Category: information

38 Degrees Campaigns

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

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

Campaigns

10,891

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 now has over 3 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. We’re concerned with defending fairness, protecting rights, promoting peace, preserving the planet and deepening democracy.

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Beware Dynamic Pricing

If you go shopping at your local shops, then you expect the prices of goods will stay basically the same. Inflation means there will be upward movement and sometimes special offers, but usually there are consistent prices.

Buying petrol is a difficult game as the price is set each day and petrol stations near each other will often change their prices to compete but there is usually at least a tiny difference in price for each petrol station you pass. You can fill your tank expecting the price to go up but it might go down instead.

Airlines have operated demand pricing for some time – the price fluctuates depending on the level of demand so passengers on the same flight may well have  paid a wide range of prices for the same seats from the early bird prices to higher last minute prices.

But what about online giants such as Amazon?

Amazon operate ‘dynamic pricing’ which means they will change prices frequently depending on demand and changing circumstances – this can be multiple times in a day but is more usually once or twice a week for many goods.

The weather forecast changes and the prices of some items changes accordingly. Monday and Tuesday are the least popular days for online shopping so there are more bargains to be had whereas the weekend is more popular so the prices go up.

Anything that potentially changes the level of demand can trigger price changes.

So, how do you deal with this?

It can be difficult to know whether prices for what you want are likely to go up or down but it can be advisable to watch the price of items for a while and see if you can get a good deal.

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Research on Mass Marketing Fraud

There is a project led by Professor Monica Whitty of the University of Warwick and it involves a number of Universities, enforcement agencies and private sector businesses.

Project Outline:

The DAPM (Detecting and Preventing Mass Marketing Fraud) project will develop novel techniques to detect and prevent online mass marketing fraud (MMF), a major and growing problem that generates significant social anxiety and psychological impact. DAPM will establish new foundations for:

  • Detecting assumed identities and persuasive messaging used by fraudsters
  • Delivering much needed insights into the psychological and technical factors that lead to poor decision-making on the part of existing and prospective victims of such frauds

Through a multi-disciplinary approach and close focus on co-designing solutions collaboratively and testing them ‘in the wild’, the project will generate not only new scientific understanding of the anatomy of MMF, but also tools and techniques that can form the basis of practical interventions in tackling such fraud.

Importantly, this work brings together academic and non-academic partners. Each organisation has different knowledge to share and can tackle the problem using different methods. Combining academic research with technical knowledge provides much greater capability to prevent and detect MMF.

The outcomes of this project will enable:

  • Increased trust in the digital economy by citizens due to developed science around MMF detection and prevention
  • Improvements in public safety and fewer victims of MMF crime.

Changes in industry tactics and public policy around detection and prevention of MMF

This sounds impressive and potentially very useful in the fight against scammers.

Background

Mass Marketing Fraud is a serious, complex and organised crime. Examples include foreign lotteries, advanced-fee scams and romance scams. Some are low value, one-off scams involving large numbers of victims; others involve developing a relationship where money is defrauded over time. The internet has opened up a vast array of opportunities for criminals to target potential victims and to trick people into making financial transfers in the name of charity, investment or love.

In the UK Action Fraud estimate that less than 10% of victims actually report this type of crime. Victims are unlikely to recover losses, offenders are often not caught and many victims are affected psychologically – often to a degree outweighing the financial loss.

Go to https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/csc/research/dapm/ for further information.

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New Internet Domain Names

Brooklands Radio is obviously a radio station and the new Internet domain “.radio” has come available.

So in theory we could buy the domain name BrooklandsRadio.radio or Brooklands.radio or something similar if we wanted to.

“.radio” is an example of a domain name suffix or top level domain as they are called.

Many of these such as .com or .co.uk can be bought by anyone for maybe £5 – £20 per year.

And some are incredibly valuable such as Google.com or Microsoft.com or bbc.co.uk.

Some have protected registrations which means you can only own the domain if it is relevant to your business.  “.radio” is protected so only radio stations and business in the field of radio can buy such a domain name.

Why is there a need to protect domains? There are unfortunately a lot of people (claim jumpers) who buy domain names they think will be valuable then try to sell them at a profit to someone who needs that one.

If .radio was not protected then someone could buy up the domain bbc.radio for example and then sell it at an extortionate price to the BBC if they wanted it.  This can prevent people getting the domain names that they should have for their business.

