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Checking In at a Hotel? Beware of Credit Card Fraud

Criminals seeking credit-card and other personal data are targeting hotels

A few years ago, computer criminals were focusing their efforts on U.S. retailers with specialized software that exploited gaps at the cash registers. Now, they are turning to the lodging industry, taking advantage of uneven security at hotels and the hotel-based restaurants, spas and gift shops typically owned by other companies, people familiar with the incidents said.

Cardholders aren’t responsible for unauthorized purchases, but they must scrutinize their bills for fraudulent charges.

To read the complete article in the Wall Street Journal CLICK HERE

Identity Theft – A Brief Tutorial

Happy New Year!

2015 was a challenging year on many fronts, not the least of which was the concern around Identity Theft.

Over 100 million Americans have their personal information placed at risk of identity theft every year. Every day there is a new report of a security breach hitting a retailer, credit card provider, and even the government. Yesterday, Time Warner Cable reported that was it was recently notified by the FBI that “some of our customers’ email addresses, including account passwords, may have been compromised.“.

The most common cause of identity theft occurs when someone obtains personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, birth dates, social security numbers, drivers’ licenses, and credit cards.

While it is impossible to avoid being the victim of Identity Theft, there are a number of steps that can be taken to minimize the risk.

Passwords

– Do not use the same password for e-mail, social networks (Facebook), online banking, retail sites (Amazon), online backups, etc.

– Do not use easy to guess passwords such as birth dates, spouses and childrens’ names.

– Change your passwords every few months.

– Use a strong and unique password for each frequented online website. A password made up of a phrase such as “IDon’tLikePasswords$$$” combines capital letters, small letters and symbols and is easy to remember. Personalize for a particular site by taking a few letters from the site and adding it to the password. An Amazon password would be “IDon’tLikePasswords$$$Ama.” Your email password would be “IDon’tLikePasswords$$$email.

Credit and Debit Cards

– Use credit cards when possible. At least you can challenge a charge if your credit card account is hacked. If you use your debit card, funds are transferred immediately and it can be difficult to get your money back.

– Delete saved credit card numbers. To safeguard against data breaches, remove credit card numbers on file with retailers and enter them with each purchase. We have read about data breaches from major retailer data banks.

Social Security numbers and birth dates

– Make birth dates (year) private on Facebook. Hackers glean personal information, such as age and location, from social media accounts in an effort to piece together social security numbers. By keeping birth dates private and opting to mail birthday wishes, identity thieves have one less resource.

– Avoid including social security numbers online (emails, text messages, filling out forms). Social security numbers are the major source for hackers. When asked for identification, offer other means of proof..

Virus and Malware Protection 

– Remove old anti-virus and anti-malware software and install updated versions. Keep devices safe and secure with the latest software and security patches as soon as they are available. Keystroke logging malware can invade devices with weak security and capture credit card information.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

– Do not access any sites requiring passwords from unsecured wi-fi locations such as hotels, airports, coffee shops, parks, etc. An unsecured wi-fi network is one that does not require a network code.

These are just a few ways you can minimize your risk of identity theft. Several months ago interviewed Steve Weisman, one of the country’s leading experts on scams and identity theft, on my BlogTalkRadio program. The first interview featured a discussion on Why You Should Be Concerned About Identity Theft, and the second, What You Need to Do If You Are A Victim of Identity Theft  Each of the programs are about 15 minutes long. Both interviews were among my most listened to shows of the year.

If you missed them, click on the links below to listen to the interviews.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Identity Theft 

What You Need to Do If You Are A Victim of Identity Theft

There seems to be a report of a new data breach or threat almost daily. Check the article about Time Warner above. Be diligent!!

If after listening to the interviews, you want to discuss any of the points covered, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Is Your Child/Grandchild Studying Abroad In The Spring?

us-passportThe Internet has changed the rules for traveling.  Gone are the days when keeping in touch from abroad was both a challenge and expensive.  More college aged children are spending summers traveling and taking advantage of semester abroad programs.  The following are some of the  things parents and students must know before leaving home:

– What is the Internet situation where the student will be living?

– Does he/she have an International mobile phone?

– Do you and your child have a plan to reach each other in an emergency?

