Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Service of Responding at Your Peril

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

Hardly a week goes by without a new con to entice recipients to respond to a phone call, text, email or fake ad on a social media platform.

Just this week I got a text from “PayPals [sic] Service.” It started:  “We have restricted your account.” Since when did PayPal add an S to its name?

In the last few months I noticed stalkers on Facebook not where you’d expect them–asking to be your friend the old fashioned way–but in comments. When a woman placed a comment to a post the stalker-stranger would not address the topic or the remark but instead would introduce himself and invite the woman to connect.

For a long while we’ve received emails and texts announcing “your order has been processed” when there’s been none or “thank you for renewing your membership to Geeksquad” to a nonmember. And then there’s a warning that my friend shared about a purchase on her Amazon account. She doesn’t have one and she added “Sadly many naive people would push #1 as instructed. Not me!”

She mentioned an email allegedly from Yahoo asking her to confirm her email address or she’d stop getting emails within 48 hours. “There was none of the usual verbiage from Yahoo so I knew it was a scam,” she said. “Plus they’d never only give you 48 hours for any change. But makes me sick when I think of how many people fell for it.”

I was distressed reading Christina Morales’s story “Restaurants Face an Extortion Threat: A Bad Rating on Google.” In The New York Times she reported: “In a new scam targeting restaurants, criminals are leaving negative ratings on restaurants’ Google pages as a bargaining chip to extort digital gift cards.” The one star ratings–the worst you can get–feature neither photos nor descriptions and the writers haven’t been to the restaurants, some of which have Michelin stars. The scammers request $75 Google Play gift cards to remove the review.

From California to New York, the emails were the same wrote Morales: “We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice.” She continued: “The email went on to say that the sender lives in India and that the resale value of the gift card could provide several weeks of income for the sender’s family. The emails, from several Gmail accounts, requested payment to a Proton mail account.”

Google removed some but not all of the bad ratings. A spokesperson said the company is looking into the reviews and removed those that violated policy which states you must have been to the place you review. If not, the writer faces account suspension and/or litigation.

It’s not that easy to contact Google although “Law enforcement officials have urged” the restaurants to do so as well as to notify local police, F.B.I. and the FTC. “The commission advises businesses not to pay the scammers,” she wrote.

The takeaway for those who check out restaurant ratings is to discount any that come with no photos or descriptions.

Have you noticed any new scams attempting to trick you into playing ball? If a restaurant has mostly good reviews and one bad one do you discount it, assume it might be written by the competition or a nut or do you take it seriously?

Service of Boasting: Have Facebook & Instagram Postings Replaced Holiday Letters?

Monday, July 11th, 2022

“The only happy family is the one smiling in photos”– Polish proverb according to an acquaintance. 

A friend once told me how much she disliked the missives inserted in holiday cards. I referred to them as Harvard/Goldman Sachs newsletters. The writers would regale the reader with the year’s highlights that touched on the kids–all of whom were accepted early admission to the Ivy League–and the adults’ professional successes, vacations in St. Barts, Mustique–you get my drift.

The emphasis was on accomplishment not emotion-sharing. It wasn’t a competition about who loves others the most. That’s what has changed.

Since we’ve moved off the page onto the Internet, we’ve not lost the opportunity to boast and we’ve added a lot of declarations of LO V E. I noticed this happening long before social media when people ended every conversation with “Love ya.” It became automatic like “God bless you” when someone sneezes. It took the zest out of the love word.


Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Caitlin Macy wrote a pithy piece in the Wall Street JournalThe Age of Emotional Overstatement–From social media to job applications, the pressure to declare our feelings in public is turning us into gushing adolescents.” She showed “emotional stinginess” when she’d post on social media “HBD! Whoohoo!” to acknowledge her child’s birthday.

By comparison, she wrote “today’s parent has only just begun her tribute to the sunshine golden star-child who grew into the brilliant, gorgeous, side-splittingly funny, preternaturally gifted athlete (‘Go, Big Blue!’), not to mention the kindest person upon this earth as well as the head of the yearbook committee, who is loved ‘to the moon and infinity and back and to infinity again and to whatever lies beyond infinity…’”

What is part of college applications today? “Tell us about your passion,” Macy reported. She points a finger at companies as well from whom, she observed, you want competence: “…. a corporation bragging about its passion for the service it’s providing suggests unstable—maybe even unhinged—leadership: Passion by its very nature is short-lived. It flames, and then, presumably, the fire in the loins for supply-chain optimization goes out.”

