PR for People Monthly MARCH 2017 | Page 28

Personal Digital Strategy is a vital aspect of everyday computer/online usage. Knowing the ropes and not being naïve keeps you safe and secure. Malefactors and criminals of various sorts – CROOKS! – prey on unsuspecting web users. Here are some scenarios and tips on protective measures you can take, and being aware of the bad guys out there.

Your phone rings, and the person on the other end identifies himself as being from Microsoft, telling you that your computer is sending out messages that it has been infected by malware, a virus, and Microsoft’s headquarters has picked this up. The friendly person then asks you to get in front of your PC and he or she will guide you through a series of steps to help you eliminate the problem. THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A SCAM! The caller has already determined your name and address and some other personal data, and will try to fool you into thinking this is all well and good, and coming from the good (and trustworthy) folks at Microsoft. THE TRUTH: Microsoft would NEVER initiate such a call. THESE ARE CROOKS! Hang up the phone.

You own a business, you have a website, it has some e-commerce (you’re selling something, or maybe a bunch of things) and you want to increase the traffic coming to your site. How to do that? Is SEO the answer? You hear that SEO consultants can bring you great increases in traffic. You interview a few SEO specialists, and one (or more) of them promises to broaden your traffic, get you the desired target site visitors, and do all sorts of magic for your website. Conversions will skyrocket, they promise! THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A SCAM. Honest SEO consultants will work with you, discuss your goals, analyze your site’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop a full range plan that meets your conversion and traffic needs. It will have a realistic timetable (true SEO takes time, not a quick turnaround) and there will be measurement and analytics. The scammers will arrange for bots to hit the site, appearing as though there is lots of traffic. But it’s just machine hits, bots, not real human traffic. Your site will show huge traffic increases, it will appear the SEO is working incredibly well. But the conversions won’t amount to anything better than before. Why? Because THESE ARE CROOKS!

You log on to Facebook, open your phone or tablet and see in Messenger that a friend sent a message. They’re traveling abroad, their wallet was stolen, they lost their credit cards, their passport, everything! They’re strapped and need you to please send some cash, via wire. THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A SCAM. If you ask them a tough personal question, like where you guys first met or something to that effect, the conversation will come to a halt. Or they will get back to their pressing need. Do not fall for this, the money goes to an offshore scam account. Why offshore? Because THESE ARE CROOKS!

Any site asking for your Social Security Number, your mother’s maiden name, your banking information, is probably a scam. You get an email that a package couldn’t be delivered to you, but you weren’t even expecting, much less aware of such a package? The next step is they ask you for personal data to prove you are indeed the addressee. They (the scammer) get your personal data, you get nothing. Except scammed, and possibly become the victim of Identity Theft.

One more thing: never open an email attachment unless you’ve verified the sender did indeed send it to you!

Dean Landsman is a NYC-based Digital Strategist who writes a monthly column for PR for People “The Connector.”

Beware of Digital Scammers – of all sorts!

by Dean Landsman