– Are both of you aware of the differences between phone and data services, domestically and overseas?

–  Have you checked your wireless provider’s international program? (i.e Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.).

– Have you considered whether or not your child should rent a phone while traveling?

– Are you familiar with the rules surrounding Internet services abroad such as Skype, iChat, e-mail, texting, and accessing the web?

My daughters have both spent 4 months studying abroad. Despite daily phone calls to and from the United States, my total phone bill for the time they were away was under $200.  If you need assistance understanding the rules of international travel and would like to know how our communication costs were kept in line, give me a call at 917 921-4518 or e-mail me at jblue@bluetutor.com

Beware of Medicare Open Enrollment Scams

The open enrollment period for Medicare is between October 15th and December 7th.

Medicare scams are common during this time. Medicare is not issuing new cards to Medicare recipients at this time and they will never contact you by phone and ask for your Medicare number.  Steve Weisman, in his daily post on Scamicide.com, writes that “Medicare is not issuing new cards to Medicare recipients at this time and they will never contact you by phone and ask for your Medicare number.  Never give personal information to anyone who calls you on the phone because you can never be sure who is actually on the other end of the line.”

CLICK HERE to read his entire blog.

Child Off To College This Fall? What You Need to Know

As a parent, do you have the basic computer skills to maintain contact with your college student? Does your technology support your efforts, and do you have the most cost efficient systems in place?

The following are some points that you should be thinking about before the move-in date:

– Will you need to upgrade either your equipment or services?

– How do you determine your child’s equipment needs while in college?

– Does the cell phone provider that you use at home (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have a strong network at your child’s school?

– What can you do to keep your communication costs down?

– What are the most cost efficient ways to stay in communication with your child in college?

– How do you keep in contact with your child who is studying abroad without incurring large telephone charges?

– Has your child’s school granted you online access to key school resources?

– Does your child know how to reach you 24/7?

The chances are that your child may be more up-to-date on the latest technology than you. It is important that you discuss a strategy to communicate in a cost efficient manner.  If your child is studying thousands of miles away, or perhaps in any country, you do not want to incur telephone charges that approach the cost of tuition!

Most universities no longer provide phones in their dorms.  The use of cell phones and other mobile technology tools has significantly enhanced our ability to maintain our relationships with our children in college.  Are you prepared?

Below is a link to my recent radio program where I discussed this and many items that you need to know before loading the car and heading to campus.

BlogTalk Radio

If you have any further questions, I can be reached by phone at 917 921-4518 or by e-mail at jblue@bluetutor.com.

What You Need To Know About Windows 10

Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 10 is finally here! What’s all the noise about and what do you need to know.

Below are some of important points you should be aware of:

– Windows 10 is available starting July 29th.

– The new operating system will be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users (for the first year). After that time, you will be able to keep using it for free. Starting next year, Windows 10 will be $120 for the Home version and $200 for the Pro version.

– While I definitely believe that you should upgrade (particularly if you are unhappy with Windows 8), I would wait awhile, since all new operating systems experience growing pains, and it’s important that Microsoft fixes any unexpected bugs in the system.

– There are a number of new features that you will like. First, Edge is a new browser, basically replacing Internet Explorer. The other is Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now. Several sources report that it still needs some work, but its worth taking a look at.

The online site, egadget offers some advice on how to upgrade. Click Here to read the complete article.

On my recent BlogTalkRadio program, Carl Mazzanti,  CEO of e-Mazzanti Technologies (Microsoft New York Metro Partner of the Year in 2015) and I discussed these and other important things you should know about Windows 10.

 Click here or on the logo below to hear the complete broadcast.
  BlogTalk Radio

Why Seniors Love Facebook

Facebook_logo(2)According to Facebook, seniors are the fastest growing segment of the population joining their social networking site.  Pew Internet Research reports that 27% of seniors now use social media. One of the major areas that seniors are interested in when I hold a workshop is how to use Facebook.

 

Why the popularity of Facebook among seniors?

– More and more seniors are choosing to live alone. Facebook offers the ability to socialize with family and friends without leaving their home.

– Social networking sites, particularly Facebook, offer new opportunities to stay in touch and search for friends and past business associates.

