5 Lessons I’ve learned from Scammers!

Looking more closely!

When I started this blog and when I started talking about scams.   I never really knew I was ever going to be something that I’m passionate about but this is something that has caused me great pain and disappointment.   I am going to try to help those who might want answers and have questions about the questions that I had for so long!

Each lesson that I’ve learned was from a scam and these are common for most people around the world, so it isn’t like you can prevent this from happening but you can prevent yourself from getting scammed.

Dating scams….

If anything when I was on those sites, I have found one or two that areas that you need to worry about.   While on the dating sites, you will see all kinds of profiles and each profile should be scrutinized for the possibility that it isn’t a real profile but a fake profile and ultimately a scammer on the other end of the profile trying to scam you.

  1. Money Scam — This scam is most prevalent and can be any sort of reason from having the menopausal problems to need food because they are broke.  They build upon the fact that you are looking for that mate and you have put so much effort online to find that special someone.
  2. Package Scam — Another scam that is common when it comes to online dating is that they may ask you to receive and ship packages or money to another destination.   This could cause a lot of legal problems for you because the packages or money could be stolen and you could end up in jail.

I won’t go into details about other because these too are the most used and unless things changes these will always be used.   Other blog posts that I’ve talked about this are:

Collections scams!

Debt collections people can go from a range scams but the one that sticks out in my mind is the one that I was foolish to even consider.   So I will only talk about this scam and how it works.   The debt collector says you owe money because you borrowed or got a loan money from a website.   Then you can’t pay it, which in turns brings out these guys.   They will threaten to send you jail or even call you up and ask for your address so they can send the police to arrest because they have a warrant for your arrest.    They use fear to make you make worse decisions than you do when you are thinking logically.   The good news that once your know some of this, you will be in better shape.   The collector that I got scammed with was for a loan and that if I didn’t pay he would send the police.   Again this is against the law according to Michigan State!  Debt Collectors can not threaten something like that and it is against the law.   So I learned that lesson the hard way!

Not all checks are valid!

When I got my first unexpected check from Nationwide Market, I thought we hit the jackpot per say.   I found all my worries gone and I was hopeful that we could actually use the money for a good purpose!   So I got home and saw the check but something wasn’t quite right, we were supposed to send a money order through western union which I found was a fake check after calling the bank.  Some of the other checks that I received are:

Not everything is as it seems!

This one I have to keep looking closely with but if it looks to good to be true than you probably need to turn the other way.   I’ve found so many scams and problems in my lifetime that I am sure there are even more tactics out there that I’ve not talked about but you can always use that idiom to help you start searching for the clues that they do not want you to see.

Scare tactics

Lastly this one is common with scams and scareware.   They want you to be so scared that you aren’t thinking logically.  They think if they can scare you then you are more likely to do what they say or suggestions and they will get a strong hold on your computer or your personal information.   This one is a suggestion, stop and think about what they are asking you to do then think about what the consequences are.   You may be giving out some valuable information that identifies you easier and makes it easier for them to use your identity somewhere else.   Other scareware I’ve seen are on my website and you can simply search for them.

 

Rounds.com sends out unwanted SMS Spam!

Screenshot 2014-11-17 at 2.06.36 PM

You don’t have Rounds? Bummer… Add me: http://www.rounds.com/get-app

The App SMS spam!

It seems like it is always something new startup companies are doing to get the word out about their app or their product.  I do get it sometimes but this time it seems like I have to tell people not to send me this stuff.   I really hate when companies think we want to send out a multitude of messages to friends and families on your contact list.

Unintended SMS

When I get SMS, I usually tell the person that I got it from that they are sending out spam.  It however isn’t the only app that is sending out unsolicited SMS like Tango, Glide, and Some other apps.

To all App who send SMS

I will not download you or even think of visiting your website.   I do not consider SMS a valid way to promote your product or application.  You need to worry about what I and other users will do once we get that message.   Some will install it but more and more we get those messages and tell the person who sent it that we do not approve of the spam.   They will un-install you and complain to Google or Apple and that could create a mess of trouble for your company.  So remember that!

 

Technology gifts for Christmas like no other for 2014!

Peanuts Christmas Panorama By Kevin Dooley

Peanuts Christmas Panorama By Kevin Dooley

Christmas is Upon us!

In the past, I’ve done Christmas Gift List for 2012 : How to Shop for the Geek in all of Us!How to find the right Tech gift your significant other (Christmas Tips) [2011], and last years post Gadgets that look promising for Christmas! (2013).  I’ve always like doing these types of post because I feel most people do not have a clue what a geek wants or understand just how fun technology is for them to explore.   So in this post we will discuss some cool things for the Geek and nerd in all our lives who we care about.   As each year we get older we see more tech gadgets that we would love a chance to play with and this post will go into depth on some of the more interesting products for this year.