Some of the recent new top level domains coming to market are

.charity.com

.theatre.com

.rugby.com

.smile.com

.motorcycles.com

.rsvp .com

.dad .com

.kid.com

.seek.com

And so on.

There’s a world of new domain names to choose from. But most businesses still use .com as it’s so well known.

Top 10 Business Scams

The most common business scams are:-

1.      Ransomware

This is where malware gets into your computer and encrypts some of your files. It then gives a message on screen demanding a ransom to be paid; otherwise your files will be left encrypted or deleted.

2.      Phishing / Identity Fraud

This is where you receive messages claiming to be from someone trustworthy or in authority such as your bank or HMRC or the local council or even Marks and Spencer or Tesco etc. The message is to get you to divulge confidential information – whether by return email or by clicking on a link which takes you to what appears to be a valid website but was created by the scammers.

3.      Email Spoofing

Some scammers are able to ‘spoof’ email addresses i.e. make it appear that an email has come from who they say.  This can lead to you trusting the email, so this is dangerous.

4.      Tech Support virus scam

This is a very common scam where the caller claims they are calling from Microsoft or your Internet broadband supplier or IT department and tells you that you have a virus on your computer. The caller goes on to take control of your computer, convince you there is a major problem and charge you for removing that non-existent problem.

5.      Online Purchases – Fake invoices

You select and pay for an item online but it never arrives. Or you receive an invoice for goods delivered but it’s fake and there hasn’t been a delivery.

6.      Online Reputation Damage

The reputation of any organisation is important and some scammers try to make money by damaging or threatening to damage that reputation through fake reviews, social media comments and negative feedback.

7.      Advertising and Directories

These scams involve email or calls about updating your company entry in a business directory or about discount advertising available but only for a short period. Neither is value for money.  

8.     Government Grant

Government grant scam. This scam comes in the form of a phone call, email or letter informing you that your business qualifies for a government grant. In order to receive the grant, you must first send a processing or delivery fee, usually via Western Union or similar wire transfer.

9.      Fake Cheques

The fake cheque scam is either simply that you receive a fake cheque in payment for goods or a fake cheque that is an overpayment. The scammer then calls and asks for the over payment to be refunded. Many people don’t realise that after 5 working days the money from the cheque will be in your account but for two further working days it is possible the bank will withdraw that money if the cheque bounces. If someone overpays by cheque you need to wait 7 working days before issuing a refund.

10.  Unsolicited Goods

A delivery of goods is received and an invoice. All seems in order so the invoice is paid. Them it is realised that the person the goods are supposedly for did not order them. You have paid (probably much over the odds) for items you didn’t order.

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Legal Steps to Recover Your Stolen Money

This is a series of steps for attempting to recover money stolen by fraudsters. It has been created by Barrister  Gideon Roseman following his skirmish with fraudsters. You can read about that at fightback.ninja/amateur-detective-recovers-stolen-money/

  1. Immediately phone your bank and ask to speak with the fraud team

Explain what has happened and demand they immediately contact the fraudster’s bank, i.e.  the bank you transferred your money to.

  1. Immediately contact a solicitor or barrister who can accept instructions directly from members of the public (or alternatively you can attempt to do this yourself). Ask them to immediately make an application to freeze the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account that the fraudster has with their bank. The application should include a request for an order that the fraudster’s bank provides the following information:
  • all contact details (mobile phone, home phone, email address, residential address etc.) for all signatories to the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account held in the fraudster’s name or any other signatory to this bank account that is held at the bank
  • all bank statements for the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account to which the fraudster or any other signatory has with the bank in question for a period of 6 months; and
  • the current balance of all bank accounts with the bank that is in the fraudster’s or any other signatory’s name.
  1. Once you get hold of the court order, this will need to be immediately emailed to the fraudster’s banks’ ‘court orders’ team who can process it. You can ask your bank for this email address.
  2. As soon as you receive the information from the fraudster’s bank, consider the following points:

(i) has your money been transferred or paid to any recognisable company you can contact, such as a known retailer

(ii) if you can identify a company that has received your money, you can then contact this company, explain what has happened and request they either cancel the transaction made by the fraudster or request them to hold onto the money they have received and

(iii) has the money been transferred to other bank accounts.

