Archive for the ‘Scammers’ Category

Last weekend got off to a bad start. At 8 am Thursday, I woke up to find I was locked out of my Outlook and Facebook accounts, and dirty, rotten hackers had taken virtual control of my life. It seems I learned nothing from being scammed (by phone) back in 2016. I had fallen victim to a phishing scam. Gherkins!

Unfortunately, I am not alone. Hacking and scamming can happen to anyone anywhere. These jerks can take our money, ruin our credit rating, scam more people through us, and then they will sell our details to those people who compile sucker lists. One hour after changing the password to one of my accounts, I was alerted by my provider that there had been a new attempt to hack into the same account. Thursday morning, the suspicious activity came from Nigeria, and by Thursday afternoon, the suspicious activity had skipped countries to Australia!

Four days later, however, and I had restored peace on all fronts. Let me tell you how I did it, with a hacking checklist of the steps to take to recover control of your accounts. But, first, let us have a brush up on the signs to watch out for whenever you are online, so you can avoid getting hacked or scammed in the first place.

Three red flags to watch out for:


*First Red Flag: They will say they are from a big reputable company because you are more likely to take them seriously. Microsoft is one of the most commonly-used covers. Scammers called me on my old landline and told me they were calling from Microsoft in 2016, and then the hacking event last week came apparently from Microsoft Customer Service.
*My Tip: Find the local phone number. Every country, even little old New Zealand, will have a landline for a branch of a giant corporation like Microsoft, and you can ask them if the request for action you have received is bonafide.

*Second Red Flag: They want you to act immediately.
*My Tip: Anything can wait till the next day. If they have given you a deadline to act by, wait until morning. If you pass the deadline they have given you, and nothing happens, then you will know they are dirty rotten hackers.

*Third Red Flag: They always want money, sooner or later. The request might not come first or second, it might be months down the track, but as soon as they ask for money, you can smell a rat. In my case, they did not request money from me but from all my friends and contacts, who they asked to purchase $300 Amazon gift cards on my behalf.
*My Tip: As soon as they request money and you smell that rat, trust your instincts and ask for proof of identity. If they are your friend, ask how you know each other, where did you first meet? Or ask to speak to them by video face-to-face call. Then, see how fast they run.

Hacking Checklist:


*Call the police. Yes. Information theft is a crime, and you need to report it. It will not only grant you as the victim support and guidance, but it will also help the police protect others. In New Zealand, the police encourage us to email a report to the police as well, via the site https://www.cert.govt.nz/individuals/
*Find the phishing emails and forward them to the police, as this helps keep them up to date with cyber-crime. Then block the senders.
*Call the bank. Alert them to your situation, ask them to put a hold on your credit card until you have had your computer cleaned of viruses and malware.
*Contact all the people on your friend lists to alert them to your situation.
*Tell your email provider about the scam.
*Change your online passwords to ones that are long and strong. Make sure you create a unique password for each account. Enable two-factor authentication.
*To recover your Facebook account, follow the steps by visiting https://www.facebook.com/hacked Report the problem to Facebook.
*Take your computer to IT professionals and check your system for malware. It is the only way to be 100% certain you are free. I backed up all my files then had my laptop wiped clean and reset.
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In these ways I was able to reclaim control of my virtual life. I hope this post helps someone else! I will share Part Two next week with some of my tips on cyber security.


Stay safe, everyone! Let’s foil the bad guys by staying one step ahead.

Keep Creating!
Take care,
Yvette Carol
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“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind!” – C.S. Lewis.

The concept of the internet being “the wild, wild west,” as I have mentioned in previous posts, still holds true. Have you heard of the “Scamazon” posts in circulation on the net at the moment? There is tell of bloggers sharing tactics for how to scam the Kindle Unlimited system.

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A lot of us felt encouraged to join up with the KDP select program. I did. The numbers are enticing.

In the latest Kindle Direct newsletter, the “team” had this to say:

The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $14 million. February’s KDP Select Global will be paid out under Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v2.0 as previously announced (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=957). We will again award “KDP Select All-Stars” for February to the most-read authors and most-read titles in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. For more information on All-Stars, you can go here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2

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They’re not the only ones, some bloggers support this view. As Chris McMullen said recently on his blog, ‘The KENP pages read rate rose up to $0.00479 per page in February, 2016 up from $0.00411 per page in January, 2016.’