She wrote: “When Tevye sings to his wife Golde, in the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof, ‘ ‘Do you love me?’—a question, by the way, that they’ve never discussed—Golde doesn’t say anything about the moon or infinity. No, she replies by listing the work she’s done: ‘For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house…If that isn’t love, what is?'”

Macy observed that today we are more effusive but wonders if we are more loving? “There is something about today’s emotional exhibitionism that makes one long for a more restrained time—whether real or fictional—when love came up in conversation once every 25 years or so. As the great works make clear, the act of discretion around intimate relationships is how one honors these relationships. You explicitly don’t put on a PDA parade because they’re too important—too deep, too private.” {FYI: PDA=public display of affection.}

She posits: “I can’t seem to lose the feeling that it’s all a crock. Perhaps if we weren’t so quick to love, we’d be slower to hate as well.”

I’m with Golde. People who show their love quietly, in actions, count most to me although, like Macy, I’ve also sprinkled around many a heart emoji in response to Facebook postings. The ebullient year-end newsletter writers no longer send cards but do you see a relationship between their missives and year ’round over-the-top social media postings, weighted down by an abundance of saccharine expressions of love?

Service of Always Buy from a Website Not a Social Media Advert Link

Thursday, August 12th, 2021



Image by Julien Tromeur from Pixabay

The kind of experiences I’m about to describe can’t be good for social media platform ad sales because it’s hard to tell the difference between the real ones and the scams. And if the brand is new to you, best check it out before buying so much as a toothpick.

I just found out that an order I’d placed with a reputable brand posting an ad on Facebook went, instead, to a thief as did my money. I was fooled by how the posting, models and clothes resembled the real thing and I didn’t take the step of getting off social media and on the Internet to find the website and order there. Credit card company notified–check–card cancelled–check–and lesson learned. I’ll never again attempt to buy anything from a commercial enterprise from a link on Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter or elsewhere.

At about the same time I checked out a product that interested me but did some research first. I found a Facebook entry from a burned customer which generated similar comments from countless others.

The man ordered fly strips for $21. He got a call from a woman saying the order didn’t go through asking again for his credit card number. She was aggressive in trying to sell him $79 worth of product and tossing all sorts of discounts at him.  He told her to cancel the entire order–he didn’t want anything.  By the next morning his PayPal account was nevertheless charged $101 and she’d put him on a recurring order plan.



Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Others responding to his comment warned that they never received anything from the company after months. One spent $300.

The PayPal rep told the writer to never give your phone number when placing an online order because it is usually linked to your bank account. I don’t know about that but I do know his first mistake was doing what I did: He bought product from a Facebook posting and in his case from an unknown vendor.

I am irritated at myself–as I am usually so careful–and hope that my bank catches the scoundrels. No wonder banks charge so much interest for their credit cards. It must cost a fortune to cover the money returned to their clients in the many instances they don’t catch and receive compensation from the culprits.

As I was about to publish this a young medical tech assistant told me his Apple pay digital wallet account was charged $8,000. He’d not spent a penny. Predators are out to get even the most savvy and wary.

Can you tell if a sponsored posting on a social media platform is real and/or if the company posting is reputable?


Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay
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Service of Social Media’s Power

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

 

Fantasy Explosion booth in Bryant Park

On Memorial Day I visited Urbanspace Market at Bryant Park with its art, collectibles, jewelry, clothing and food from NYC businesses. Bank of America sponsored the “Small Business Spotlight,” allowing minority-owned businesses with revenues of $1 million or less to display wares in rent-free booths. The event remains until June 20.

There was a long line of mostly 20-somethings outside only one booth: Fantasy Explosion. Most of the others were empty. I asked “why the line?” of an attractive young couple near the back of a line that was moving at the speed of a bike with two flat tires. Their answer: “Instagram.” The patience of all these hipsters was ironic because instant is more than most are willing to wait for much given the speed they are used to from their smart devices and food deliveries.

