Category: Fight Back

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects you online by encrypting all data transferring from your device to the Internet and back.

This means that no-one can snoop on your online activities, not even your Internet Service Provider.

Of course, if you login on social media, retail websites etc. they can track you on their sites.

This is especially important if you’re using public Wi-Fi as they can be used by criminals to collect data on you. Using a VPN protects against this.

A VPN will also hide your IP address. Many websites and streaming services use your IP address to control what you can access. Through a VPN you can choose to connect from a different country if you wish.

The Way a VPN Works

Essentially you connect to the VPN, to whichever of their hubs in whichever country you wish and all of your Internet traffic is directed through their servers where the data is encrypted. Likewise any traffic from the Internet returning to your is also encrypted.

You will appear to be connecting to the Internet at one of the VPN provider’s IP addresses.

Most VPN providers also have a ‘no logs’ policy whereby they don’t keep any records of the data through their system and hence even if hacked – nothing except your profile could be found.

Using a VPN may slow down your Internet access marginally but is unlikely to be an issue as VPN providers need to have fast systems to stay in business.

In practice the only noticeable difference for users of VPNs is that when starting up a PC the VPN will connect automatically so you can it.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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The 38 Degrees Campaigns

https://home.38degrees.org.uk

38 Degrees is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning communities, with millions of members.

Campaigns

16,344

Total Actions Taken

39,649,749

 

38 Degrees say they are independent of all political parties. They are driven by issues and outcomes, and judge all politicians by the same standards regardless of what party they belong to.

They don’t take money from political parties, government or big business.  The campaigns are powered by small donations from thousands of 38 Degrees members averaging about £12 per donation.

If you have an idea to make your community, or the country, a better place, Campaigns by You helps you make it a reality. 38 Degrees let everyone create petitions, organise meetings, and win campaigns on the issues close to their hearts.

38 Degrees launched in 2009 and has several million people involved in the campaigns.

Highlights

  1. They helped stop the government’s plans to sell off our ancient national forests.
  2. They stopped plans for a massive mega-dairy in Lincolnshire.
  3. They stopped Donald Trump’s plans to build a golf course at the expense of families in Menie, Scotland, who were at risk of eviction.
  4. They also helped convince the government to sign up to the EU Directive on human trafficking.
  5. They forced the 2012 Olympic sponsors not to dodge their tax.
  6. They stopped eBay from selling illegal bee-killing pesticides.
  7. They helped make sure plans to cover up investigations into MPs expenses were scrapped.

Current campaigns

38 Degrees members campaign on a variety of different issues all year round – from keeping privatisation out of our NHS, to keeping libraries open, to stopping Murdoch’s power grab of BSkyB. They say they are concerned with defending fairness, protecting rights, promoting peace, preserving the planet and deepening democracy.

  • Provide a British Sign Language interpreter for Daily Government Briefings
  • End Our National Cladding Scandal
  • Urgently commit to doing more for all healthcare staff
  • Take real action on the climate emergency

Do leave a comment on this post – click on the post title then scroll down to leave your comment.

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Facebook Privacy Check

Facebook can help you to review your privacy settings.

This feature is called Privacy Check-up and you can access it by clicking the small down triangle icon at the top right corner of the Facebook screen. You click “Settings and Privacy” then “Privacy Check-up”.

Things you can review in Privacy Checkup:

  • Advert preferences
  • Who can see what you share
  • How to keep your account secure
  • How people can find you on Facebook
  • Your data settings
  • How to keep your account secure

Everyone should go through these options carefully and restrict access to your account information, restrict who sees your posts and so on.

The less the criminals can see of your activity the safer. You do not strangers seeing your birthdate, phone number, relationship status etc.

The section on keeping your account secure contains good advice on having a strong password and turning on alerts means you will be warned if here is an unusual login to your account.

Many people use Facebook to login to other services – this saves on having extra logins but means Facebook knows a lot more about your activities. You can also review which APPS you have given permission to access your Facebook details. If you’re not sure why an APP needs that access then revoke that permission.