For the Kids

I have thought long and hard about what my kids might want for Christmas and I’ve got a list of things that they will be getting from me this year and I’ll go through some of the highlights of what my kids might be opening up on Christmas day:

  • Acer Iconia Series —  They have tablets that are under 100$ that my kids could enjoy and play with.   I’ve had my Acer Iconia Tablet for over 2 years and still use it when I am home but it works just like it did when I bought it.  My kids are always bothering me to us my tablet so this might be a good option for me so I can use it more!
  • Ear Buds — Let’s face it, if they are going to have their own tablet then they need to stay quiet while they use the tablet.   This will help.   You really do not need to pay over 20$ for ear buds but it depends on how serious you want them to use it and the durability of the buds them self.
  • Minecraft Redstone Ore by Think Geek — Since my kids love Minecraft and playing it on my Android device. This would be a cool gift for under 25$, they can have fun with this item.They even have Diamond Ore that lights up for under 25$!
  • App Controls Bots — Since my Son loves robotics, this might be an option for me with him getting something he can use with his Android devices and control them.   It looks like a good idea and kind of fun!

For the Men

It can be quite difficult to find the right thing for the men in your life.   Each geek is different in what they want but I try to give a variety of things.

  • Hisense TV  — I’ve used the 32 inch and love this tv.   It has a good android app that acts like a remote!  I simply love this television set and if I lose my remote.  I can always use the app.
  • LifeView Blu (unlocked)– I love this phone and it has so much screen space to view anything I want without much problem.   Even my kids love to use to play Minecraft on it!
  • Chromecast – Another good selection for people who like to watch Netflix or even who has been buying TV shows on Google Play stores.
  • ChromeBook —  This recommendation people who are constantly on the Go.   The battery life on it is extraordinary and yet I can do a lot with it.   Although you must have internet connections for most of the things you might need to do with it.   I recommend the newer versions of Chromebooks for 2014 choice.

For the Females:

Finally, I could try to suggest things for women but this blog post is long enough.  It is something that I do not feel comfortable to discuss.   I am sure that it can be difficult for some men to come up with that elusive perfect gift.   However it isn’t the gift but the idea of giving that is the most important.

 

How to Backup your Contacts in Android (Jelly Bean style)

Contact: For Carl Sagan 10 by the Justified Sinner

Contact: For Carl Sagan 10 by the Justified Sinner

Backing Up Essentials!

I’ve heard so many people say they didn’t back up their contact list for their phone and it gets stolen or the phone stops working because of water damage, or breakage.  I know some of your think Google is Evil or Not, it is how you consider it to be actually is.   A service for me to not have to worry about such things as where are my pictures or where are my contacts when I get a new phone.   This is the easiest step for me, even though I know Google knows everything they want to know about or could know about me from Gmail, Google Photos, Google Movies + TV’s, and let’s not forget the Google Plus.   I’m sure somewhere someone is calling for privacy and not wanting to give all the power to Google.   If you’re not wanting to allow Google to keep your contacts this will be a discussion on how to get your contacts offline or sent to Dropbox or some other cloud service.

Paid Apps VS Free Apps

I’m going to give out a few paid and unpaid apps that would work for your purpose and then I will discuss your options on how you want to keep the backup.  In any case, while talking about paid apps, I will remind you that in the end each of these apps are your decision and I do not recommend any of them but I am just giving your options.   The option to buy an app compared to free apps are simple but most of the time it is advertising that you are avoid and thus you sometimes just want to buy the app to not have to deal with the advertising part on the screen as you backup or restore.

Paid Apps:

Free Apps:

Preference on App

I haven’t use these apps or tried these apps, but they do look promising for backing up your contacts.   You will need to try these and others to find out which app you prefer the most.   I allow google to sync with my Google contacts so I do not need these apps to back up my contacts.   Do you have another way to backup your contacts, I’d like to hear!!

The Beginner’s Guide to NFC!

NFC stickers, wristband & key fob to experiment with! By Rain Rabbit

NFC stickers, wristband & key fob to experiment with! By Rain Rabbit

Near Field Communications

Near-field (or nearfield) communication (NFC) is a form of short-range wireless communication where the antenna used is much smaller than the wavelength of the carrier signal (thus preventing a standing wave from developing within the antenna).