– Families are more spread out than in the past. Facebook offers seniors the opportunity to keep in touch with family members and friends anywhere in the world.

– Family members love to share photos. Many seniors access Facebook everyday to keep up-to-date with family events, particularly through new photos and videos.

– Facebook offers the opportunity to play games with family and friends.

For those of you who have not yet set up a Facebook account, my suggestion is to find a family member or close friend who can get you started. Here are some important ways they can help.

– Create an informative About Page which includes information about you. This should include your education and employment history. Having a good picture will help people recognize you.

– Learn how to search for friends and family members.

– Understand some of the safety rules regarding accepting and requesting friends.

– Have someone set up the appropriate privacy settings for you.

– It’s OK to post the month and day of your birthday but leave out the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Have a Second Phone Number and E-Mail Address

smartphone pictureDo you have only one phone number and e-mail address for your personal, professional, purchasing, and mobile use. It’s not unusual for people today to only have one phone: a mobile phone that often functions as their work, home phone and mobile number.

A new mobile app called Shuffle has launched a simple utility that lets you create additional, disposable phone numbers you can use to call or text as well as receive voicemail through, right from your iPhone. There are a number of other apps available, but Shuffle allows you to create email aliases that forward mail to your main inbox.

According to Shuffle’s founder Craig Collett “Individuals have the need to protect their personal privacy and keep different business and social aspects of their life separated.”

While I have advised many of my clients to have separate e-mail addresses for personal and professional use, having a separate phone number only for registration and purchasing purposes will keep your primary phone number more private.

To read more, CLICK HERE

HAVE YOU SELECTED THE RIGHT AREA FOR YOUR HOME OFFICE?

Location, Location, Location

Selecting the right location for your home office is critical.  Chances are that you already use a computer at home and have set up an area for the computer, printer, etc.  However, using a computer for personal use is substantially different from using it for business purposes.  A business office requires a private environment, with no traffic and noise.  While I realize that many of you have space limitations, particularly those of us that live in an apartment, you need to avoid an area that is a walk through, has a dishwasher running and other diversions.  Pick a bedroom, if necessary, and close the door while you are working.

Once you have decided on a location, be sure that you have Internet access.  Most of you probably have a wireless network at home.  If this is the case, there is no limit on how many computers can access the Internet through the network.  You don’t need a separate account with an additional modem and router. The main issue is whether you can obtain a strong signal in your designated work area.  The range of a wireless network is several hundred feet.  However, thick walls and floors such as those that exist in prewar (World War 2) structures will encounter “dead areas.”  If this is the case, boosters can be installed to carry the signal to your office area.

Now that you have selected a nice quiet, remote area to work, desk location needs to be addressed.  You don’t want to face a window or have it in back of you.  The glare from the outside will make it very difficult to see the monitor.  Although it would be nice to be able to view the park and the birds, make sure you are either facing a wall or have it behind you. Do not take this advice lightly!! An acquaintance of mine told me that she had her desk in front of a window with a marvelous view for years. Now her eyesight has deteriorated.  Make sure you avoid excessive light and glare.

10 TECH TIPS FOR PEOPLE IN CAREER TRANSITION

Have you created a Technology Plan?

  1. Take an inventory of your existing equipment at home and determine what is usable and what needs to be replaced.
  2. If you currently share a computer with other members of your household, consider buying one for yourself.
  3. Find a place in your home to work without background noise and traffic.
  4. If you don’t have wireless Internet access at home, have one set up so multiple computers have Internet access simultaneously.  Make sure your wireless network is strong in your work area and secured with a password.
  5. If you only have one e-mail address, set up another for business purposes only.
  6. Consider purchasing an all-in-one printer, scanner, copier, fax machine if you don’t already have one.  If it is wireless, there is no need for more than one printer.
  7. Don’t bother adding another telephone line at home for business purposes.  Use your cell phone.
  8. Since you no longer have a corporate support line to call, find a reliable tech support person and set up a maintenance program for your equipment.
  9. Since recent surveys indicate that 3 out of 5 people find that they spend more time working outside their office, consider upgrading to a smartphone (blackberry, iphone, or android) which will give you access to your e-mail and the Internet on the road.

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