Yet, Amazon is still taking a hit at present in social media forums. Kindle Unlimited was begun rather quickly, and then along the way, ‘Amazon changed the way it pays authors enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon changed that payment method from “per borrow” to “pages read.” Not pages written, mind you – but how many pages a reader actually reads.’ ~ Selena Kitt

This is where the real problems began. As the good old highway robbers and bandits found a way to scam the “pages read” system. Then Amazon jumped to try and staunch the blood loss.

The Internet has been buzzing lately with news relating to the placement of our Table of Contents. Specifically, Amazon is now requesting that we place it at the beginning, not the end of our ebooks. ~ Nicholas C. Rossis

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Author, David Gaughran blogged that ‘Amazon is claiming that having a TOC in the end-matter instead of the front-matter is a breach of the (ever-changing, 100+ pages) Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF).’ Gaughran wrote of knowing authors ‘who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m newly published and I found myself a bit intimidated. I felt the need to circle the wagons. Luckily, my book doesn’t have a table of contents. I had only joined up with KDP Select last month, however I decided the best thing for me was to take my book off the KDP Select shelf, at least for the time being. It felt safer to me in these uncertain times to have my debut release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ available on Kindle Direct only. One platform. One format. No possibility of scammers doing weird stuff.

I went to KDP Select and I couldn’t figure out how to quit the program. Immediately, I went to Amazon via “contact us” and voiced my concerns.

They replied the next day. This is what some people may not know. It came as a surprise to me to find that when I joined the KDP Select program, a box for “automatic renewal” had been ticked. So, if I had not taken these steps to find out the details of the fine print, then my book could have stayed on the program indefinitely.

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Perhaps you were smart enough to figure out you needed to uncheck the box. However what a lot of authors may not know is that you can follow the steps to “uncheck the box,” yet there is only a short three day period at the end of each month in which your book rolls off the program. If you haven’t unchecked the box by then, your book automatically gets renewed again under KDP Select for another month.

Here is the step-by-step advice the response team gave me for how to KDP “De-Select:”

Go to your Bookshelf and click on the ellipsis button (“…”) under the Book Actions menu next to your book, then select “KDP Select Info.”

Then, click “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” and uncheck the box next to “Automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.”

Customers who have already borrowed your book can still read it until it’s finished, returned, or their Kindle Unlimited subscription expires. As a result, you may see new Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read appear in your reports until then. 

That’s it. You’re out.

Has the “Scamazon” situation with TOC effected you? Are you with KDP Select?

Self-portrait, pencil sketch, age 25

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Sometimes we stare in wonder at your multiplying glories, basking in the power you’ve given us. Other times we regard you with alien horror, and we whisper to one another, I think they make Kindles out of little dead girls. We know you do amazing things. And we’re also really worried about the things you might do. ~ Chuck Wendig

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Sign up for my Newsletter by going to the front page of my website: http://www.yvettecarol.com

 

 

 

How to Protect Yourself. Part 2

This follows on from last week’s post, Four Signs they’re Dirty, Rotten Scammers. This is the “after” post for those poor, sucked-in folks like me, who find they’ve been scammed.

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“It’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” said my eldest sister, a lawyer living in London. With her guidance, and a lot of time spent on Google, and the Consumer Affairs website, we figured out how to stop these criminals from taking your details and using them to damage your credit, ‘or in other ways potentially ruining your life’ as my sister put it.

These are the steps you need to take to protect your “personal identity details,” as well as your credit rating.

*Number One:

*Financial:

~ The Bank ~ First and foremost, tell your bank you’ve been scammed.

You need:

*suspension of all internet banking.

* to cancel your credit card.

*to have the spending limit on your card reduced.

* to revamp all your security: to change your passwords and pin numbers, to reset your “security questions and answers.”

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~ Credit Agencies ~

Tell the top Credit Agencies in your country or area that you will need:

*a “suppression on your credit file.” There will be a limit. In NZ, a file can be suppressed for only ten days, in Australia, it’s twenty one days.