“I never had much hope of finding such a totem until last year,” wrote Jon Caramanica in The New York Times, “when I stumbled upon the Fantasy Explosion Instagram account, which was posting decades-old T-shirts from niche corners of the city — the type of shirts that are given away to people who complete a 5K, or to sanitation workers in the boroughs outside Manhattan, or which you can buy near tourist sites from street vendors.” This was his intro to “Shirts for Lifelong New Yorkers and Those Who Would Like to Pass for One,” with subhead: “Shops like Fantasy Explosion specialize in vernacular vintage, merchandise that conveys cachet and knowledge of the city.”

Caramanica reported that the 30 year old owner Kevin Fallon, originally from Rhode Island, has been in New York for six years. He wrote that the popular vintage shirts are available at an increasing number of stores and that manufacturers and high fashion designers have jumped on the trend. “These high-fashion versions of vernacular forms suggest that there is no obstacle to making the vernacular aesthetic a luxury proposition. But in a climate in which, say, vintage music shirts can command several hundred dollars, local vintage generally offers a more reasonable entry point; almost everything at Fantasy Explosion is under $50.” Note: Prices may have changed since 2019 when the article appeared.

“Wearing these garments is unusually revealing, as if you’re wearing a shirt with your own face on it. It starts conversations, and it’s a kind of recommendation engine,” he wrote.

I still have favorite T-shirts from Jefferson Vineyards in Monticello, Va., New Yorker Magazine, trips abroad and from years of Bard Music Festivals with signatures of featured composers. For space reasons I’ve have had to give too many away. And you?  Have you been inspired to attend an event or visit an exhibitor at a show because you read about it on social media?

Service of Pet Peeves III

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

I wrote the first two Pet Peeve posts in 2010 and 2011, summarized below as my feelings about them are unchanged. And although they’re not earmarked as such, many posts over years focus on irritating situations that fall in the peeve category, such as the recent ones about bait and switch sales tactics and euphemisms like “food insecurity” for hunger.

NOW

Hard to believe I have so many new ones.

I recently paid by credit card for bread in a bakery and dinner from a takeout-only Chinese place. In both instances an automatic tip request popped up on the tablet’s screen. Why should I give a tip to someone for putting a loaf of bread in a bag? I gave a tip for the Chinese takeout, even though I picked up my order, but friends who tip generously said they wouldn’t.

I don’t answer when surveys ask me what my income is and don’t believe that they should ask.

TV news producers: Stop showing close-ups of injecting vaccines into arms. For the squeamish who aren’t planning to get the vaccine it’s a turnoff and deterrent.

Train your vicious dog or give it away particularly if you live in an apartment house.

Respond to personal texts within 24 hours–especially if the sender infrequently reaches out and/or if they pose an important question.

If I never hear from you for months and we are personal acquaintances send me something more than a link to an article.

If I consistently “like” your Facebook postings, every once a quarter please “like” one of mine.

THEN

I’m surprised at how many of the oldie peeves are pandemic-proof. The exception might be how miffed I feel when my hands are full and someone near a door doesn’t hold it open. These days some might be afraid of getting too close. Another that irritated me 10 years ago was someone borrowing my pen and not returning it. I wouldn’t want it back now.

Otherwise, here are many of the oldie but still valid:

You call at a scheduled time and are told “Call me in 20 minutes.” The person who changes the time should make the second call.

Repetition of misinformation so it becomes true to some.

Drivers who don’t use their signal lights. It’s as handy a communication tool for pedestrians crossing city streets and avenues as it is for drivers.

Waste by government and corporations.

Buzzwords and jargon.

Tell me privately something that impacts me–don’t first announce it in public and if you want to give away something of mine, don’t ask me if it is OK in front of the potential recipient so I feel forced to say “yes.”

Don’t:

  • roll your eyes if I ask a question
  • offer to do something you know you won’t do
  • pull out on me causing me to slam on my brakes

Lack of traffic lights or signs at dangerous intersections drive me nuts.

Have your peeves stayed the same over years? Any new ones? Do people close to you know your peeves or do you keep them close to the vest?

Service of Who Influences You Now?

Monday, November 4th, 2019

When Pete Wells, The New York Times’ restaurant critic, recently gave legendary Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger zero stars, down from two, his review–Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now it Sputters–which knocked the stuffing out of the place, drew plenty of attention on local media.

