Category: information

Means of Identity Theft

Scams reported to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) involving identity theft or the loss of personal/banking information have cost Australians at least $16 million in 2018 year and this figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Four in 10 Scamwatch reports to ACCC in 2019 involve attempts to gain information or the actual loss of victims’ information.

“If you think scammers might have gained access to your personal information, even in a scam completely unrelated to your finances, immediately contact your bank,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

The most common ways scammers obtain personal or banking information are:

  • phishing emails and text messages which impersonate banks or utility providers seeking your login and password details
  • fake online quizzes and surveys
  • fake job advertisements
  • remote access scams in which the scammer has direct access to everything on your computer
  • sourcing information about you from social media platforms
  • direct requests for scans of your driver’s license or passport, often in the course of a dating and romance scam

“No one is really selling an iPhone for $1 or rewarding the completion of a survey with expensive electronic goods or large gift vouchers. They are scams to get your confidential information,” Ms Rickard said.

With the information, scammers can empty their victim’s bank accounts and take out tens of thousands of dollars in bank loans under victims’ names.

Lost personal information also leaves victims more susceptible to future scams as scammers will use the  information to seem more convincing in cold calls to perpetrate further scams.

If you have any experiences with identity theft do let me know, by email.

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Negative SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of optimising your website to get more people to find your web site via search engines. This uses a wide variety of techniques, including:-

  • Choosing the best keywords
  • Using those keywords in many places on the site, even in URLs
  • Organising links from other good websites
  • Good website design conforming to Google design standards
  • Creating and regularly publishing good quality original content
  • Correct use of headers, paragraphs etc.
  • Use of social media to publicise the website etc.

Negative SEO means sabotaging a competitor’s rankings in search engines, by reversing some of the same techniques as listed above but also using other underhanded or even criminal methods.

It is a set of activities aimed at lowering a competitor’s rankings in search results and typically includes one or more of the following:-

  • Creating lots of links from bad web sites
  • Copying content from the website to bad web sites
  • Adding negative reviews of the business
  • Hacking the web site

Bad Links

Adding a few links from bad websites won’t have a big effect but there are ‘link farms’ where large numbers of computers and/or people will create a lot of bad links which can then downgrade the search engines ranking of the website. A link farm can also be part of a group of web sites that all hyperlink to every other site in the group and these can be spotted by the search engines and any members correspondingly downgraded.

Hacking

If a hacker can get into your website, they can cause a lot of damage but in the case of trying to sabotage a web sites ranking, it is more likely the hackers will be more subtle in their activities so as to not draw attention to what they have done.

They can for example add links to bad sites but make them hidden links so only the search engines see them.  They could add hidden content that makes the site look like it is copying other sites.

If they want to be more direct, they could redirect the site so that people trying to get to the site end up at a site of their choice instead.  This is done by changing the DNS server settings that point to the web site.

Another method is to change a file called robots.txt on the web site which tells search engines which sections of a web site to ignore and if set to disallow: / then the whole web site will be ignored.

Copying Content

If someone can copy your content onto other lower ranked web sites then that can affect your web site’s ranking. This takes some expertise to make the copied content look original and your site the copier.

How to Stay Safe

It is difficult to prevent a negative SEO attack, but make sure your web site security is fully implemented and up to date. Then you need to keep an eye on web site statistics and take notice if there is a noticeable drop off in visitors from search engines.

If there appears to be a problem then investigate the links to your website and rom your web site and invest in software tools that can identify what’s going on e.g. Spyglass.

If you have any experience with SEO turned against your business –  do let me know, by email.

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Which Scams Affect Which Age Groups

Different age groups are affected more by certain types of scams. This partly because specific age groups use particular services more than other age groups e.g. festival goers are mostly younger people, older people are more likely to be at home during working hours and hence get the cold callers and sometimes it is because the scammers target a specific demographic e.g. pension release scams target people reaching pensionable age.

