voice recorder
are widely available.

These are small and can easily be hidden. They’re usually about 1.5 to 3 inches wide and 4-6 inches long. They can be placed in the same room as a hidden camera and easily concealed.

Due to the digital format, many of the Digital Voice Recorders can record dozens of hours of audio and have memory features to easily search, review and delete recordings, much like a DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

Often what’s mentioned on websites is U.S. Code – Title 18, Section 2512. This is a federal statute passed in 1968, called the Wire and Electronic Communications Interception and Interception of Oral Communications Act, or also called the “Wiretap Act“.

It doesn’t specifically mention cameras, but basically says that a device is illegal if it is manufactured, sold or advertised and primarily useful for surreptitious interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications.

Legally speaking, “recording private conversations” and “covert video and audio recording” could be considered “wiretapping” and illegal. In general you aren’t supposed to do any recording (video or audio) that’s considered eavesdropping or an invasion of privacy, which includes recording in areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, bedrooms, restrooms, etc.

Some motels won’t place surveillance cameras in pool areas because some people consider being viewed or videotaped in their bathing suit an invasion of privacy.

Especially if you’ve had a crime problem at your home or business, I don’t think you should worry too much if your surveillance equipment combines video with audio recording.

Your intention should always be to turn over recordings to the police, if there is a break-in or some other problem they need to investigate.

If there have been crime problems in your area, some police departments may even give you advice and suggestions about buying and installing surveillance equipment. Police departments now routinely use dash-cams, and even “body cameras“, so they should be familiar with this type of equipment.

Again, my best advice is to consult with an attorney, or police department to be sure about laws in your area.


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