Avoid scams

There aren’t really any helpful, comprehensive YouTube video clips on current scams or how to deal with online scams effectively. It is something we need to constantly monitor and we need sound and good information. We are online. We are targets. The world does fight back and we can manage it but we need to know how to do that effectively and what to look out for.

GMail and Yahoo mail seem to protect me the best from scams and spam and so with those email accounts it is never really a problem. A lot of scams and spam arrive by email. Some email clients block those emails really well.

Facebook is very helpful because friends share the latest scams and if you subscribe to the police feed then the police always keep you updated on the sorts of scams and spam to look out for.

On my phone I only answer numbers I know. If I am caught out by accident I end the call. Do I think I am going to miss an important call? No. Anyone who is going to call me has their number in my contacts list. If it is a new organisation or person I put their number in my list. I am quite frank about not answering calls if I don’t know the number. I have that conversation. Most organisations will have details of my email and home address and they know they have multiple ways of contacting me. My financial organisation and my isp have both been really effective at helping me avoid scams and spam by allowing and using multiple contact modes. If important things are happening then I get a direct number or contact from them as they understand my need to avoid scams and spam calls.

My phone has a virus checker which also blocks cold calls. It is not perfect and lets a few through. Phone apps need to be looked at carefully. Mine is pretty good but a couple of times it has cut off bone fide callers as well and I have had to ring back very apologetic! I don’t apologise, though, for protecting myself from this technology scam scourge and I think that’s the point. Be honest, be alert and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

The River Parish Council has a good print out to help you look at scam protection .

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has some sound help with regards to scam watching.

ASIC also gives you some good advice and a list of companies not to deal with.

Manage the social media onslaught

social media likes

Social Media

Image: DMN

Social media has been channelling my mother lately:

Why don’t you talk to Brandon? He’s a nice boy.

Go and see your Grandma and tell her about how well you are doing at school.

Why don’t you play with Connie? You’ll have fun together. 

Mr. Smith is a nice man. Go and talk to him. You can tell him you won the relay. 

Why don’t you want to go out? You can’t sit and read all day. It’s no good for you. 

 

There was always this compulsion to be sociable, to play with your friends and to get outside. Then the pressure to announce your recent achievements. From my mother’s point of view  all she wanted was for me to be happy, to be sociable and to do well. She wanted me to have manners, knowledge and social connections.

Social media is different in that it also wants to tell you what to read, what to believe and what to value. There is the pressure to follow and connect with people and there is a pressure to like things and be friends. It’s becoming annoying because there is a level of manipulation there we don’t quite understand or we don’t want to understand because there is a feeling we are no longer driving our choices and thoughts. It’s not my mum. There is something more to it and that is largely driven by branding and  research. Social media is used a lot to support other media and research papers. It is also used to drive an economy.

So what do you do? You take control. Bloomberg had an article Try breaking  your  media filter bubble which gives you three ways of setting your social media feeds straight. Barry Ritzholz picked that up and developed the idea so you can manage your feed but also challenge yourself and your thinking with regard to social media in his article Re-engineer your media diet. This article looks more about how you can constructively balance the bias and your own bias. The image on this post comes from DMN and their article  explains how important it is to branding that companies engage with social media and create real connections with people. It’s not new. It is what the corner store and the haberdasher were about. Small, family owned businesses used to engage with their communities and build their customer loyalty from who they were and how they conducted their businesses. It’s just done in a different way now.

The article which prompted me to write this post , though, was about the Facebook friend recommendations. Social media sites do come up with recommendations supposedly based on your activity and people you follow. Happens on Twitter , Instagram and LinkedIn and I have found some good people worth following and people have found me.  They are not Facebook , though. Facebook is seen as your home on the net and is generally more personal. People are finding Facebook a bit more disruptive these days because it throws up random memories which can open old wounds as well as create joy. There is no option to opt out. The friend recommendations have never bothered me on Facebook but I can see why they would bother others. In the end you want to add people who support you and who have a positive impact on your feed. Knowing people is not a reason to have them on Facebook. Amelia Tait’s article :

People you may know: is Facebook’s friend-finding algorithm putting you at risk?

is worth reading because it explains the security aspects of Facebook and then how the algorithm is working. I don’t have my phone number on Facebook and I don’t use a significant email address. I don’t add people I don’t know and I don’t feel obliged to keep people or sites on Facebook if they disrupt my feed. With social media you have to learn to block, unfriend, mute, unfollow, hide and do whatever you need to do so that your feed has a positive input into your life and adds to you. Breaking your media filter bubble is a must do these days.

