Cameras & Microphones, Voice Commands, & Scams



Technology is a useful tool to find answers. Whether it’s a search engine on our cell phone or home computer, we seek to discover more information that helps our family and friends, clients and customers, and especially ourselves. These interests have created a means to question our security, and oftentimes invade our privacy.

Cameras and Microphones

Have you noticed the moment an online order is placed, or interest is shown in a product, advertisements will appear immediately on your preferred search engine?  Scary?   Absolutely! While it adds cookies to your browser, society is making it acceptable to have your voice demands be heard. This is just the beginning of how you must be aware of what you say and do in front of technology.

Solutions

  • Start denying permission to every site who asks to use your camera and microphone.
  • Turn off your microphone and place a post-it note over your camera.
  • Research Chrome’s “Incognito Mode” feature.

Alexa!

More than 8.2 million people have purchased an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for their homes.  While Alexa is voiced controlled to purchase forgotten household items and has a list of other functions, this intelligent assistant also is actively listening and recording conversations of every voice or passing visitor. According to a director of Law and Information Policy, Joel Reidenburg, “Under the Fourth Amendment, if you have installed a device that’s listening and transmitting to a third party, you have waived your privacy rights under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”

Solutions:

  • Learn about the feature to delete your history.
  • The most powerful control you can have is turning off the device and allowing time periods of privacy.

Phone Scams

It may be easy to trust a phone call, especially when an individual introduces themselves and the business they represent. Immediately, when a problem arises, our first reaction is to listen closely and help.  We may learn an account has been compromised.  And, if we reveal the last four digits of the main account holder’s Social Security number, the problem can be solved. Wait!  Anyone, who asks for your vital information, especially a Social Security number or password, and does not reveal the specific card or account is a scammer.  If the person cannot answer your questions, the solution is to hang up and call the company yourself.

If you notice a call coming in from your own number, do not answer it.  Some scammers try to encourage you to say the word, “yes.”  Even today, it is best not to answer using your full name.  A recording of the information you provide can be used against you!

While it may not reduce all automated calls, it is still advised to place your number on the “Do Not Call” list.

Tech Support Scams

Scammers claiming to be computer techs affiliated with popular companies such as Microsoft or Apple will call or send pop-up messages to warn users about computer difficulties or even viruses. Immediately, the individual will ask if they can have remote access to your computer.  This service will come with a price.  In addition to a credit card fee, you may also be given viruses. Never click on pop-ups claiming an urgent message about your computer, and should someone call, please, hang up.

If tech support is truly needed for your computer, do not call an area code beginning with 866.

Click Bait Scam

The headline “Breaking News” is one intriguing method to encourage users to click on a link or video.  Other click bait schemes use celebrity photos or sensational stories.  First, look at the website provider to see if you recognize it; the goal is to encourage you to click, and in return, it will download, without your permission, malware.

Install antivirus and malware protection.

Dating Scam

In the day and age when strangers want to be your social media friend, it is better to find friends the old-fashioned way, in person.  Some scammers will create a social media profile and include a few pictures of themselves in a foreign setting or linked to a military deployment.  Quickly, an emergency situation will arise, and the handsome or beautiful new friend will ask for money. Make it a policy to never give money to anyone you meet online. Scammers work hard to exploit your concern for safety and protection by contacting you in a moment of panic.  By learning these techniques, you can not only make good decisions but learn to not be susceptible to outside influences.

 


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