Tidelines Technical Difficulties Jan 2023

On Monday, January 30, 2023, Tidelines editors learned that some of our subscribers have not received emailed Tidelines posts since Friday, January 27. We contacted WordPress, our website host, and they are working to correct the problem. Although two posts went out as scheduled Tuesday, January 31, we are still experiencing some email issues. We apologize for the inconvenience.

This could be a good time for subscribers to explore our website, Tidelinesblog.com, for access to our posts. Each post appears there as it is published, most appearing at 6:00 am. The posts that we publish relating to special traffic, weather, or emergency alerts appear there as well.

On the website, you will find the most current posts are at the top and you can scroll down to see the other posts in the order they were originally published. The Search feature allows you to search for Tidelines articles by title or topic.

We look forward to resolving the email issues soon. Thank you for understanding and for your support.

Tidelines Editors

Be Aware of Scams During the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time filled with tasks to be completed, people to visit, and goodwill to share but there are bad actors who use the holidays to take advantage of people’s generous spirits. That’s why it is important to be on the alert for scams. 

How do you identify a scammer?

Recognizing the signs of a scam can help you avoid falling victim to one. Scammers resort to many means to contact you. They use telephone calls, email, text messages, social media, and U.S. mail. Scammers may:

  • Pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust;
  • Say there is a problem with your Social Security number or other type account;
  • Pressure you to act immediately; 
  • Tell you to pay in a specific way (ex. retail gift cards, pre-paid debit cards);
  • Frighten you or threaten you with a consequence;
  • Trick you into clicking onto malicious links or attachments.

How can you protect yourself if you receive a suspicious call, text, or email?

  • Filter your calls and don’t answer or return calls if you don’t recognize the caller. If you do answer and are suspicious, hang up the phone.;
  • Only open emails, respond to text messages, voice mails, or callers that are from people or organizations you know, and even then, be cautious if they look questionable;
  • Do not give money or disclose personal information;
  • Be especially wary of emails or websites that have typos or other obvious mistakes. Delete suspicious emails and texts, and do not click on any links.

What are the resources for reporting scams?

  • If you encounter a suspected phone scam or an abusive telemarketer, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, online or at 877-382-4357, and notify your state consumer protection office;
  • Report caller-ID spoofing to the Federal Communications Commission, online or at 888-225-5322. The FCC also provides consumer guides to numerous phone scams and improper practices;
  • Visit the Do Not Call Registry website or call 888-382-1222 to register your number or report illegal robocalls.

Be sure to keep yourself safe from scams this holiday season. For more information about the types of scams that occur and what you can do to protect yourself, visit the websites of the Social Security AdministrationFederal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and/or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). 

Tidelines Editors

Sources: Social Security AdministrationFederal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

(Image credit: pixabay.com))

Cybersecurity in an Online World June 2

Cybersecurity: How to Protect Yourself in an Online World

Have you or someone you know been the victim of an online scam?
Do you know how to identify a scam?
How can you avoid being a victim?

Seabrook Island Village (SIV) offers another free workshop for the community.

  • Date:           Thursday, June 2, 2022
  • Time:          4:00 pm
  • Place:          Oyster Catcher Community Center

Space is limited and registration is required. Click here or call 843-580-208.

Chad Droze, an Information Technology (IT) consultant, has been servicing homes and businesses on Seabrook Island for over 15 years at the Post & Computer Center in Freshfields Village. His presentation will address how to protect yourself online against the latest scams that hackers attempt every day on unsuspecting victims. Plan to join us so you can:

  • Learn the sneaky ways and methods that crooks use to lure you into a false sense of security.
  • Hear about real life hacking examples that have happened to Chad’s customers.
  • Listen to why cyber-crime is so lucrative for the hackers who perform them. 
  • Learn tips to protect yourself online. 

-Submitted by Seabrook Island Village-Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Beware Text Message Scams

The holiday season is upon us and so are the holiday scams. It is likely with online holiday shopping that you’ve received a text giving you shipment information. Scammers are using text messages with fake shipment tracking numbers and a link to verify shipping instructions. If you receive a text like the one below, do not click on the link! The link goes to a fake shipping company or a phishing website. Data is collected that is then used by the scammers.

Tip: If you get an unexpected text message, don’t click on any links. If you think it could be legit, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. Don’t use the information in the text message.

See this article from the Federal Trade Commission on How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages.

Tidelines Editors

Spam Alert

Joanne Fagan from COVAR (Council of Villa Associations and Regimes) has just informed Tidelines that their membership list has been hacked.

COVAR members are receiving text messages requesting that money or gift cards be transferred via text message. The text message says something like, “I am in a meeting and can’t do this myself.” The text is signed “John Reynolds” and asks that the receiver be discreet. Some members are getting this text from (914) 206-8094. Neither John Reynolds nor any other COVAR member has sent anything like this.

Please do not open the text and block it, if possible, and then delete it. We have not learned of this problem affecting email but please be alert.

Tidelines Editors

Online Scams on the Rise

Hello, Seabrookers! Hope everyone is having a great summer thus far.

