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home : columnists : columnists July 22, 2014

3/29/2013 10:09:00 AM
Along the Way...

I received a box in the mail but didn't recognized the return address.   I was suspicious because our e-mail had just been hacked and also there wasn't an invoice in the package to identify it.

I contacted UPS and Amazon and they couldn't track it either.

So to be safe I stuck it out in a shed.

The next day a relative e-mailed that they had sent a package to us to give to another relative as a surprise!   

They were lucky I hadn't blown it up!  (I think I've been reading too many crime novels!)

And here's another warning - be suspicious if you get an e-mail asking you to send money to me in the Philippines.  I'd prefer if you just sent it to me here at home!  (OK - I'm kidding!) 

Yes - I got "hacked".   

It was 7 a.m. when I got my first phone call asking me about my trip to the Philippines!  And then an e-mail came from a friend in law enforcement who had no sympathy to my "plea" and e-mailed "Ha ha ha."  (My friends are funny!)

A cousin in Wisconsin got a call from relatives in Germany (she speaks the language better than I do) who had heard I needed money - in the Philippines.

Frontier, my internet provider, helped me send out e-mails to everyone in my address book warning them not to pay attention to my "request."

This whole process took several hours and was a mess.

 How to protect yourself...

 A friend who asked to only be identified as a 16 year resident of Cannon Falls with a long career in education and law enforcement, recently had his e-mail hacked even though he was careful of any unsolicited email.  

 He explained that the key to not becoming a victim rests largely with the individual.   

Be aware that legitimate internet fraud complaint centers associated with the FBI and States Attorneys' Office will not request payment for service nor will they request extensive personal information. 

 One point was to have "a separate address for your friends to e-mail, a separate address for work and a separate address for family. This way, if one account is hacked only a handful of people are affected."

 More suggestions...

Here are some more suggestions to protect yourself as explained by the Goodhue County Elder Justice Network, Jennifer Cook contact.

Don't use the same password on Facebook or any other social network that you use on other websites.  

If you think something's amiss with a request you receive, contact the sender through another channel - such as a phone. 

Never open emails that don't include your actual email address in the "To:" line. Fakes are often addressed en masse to dozens of random email addresses.

Roll your cursor over any URL sent in an email to reveal where it really goes. The text displayed may be completely different from the actual destination.

Beware any URL that is excessively long or uses numbers (such as 192.155.12.38) instead of a traditional URL format.

Beware of URLs that have been shortened, disguising where they actually go.   They frequently are used by scammers to hide the identity of malicious websites.

Wi-Fi hot spots

The rapid growth of Wi-Fi hot spots has made it convenient to crack open your laptop and hop online just about anywhere.  Crooks operate lookalike hot spots with the sole purpose of eavesdropping on all the data you send through it. When you type in your password, Social Security number or credit card information, scammers can capture it all and be on a fast track to stealing your identity. 

Another less common attack involves a hacker simply eavesdropping on a legitimate wireless connection by using special equipment to capture your signal, either from next door or while driving down the street.

Most phony hot spots leave telltale signs that they aren't legit, such as typos, strange sign-in web page designs or URLs that don't seem right. If you aren't 100% sure a site is legitimate, don't sign in to it. 

It's also a good idea to do your banking and bill-paying at home, on a line you know is secure. Make sure you're using Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 security on your home router and protect it with a strong password, such as a combination of numbers and letters.

Any "pop-up" asking for money is undoubtedly malware and not part of a legitimate security program.  

So if you plan to protect yourself from fraudulent e-mail requests,  I guess that means you won't be sending me any money in the Phillipines!

Wise decision.



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