Monday, March 26, 2012


This is the message I have received numerous times in the past few weeks.  It always appears to come from Comcast, which is my internet provider and email provider.  The email address says it comes from Comcast and they even include a Comcast logo in the email.  They always ask me to follow a link to reconcile my account or confirm my registration or something similar that sounds very official.  They include a link that when you mouse over it, there is the word comcast somewhere in the url, but it isn't the official Comcast website.  The email has been sent to either no name (blank) or it simply says Customer Comcast.  They always try to scare me by stating that I need to follow the link or my email will not be available in the near future.

There are a number of things wrong with this warning.

  1. I have two email addresses and every other family member has one email account with Comcast but only my business email which is listed on Craigslist receives this notice.
  2. As listed above, it isn't addressed to me personally but to either no one or to "Customer".  Sometimes they forget to hide the email addresses and it looks like it is addressed to somebody else.
  3. Also listed above, the url they send you to isn't a Comcast website.
  4. I have trained my outlook to send these emails to my spam folder which I only check about once a week but I am still able to send and receive my emails even though they say my account will be locked by then.
  5. The addition of the company logo is a nice touch but anyone can use google image search to find, download and insert a logo into an email.
One email was so bold they requested I fill out an online form attached to the email that included the following:

Comcast ID
First Name
Middle Name
Last Name 
Zip Code
Phone Number 
Mother's Maiden Name 
Social Security Number 
Date of Birth  (Month/Day/Year)
Month Day Year 
Card Type Specify your card type-----------------VISAMasterCardAmerican ExpressDiscoverOthers 

Card Number 
Expiry (Month/Year) 
Card Holder's Name 
Name of Issuing Bank/Financial institution 
Associated Bank Account Number 
I/We hereby confirm that the above account information is correct. 

The next line in the email was a button that said continue, apparently that wasn't enough information for them.  I didn't click the button so I don't know what else they wanted.

Obviously this email was a scam and hopefully nobody would be foolish enough to give out any of that information in an email.  But the other emails that simply ask you to follow a link could get all of this information without your knowledge by placing spyware on your computer and tracking every keystroke that you make.  This is usually what these emails are for.  They scare you into following a link and for some reason it apparently is broken because it doesn't seem to go anywhere, or maybe it goes to a page that says thank you for updating you account.  But the real purpose is to plant the spyware.

As with any email that you receive requesting information or asking you to follow a link, if you did not initiate the email, DO NOT FOLLOW THE LINK.  Contact the company using a form of communication that you know will reach that company.  Go to their official website or find a phone number on your monthly statement and ask them about the email that you received.    

If you have followed a link, run some kind of anti-spyware program before doing your online banking or even ordering a pizza.  Search online for a free removal program.  

If you need help with these contact me for help.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me...

In George Orwell's book "1984", The main idea is "Big Brother is Watching You".  Here it is 27 years later and to a point there is a big brother watching us.  This is a list of who and how you are being watched because of your computer, phone or other device that can access the internet.

Your Cell Phone:
If you have a smart phone, your cell company can track your whereabouts by GPS, but even if you have a basic phone they could track you based on the distance from different cell towers.  If you are lost, this feature could save your life, there have been a few cases where this has happened.  Some people use the GPS feature to post their location on Facebook.  If you allow friends of friends to see your posts you could be telling criminals that you are not home so they can safely break in to your house.  Verizon Wireless has a product called Chaperone which uses the GPS to allow parents to see where their kids are since the kids are always attached to their phones.

The iPhone and iPod touch have a feature that comes from the factory turned on that gives the location of all pictures when you take them.  When you post these pictures on Facebook it is possible to find the exact location of the photo.  This could be dangerous for kids especially.  Dangerous people could find out what school they go to and where they hang out.  The best thing to do is turn off this feature as soon as you get your new iPhone or iPod touch.

Since your smart phone can access the internet it could be vulnerable to hacking just like your computer.  This is important since you have all of your contacts on your phone so make sure you have strong passwords on your phone.

In the United States, cell phone companies are not required to reveal what information they collect from their subscribers.

Your E-mail:
Many people have an e-mail account with their employer that they need to do their job.  The main thing to remember about your work e-mail is that there is no privacy from your employer when using their e-mail system.. It is almost a guarantee that every e-mail that you send or receive on their account is stored on a server somewhere and you cannot delete it.  The rule of thumb is - If you would not say it with your boss or HR standing next to you, don't say it in a company e-mail.

Even with your private e-mail account, the company that provides it collects information from your e-mails.  This is why some of the ads that you see on your e-mail supplier's website will look like they are tailored specifically for you.  They are.  This doesn't mean that a person somewhere is reading all of your e-mail, these companies use software to scan the contents looking for specific words that they in turn use to advertise to you.  If you talk about your golf game a lot in e-mails you might see more ads for golf equipment and trips.

Some people use free e-mail services like Gmail or Yahoo to create anonymous e-mail accounts, but if you use it at home the IP address associated with the e-mail will point to your home.  This information has been used successfully by prosecutors in criminal cases.

Your Cable, Satellite Provider or Movie service:
Cable and satellite systems have come along way.  Most of these systems are basically computers that deliver shows to your tv.  They know what kind of movies and other content that you purchase to view on your tv.  One cable company has been experimenting with targeted commercials based on what you watch.  This could be a good thing.  If you mainly watch kids programming and PG movies you wouldn't get ads for Viagra and those annoying ads to discourage meth usage for example.