I’ve not heard of similar impact if a social media venue gave a thumbs down to a product or service. Yet companies believe in their significance to move goods and are paying plenty to get a thumbs up from people they’ve identified as social media influencers to rave to followers on Instagram, Facebook and the like.

According to Suzanne Kapner and Sharon Terlep in their Wall Street Journal article: “What began as friends and family sharing their favorite products has become a lucrative advertising industry of celebrity endorsers, influencers and meme creators. Such paid endorsements, known as sponsored content, are the online equivalent of a 30-second TV spot. Big-name stars can command $100,000 or more for a single YouTube video or Instagram photo.”

As so often happens, greed among some has weakened the value of what had become a good thing for the influencers. [The jury is still out as to whether such endorsements actually sell product and with some manufacturers the bloom is already off the rose.]

The reporters wrote in “Advertisers Sour on Online Influencers,” that “a whiff of deceit now taints the influencer marketplace. Influencers have strained ties with advertisers by inflating the number of their followers, sometimes buying fake ones by the thousands. They also have damaged their credibility with real-life followers by promoting products they don’t use.”

The long Journal article gives examples, excuses and alternatives–some advertisers are now using their customers instead of celebrities to endorse products instead–but the paragraph above hits the crux of the flaws in the concept whereby consumers lost trust in influencer claims.  In addition, advertisers can’t track or confirm the success of a YouTube video or Instagram endorsement.

In fact Ipsy, the beauty products company that launched the trend eight years ago is “Now the brand leading the way again, this time by pulling back” from endorsements by influencers.

Nevertheless Kapner and Terlep reported that the influencer industry is still lucrative: Global estimates range from $4.1 to $8.2 billion/year in 2019 versus $500 million four years ago. Influencers have made 50 percent more each year in the last two. “Prices per Instagram post range from $200 for an influencer with as few as 10,000 followers to more than $500,000 for celebrities with millions of followers, according to Mediakix.”

One flaw: So-called influencers can easily bolster their follower numbers by hiring “click farms” that “employ people to inflate on-line traffic.” For $49 and $39 you can buy 1,000 YouTube and Facebook followers respectively and that number costs $16 on Instagram, one pundit estimated.

Do traditional reviews influence whether you’ll try a restaurant, product or buy tickets to a movie or Broadway show? Do you check out Yelp or websites that report what customers or patients think of establishments or doctors like ZocDoc? If a celebrity you admire says he/she likes a product on social media or anywhere else, do you give it a try?

Service of The Perfect Balance of Digital Technology for Kids in Schools & At Home

Monday, November 12th, 2018

What amount of screen time is best for children in school and at home? Some feel that being comfortable using internet-connected devices is the best way to stay current and be job-ready when the time comes. Others fear that too much screen time is a damaging distraction.

As of this September, French children from three through 15 must turn off or leave at home their smartphones, tablets and other devices when in school. CNN’s Rory Smith reported that it’s up to each school whether older school children have the same restrictions. The French education minister said that the law, which passed by 62 votes to one, is to keep kids from the “phenomenon of screen addiction…. to protect children and adolescents.”

Lucille Grippo, who lives an hour and a half north of NYC, has three school aged children. She wrote me: “Our school district had a viewing of the movie ‘Screenagers.’ As a parent of teens it was eye-opening. I am one of the few that wish there was less tech in schools. It’s a double edged sword. It certainly makes life easier for teachers and students alike but I wonder about the affect on the brain of so much screen time.”

Lucille has learned how fragile brains can be from firsthand experience. If her name is familiar it’s because in January I re-posted a blog she’d written, “Why a Calendar is so Important to Me” in my post, “Service of Calendars and Miracles.” This young mother had suffered cardiac arrest out of the blue. At first, due to cortical blindness, she couldn’t see numbers and days on a calendar. Aphasia blocked connections that deciphered what appeared to be strange symbols. She also couldn’t read emails and posts on a computer screen..

After fierce physical, occupational and speech therapies and ferocious determination, her eyesight returned and today she even drives. When circumstances beyond her control forced her away from the “screen” and “offline” she realized how easy it was to step away. Reluctantly returning to her iPhone, tablet and laptop she recognized how the world around her operates on a paperless, electronic, and digital way. Sometimes her brain still has screen time overload.