Today’s article is going to focus on a topic that I’ve certainly covered in the past: online phishing scams and fraudulent phone calls. They’ve been around for quite a while, and lately, it seems like every few days I receive a call from a customer telling me they think they have a major problem. In most cases, when the customer tells me what has happened, I see many mistakes and misjudgments made along the way that could have lessened the problem, or quite often prevented the issue altogether.

So today, I just want to share a few tips to drive the point home. Don’t become a victim! Although the victims tend to learn a lot through the process, it’s not fun to have to contact your bank, re-issue credit cards, and change passwords to all of your online accounts. It’s a lot of hard work, and can take days or weeks to finally sort it all out.

1. SLOW DOWN!

When you get a random phone call (and believe me, you will get them), often the person on the other end begins their speech- at least for a few seconds until many of us have already hung up on them. The key to these scams is to have you act so quickly that your intuition doesn’t kick in yet. The scammer sounds like they want to be very helpful (“You didn’t make that $500 charge on Amazon? No problem. I will be glad to help. Don’t you worry!”) but this is just the start of their process. They are trying to set your mind at ease as they walk you through what they want you to do. Many times, it will involve them wanting you to go onto your computer and give them access. They claim they will solve the problem.

When a customer asks me, “How did they get into my system?” my simple answer is “YOU LET THEM IN!” They can’t do anything until you grant them access.

During all of this, from the scammer’s point of view, time is of the essence. The longer it takes, the more suspicious you may become. They want you to act quickly. If you just slow down, think about the situation, give your gut feeling time to kick in, stop, call a friend or family member, just about anything other than what they are asking, more likely than not you can avoid these problems.

2. YOU CALL THEM!

So, what if you hang up, but still wonder if the call was real or not? Then put your mind at ease and call the company yourself. Yes, it may take some time out of your day, but in the end, you will speak with a legit employee of the company. You can inform them you were just called by them, got concerned, and want to check your account for any suspicious activity. Credit card companies, banks, and online shopping companies have fraud departments that can tell you exactly the status of your account.

Do not look up telephone numbers to call on Google. Scammers can purchase the top listings on Google that may promise you help and can publicize telephone numbers that just link back to the bad guys. Always visit the official website of the company, look at the bottom of the page for a “Contact Us” page, and look for a phone number there. For credit cards, the number to call is usually written on the back of the card itself. And when you find the real number, store it in your phone to call in the future.

3. ALWAYS BE ON HIGH-ALERT FOR POP-UP MESSAGES ON YOUR COMPUTER

This isn’t so bad for tablets and smartphones, but computers are very useful tools for bad guys to begin their scams. Most of the time, it could start with a phishing-email (an email that is intended to look like a legitimate email from a well-known company), or maybe you are surfing the web, looking up information, and all of a sudden a pop-up appears.  Sometimes the text and graphics on the pop-up will be very alarming:


If this happens, try to exit the page. Look for an X in the top corner. Back away if at all possible. If you have to, fully turn off your computer. Just make sure not to click any link on the pop-up, or certainly do not call the phone number. This is NOT MICROSOFT. This is NOT APPLE. After turning off your computer, wait a few minutes and turn it back on. Think about what you were doing just before the fake warning came up. Perhaps that website was infected. In that case, avoid that website. Look for any new icons that weren’t there before. If you shut down quickly, most of the time you can avoid any major problems. If you have any suspicion that something isn’t right, turn off your computer and keep it off until someone you know and trust can run a virus or malware scan on the computer to ensure it is clean.

Not all messages that appear are bad. Microsoft and Apple often use pop-up notifications to inform you about important updates. Get to know what these look like. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to defer them until a later date (or at least until you have time to ask a computer professional if it’s real or not). I tell customers all the time to grab your telephone and take a photo of the message. An IT person can tell you right away if the message is legit or not.

4. GIFT CARD SCAMS

Be extra sensitive if someone is asking you to go buy gift cards. Since gift cards are in virtually every grocery store, scammers know that their victims are just a few miles away from a store that carries lots of instant e-cash, and if they are successful in tricking their victim into buying a gift card, that money would be instantly theirs with almost no recourse to get your money back.

I’ve heard of scammers on the phone with some of my customers who were afraid to give them their credit card over the phone. When the scammer offered to accept a gift card as another option, they felt that was ok, so off to the grocery store they went. Another common strategy is to receive a random email from a “friend” who is asking for a gift card to purchase for their grandchildren’s birthday, and that the “friend” will pay them back as soon as possible. NO! NO! NO!

This is just the tip of the iceberg of how crooks try to con people into giving up their information for financial gain. Be careful out there! The internet is the electronic version of the Wild, Wild West.  Every man and woman for themselves!

-Chad Droze, Guest Columnist
Post & Computer Center – Freshfields Village
chad@compu-experts.com
843-768-2626
http://www.twitter.com/c0mpuexperts

(Image credit: pixabay, quoteinspector and Public Domain Pictures)

Update iPhones and iPads Now

A number of news sources are reporting that Apple users need to update iPhones and iPads with the latest software, version 14.4. Apple identified two security threats that have been fixed with the latest update. For more information, see the news stories in Forbes and CBS News as well as Apple‘s report.