The bottom line is that there are many ways that your activity is being watched usually by a computer.  The moral of the story is be careful what you do and say when you use your devices, especially if you are doing something illegal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New way to an old scam "Smishing"

There is a new scam that is targeting your bank accounts and using your cell phone to access them.  They send you text messages that claim your account is frozen and they give you a number to call to correct the problem.  Don't call the number and don't keep private financial information on your phone.  Here is a link to the article. .  Just like your email, don't respond to messages claiming to be your bank.  If you think the message might be real, contact the bank by their PUBLISHED phone number.  Remember, your bank won't contact you in this manner.  Don't be a victim.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beware! Fake iPads for sale online

With the Christmas season fast approaching, this is a good reminder.  I saw a news story today about fake iPads being sold on the internet.  These iPads have the Apple logo on them and they look legitimate.  The only way to tell is when you get them home and try to access iTunes or other Apple  aps, they will not connect and you won't have a warranty.  These were being sold for about 30% off of the regular price for an iPad.

You can follow this link!-fake-ipads-for-sale-online. to see the whole story.

This will serve as a reminder when buying online that you should always follow a few simple rules.

  1. Only buy from sites that you know and trust such as,, or something similar.
  2. If the price seems too good to be true, It probably is!!
  3. If you are not sure about a site, try "Googling" the name and see if there are any complaints.
  4. Compare prices at a few sites, if most have about the same price and one is much lower, see #2 above.
Everyone loves to save a few bucks but remember Buyer Beware!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Your PayPal account has been limited

Recently, I have received two emails from PayPal.  I will include them below but basically they both say that I need to follow their link to "update" my account.  One claims there has been some strange activity on a credit card tied to my PayPal account, while the other just needs me to verify some of my account information.

Here are the two emails, I will show what is wrong with them below:

Warning Notification
Dear PayPal Costumer,
It has come to our attention that your PayPal® account information needs to be updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension. Please update your records before oct 30 , 2011.
Once you have updated your account records, your PayPal® account activity will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

Click here to update your PayPal account  (I removed the link)


Dear PayPal Member:

Attention! Your PayPal account has been limited!

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system.We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.We requested information from you for the following reason:

Our system detected unusual charges to a credit card linked to your PayPal account.

Reference Number: PP-259-187-991

This is the Last reminder to log in to PayPal as soon as possible. Once you log in, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access.

Once you log in, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account safety.
Click here to activate your account (I removed the link)

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologise for any inconvenience..

PayPal Account Review Department

Copyright ? 1999-2011 PayPal. All rights reserved. PayPal Ltd. PayPal FSA 
 Register Number: 226056.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. PayPal Email ID PP059

Protect Your Account Info
Make sure you never provide your password to fraudulent websites.

To safely and securely access the PayPal website or your account, open a new web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Netscape) and type in the PayPal login page ( to be sure you are on the real PayPal site.

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud, please review our Security Tips at
Protect Your Password
You should never give your PayPal password to anyone.


First of all, I don't have a PayPal account so I know these are fake.  Here are the problems with these emails.
  1. Both emails did not have any names listed in the "to:" field.  Financial institutions will not send out blanket emails to their customers.
  2. The links in both emails went to other locations.  One to scattertones and the other to hayesauto.  (Always mouse over a link before you click it to see where you are really going.)
  3. There were miss spelled words in both emails, Costumers instead of Customers in the first and apologise instead of apologize in the second.
  4. Valid companies will not send unsolicited links to their customers.  If you did not initiate this action don't follow a link.  (Sometimes a company will send you a link to reset your password if you tell them that you forgot it.  This is initiated by you.)
  5. The second email even tried to act like the real thing by putting a fraud warning on it.  Take their advice and go to the real website, don't follow the link.
The people who make these emails send out hundreds or even thousands at a time hoping for even one credit card account to steal from.
If you have received something like this and followed a link, contact PayPal and freeze your account.  Also find an Anti-Spyware program and clean up your computer.  If you need help with this please contact me:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Starbucks Scam on Facebook

According to Starbucks...
There is a scam on Facebook offering a free $50 Starbucks Card. Don't click on it, it isn't real.
In the last two days American and Canadian coffee lovers have been targeted by would-be phishers offering free Starbucks and Tim Horton's.

If you have fallen victim to the scam, we advise you to change any passwords associated with your Facebook account or email login as a precaution (as well as any logins that share those same passwords).

These are posts from Facebook, on the Starbucks page and the Mashable page.

Once again, If it seems too good to be true...It probably is!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wells Fargo Bank is a big target.

I just received in an e-mail the Wells Fargo scam that has been going around recently.  I saw it on the news last night, they said that one in three of us has an account with Wells Fargo and that is what makes this so lucrative for the thieves.

Here is what the e-mail looks like:

Wells Fargo Bank, Encrypted Key: wf-101g/n7kdj48v51nmzl

Dear Wells Fargo Customer,

Wells Fargo Bank, is committed to maintaining a safe environment for our customers.

Please Update Your Wells Fargo Account

To prevent an interruption with your Wells Fargo, please take a few moments to update your
information today. Failure to update your account today might cause your account to go inactive.

To get started, please see:

Your Wells Fargo Account (THIS WAS A LINK THAT I DELETED)

Leah John - Wells Fargo Bank Accounts Review Center

Copyright 2011 Wells Fargo Bank, Inc.

I know this is a fake since I don't have an account with Wells Fargo.  Remember, your bank won't send out messages like this.  It was sent without any name in the "To:" field in my e-mail.  If you receive this or any correspondence from your bank, go to your bank and talk to someone about it.  Do not follow the link.  They are trying to steal your account info so they can clean out your account.