Wikipedia

When it comes to NFC, it isn’t always easy to figure it out. I’m going to try make it easy to understand it and how you can use it to better protect yourself from credit card theft.

What is NFC used for?

Some people do not know what it is used for many different ways.   There are so many thing you can do with it but I’ve found 20 different uses for using NFC.   It was really creative on making the best use for the technology.  There is even a Ring you could use with your Cell phone.  If you have a smart phone that you bought from Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, or even T-Mobile.  You could use this ring for almost any purpose imaginable.

Tokenization of Payments

This method is good for using with your smart phone or tablet, because you get a different PAN Number for  each transaction.   No one will ever get the real PAN (Primary Account Number), instead you will have given out a fake PAN to the vendor which in turns verifies it with the bank and the bank which knows how to figure out the real PAN tells the vendor which knows nothing but that it is a valid PAN.   So this will prevent infect credit card machines from using the card anywhere but that one time.   It will prevent hackers from being able to use your card at any local business.   What it will not do is prevent the Card not present transaction from being used.   You’ll still have to share your real PAN when purchasing online and this in turn will be where the hackers will start getting the information.   So you will not totally be able to prevent credit card theft, but you will slow it down and make it that much harder.  This in turn will make Cell Phone providers such as:  “Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Straight Talk, and Virgin Mobile” start selling NFC capable smartphones for you to use around as you please when you need to pay for something.

Apple Pay VS CurrentC

Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by Apple Inc. that lets users make payments using the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch-compatible devices (iPhone 5 and later models), iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3. Apple Pay does not require Apple-specific contactless payment terminals and will work with Visa’s PayWave, MasterCard’s PayPass, and American Express’s ExpressPay terminals.

Wikipedia

This technology will use NFC to communicate with POS.   This is almost like Tokenization and has features similar to them.   Apple has just made their own version of it.   I do not know how it works or anything other than what I’ve read so it isn’t like it is any better than the rest in my book.

CurrentC

While I will say that I’ve only know what I’ve read from their website.   This seems to have so many flaws on many levels.   I wouldn’t begin to speculate about what they do with your information and how they secure it.   I have heard of them getting hacked in the past and that will tend to make their business start look less than professional.   I’ve not heard of anything else about these guys but Your supposed to be able to pay with a QR Code and not just with NFC.   I do not know if this will help protect your security or not.

How I found out my Credit Card was Compromised!

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Target Credit card Reader by Mike Mozart

Someone used my Card

So lately I have been talking about credit card theft, over the past few weeks.   It happened to me last Thursday.   I got a text from Lifelock, telling me there was a problem with my credit card and that some of my information was on the net.  I also got a wake up call from my bank at 7:59am, wanting to know if I happened to buy stuff from Assurance Wireless, and PTEL Wireless.   Most of the charges were under the 200$ limit on my credit card but it was also used as a test buy for a pop vending machine for $1.75.   The reason this was flagged by my credit card company was that I rarely don’t travel and when I do travel far, I will alert my credit card company so they know that I am traveling!

One without using my credit cards

I’ve taken a stance for this week not use any other credit cards just to find out if my other credit cards were compromised this week.   I do not believe my other credit cards which is few and in between that I have and use are out in the open to.  I just didn’t want to risk them also getting loose.  I do have a great PayPal credit card that I have not used for the last past week.   I do not use that card often but I do like to use it on Amazon (Amazon Affiliate Link).

What I’ve learned!

I’ve learned that I will start either paying for the gas at the register with my credit card or just give them cash.   I’ve have been tracking all my credit card purchases with an email ever day about what was charged.   So I have been doing the right thing to prevent this type of theft from going anymore than a day but I also do not want to have this happen to me.   So I am going to list what I will be doing differently from now on!

  • No More pay at the Pump Purchases — This might be one way that it was compromised but I am unsure of it.  I usually look at the card reader before I even put my card in it.   I’ve decided to cut the risk by going inside and paying in cash or with my credit there.
  • Reduce my use of paying with Credit card — Whenever I go out and about I will pay more with cash then I will with my credit card.   It will also help me to keep track of my money more and possibly save money!
  • NFC — When I get the money, I will go buy a NFC Unlocked Phone (Amazon Affiliate Link).   This way I protected by tokens instead of revealing any real information that might be associated with my credit card or even my personal information.

That is pretty much my plans to help make sure I do not become a victim of this crime again.   These criminals may think they are better than me but they will get arrested sooner or later because it is just a matter of time!

Hack: Send and Receive Messages on your Facebook App On Android!