Get out your Facebook settings again

Facebook settingsTop right of the screen when you log into Facebook is your name. Next to that is a little padlock and then a little cog. Those are your settings. The one with the padlock controls what you broadcast ,who can search for you and who can contact you. Go through each one and make a decision. If you restrict it you will presumably not be logging into sites with your Facebook account and you will want to tell people yourself that they can come onto your Facebook. The second lot of settings is quite considerable and takes time to go through. You may have apps on your Facebook account which are accessing your information. You can change that. You don’t want your friends to be broadcasting your information…or do you? That is your decision. How to lockdown your Facebook account on Facecrooks goes through these settings one by one very clearly and then you can make some sensible choices. Do you really want your phone number on Facebook? Have you used location maps on your phone to say where you live? Is that what you want? Make a habit of going through the settings and deciding what you want to broadcast and how you want that information used and passed on. Practise safe settings for all the accounts you subscribe to online.

Pet peeves online

phone numbers This week I am part of the laptop roll out for our Year 9 students. I am really looking forward to it. One of the things all the instructors teach as part of setting up the laptop is for students not to put their own address and phone number onto the laptop. We have a bona fide work around to keep them safe. It is a good message for them and their parents in terms of online safety and parents seem to appreciate it. So one of my pet peeves at the moment is sites which want my phone number as part of the registration. Needless to say, they don’t get it. Then this afternoon is the second time I was going to download a programme online only to find out they want my address and my phone number. Why? I accept if I am ordering by post I need to furnish an address and a phone number where I can be contacted should there be a supply or delivery problem. Not when I am downloading. Sorry. So now I haven’t made those purchases and have gone elsewhere. Why wouldn’t I be practising what I teach and why the sudden urge for companies to want my personal details? No, no and no. My other pet peeve with these online downloads is you have to check very carefully whether you are renting or buying and what the licensing agreement is. You might be thinking you are purchasing software you can use. You then discover the licence needs to be renewed after a year or you are limited to one computer and that might only be ONE computer. You load it onto a computer and then find if you want to change to another computer (computers do wear out!) you are no longer entitled to a licensed copy of the software. Please check licensing agreements before you purchase.

My two other current pet peeves are not related to software nor privacy issues. The first is Twitter. On and on and on – the same thing is repeated and repeated and repeated. I know retweeting counts and is important but it is so mind numbing when the same thing is repeated far too many times. This is not effective communication. It’s made me think I won’t retweet and that’s a shame in a way. It is how someone can know they have tweeted something worthwhile. We need a better way.

My last pet peeve for now is pixellated pictures. Don’t use them. Don’t put up a blurry picture. Either don’t use it or get a crystal clear version. It’s worse with HD screens which are so good you can tell when male politicians are wearing foundation and pink lipstick. On lower resolution it tends not to be so annoying but devices are coming with very good screens now so we need top quality pictures. It is something I show my students as we are preparing our presentations. On a whiteboard they can see the bad impact of a pixellated picture and then make a huge effort, in my experience, to get some really good quality images.

Online safety training

survival in the digital ageAt a Net cafe? keep your cookies to yourself. If you follow the link you will arrive at Ono a site created by Tactical Tech to help people navigate the security and safety issues of the internet. The site provides little videos and tools to help you know and think about safety and security issues online. It is suitable for students and one little video would go a long way in getting them to think about the complexity of online safety. The site runs in several languages and they would welcome help to get their materials translated into more languages. It has a good mix of a pleasant approach but with a focus on delivering critical information in a clear way. You can find ONO on Twitter @ONOrobot.

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