HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been trying to pay off credit cards which got used to repair the house. It was a bad idea, but it seemed reasonable at the time. It wasn’t either reasonable or good as ideas go. Now, it’s payoff time.

So I got a notice today that Discover had gotten their big payment. I wanted to see if I had overpaid or had a small remaining balance. One way or the other, it would be less than $100.

I couldn’t remember my username. I didn’t know my password. After a long back and forth between me and Discover I eventually rediscovered my username and eventually, learned I didn’t have a password — I had a pin number. Which I also didn’t remember. More back and forth through email.

I won’t give them my mobile number. Sorry. Won’t do it. I don’t need to carry around anything else that can be easily hacked.

Eventually, I got it sorted out. Then, I thought I should check and see if any other of the bills had been paid, but I didn’t remember my username or passwords for any of them, either.

I spent the whole evening doing this and I’m exhausted.

How do hackers figure it out? I can’t figure it out and I created these usernames and passwords in the first place. If the creator of the username and password can’t get them straight, how do hackers figure it out?

It’s all too much for me.

HACKED AND HATING IT – Marilyn Armstrong

We Did It! — Maybe?        RDP Monday: PRINCE

I’m sorry. Didn’t use the “word of the day” because this needed to go out to everyone I could send it to. No matter how little you pay attention to what’s going on in your technical department, you should read this because it really does matter to you and all of us.


So, for the moment, Tyngpress.com is closed, but despite that everyone says “it was closed down,” they closed THEMSELVES down and were NOT forced to close. I got this note this morning from “Web.Informer.com”:


Hello,
Thanks for your message. Could you please send us a direct link to this info on website.informer.com? We will remove it asap.
Best Regards, 
Website.Informer Project Team

On Fri, 2 Aug at 11:28 PM , MARILYN ARMSTRONG <fivedawgz@gmail.com> wrote:

This is a full spammer website stealing other people’s material without authorization or permission. Does not create any of his/her own material but steals it, largely from WordPress but probably from others, too. Remove him. Dangerous.

79011:414394


 But the message on the actual website (Tygpress.com) was this:


Tygpress.com is temporarily out of service due to technical issues. will be back soon…

Tygpress.com was created with an intention to create a blog search site, but due to some techical issues, full contents of respective sites were being displayed instead of just excerpts as intended. We thank the complainants for bringing this issue to our notice and We are extremely sorry to the content owners.

This is a literal paste-down, so the misspellings are (for once) not mine.

This comment does NOT indicate they were closed down but are obviously getting hit by a lot of complaints. Duh.

And this site is one of the thousands, maybe millions of such sites. They are all over the world. We have no control over them. This particular one actually had a platform on another server, but many of them have their own servers and work for governments who not only do not care about “us,” but are intentionally out to get us.

Be careful what you post, especially if you have any intention of publishing it. Do NOT publish original artwork if it is something you intend to sell or simply is very dear to you.

These pieces of scum are everywhere and they are targeting every single one of us. I’ve been hacked. Fandango has been hacked. I’m sure many more of us have been hacked. Some of us got off lightly, others had to pay for it. I was also locked out of my own computer, but I spent two full days UNlocking.


PLEASE BACK UP YOUR MATERIAL AND DO IT REGULARLY, EVEN THOUGH IT IS BORING.
MORE IS BETTER.


When you clean off your computer, you clean off EVERYTHING THAT WAS ON IT. You are effectively wiping your hard drive which is fine if your material was backed up onto at least TWO SEPARATE EXTERNAL DRIVES and the rest of it lives on external drives belonging to companies like Amazon and Dell and other major cloud providers.

Google is useless. They won’t do anything and we won’t even discuss Facebook.

WordPress is equally useless. You can enter into their “blocked” functions anything you like, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. They have no effective security arrangements.

No matter WHAT they say, they are lying.

They have also made it (by the way), nearly impossible to get material from new folders in graphics (photographs, in essence).

All you get now is a list. You can’t see any of the images in the folder.

For those of us that are serious photographers and artists, that means you have to carefully name each item in every new folder– or any older folder you haven’t yet opened.

This is going to require endless hours of additional work for everyone who uses a lot of graphics content. I haven’t even bothered to complain to them, though I suppose I should. From previous experience, when they’ve decided to do something exceptionally stupid, pointless, and counter-productive, they never go back and make it work the way it used to. But this is worse than usual. This is AWFUL.