Back to the documentary. Filmmaker Delaney Ruston, MD’s “Screenagers” synopsis begins: “Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span?” She wonders about the impact and friction at home and in school over the some 6.5 hours/day children spend looking at screens. The film explores “struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction.” It includes “insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists and reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.”

Dr. Ruston writes the blog Tech Talk Tuesday. In a recent issue she reported: “Fact: Schools experience pressure to have tech on their campuses from tech companies, administration, and others. Schools want to do well by their students and tech has been sold as a quick fix. For example, schools keep hearing from tech and curriculum companies that ways to ‘personalize and customize learning’ is right around the corner.

“Unfortunately, it has been a very long corner with no impressive results yet,” she added referring to a New York Times article, “The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Kids is Not What We Expected.” The Times reported that Utah, with no funding for a traditional program, has 10 thousand children enrolled in an online preschool. “…one can see how the screen has stepped in,” she wrote.

Her research showed that grades and emotional well being were improved when schools had stringent policies restricting cell phones. The devices were permitted by 66 percent of public middle schools vs. 34 percent of private schools in her study.

Do you think a child restricted from free access to online devices will fall behind his/her peers? Will eliminating the distraction help children focus on school? Might there be less online bullying? Are you distracted by your phone and the siren call of checking what’s up on social media and your email box?

Service of Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Thank goodness all giant corporations aren’t leaping into bed together to share respective expertise and information although some are inching in that direction and others are raring to go. It won’t be long.

But first a digression: In arriving at the topic for this post I counted seven fuzzy attributions in one newspaper article. Isn’t that a lot? Laced throughout a recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal I read: “According to people familiar with the conversations; the people said; a person familiar with the discussions said; some of the people said; said people familiar with the matter; some of the people said and people familiar with the matter said.”

Nevertheless I believe the topic is valid and am troubled by its implications. The title and subtitle: “Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users. Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement data.”

Reporters Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote that Facebook had spoken with people at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.” Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and platform.

What did “people say” about the conversations? “Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts.” In addition, “Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.” Messenger has 1.3 billion active monthly users according to the reporters.

Timing could be better for this outreach. The reporters reminded readers about current investigations in which Cambridge Analytica accessed data on some 87 million Facebook users without user OK. “‘We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,’ [Facebook] spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ‘We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.’”

Banks are tempted by the digital reach and doing business with online platforms with healthy and growing businesses. Even though Facebook has introduced what it says are safety features, “Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use.”

While PayPal and Square have beaten banks to the punch in the world of mobile commerce many customers continue to be comfortable with traditional ways of paying such as credit and debit cards, cash and checks.

Some deals between big players are already struck though I question their purpose: American Express members can reach a rep through Facebook. [Why would you need to do that?] Paypal users can send money through Facebook Messenger and Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet lets customers place online orders with some merchants.

Before all these mergers of communications, customers and data happen, shouldn’t there first be a firm grasp on digital customer privacy? Why are we becoming so lazy: Is it so onerous to check a balance on your bank’s website that you need Facebook do it for you? Can you believe that AmEx members can’t reach out to a company rep but instead need Facebook to do it for them? These “benefits” appear to potentially favor everyone but the consumer—do you agree?  Do you pay for things via mobile wallet, credit or debit cards, cash or checks? And last, does an article with more than a few generic attributions disturb you?

Service of Medical Impact When Loneliness is not Solitude

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

There are plenty of self-help books with titles like “Married…But Lonely.” And loneliness doesn’t just happen to the elderly, although seniors over 80 represent the largest percentage for understandable reasons: Lost hearing, sight, mobility, family and friends and many are isolated because they lack funds to socialize.

I didn’t realize the crucial impact of loneliness made clear in the lead to Emily Holland’s Wall Street Journal article: “Loneliness is hazardous to your health—and more psychologists and doctors are calling for a public-health campaign to fight it.”

In the article, “The Government’s Role in Combating Loneliness –Medical experts say social isolation needs to be seen as a public-health issue,” Holland quotes Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lundstad: “cumulative data over hundreds of studies with millions of participants provides robust evidence of the importance of social connections for physical health and risk for premature mortality.”

