Category Archives: Scam

Facebook Privacy

When signing up for a social media account to keep up-to-date with people around us, we often don’t think twice about giving our personal information away online. As technology advances, so do online scams that attempt to obtain information about users including name, age, and even credit card number. It’s important for people to feel comfortable and aware of the information they share online and where they share it. There are some best practices that can help limit what is shown on your Facebook profile, how to block certain users and activities, and protect your password.

I want a Facebook account but only want my friends to see it. How can I do this?
Facebook has made controlling who can see your profile easy. By clicking on the upside down triangle in the upper right corner of the Facebook home screen, a drop down menu will appear. Then, click on “Settings”, listed near the bottom of the drop down menu. A new screen will appear with the option to click “Privacy” on the menu along the left side of the screen. It is here that you will be able to switch the “Who can see my future posts?” setting from “public” to “friends”. Now your Facebook account is only accessible by people you accept as a Facebook friend.

I was tagged in a photo on Facebook that I want to be removed. How can I do this?
The privacy menu also has the option “Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in”, which also contains a link to Facebook’s activity log. When viewing your activity log, you can see all posts and photos that you have been tagged in. From here, you have the option to remove the content, by clicking on the pencil icon in the upper right corner of the post.

Someone I don’t know is trying to add me as a friend and is sending me messages. How can I prevent them from interacting with me?
From the Settings screen found by clicking on the upside down triangle in the upper right corner of the Facebook home screen, click on “Blocking” listed along the left side. When clicked on, Facebook allows you to block users by inserting the name or email of that specific person. When completed, the user will not be able to send messages and view your Facebook content.

I received an email asking me to provide my Facebook password because there was a problem with my account. What should I do?
NEVER provide your Facebook or any other important passwords via email or any online forum. Your password should always remain confidential. This is most likely an email scam attempting to obtain your personal information. To remember your password, write it down and store it in a secure area.

Facebook continues to ask me to add information, like my education and workplace to my profile. Is this mandatory?
No, you are not required to add this information to your profile. Information such as your phone number can also be hidden from the public. When clicking on Contact and Basic Info, found on the upper left-hand side of your profile page, you can switch the option from “friends” to “only me”.

Internet scams and hoaxes will never fully dissolve from the web. However, as users of technology, we can educate ourselves about how to safely surf the web and what information we choose to share online. The more people that learn about online security and how crucial it is to protect personal information, the less effect these scams and hoaxes will have on the online population. Knowing that you can use social media while maintaining your privacy makes the experience more user-friendly.

Be sure to check out ETAG’s Volunteer Technology Education Program that incorporates learning about passwords and online safety in our beginners’ curriculum.

– Rosario Commisso (Intern and ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Black Book of Scams


Book of Scams

We all read about scams in the news almost daily, and often simply dismiss these reports with something like “How could someone allow that to happen to them?” However, many instances of fraud do occur (and often go unreported) each and every day.

The “scam artists” can be quite clever and convincing, and honest and intelligent people can be innocently caught in the traps that these criminals set for them. Quite often, the victims of fraud are too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward, which only allows this crime wave to grow.

The information provided in The Little Black Book of Scams presents several scam scenarios, and some very sound advice on how to avoid being stung by these clever thieves. This is an official document developed and distributed by the Canadian government. The Little Black Book of Scams can prepare you with the knowledge that you need to keep your hard-earned money in your own pocket, and not in the pocket of someone who should be in jail.

I strongly urge you to read and actually study the The Little Black Book of Scams, and also make yourself aware of all of the resources provided at the Competition Bureau of Canada website. The document can be downloaded to your tablet in PDF format from the link provided above. You can also feel free to contact the Competition Bureau via telephone to request a printed copy.

Knowledge is Power, so please arm yourself with the proper information to help eliminate this plague.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Email Hoaxes

Countless Email messages are circulated around the world daily containing misinformation, rumours, urban legends, folklore, and myths. Although the Internet is an almost limitless source of useful information, some people just cannot be content with that, and for reasons known only to them, feel a need to mislead others by spreading false information.

It could be anything from the latest health scare or miracle cure, to a story about the next computer virus that is poised to attack your computer. Many of these “tall tales” sound quite plausible, and therefore the immediate tendency is to want to spread this new “knowledge” to your family and friends as a public service announcement. After all, who does not want to save the life of your family members and/or friends or protect their beloved computers from impending doom?

All too often, this information gets “forwarded” at “face value”, without doing any research into it at all to validate the information. To make matters even worse, these messages are often sent without using Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy), thus exposing Email addresses to others… When you send an E-Mail message to multiple recipients, it is usually considered proper Email etiquette to use Bcc (instead of “To” or “Cc”) to hide the list of Email addresses from the other recipients.

To reduce this Email plague of misinformation, you can investigate possible hoaxes on websites such as Snopes and Hoax Busters. These are tools you can use for free when trying to determine if something you read has already been identified as a hoax or scam. Visit Techrepublic for some additional website suggestions. I’ve personally found Snopes to be one of the more comprehensive sites for ferreting out hoaxes.

Whenever I receive an E-Mail message that sounds somewhat unbelievable, I usually use Google with a few choice “keywords” from the “story” (such as names, places, or other very specific information), and I also include the words “hoax” and “Snopes” in the search criteria. More often than not, there will be an entry in the Snopes (or one of the other sites) databases to tell you if the story is true or false.

Please be diligent, and take a moment to check the authenticity of any Email “story” before forwarding it along to others.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Phone scam – hang up!

Even if you have already registered your telephone number with the National Do Not Call List, you still may be pestered by unscrupulous telemarketers.  One such call would be the “There Is Something Wrong With Your Computer” scam, or the “Your Computer Has A Virus” scheme.

Please do not fall for these tricks!

You can rest assured that reputable companies such as Microsoft and Apple will NEVER call your house to tell you that there is something wrong with your computer! When such fixes are required to your computer’s software, the updates are sent via official channels, and not by way of unsolicited telephone calls.

There are many variations to this “scam”, with the end result always being that someone is trying to trick you into parting with your hard-earned money. For example, someone may call and tell you that they wish to perform “maintenance” or “virus removal” on your computer. We have all heard about the plague of the “computer virus” (which is a legitimate concern in its own right); however these scam artists know how to play on our fears of what a computer virus may do, and try their level best to scare you into buying into their bogus schemes.

Do not give any form of personal information (name, address, E-mail address, credit card number, social insurance number, etc.) to someone who phones you unsolicited, and NEVER relinquish control of your computer to one of these con artists. If you give a stranger control of your computer or simply download their “software”, you are most likely letting yourself in for lots of grief. Most of the time, the intention is to install some form of Malware on your computer, to suit the needs of these criminals, not yours.

Malicious software introduced by these telephone scams possibly lets a stranger do the following over your internet connection:

  • Access all information and documents stored on your computer
  • Track your typing so that they can log all your passwords, credit card numbers, or anything else you type
  • Monitor your purchases, your email, your web browsing
  • Control your computer without your knowledge, using it to send viruses out to everyone on your email contacts list
  • Lock you out of your computer and damage or erase its contents

I do not mean to scare you with this information, but rather, just keep you alert, so that you can enjoy your computer experience instead of innocently being a victim of telephone/computer fraud. My best advice is to politely “hang up” on these criminals!

Here is a helpful link to the Halton Regional Police website, for more information about frauds and scams.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)