I’m getting close to giving up. It’s not that I don’t love you all, but I’m paying for the privilege of being virtually completely hackable. I’m running some of the world’s worst software and being talked down to like an infant by the baby morons running their “technical” division — our glorious “happiness engineers.”

All they want is more money when they can’t even deliver what we are already paying for.


NOTE: Adjacent to the “select” section from which you need to pull up a picture, there’s a small icon (I can’t copy it, my snap-catch function won’t work on that screen), but if you click on it, it offers you some choices about how to see images. Anyone who recently got a Microsoft “upgrade” will probably have this problem. Select one of the images!


 

FEELING PIQUED? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Pique

Pique is such a cute little word. It’s the right word, mind you, but it doesn’t really cover the territory.

I am in a life and death struggle with AT&T, which is interesting because I’ve closed my account with them. Apparently, for the privilege of not working with them, you have to pay for that, too. In their system, if you call them, you have to pay them for “an upgrade” even if you don’t upgrade. Even if you were talking about it, decided not to and hung up. They will still bill you between $70 and $90 (assuming you didn’t buy a phone … more if you actually bought anything at all) for having talked to them.

That’s a hefty bill when you’ve actually done nothing at all except discuss what plans are available. I have concluded — and not lightly or without serious thought — that anything they tell you via customer service is a lie. Either it’s an outright lie intended to just shut you up and get you off the phone, or it’s something they made up just to get you off the phone. I call that “making it up as you go along” but perhaps you can come up with a more colorful name.

To get “make it up as you go along” service, you need a manager. They will even send you “the deal” in writing and no one else will have heard of it. They will give you long and complicated case numbers, but no one will do anything about them. If you are working with my bank, they will tell you they’ve taken care of it and if you call back, you’ll discover no one did anything at all. They completely ignored you.

That’s the third part: completely ignoring you while pleasantly agreeing with everything you say.

Why is customer service like this? It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when customers were valued. For that matter, when workers were valued. Now, no one is valued unless they own the company or run a major piece of it.

The important thing to remember is:

Trying to find peace with customer service

They will tell you they understand your frustration. They do not comprehend the difference between “pique,” “frustration,” and “lethal rage.” They don’t realize that 9 or 10 pointless conversations with customer service don’t make you a bit frustrated. They make you angry enough to want to strangle whoever is on the other end of the line.

Pity you can’t reach through and grab them by the throat, isn’t it?

I’m feeling a little bit “piqued” at AT&T. Just a bit of pique. Nothing serious.

HOW PUBLIC? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Public

Having been hacked and fortunately gotten off relatively lightly, I’m wary about information being given away online. You can’t protect yourself entirely, especially as a blogger. No matter what you do, anyone with the will and interest can find out whatever they want about it … but within the limits of our abilities, I try to make sure I don’t leave the barn door open.

The lock might not be the best in town, but considering that the U.S. Government has been hacked and my bank has been hacked twice, as well as Adobe, Lands’ End, Equifax, Facebook … and who knows how many more have been taken down by hackers, I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything in my arsenal that would stop a determined hacker.

The requirements of writing mean that you are going to get at least a little bit personal. The question always remains, “HOW personal?” At what point does “personal” mean too much?

It doesn’t help that the stores, banks, and agencies we work with online appear to be easily hacked. In my case, material that got hacked on Facebook was sold or given (I suspect sold) to Cambridge Analytica who then sold my personal material to any hacker with the money to pay for their list. Of course, there was the recent international round of router hackers. I got a new router, but who knows if the new one has any more stopping power than the original? As far as protecting ourselves from people who hack people and steal their money for a living, we are relatively helpless.

All of this hacking stuff is some version of identity theft and short of not using any online stuff, which these days is nigh unto impossible, there’s no way we can prevent identity theft.

You do your best, but compared to the pros in the field, we don’t have a lot of power to protect ourselves. As soon as they invent a new “protection,” hackers figure out a way to tear it down.

So how public do we dare be? Most of us are already public, there’s not much to hide.

Whether you are a blogger or merely connect to accomplish normal business with banks and other organizations — like, say, the Motor Vehicles Department — we will always be a few steps behind the people who do it because that’s how they make a living.

I always wonder if the damage they do bothers them … or are they simply without any kind of conscience? I’m betting the latter.

In a more perfect world, we would have made sure everyone was well protected before we offered online service, but this is far from a perfect world. And apparently, getting less perfect minute-by-minute.

COMMOTION, CHAOS, HACKING, AND HOW MUCH DO I HATE FACEBOOK? Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Commotion


It started, though I didn’t know it, when Facebook released my personal data to Cambridge Analytica. Eventually, they sold the data to who-knows-who in the hacking world and two credit cards and a money-account got hacked.

