How To Keep Your Mama Safe From Scammers

How To Keep Your Mama Safe From Scammers



They Got My Mama.

They called her on her cellphone early in the morning and told her that her grandson and had a car accident in New Jersey, was found at fault and locked up.  Through social engineering and elicitation she believed it.  When a young man called a few minutes later, whose voice she didn’t recognize, she attributed it to him being scared, locked up, not trying to speak too loud. They managed to convince my mother not to tell “pops” because you know how strict he is.

 “I need money grandma to get out of jail.  I need $500 and don’t tell my dad.”

How was she going to send money to her grandson?  She was going to wire it by Western Union.  She got dressed and searched for a grocery store to wire money to a unknown person who was riding with her grandson.  He was drinking and the police arrested him and took his car.

The next day, there was another call.  The voice said, he needed $350 more dollars to get the car out of the impound lot.  Grandma was distraught.  She was almost 80 years old and didn’t have disposal income like that.  On the next trip to the grocery store, she was going to advance a credit card when the store attendant spoke up and advised her that she may want to double check what she was doing.

It might be a scam.

Day Three.  I get a call from my mother who is physically beaten.  She is nervous and doesn’t want to tell me that Junior has been arrested for drinking. He may have wrecked his car and was in jail in New Jersey.

I texted my son as he was going to work.

 “hey dad, what’s up?”
  Grandma thinks you are in jail.
 “????  “
Call her at lunch time and tell her you love her.
“OK”

One of the best things I have done in my life is raise my son.  He is honest. He is a joy to be around.  He is a fitness nut.  He doesn’t drink or smoke.  I call him Kenn 2.0  He is better than I ever was at the same age.  I knew with almost 99% certainty that my mother was wrong and had been duped.

She was embarrassed. She was hurt and she was out about $600.

What happened is not isolated.  Criminals prey on the elderly.  They do it by phone, email, and any means possible.  My mom is not alone.

They are tracking you too online.

Social engineering is the art of manipulating, influencing, or deceiving you in order to gain control over your computer system or your bank. The hacker might use the phone, email, snail mail or direct contact to gain illegal access. They do this through phishing, pharming, malware, spyware, spamming, and any means they can exploit.

You’ve heard of internet cookies, right?

Cookies are used although they can also make the Web easier to navigate. A cookie is a piece of text that a Web server can store on a user’s hard disk. Cookies allow a Web site to store information on a user’s machine and later retrieve it.  They are the reason your search for face masks on Amazon result in you seeing them everywhere you go online afterwards. Amazon assigns you an ID, stores your information with that ID in its database on the server, and sends the ID to your browser as a cookie. The pieces of information are stored as name-value pairs.

It generates a unique ID number for you and stores the ID number on your machine by file. Our browsers store the ID on our hard disk. The next time you go to Amazon, the ID is sent back to the server. The server looks you up by your ID and customizes the Web page it sends back to you. The page might say, “Welcome back, [Your Name Here]!”  Its not a security risk per se, but it’s creepy.

They sell this info though. There are certain infrastructure providers that can actually create cookies that are visible on multiple sites.  This is the fuel that makes telemarketing and junk mail possible. On a Web site, the site can track not only your purchases, but also the pages that you read, the ads that you click on, etc. This is why you get the same type of stripper on Instagram.  It’s the type you like. Your behavior, your preferences have been locked in.   If you then purchase something on a similar site and enter your name and address, that site potentially knows much more about you than your mama does. This makes targeting much more precise, and that makes us uncomfortable.

Metadata and Geo-tagging

The photo your grandma took at Disney to post on Facebook can tell a story through the metadata that is hidden.  Geo-tagging is most commonly used for photographs and can help people get a lot of specific information about where the picture was taken or the exact location of a friend who logged on to a service.  It can also be risky for you or other people in your photos. It can disclose your whereabouts, time, and activities to the wrong people. A picture of your vacation can alert criminals that your home may be empty.

To keep your mama, and the rest of your family safe, you should have a conversation with them about social media, cookies, and being safer on the internet.  Talk to your elders about the internet.  Social media as we know it is less than 20 years old.  It is still changing.  Predators are counting on it to keep the uninitiated off balance and steal their identification, and their money.

Protect your mama.

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