Archive for the ‘Emails’ Category

Service of Cybercriminals Navigating From Phone Calls to Texts & Emails

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

My phones are blessedly relieved from evil calls about car insurance for a vehicle I don’t own, money owed the IRS and so forth. Enough people are on to robocallers and don’t answer anymore.

In their place I’ve received increasing numbers of really sophisticated texts and emails in the last few months. Some are quite alarming and easy to fall for if you’re not vigilant. Use of corporate logos is rampant.

Cybercriminals dressed as Wellsfargo send all sorts of hack emails.

Did you notice anything suspicious already? That bank spells its name in two words: Wells Fargo. And by the way: I don’t have an account there.

Each email with different subject lines provided multiple opportunities to link to a nefarious place.

Here are some of the subject lines: Wellsfargo Bank Guard which alleged someone suspicious has logged into my account. Wellsfargo Billing hit me twice, the first time with claims my account is restricted. The second warned that there was fraudulent entry to my account.

In addition there was Wellsfargo Bank Business, Wellsfargo Bank Agent Security and Wellsfargo Security.

Other favorite faux texts and emails are from a wolf in Microsoft’s clothing or DHL Express. The latter asks for an address correction for an imaginary package they aren’t able to deliver. In another nasty twist I was told in a text that on Tuesday $198.17 was placed on my debit card and to click on a link to stop it.

One crook was lazy or new at the job. She didn’t kill herself in prepping for the outreach. The subject line was Support. This thief didn’t waste time. They were going to suspend my account, [to what they didn’t say], unless I updated my billing information. Sure.

You get the point. Have you noticed a change away from suspicious telephone calls to electronic communication in attempts to steal your money?

Service of Here We Go Again: Phone Snubbing

Monday, August 30th, 2021


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

At lunch with three friends last week my phone pinged a few times signaling the arrival of a text. One pal repeatedly asked if it was my phone. It was, but I didn’t look. We were eating.

Dan Ariely just covered the subject of “Why We Ignore Friends to Look at Our Phones” in his Wall Street Journal advice column “Ask Ariely.” The subject falls in my “Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose” series. When mobile phones were new, some diners chatted incessantly even when facing a date or friend across a restaurant table, often disturbing neighboring diners while disrespecting their dinner companion.

Ariely responded to reader Alan who asked him why people “engage in such rude behavior,” that the columnist called phone snubbing or “phubbing” which he claimed could impact “the level of satisfaction in a friendship.” He attributed it not to lack of interest in the dialogue as much as to the personality of the phubber.

Ariely reported: “In a 2021 study of young adults, the authors found that depressed and socially anxious people are more likely to phub their friends. This is likely explained by the fact that people with social anxiety find online communication less uncomfortable than in-person conversations.”

He continued, “On the other hand, phubbing is less common among people who score high on ‘agreeableness,’ which psychologists define as striving to avoid conflict. Agreeable people make an effort to be polite and friendly in order to maintain social harmony.”

His suggestions for those who can’t stop looking at their phones is to disengage text and email message notices or to put the phone on airplane mode. That switches off the phone’s connection to Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

There are exceptions when being a phubber is legit but I think you should announce your reason when you sit down. If you’re expecting to hear from a client, customer, sick friend or relative or colleague about a deadline-driven project say so.

Do you care if your dining companion keeps checking his/her phone? Do you apologize if/when you do it?


Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

Service of Two Marketing Home Runs & a Third That Strikes Out

Monday, December 10th, 2018

I am gleeful when I see a clever marketing campaign and am almost offended when what I thought was a smart organization falls short.

Here are two good ones and one not so.

Poster Perfect

I enjoyed a witty set of advertising posters on the Lexington Avenue express subway produced by Seamless, a food ordering and delivery service that’s part of the GrubHub family. It reminded readers that it knows its neighbors and what they most like to eat.

The campaign, written in a New York-y voice is eye-catching, and a mini relief for passengers in uncomfortable circumstances, inspiring them to smile.

Some of the headlines were:

  • “The Most Potassium-Rich Neighborhood –Murray Hill– based on the number of banana orders. No one’s cramping here”
  • “The Loudest Neighborhood–Park Slope Brooklyn –based on the number of chip orders. Your neighbors can actually hear you crunching”
  • “The Neighborhood in Most Need of a Vacation–Dyker Heights Brooklyn– based on the number of tropical smoothies ordered. Just take one already.

Subway Smiles

Another subway campaign hit the spot. Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube was produced by a Belgian agency. An actor looking at something on his tablet on a crowded train begins to laugh and his giggles are contagious. The tagline is “Happiness starts with a smile.” Towards the end of the ride people wearing red tee-shirts with the Coke logo hand passengers cans of soda and a postcard with the theme.

The Long and the Short of It

The second Obama Foundation Summit produced a lame campaign as far as its outreach to me is concerned. It came via email. The subject line “I want to hear your story Jeanne.” The theme: “Common Hope Uncommon Stories.”

Janelle Monáe, who signed the email, wrote: “No matter how different each of our tales are, we must do what we can to help each other achieve the extraordinary. When someone shares their story, we see the world through their eyes. That’s why I’m reaching out today. I want to hear your tale. Tell me your story in 10 words or less: How do you work towards a better future?”

I can be succinct but 10 words on a serious subject doth not a serious request make–even for an elevator pitch. Think that was a typo? Its impact on me: I stopped reading well before the bright red DONATE link at the bottom. I can think of some snarky 10 word retorts, such as “Get rid of the president,” though I’m not sure that they reflect me and my story. How many personal stories “work towards a better future?” Am I being persnickety and too literal? Have I lost my sense of humor?