Studies have shown that “the risk is equal to or greater than major health problems such as obesity.” Dr. Holt-Lundstad presented analyses of data from multiple studies at this summer’s American Psychological Association convention that “found that having greater social connections is associated with a 50% reduced risk of premature death.”

According to Holland, an AARP study estimated 44 million adults 45 and up experience chronic loneliness. “In the survey, 35% of respondents said they were chronically lonely, up from 20% in a similar survey a decade ago.” Why? “An increase in single-person households, higher divorce rates and too much focus on social media over in-person communication,” may be some reasons.

Holland reported that loneliness doesn’t get the attention of smoking or obesity but that it is beginning to, noting the AARP public education initiative Connect2Affect. In addition, she mentioned a toll free number seniors can call to get rides via Uber and Lyft in some areas; a 24 hour, free Friendship Line–800-971-0016–sponsored by the Institute on Aging for those 60+ who feel lonely, depressed–even suicidal and programs at some senior living facilities that encourage socializing between generations.

Early detection and encouraging people to seek help are key to turning around the situation. Physicians must learn to question patients and patients must feel comfortable admitting their feelings of involuntary isolation and seclusion.

What is the difference between loneliness and solitude? Do you know people who are surrounded by humans and yet they feel lonely or others who prefer to be alone and say they are happiest that way? Have you heard of effective ways that infirm or financially strapped people of any age can remain involved?

Service of Scour Your Emails Before You Act

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

My junk file picked up this obvous scam sent yesterday from Woodrow Nash, telling me “I need to send some money to Philippines through money gram but can’t send out from here as I am traveling on a cruise ship. Don’t know if you can help me with the transfer, will look for how to get the money back to you as soon as possible.” Woodrow—a stranger–must be kidding. Delete! Nevertheless unsettling that he has my email address.

Here are two recent sophisticated examples that again warn folks to “stop and think” before clicking a link or responding to what looks like a legitimate email. Because one happened to me and another, to a good friend, I had to share.

Being Too Social Can Get You Into Trouble

Some friends, colleagues and clients are in competition to collect the most friends and contacts on their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. Predators are taking good advantage of this competitiveness and the fact that people move through emails in a rush.

Big mistake: Scoundrels format requests to link and invitations to befriend that look right…but aren’t. Before clicking read carefully.

I thought it odd when the so-called “president of Magazine at Meredith” asked me to link in with him from Florida [photo right]. Last I heard Meredith is headquartered in Des Moines with offices around the country–not West Palm Beach. The photo of the man in the request had fake written all over it. So I wrote an acquaintance at Meredith to report this person, who is actually on LinkedIn as “President of Magazine at Meredith Corp.” The real Jerry Kaplan left Meredith some 10 years ago said the corporate executive. This was clearly an imposter.

Don’t Bank on It

I alerted friends about a warning of a new Cryptolocker virus. One wrote: “Thanks for the heads up. My default position is to be suspicious of attachments, and even of links. We all have to be so diligent these days.”

She continued: “The weirdest thing happened to me. I misplaced my Chase VISA card so I called the company to put a hold on the account while I dig around for it (it’s probably in a pocket or buried under a stack of papers). I confirmed that no unauthorized charges had been made using the card. Everything seemed fine so I exhaled. But then, within an hour of calling the company, I received an email saying that suspicious activity was seen on my account, [Photo below, right].

“It was easy for me to tell that this was a fraudulent message. Have you ever known a bank to use the word ‘earnestly’ in any communication? And since when is ‘online’ two words? The sender’s email address– secur@fraus6.chas.com–also was a giveaway, as was the fact that they didn’t address me by name. Even the indent on the first line was out of place. Clearly, this was the work of a rank amateur.

“Here’s the thing: Is it a coincidence that this arrived in my email box within an hour of calling to report my Chase card missing, or is something more sinister going on? Did the agent I spoke to during my initial phone call record my info and pass it on to an unauthorized person? I’ll never know. All the nonsense going on in the White House has made me half crazy and might be turning me into a conspiracy theorist! Anyway, as I said before, you can never be too careful.”

Have you identified any email oddities that could lead to trouble? What good is it to a scoundrel pretending to be someone else to have people link in with him? Do you think that my friend’s email from a faux Chase bank rep was coincidence or something more threatening? How do you protect your computer and your identity?

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