Facebook Messenger App by Kārlis Dambrāns

Facebook Messenger App by Kārlis Dambrāns

Facebook Application

Seems people aren’t installing the Facebook Messenger that I’ve talk about even Darth Vader wouldn’t use the App right now!  So I’ve used the Facebook App to send and receive messages off Facebook but I haven’t been using the Messenger app.   Let’s make that clear, I still am able to get messages on my App:

Still get messages on my phone!

Still get messages on my Android Devices!

How?

I am sure you are wondering just how I did it. This post is to to help you understand how you can do just that! I believe Facebook is keeping the messages as a legacy for older Android system(s). It can be access simply by installing the messenger and removing all permissions on the app. I think there is a flag in the Facebook App that turns on the extra chat menu because Facebook doesn’t want you to leave their Application just to message a friend on Facebook. So this way it is there to keep you on Facebook when you’re doing Facebook things.

Tutorial

In order to do this hack you will need to download two different programs for each device your want this to work on!   First off this is a hack and no real programming skills are needed to do this.   You just need install these two apps from the Google Play Store:

  1. Advanced Permission Manager
  2. Facebook Messenger

After you download both Applications Open up the APM (Advanced Permission Manager) and go to ALL APPS:

Screenshot_2014-10-18-11-28-33

Search for the Facebook Messenger Application. Once you found it will look something like this:

Screenshot_2014-10-18-11-25-03

Go Turn every check mark into an (X) by just tapping the check mark. Once you go through and change all permissions. You then will see something like this:

Screenshot_2014-10-18-11-25-58

Hit “Save and Re-Install“.   It will say it is “Working Hard“.   It will then show you this:

Screenshot_2014-10-18-11-27-40

So you now have to Un-Install the Messenger App and reinstall the new APP. You will need to allow Third Party installs on your phone. Once you installed the new permission free app, you will need to reboot your phone or device and load up Facebook. You should see your message menu re-appear. As long as you keep the messenger app on the device that extra menu should stay available from now on. I do not know how long they will allow this but it works just fine for me. You will see “MESSENGER has stopped responding and closed” When you receive new messages but I find that less of an annoyance than them having getting even more information from me!

If you found this post useful consider buying something from Amazon with my Amazon Link. You pay nothing more than what you pay for the price of the item but I receive a small commission from what you buy from them.

Credit Card theft is on the rise! How to save your money in all things!

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The recent thefts so far!

So we have several different retailers who have announced breaches in their credit card system.   So here is a list of the situation thus far with the breaches.

KmartAnnounced a few days ago that their system has been breached and that it was malware that was intentionally infected their payment system and their POS!  It is also the first time in a long time that it was proactive in that looked for problems before it was detected by anyone else.

Signature System — A POS Vendor which included Jimmy Johns which makes Gourmet Sandwiches.   It was identified by Krebs on Security in July!   It was another Malware infected system.

Home DepotAnnounced September 8th, 2014 about credit card theft.   Some of the things that was also stolen was the location of card in question and thus could be used in the local area, with out being noticed by the credit card provider.

Dairy Queen —  Announced rather quickly, their Point of Sale system had Malware and they also went and looked for signs of this infection.   It was clear that it was a form of the Backoff Malware that has been used in other POS of vulnerable systems.

Damages So far!

It has been unknown just how many people cards have used to buy things or even to sell on the black market.   As you can see I will not talk about the money that has been lost because I do not know.  So I will talk about how to prevent this from happen to you or at least know the instant your card has been used without your permission or knowledge.

Keeping your Money!

As far as I’ve learned it isn’t a science for me.   I am going to talk about my techniques to help keep me safe from losing too much money.

  • Receipts -–  When you use your credit card, always ask for receipts when I use my cards.
  • Tracking — Keep track of what you spend and where you spend it.   If you know where your money is going than anything that jumps out as being un-authorized.
  • E-mail —  My bank sends out an email daily to me.   Some banks even sends out alerts for even the suspicious charges.
  • Prepaid Credit cards — for those times when you must pay for stuff on questionable sites or even paying for gas at the local gas station.   I use a prepaid card to do just that because you never know about card reader being hacked.

Finally this one is also the best way to prevent credit card theft.   You can always pay with cash and prevent any malware from getting your card information.    I also recommend a personal service just like Lifelock (Affiliate Link), I have been a member for six months and have been really happy with them.

 

Reviewing the Life View Unlocked (Blue) by Blu

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post is to the Amazon website, which I am affiliated with. I make a small commission when you buy stuff off of Amazon when you use my links. It however doesn’t cost you any more than it did before. I do this to help recoup the cost of the item or items that I bought!

Specifications!