  1. If your money has been transferred out of the fraudster’s bank account and into another bank account, you have the option of returning to court and making an application for the information set out above and repeating the process set out above.
  2. When you have received the fraudster’s bank account statements, try to work out the dates and times of the transfers out of their accounts. Your bank will be under a duty to contact the fraudster’s bankers, who will then freeze the fraudster’s account.

If your bank has failed to act within a reasonable period of time after you have notified them of the fraud, which has enabled the fraudster to transfer your money without a trace, it is likely that your bank will have breached their duty and will have to compensate you.

Good luck.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Equifax Data Breach

The personal data of up to 44 million British consumers was feared stolen by hackers in a massive cyber attack on Equifax.

The information commissioner said it was investigating how the hack on Equifax, a US credit rating firm, affected UK customers, many of whom will be unaware their data is held by the company.

Equifax and its UK subsidiary companies state on their websites that they represent British clients including BT, Capital One and British Gas.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has urged Equifax to alert affected UK customers as soon as possible, and said it will work with the relevant overseas authorities on behalf of British citizens.

Equifax admitted hackers had exposed the personal data of 143 million customers in the US, which was stolen between mid-May and July this year due to a vulnerability on its website. The hack was not made public until recently.

The stolen information includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license details. It is also thought that around 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen.

Equifax said: “limited personal information” from British and Canadian residents had been compromised.

A spokesman for BT said: “We are aware of the developing story and are monitoring the situation closely. Like many companies in the UK, BT uses Equifax services. We are working on establishing whether this breach has any impact on those services.”

Lenders rely on the information collected by credit bureaus such as Equifax to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards.

Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said in a statement “I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”

How to check if you are affected – go online to https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html and type in your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number and it should tell you if you have been affected by the data breach.

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Journalist Turns Anonymised Data into Profiles

A journalist and a data scientist secured anonymised browsing data for three million users. They created a fake marketing company to get the data and were able to de-anonymised much of it i.e. they could identify the users.

Anonymised data means the names have been removed along with supposedly anything that makes it possible to identify the individuals.

How is that Possible?

There are various techniques that can be used to identify people in the data, such as:-

  1. Anyone who visits their own Twitter analytics page will have a URL in their browsing record which contains their Twitter username. Find that URL, and you’ve linked the anonymous data to an actual person.
  2. A similar trick works for German social networking site Xing.

For other users, a more statistical approach can be used to de-anonymise the data. For instance, just 10 URLs can be enough to uniquely identify someone. For instance, how few people there are at your company, with your bank, your hobby, your preferred newspaper and your mobile phone provider. By creating “fingerprints” from the data, it’s possible to compare it to other, more public, sources of what URLs people have visited, such as social media accounts, or public YouTube playlists.

Eckert, a journalist, worked up with data scientist Andreas Dewes to acquire personal user data and see what they could get from it. They created a fake marketing company, complete with its own website, a LinkedIn page for its chief executive, and even a careers site.

The pair presented their findings at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas

They made the site full of pictures and marketing buzzwords, claiming to have developed a machine-learning algorithm which would be able to market more effectively to people, but only if it was trained with a large amount of data. Then they asked companies for anonymised data to try on their system.

The data they were eventually given came, for free, from a data broker, which was willing to let them test their hypothetical AI advertising platform.

Another discovery through the data collection occurred via Google Translate, which stores the text of every query put through it in the URL. From this, the researchers were able to uncover operational details about a German cybercrime investigation, since the detective involved was translating requests for assistance to foreign police forces.

Where did all of the data come from?  A number of browser plugins collect data, Google Translate collects data and various websites collect this data.

It is supposed to be anonymised when passed on to ensure no-one can identify the individuals, but this clearly is not true.

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BT Call Protect

BT Call Protect is BT’s new 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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07709 Scammer Phone Number

077009 is a fake mobile telephone number prefix.

If you have been contacted by someone claiming their number starts with  077009, you should be wary as the caller ID has probably been spoofed i.e. your telephone is reporting a false caller number.

Do not answer unexpected calls from 077009 numbers as they are likely to be from a scammer.

The 0077009 numbers have been allocated for use in UK TV and films where the makers don’t want viewers calling up a real phone number and causing annoyance. But some scammers have started to use these numbers in messages etc. so as to hide their real number.

In the USA most films and TV use numbers that have 555 as the central portion as these are easily recognisable as fake.

Most countries seem to have set ranges of fake phone numbers for various purposes.

If you are interested, the website https://fakenumber.org/ lists lots of these numbers.

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