This prevents any activity happening within that time, while you sort it all out.

* a “Credit Alert” put on your file. You will get a message every time credit is being accessed by using your details, anywhere in the world. There is usually an annual subscription fee for the service.

*a “Credit Report” each year from the agencies also. This way you can keep watch to make sure no one is out there running up debt in your name.

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*Number Two:

*Technical:

*Take your computer to your nearest local tech guy, for a full scan and virus test.

My bank suspended my online banking until such time as I had proved, by way of showing a receipt for work done, that my laptop had been put through ‘a full scan and virus-testing process, by a professional technician.’

The tech guy found “malware” and viruses had been installed on my computer by the scammers. He removed everything and ‘un-ticked the remote control box.’ Whew. Bad guys, none, me, one!

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*Number Three:

*Online Security:

If you were assisted to sign up for an account with “Western Union,” then get in contact with an actual office of Western Union.

*You need to find out whether you really did sign up for a new account, and if you did, then cancel your sign-up, or “flag it.”

In my case, I did not have an account with them. The “Western Union sign-up form” was bogus as well. It was a device used by the scammers to harvest my “security question” and answer, my bank customer number, credit card details, driver’s licence details as well as the “version date.”

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*Hot Tip: Change your passwords.

I received advice from an “identity protection agency” called IDCare who are based in Australia but have a hotline for New Zealand callers as well. They advised, that you need to go through your entire online presence and change the passwords to every single address.

*you should start by changing your password with Paypal. ‘You need to protect all the portals to your bank balance.’

*Hot Tip: Request a replacement driver’s licence, as you will get a new version number. Once again, stop the bad guys in their tracks, as they will be unable to sign up for new online accounts in your name.

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*Number Four:

*Telephone line Security:

*ask yourself, do you need your landline? Is it anything your mobile couldn’t do?

If you think the cost of only having a mobile for all your calls would be prohibitive, look around. There are really competitive rates these days. Look at “separate plans” not “bundles.” You can get deals on internet and free calls that are more reasonable than the cost of a landline.

These scammers had the cheek to ring me back half a dozen times! The lady at my local Vodafone office said, ‘Scams are never run through mobile phones because they have caller identification. So they’re only ever run via landline.’ I have subsequently had my landline disconnected. Bad guys, foiled!

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If you are keeping your landline, you need to ask your phone service providers:

*to prevent anyone having your number “ported.”

*to increase security around your phone number.

*request to change the “external IB address” with your current provider.

*Hot Tip: An extra benefit you gain by taking these steps is that you have created a “digital footprint,” an online record of who you’ve contacted. If need be, you can quote the report numbers, and show emails and mobile phone records to show you’ve taken every step possible to safeguard your details.

On a personal level, you can rest assured that you’ve socked it to the bad guys where it hurts.

Nat & Phil

*One last Hot Tip: Switch to a wallet which blocks illegal credit card scanners

‘The wallets have aluminum lining which blocks the reading or scanning of the Radio Frequency Identification Chip that’s imbedded in credit cards and passports. It’s called RFID Blocking Identity Card Wallet or Credit Card Holder and they have them in stores or on Amazon. (If a scanner gets very close enough to you, it’s not as effective- so you really need to be wary of people around you.) Gift cards should be placed in them as they can be scanned, too and there is one that is made just for passports.’

Thanks for that tip, Claremary P. Sweeney

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It’s the summer holidays here and yet, I swear I need a vacation!

Have you ever had to battle after being stung by a scammer? Share your stories of what happened below.

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Keep Creating!

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Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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*For more information, check out the websites, NetSafeScambuster, The Orb

*There are three main agencies in New Zealand: CentrixVeda, and D & B, Ring all three as each agency deals with a different area, like credit cards, online banking, etc.

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An act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

How to Protect Yourself. Part 1.

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2016 got off to a rocky start. Seven days into January, and I had already fallen victim to a phone scam. Dagnabit!

However, unfortunately, I am not alone.

In the research I’ve done since this “identity theft” happened, I have been truly appalled to find out more about this “growth industry.” 1 in 6 New Zealanders got a call from scammers in the last six months.