In most cases, to update, go to
Utilities
Settings
General
Software Update

The update will take a few minutes to download and the device will power down.

Tidelines Editors

(Imgae credit: apple.com)

 

Tech Notes: 2021 Tech Predictions

Happy New Year, Seabrookers!

As we enter the new year, we find ourselves faced with many of the same challenges that we faced in 2020. With many of us staying home more these days, technology is playing a big part in our daily lives more so now than ever before.

I thought I would start the new year by writing down my thoughts and predictions in the world of tech for 2021.

Streaming Services Will Continue to Expand in 2021
2020 was certainly the year that streaming TV and movies really took off. And what great timing for these companies to exist in the middle of a global pandemic where people were stuck at home looking for entertainment options. 2020 saw the rise of Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, in addition to NBC introducing their streaming service, Peacock. Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to be the heavy hitters in the streaming world, and they will look to continue their dominance in 2021.

This year has already seen the addition of a new streaming platform, (Discovery+), as well as CBS All-Access’s upcoming rebrand of their streaming service to Paramount+.

We are now at a point in technology where many of us have to take notice of all the streaming platforms that we are paying for and subscribing to. For years, we hoped to be able to choose our cable TV channels in an à la carte fashion. While we are now able to do that, with that ability comes a lot of separate logins and payments that could quickly add up to be confusing and more expensive than traditional cable ever was. Continue reading “Tech Notes: 2021 Tech Predictions”

iPhone Battery Issues Again

iPhone and iPad users are again reporting problems with abnormal battery drain, particularly in iPhones.

Though some thought the problem was the new iPhone 12, it seems to be the latest iOS 14.2 update that has affected many other Apple devices. An article published in iDrop News on December 7, 2020, sheds some light on the issue. To read it, click here.

Tidelines Editors

(Image credit: apple.com)

Scams Still Abound

Scammers don’t take a break during the pandemic. In fact, they see opportunity with people spending more time at home and on their devices. We’ve recently received a report of an Amazon scam that comes in an email.  Another scam purported to be about a FedEx delivery arrived in a text. It is imperative that you be vigilant and avoid suspicious emails, phone calls, and texts. There are several articles that do an excellent job of explaining what’s going on and you can see them here:

Top 10 Scams

Identifying Whether an Email, Phone Call, Text Message, or Webpage is from Amazon

Scams and Safety from the FBI

If you discover a scam, take the time to report it. For more information on that, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission:

Avoiding and Reporting Scams

We’ve warned before about various scams and you can look back at our 2020 posts here:

Defend Against COVID-19 Fraud and Scams (8/9/20)

A New COVID-19 Scan is Making the Rounds (5/16/20)

Beware of Fraud and Scams During COVID-19 Pandemic (3/28/20)

Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams (1/29/20)

Be safe; stay vigilant.

Tidelines Editors

Tech Notes: The Digital Subscription Model Part 1

Happy (Almost) Fall Seabrookers!

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a column for Tidelines. Of course, the world has changed quite a bit in the past six months. I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy as we leave the hot, humid weather behind us.

As I pondered on topics to write about, my mind kept going to the topic of “recurring costs” for the upkeep of our digital lives. What do I mean by this?

With each passing year, our lives become more intertwined with the digital world. I’ve now been in the tech industry long enough to see the evolution first hand, and I often compare and contrast the effects technology has had on our everyday lives. As a teenager, I grew to love computers through the “Windows” era, where Microsoft became such a dominant force in the industry. Then I got my feet wet in an occupation just before Apple came along and changed the game with their iPhone and iPad devices. And along the way, tech companies like Google, MySpace, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, and Uber all made their impressions on us. And in 2020, was there any more well-known tech company who shot their way to the top quicker than Zoom? When a tech company becomes a verb (Who hasn’t ZOOMED yet???), that’s when you know you’re a big deal.

I say all of that to say this: technology (and the conveniences it provides) has allowed us to take advantage of services and products we like. With the click of a button, we can have food delivered to our doorstep, music delivered to our home speakers, or printer ink and razor blades delivered in our mailboxes. These companies often take advantage of the “subscription-based” models of doing business by offering you the ability to sign up, provide your billing information, and “Let us do all the work.” Continue reading “Tech Notes: The Digital Subscription Model Part 1”

Gone Phishing

Cyber crooks are always devising new ways to extract private, personal, compromising data from us… whether it’s through fake Medicare calls or emails promising lottery winnings. If they’re not extracting data, they’re inserting it.

The latest phishing* expedition is related to the teleconferencing platforms Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet. Many of us are still becoming familiar with these and could find ourselves clicking into trouble. In some cases, hackers have sent very official-looking invitations to a Zoom or MS Team meeting and when one clicks on the link, it goes to another very official-looking site that asks for name, email, and password. If you respond, the hacker now has valuable information about you. So DON’T click.

In another example, a button in the invitation email to “open” the meeting was actually a link that downloaded malware. So DON’T open. Continue reading “Gone Phishing”