Stay safe on Facebook and periodically use the Privacy checker to make sure all is in order

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Money Mail Fightback

The Daily Mail newspaper Money Mail department (also called the Consumer Champion) does a lot of good helping people to get their money back after being defrauded.

They claim that during 2020 they have managed to ‘claw back’ more than a million pounds for their readers, including for one victim of an investment scam who was conned out of £190,000.

That total also includes many women who realised their state pension was being underpaid.

The newspaper does a great job in championing people trapped by bureaucracy, badly trained customer service staff, insurance companies that stick rigidly to the small print, organisations that don’t care and retailers who wont accept faulty goods back.

If you’ve been conned in some way or let down by organisations then possibly Money Mail can help, however they have limited resources and can only take on a limited number of cases compared to the large numbers of people who do get conned in some way.

One of their key tasks is actually advising people on how to make a complaint and to make it politely and with full information as often, people’s response to aggressive complaining is to be aggressive back which is not what you want.

It is important to follow the rules on making complaints of any kind as you are far more likely to get a good response.

The Money Mail pages online are a useful resource for advice, warnings and also recommendations such as deals of the week.

Well done Money Mail.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Startpage Search Engine Privacy

Startpage is a Dutch search engine company that highlights privacy as its key feature.

Startpage.com began as a web directory in 2002 then re-launched in 2009 as a search engine allowing users to obtain Google Search results while protecting their privacy by not storing personal information or search data and removing all trackers.

Since Startpage.com does not collect user data, it does not serve targeted advertising based on user data history. The company generates revenue from its search engine by providing contextual advertising based on the keyword used to perform a search.

Key Features

Startpage web search uses results from Google, for which the company pays Google.

  1. Startpage Does Not Keep Logs, so has no records of the IP addresses of its users, no tracking cookies or anything similar.
  2. Anonymous View Proxy

Startpage’s Anonymous View feature lets you view any site in a list of search results through a proxy, thus preventing the site you’re visiting from learning about your location, ISP, content stored in cookies, network settings and so on.

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BT Call Protect

BT Call Protect is BT’s free service to help their users block out the scam callers, cold callers and other undesirables.

Nuisance calls take many forms – they can be malicious calls, unsolicited sales propositions, scams or simply someone dialling the wrong number.

Getting nuisance calls at home can be intrusive, may disturb your home life and, when they happen repeatedly, can be upsetting.

For BT home phone customers, BT Call Protect is free and works in three ways:

  1. BT blacklist: Numbers identified as nuisance callers by BT’s experts are added to a BT blacklist and sent automatically to your junk voicemail.
  2. Personal blacklist: If you get an unwanted call you can add the number to your Personal blacklist. All future calls from that number will be sent to your junk voicemail.
  3. Individual call types: Send calls from specific categories (such as withheld or international) straight to your junk voicemail.

Features

  • BT Call Protect is easy to set up

All new and existing BT customers can opt in at bt.com/callprotect. Once it’s set up  you can manage your settings  and add phone numbers to your personal blacklist by going online to bt.com/btcallprotect or by calling 1572 from your home phone (no charge) at any time.

  • You control who calls your phone

If you get an unwanted call hang up, dial 1572 and follow the simple instructions to add the last number to your personal blacklist. All future calls from that number will be sent to your junk voicemail.

You can also choose to send international, withheld and unrecognised numbers to your junk voicemail further reducing the amount of unwanted calls received.

  • BT’s Expert knowledge

BT has a team of experts based in Oswestry who identify nuisance calls and create the BT blacklist. Numbers on this blacklist will be sent directly to your junk voicemail. The team is continually updating the list with new unwanted numbers, so you can be sure it’s up to date. The blacklist also includes the phone numbers of scammers detected by the BT Security team.

The list is continually being updated and new numbers added, helping to reduce the number of nuisance calls.

Alternatives to BT Call Protect

There are various products on the market that can block unknown callers etc. The most well known is truCall but Gigaset and Panasonic also make home phones with call blocking features.

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