My sister, who works as a lawyer in the U.K. tells me the scammers could ruin my credit rating, scam more people through me, and that they will sell my personal details to those dastardly people (my words, not hers!) who compile “sucker lists.” Happy New Year to me!

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I’m not an idiot. So, how did this happen? I know, like every other adult who owns a computer or a phone line these days, that you never give people your financial details or anything else over the phone or the net. And yet, within ten minutes on the line with these people who were allegedly from “Microsoft Global,”  I was giving them everything. That’s how slick they were, so be warned. This is what to watch out for.

*First Warning Sign: they will say they’re from a big reputable company, because you’re more likely to take them seriously. Microsoft was the most commonly-used ruse by the scammers I heard about in my few days of reading up about it, because most people trust a giant corporation.

*My Tip: ask for the phone number of their office as you just have to quickly go, do whatever. Then, ring the number. And also ring Microsoft and ask them about it too.

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I hope that by sharing my story, it may perhaps prevent someone else from being sucked in by scammers, as I was. My sister and I listened to a talkback show that had been recorded from our National radio station, which was on this same subject. I noticed that all the stories from people who had been scammed had similar veins or threads. That was when it hit me that it might be helpful to others to tell my story in its entirety, as the same points were echoed again and again.

This is our version.

The phone rang at 7.30 p.m. I said to the nice lady that it was right upon story time and bed time for the boys. But she was insistent that Microsoft Global (MG) were getting alerts that our computers would be accessed by hackers if we didn’t act immediately.

*Second Warning Sign: they want you to act immediately.

*My Tip: ask them for a physical office you can go into the next morning. Any sizeable business like MG will have a physical address in your town. Ask for their address so that you can do so. If they hedge at all, they’re dirty rotten scammers.

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This lady told me our computers would crash within two days.

The callers to the National Program’s talkback on this subject had similar scary stories, something that would get their “fight or flight” mechanism activated. People were told that their computer ‘had a virus that would spread to every other computer and device in their neighbourhood,’ or that their computer ‘had a virus that would spread to every contact in their email account,’ and so on. Therefore, urgency is placed upon the situation, and fear of what could happen, which puts you on the “back foot.”

They made me feel afraid. I felt impelled to follow the steps provided by the comforting rescuer being in this case, “Microsoft Global.” When I asked their “technician” a question at one point, he replied, ‘Yes, of course, anything – I’m here for you.’ He was such a sweet young guy.

*Third Warning Sign: they will scare you, then offer to rescue you.

*My Tip: again, see the tip above. Whatever it is, it can wait till morning. If they say it can’t wait, then, you know that they’re dirty rotten scammers.

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I told these people all my details. They got everything. We even signed me up for an account with Western Union and I tried to pay for a new “warranty” for our laptops, but by then my bank had closed and the payment wouldn’t go through. I arranged that the folk from MG would ring me in the morning.

*Fourth Warning Sign: they always want money, too. It seems just a small amount, at only $100-250 for three years warranty. But if they’re harvesting a few hundred dollars on each phone-call, they’re making a small fortune on the bogus repair work, as well.

*My Tip: Say you don’t want a warranty, and the reaction will probably be a stepping-up of the pressure on you to buy. This is where you will start to see the lack of professionalism. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized the people I had spoken to had at times acted less-than-professional. You guessed it, they were dirty rotten scammers.

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The man from MG requested remote control of our computers. A sign popped up on my screen which said, “The service from us here at TeamViewer is free. Thank you for playing fair.” He assured me they would do the necessary scanning and repairs on our computers while we slept. Meanwhile these criminals were harvesting all the rest of our personal details. Horrible isn’t it.

We need to protect ourselves from these people by sharing our stories. Because there is strength in numbers and power in information and networking.

I’ll share Part Two next week with tips on what to do if you are scammed. Call it “the before and after” advice column!

Here’s to halting the growth industry of scamming in its tracks. How do we do that? By talking about it, as I have done through this post.

Have you ever been rung by a scammer? Share your stories below!

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Keep Creating!

Happy New Year!

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Talk to you later,

Yvette. K. Carol

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“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen” – Goethe