Have you seen any clever ad campaigns on public transportation—trains, busses, subways? Was the Obama Foundation’s communication a fundraiser for the hip and therefore way over my head?

Service of It Can Happen to You if Goldman Sachs, Citi, Barclay’s & Bank Of England Execs Were Duped

Monday, June 19th, 2017

The takeaway for me was we’re all potentially doomed after seeing Liz Hoffman’s Wall Street Journal article, “Goldman’s Blankfein, Citi’s Corbat Duped by Email Prankster– The trickster appears intent on embarrassing top bankers but incidents suggest some basic cybersecurity gaps may exist.”

Hoffman and colleague Telis Demos wrote: “Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and Citigroup’s Michael Corbat, as well as Citigroup consumer-banking chief Stephen Bird, responded over the weekend to emails sent by the anonymous prankster masquerading as top executives at the two banks.” Last month Barclays and Bank of England’s top execs fell for a similar hoax.

The executives didn’t spill sensitive information but the

prankster posted screenshots of the emails on Twitter. The goal, according to Hoffman, was to embarrass, not to seek information or to plant viruses.

“The emails mimic a well-known scam known as “phishing.” In this,” wrote Hoffman, “scammers try to get victims to click on malicious links or try to capture sensitive information, such as passwords, via seemingly innocuous emails. These emails can take the form of invoices from customers, shared Google documents, or phony password reset requests.” [I wonder if the reporters meant invoices from vendors…]

“Last year, the FBI said that it had observed a 270% increase in business-email scams over a 15-month period. In these, criminals had impersonated executives to request a fraudulent money transfer or other fraudulent transaction. Between October 2013 and February 2016, law-enforcement officials received reports from 17,642 victims of this kind of scheme that amounted to more than $2.3 billion in losses.”

A private banker I worked with recently told me to feel free to send him my questions by email but said he can’t respond by email. He’ll call me or I can come in and speak with him, whatever’s easier. I wonder if this precaution is new.

Not all email intruders are as benign as the one described in Hoffman’s article. Might this interloper be working for a cyber security firm looking for juicy contracts? How careful are you before responding to a client, boss, colleague or friend? Do you refuse to respond to online surveys that come your way?

Service of Limiting Communications

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The French got the recent headlines but German companies such as Volkswagen already had email policies in place to curb the enthusiasm of people in management who send emails at all hours and expect employees to respond.

The alert employee who gets the worm–i.e. the promotion–must be on the job at dawn, at night and on weekends with eyes riveted on smartphone screens should a business-related email pop up. A friend’s former boss has a sleeping disorder which kept him up at night. My friend had a hard time fitting life in after 8 pm or 9 pm, when he left work, as there was no after work: He was expected to respond with charts, figures and explanations into the night.

Wrote Adam Auriemma and David Gauthier-Villars in “French Pact Could Give Workers an Email Break” in The Wall Street Journal:  “The French pact between companies and workers, settled last week and awaiting government approval, amounts to a declaration of principle more than law. It gives certain technology-sector workers the right to stop using work tools such as email and smartphones after logging France’s state-mandated maximum 13-hour day.”

What had Volkswagen done in 2011? It cut off email to 3,500 non managers at headquarters in Germany between 6:15 pm and 7 am. The authors reported Pew Research findings that email frenzies “start at the top,” as they increase with salaries, and they quote others who note the obvious: For the behavior to stop, the brakes must also come from the top. They wrote: “But as long as promotions go to the workers willing to do company bidding at any hour, policies intended to limit the workday are unlikely to matter, managers and scholars say.”

What do you think of email curbing policies? Are they realistic in a world where bosses and clients demand and expect immediate attention? Do you know of managers who overtax and burn out employees by expecting their full attention and immediate response 24/7? Are you one of those?

 

Service of Signoffs

Monday, March 18th, 2013

I don’t always sign every email with a “Regards,” “Best,” “XOX,” “Hugs” or anything else, especially after the first response followed by a rash of back and forth or if I’m dashing off a note on a subway platform using a handheld to update a friend or relative about a tidbit—but only someone from whom I hear almost daily. I’ll have to check; I think I add an xx before the jb or jm every first time.

So I disagree with Matthew J.X Madady who wrote on Slate.com: “You say ‘Best.’ I say No. It’s time to kill the email signoff.”

In the middle of his post he wrote: “After 10 or 15 more ‘Regards’ of varying magnitudes, I could take no more. I finally realized the ridiculousness of spending even one second thinking about the totally unnecessary words that we tack on to the end of emails. And I came to the following conclusion: It’s time to eliminate email signoffs completely. Henceforth, I do not want—nay, I will not accept—any manner of regards. Nor will I offer any. And I urge you to do the same.” [The bold is mine.]

I empathize with the discomfort involved with writing on a smartphone or tablet but there’s no excuse about typing another word or two on a computer using a standard keyboard. In any case, his point is not about comfort on a tiny or slippery keyboard but about the time it takes to think of the appropriate signoff. [This from a writer?]

If Madady wrote this post to up the readership of Slate.com he succeeded. I heard about his nixing “Fondly,” “Love,” “Sincerely” or “See you soon” on a radio program where the host, John Gambling, thought his assertion was atrocious.

Another hint that Madady was looking at shining the spotlight on himself and Slate rather than to eradicate signoffs is that it’s so easy to add a generic one to a signature template–he’d never have to write another one again. Time? Not much. If that signoff is too cute and cheery when acknowledging news of illness or death–delete it. Time? Not much.

In any case, I hope he’s not serious. Courtesy is worth the time and distinguishes considerate humans from boors. How much more of a hatchet to civility will we tolerate and accept?

 

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