It may be hard to see at first.
I wanted to show you this sequence of events so any readers can remind themselves that people can be very sneaky in getting your information and using it for their own purposes. What you need to do as a internet user is remain an "internet skeptic," a phrase used by the local university's IT security team. Don't rush into anything and be very guarded with any information you share.
Take a look and see if you can spot any issues along the way. I'll point out some things I noticed at each stage. Then some conclusions and things I could have done differently.
Part 1: First Contact (insert jokes about a certain bad star trek movie here)
I received this text message from the individual whom we will call Mr. X. I have a google voice account set up so that people don't call my cell phone directly. I can receive phone calls or text messages on my phone. Text messages come through as e-mails on that address associated with my google account. I highly recommend this if you are starting out as a small business and need to save some money. Anyway onto the short saga.
Pretty normal looking for a text message so I am certainly willing to reply to this given that it came from a valid area code and I live next to a large university. Very plausible that the person actually needs assistance with their computer(s).
Part 2: First red flags pop-up
Since I had determined to reply I sent the following message. I gave them my business phone number, which Mr. X may or may not have used to send me the text to my google voice account, and I made sure to give this person my website as well.
Here is Mr. X's reply. See if you can spot the same red flags that I did in the section I highlighted.
Very interesting, this person wants a secretary to send me a check for the services to be rendered. I also noticed one other thing that I did not highlight. Want to guess what it was? Yes it was the floppy drive diagnostic to make sure it was working after the work was completed. That is highly unusual in any business application with Windows 7 included in the same sentence.
Part 3: Is it real or fake
Now I knew we were going to find out really quick if this person wanted to actually do business or is going to try and steal something from me, maybe my identity or just money. To find out I wrote the following message with information that is freely available from my website with the inclusion of some provisions.
Here is Mr. X's reply. Now think of what we are dealing with here as you read his reply knowing what I wrote and how this conversation has proceeded.
Granted, I probably didn't need to reply further knowing full well that this was almost certainly a scam. I went ahead and sent the following though. I have not received a reply since sending this and Mr. X has had plenty of time to reply. Whoops just noticed my typo in that message :)
I didn't need to let this go on any further once I knew what it was so I encourage you to drop whatever it is and move on whenever you spot a scam. In addition, this is a tech blog so I implore you to always have an updated antivirus program on whatever computer you are using, yes that means you Mac and Linux users you need something too. Always run ad-blocking plug-ins on your browser (Chrome or Firefox). Yes you should go out and buy identity theft insurance if you don't have it. Something like Zander's Identity Theft plans (no they did not give me anything for linking this) are a worthwhile investment into reducing your risk. See the full link pasted below as well. Finally, always be skeptical of anything you see online or hand written on a lawn sign on the side of the road. There is too much for us to cover on this topic in one post, but please be conscious of what you do online, where you do it, and who will see it.
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Author - Nathan
I have worked with computers and technology for over nine years now. I enjoy tech almost as much as I enjoy my wife and kids.
About the Blog -
This is my informal approach to being a mentor for you. Let me know what roadblocks you have and we'll work on posting what you need here.
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