People in the older age group i.e.  65 and older are more commonly affected by scams including: –

  • Computer fixing fraud (also called the Microsoft Support scam)
  • Bogus trades people turning up on the doorstep
  • Advance fee frauds
  • Financial investment scams

People in the middle age group i.e.  25 – 64 are more commonly affected by scams including:-

  • Account fraud
  • Romance scams
  • Social media and email hacking
  • Fake loans
  • Direct debit fraud

People in the younger age group i.e. less than 25 are more commonly affected by scams including:-

  • Ticket fraud
  • Online shopping and auction fraud

Whatever you age, beware of scammers trying to steal your money or your identity.

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

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Fraud Hotspots

Analysis of types of fraud by county shows marked differences across the UK.

Based on reports to Action Fraud over the past two years, London is the capital of online shopping and auction fraud, with 17 reports per 10,000 people, compared with a national average of 13.

It also has the highest reported rate for ticket fraud and investment scams.

Norfolk, had the highest reported rate for computer fixing fraud. 15.8 reports were recorded per 10,000 people in the past two years, well above the national average of 5.9.

Residents of Sussex made the most reports of dating scams.

The most common fraud types are shown in the table below with the county recording the highest number of incidents.

 

Fraud type Police force Number of reports per 10,000 people National average reports per 10,000 people
Retail/consumer fraud Essex 12.7 11.3
Cheque, plastic card and online bank fraud Essex 12.2 5.4
Hacking: social media and email Hertfordshire 3.5 2.5
Online shopping and auctions London (Metropolitan) 17 13
Ticket fraud London (Metropolitan) 4.5 2.2
Investment fraud London (Metropolitan) 1.9 1.3
Computer fixing fraud Norfolk 10.3 5.9
Fake loan fraud Northamptonshire 1.8 1.2
Mandate fraud Surrey 3.3 2
Computer virus attacks Surrey 2.5 1.9
Bogus tradespeople Surrey 3.2 1.8
Dating scams Sussex 1.9 1.1
Advance fee fraud Warwickshire 15.8 11.9

Source: Which? analysis of Action Fraud data between 2017-18 and 2018-19

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Website Review: Spamlaws

SPAMLAWS – HOW TO STOP SCAMS AND FRAUD (www.spamlaws.com)

SpamLaws say they are dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information on issues affecting Internet security. They aim to supply the readers with the best Internet protection information and are constantly striving to learn more about and report on the latest and most up-to-date Internet security issues, software, and protection.

They also investigate common Internet based scams and fraud issues.

Their approach to protecting your personal information is “Get informed”.

The “Spam Laws” section of SpamLaws.com was created by David E. Sorkin, a Law Professor at the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law, at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Professor Sorkin has written and lectured extensively about issues surrounding Internet policy, privacy and consumer protection.

The web site covers Identity Theft, Scams, Spam, Fraud, Antivirus, Spyware, Adware, Backup, Computer Virus & Worms, Wireless Security, Networking, Software Reviews, Phishing, Malware 101, Parental Control, Network Security, Operating Systems, Data Encryption, Browsers, Email Client Software and Password Protection.

The site has sections covering the United States, European Union and some mention of other countries, so you can see which laws are relevant in each jurisdiction.

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Internet Domain Name Sellers

When you’re starting up a new company or have any other reason to need a new Internet domain name, it can be tricky to decide on the name and then to ensure the company name is available (if you want it) and the relevant domain names are available.

Then you have to ensure that the chosen name doesn’t mean something unpleasant in a common language or in slang or is unintentionally funny and that it does match your Marketing need for a relevant name.

E.g. a new bakers wants to use the name Best Bakers and decides on domain names bestbakers.co.uk and bestbakers.store and that’s all.

If the domain names are available – then no problem but if what you want isn’t available? – you may have to can try to buy them from the existing owners.

Generally this will be a business or Internet operation for whom the domain name is relevant so it could take a lot of cash to pry the name away from them.

But it might also be a domain name hoarder who has what you want.

These people buy domain names they think could be valuable in the future and then they will hold you to ransom to get what you want.

Another variant of this is that once having bought the domain names you want you may get emails from people offerign to sell you related domain names.

E.g. for Best Bakers that could be bestbakers.com or bestbakers.shop etc.

These people don’t usually own the domain name, they just were notified of your purchase. They check what related names are available and offer them to you. If you say yes and agree a price then they actually buy the domain name and sell it to you – having charged you a big mark up for it of course.

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