Dangerous spam

newsletter of social squidsLately there has been a lot of talk about hacking. Criminals are getting into corporate databases and getting people’s email addresses or even credit card information. For those hackers who get your email, they may send you something that can wreak havoc on your life.

We’ve all received suspicious emails without knowing whether to open them or not. If you’re in doubt, do not click on any links or attachments!

There is annoying spam, which is harmless. However, in the past couple years there have been more and more cases of dangerous spam. Cases of ransomware – holding your personal data for ransom – are the most frightening. Some breaches require software to be added to your computer in order to fight back.

Most of us are familiar with the Nigerian prince scam, but there are many others out there including lottery winners, tax scams, expired warranty claims, religious, fake contest winners and all kinds of other ways to bilk hard working people out of their money.

There are some easy ways to spot dangerous emails. If you receive an email from a credit card company, bank, investment firm or any other company where you do not have an account that talks about your account – that is suspicious. The content of the email may mention how your account is overdrawn or some other problem. You know you don’t have an account with them, so you can’t be overdrawn. Simply delete the email.

If you look at the first image, you will see an email I received recently. It claims to be from Wells Fargo. I no longer have an account with Wells Fargo, so that was a red flag for me.

dangerous spam is in your mailbox

Secondly, it says “Dear Member.” Banks always have a custom greeting that includes your name. That was red flag #2. The next red flag was the first sentence. It is not written in plain language. Banks are clear and concise with their messages. If there are misspellings (there are none in this one), that’s another red flag.

Absolutely, under no circumstances, click on an attachment if you are unsure of the sender!

In the second image, you will see that if you click on the sender’s name, you will see their email address. Obviously, that email is not coming from Wells Fargo. A real email from them would be from wellsfargo.com and not some foreign country. Sometimes they get tricky and have an email that might have Wells Fargo within the email address like wellsfargoaccounts@gmail.com, but if it’s not from wellsfargo.com, it’s not from them.

dangerous spam email

If you get what you think is a suspicious email and it’s from a company where you do have an account, don’t reply to it. Never click the link in the email if you are unsure. It can end up putting a virus on your computer. You can call them or go to their website and ask them if they sent the email. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

I used to try to report suspicious emails to companies when I received them, but found it was incredibly time consuming. Many times banks, cable companies, phone companies, etc. have places where you can report suspicious emails to help them put a stop to the activity. Unfortunately, most of the time, it is difficult to find that information on their sites. I have often reported suspicious emails to PayPal as their information was easy to find. You simply forward the suspicious email to spoof@paypal.com. The address for suspicious Comcast emails is abuse@comcast.net.

When you forward an email, it contains all of the header information (who sent it and from where it was sent) so the company can try to stop these people from hurting anyone.

There is virus protection software that will weed out at least some of the bad emails. Avast is a free anti virus program that works for Mac and PC computers. It used to be that Macs were such a small part of the home computer market that no one attacked them with a virus or malware. Today everyone needs to have some form of protection.

If you have older family members using email, it is important to let them know how to spot suspicious emails and to be leery of them. That demographic is the most vulnerable. Be safe with your emails and use common sense before responding to emails from large companies or opening any attachments.

Social media in the news today from Gaga to Obama

Just when I started trying to think of something to write about today, I heard all kinds of social media news. More and more often, social media events are becoming mainstream media events. TV and radio news covers a social media topic almost every day.

This morning, as a follow-up to the school shooting in Baltimore County Monday, there was a major surge on twitter. A special needs student, Daniel Borowy, was apparently the random victim of the shooter. We are told that he is a huge fan of Lady Gaga. There has been a push to get Lady Gaga to come to Baltimore and visit this young man as he recuperates from his injuries. At this point, he is still in critical condition.

While students of the school brought painted signs saying “Pray for Daniel” today, the social media side of the story was also coming to life. Over 10,000 people are fans of a Facebook page that asks for prayers for the boy. The hashtag #GagaVisitDaniel was trending on Twitter this morning. I don’t know if Lady Gaga has any interest in visiting this boy or not, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

Will social media put the pressure on this singer to come visit a sick special needs students? Tune in next time. It just might happen.

I figured that I had my topic today with the Lady Gaga thing and then I saw a post on Facebook where someone said President Obama was on the site Reddit. If you don’t know what Reddit is, it is a site where you can post a page or link you like and make a comment about it. People can give it thumbs up or thumbs down.

I’ve been trying to see what is going on – but guess what? President Obama crashed Reddit! So many people are trying to do exactly what I wanted to do, see what the president has to say on Reddit and they are overwhelmed.

After proofing my post, Reddit is back up and running. I urge you to check it out. There are some funny, serious and thought-provoking comments on there. Here is one from Obama himself, “…this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”

That’s the power of social media! Don’t you just love it?