  • 5.7 inches IPS Display- HD (1280×720), Corning Gorilla Glass 2
  • 12MP Camera with LED Flash with HD recording (1080p), 5MP Front Camera
  • 16GB Internal Storage
  • 4G HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps 850/1900/2100
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core Cortex-A7 Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Life View brings the latest technology in a slim modern design, for the ultimate Phablet experience. View pictures, videos, emails, social networks, books, magazines, newspapers, maps and games like never before. Enjoy a totally new visual experience of all your files and apps with a large 5.7 HD display that incorporates BLU’s Nex Lens and Infinite View Technologies. Also, get impressive durability thanks to Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Get more things done, with faster processing and outstanding multitasking capabilities, thanks to its 1.2GHz Quad-Core Processor and 1GB of RAM. Create and share your most important moments in life, with an incredible 12MP HD camera. Share your life as you make it, with its frontal 5MP camera for video calls.

The First Impressions!

I have used this phone for over 3 months and thought it was time to do a full review.   Even though The First impressions of the phone was straight on for me.  I’ve loved this phone from the day I gotten it.   When I first got this phone, I didn’t know what it would have been like with it.   Now I use it every day to stream video and Netflix to my Chromecast Media Player!  To a point this phone has some huge potential for me.   I now have a good enough camera to take pictures with and to use while I am at work.

The Pro’s and Cons!

Now I am going to talk about the phone and how it has handled with me the last few months and get into detail about the drawbacks and good feature of the phone.   So It features a 720p display with a 5.7 inch phone can be very useful on the road and let you stream the shows or movies straight to the phone.   It isn’t necessary a High Definition display but it does keep the price below 300$ to make anyone jump through hoops just to have a chance to use it.   I’ve even had people ask if it was an Samsung Galaxy S3 or an Iphone, I however  just chucked and said it isn’t anywhere near a S3 or Iphone.   The basic down to earth understanding of the phone is that it is less expensive than those and still get your close to the quality of those phones.   It doesn’t come with LTE, which means you can only use HSPDA for data speed.   So you won’t go faster than 21 Megabytes Per Second, which isn’t something to laugh at.  It comes with a dual SIM card, so you could get two different phone numbers for one phone.

This is a budget phone, for those who do not want to fork out the money for a S3 or even the Iphone.  You pay half of what you would pay for the competitors prices and still have a decent phone to do what you want with.    However if your are looking for a good MVNO, then I would recommend Straight Talk Wireless which works just fine with this phone.

So let’s just talk briefly about the bad parts of the phone.   You get no NFC ability, or even higher brand of MP for the phone camera.   You get a lot for what you pay for this phone.   You get no way to increase the storage space on the phone.   You get a total of 16gb of space but you really only get to use 12gb of space the other 4 is used for the OS and memory for the operating system.  Although, I’ve been having it automatically upload any pictures to the cloud for storage that way I keep my storage needs low on the phone itself.

Conclusion

I’m really happy buying the Life View from Blu, it was getting close to the mid 200 dollar range when I bought it and it seems to be going down even more.   It has been nice to have this phone where ever I go and to use it for what my needs are!   I haven’t even minded the storage issue on the phone.   You really have to decide for yourself if this phone is worth the money or not but I am really satisfied with my purchase!

System reported a Hard drive failure!

Clent S.M.A.R.T System Says danger!

So I have a client who had his system report that his hard drive was failing.   So I ran SpinRite 6.0 on the HDD.  It report what I suspected that the Hard Drive was getting ready to die.   I couldn’t even scanning with Spinrite because it would give me this error every time I tried to use scan with SpinRite.   I was just surprised that the HDD has not already Died.

My Plan thus far!

I contacted the client and told him my findings on the Hard Drive.  We talked and he said he had the spare hard drive not being used on the system.   So I did my scan on the spare hard drive and it came back clean and no problems.   I called the client and he wants me to use the spare hard drive as the main hard drive and copy all the necessary files to the spare hard drive.   I then would disable the main hard drive to prevent anyone from putting any files on the hard drive.   You can bet if I didn’t do this the hard drive would fail and they had copied something important to the failing hard drive.

The Next step!

I am now going to move all important files off both hard drives because the client doesn’t know what is on the spare hard drive and wants to save them for the just in case scenario.  I intend to put Windows 7 on to the spare hard drive and try to make sure all important files are moved to the new soon to be permanent main hard drive!.   I  just hope this client figures out what he will do next when his computer finally dies.   I think this is the first sign that it won’t last much longer!

Have you had something like this happen before.?  I’d like to hear your story!