I thought this had been sorted out. Police reports. Lots of emails. Far too many conversations on telephones with fraud investigators and a complete reinstallation of my operating system because, not content with stealing my money, they also destroyed my computer.

Lucky there were other computers in the house.

Yesterday, I got a note saying that Synchrony Bank decided I must have “given away my account information.” I couldn’t prove that the hackers were hackers. And, after all, they had my name, address and phone number (thank you, Facebook!), so it must be my fault.

But those transactions never occurred. They were canceled so the “recipients” never actually got anything, but according to their computer, these transactions — or at least one of them — did end up on the bank’s computer. Walmart, whose card it was and PayPal, the paymaster in this all agree there was no transaction, but Synchrony Bank, who owns the computer, is sure it did. I’ve talked to various Wal-Mart divisions (and there are many) and I have paperwork from PayPal (also Synchrony Bank), all of which agree the transactions didn’t happen, but Synchrony wants me to pay for a transaction that never happened and apparently, the release of my name and other personal information by sleazeball Zuckerstump doesn’t count.

You’d think these guys would actually talk to each other.

First, the released my data to Cambridge Analytica. That led to having my identity stolen and my computer hacked. How many new ways can they find to become worthless?

I’m at the end of my wits. This commotion has gone on intermittently since last May. I’m tired and frustrated beyond belief. Just about ready to swallow a handful of tranquilizers and sleep for the rest of my life.

Commotion? You want to know about commotion?

If we weren’t so poor, I’m pretty sure I could have my lawyer call their lawyer and it would be fixed in a split second. We don’t have a lawyer on tap … or the money to get one. So on and on it goes.

Commotion, yeah. Also chaos and a certain amount of misery.

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED – Marilyn Armstrong

We are shaken, but not stirred

I read all the James Bond books before they made it into the movies. I loved the books and for me, the movies were more like parodies than anything to do with Ian Fleming’s writing. The whole martini thing about “Shaken, not stirred,” always struck me as weird.

Why would it make a difference? Not being a drinker of any kind, much less a martini drinker, I’m probably the wrong one to ask.

Nonetheless, we are personally shaken even if not fully stirred.

Garry at the Police station in Uxbridge

In the course of a month and a half, we’ve been the victim of an intended more than $7000 in credit card theft. Yesterday, I realized for the first time (I can be a little slow on the uptake) that this started at least three weeks before I realized anything was happening and continued after I was sure it was fixed.

I think it’s fixed now. I hope so because I have done absolutely everything I was supposed to do. We are lucky we didn’t lose any of our so-called money. The credit card companies are less lucky and have spanked us thoroughly on our credit ratings. Not that I can blame them. They’ve taken the entire hit leaving us shaken and fearful. Feeling incredibly vulnerable. But no poorer than we were before.

Main street in late June

I didn’t know how bad it was until I looked at my monthly credit report. Credit Karma is free. They track your credit, the amounts you’ve spent, suggest cheaper cards or loans … and they are really free. If you are not a member, I suggest you sign up. If I hadn’t looked at the report, I would not have known what was happening.

One card leaped off the screen at me, a card on which I knew I had used less than $1000 in credit and suddenly, a $5000 bill was staring at me. I called the company. Because the card had already been declared as damaged — involved in a fraud attempt — it was closed. I couldn’t actually get to any information online and had no idea about how much money had been taken. It looked like much more than I had thought.

Back to the post office to file the reports. Round two. Hopefully the final round.

The guy at the bank gave me a list — down to the penny — of all the hits. I felt sick. Until I saw that report, I had no idea something had been going on. There were no flare guns, no strange packages, nothing to alert me. It had been going on since the beginning of May, more than 3 weeks before I knew there was a problem. A week more before I realized the extent of the problem. The day before yesterday, I got it.

“This is considered identity theft, ” the bank manager said. This was confirmed by the guy at the police station because we had to go back with all this additional information. Previously, all I knew about attempted thefts. This was the real deal. The took the money and laughed all the way to the shops where they bought stuff.

Truck parts. Lots of truck parts. I didn’t know truck parts could cost so much money, but I suppose when you steal them for free, whatever you get for them on the market is “free money” for you. Not for me or the bank, but a hop, skip, plus a little jump, made some thief happy.

A quick trip to the grocery. Frozen pizza for dinner. I was in no mood for cooking.

I assume big parts of our own private military hackers are on top of this stuff. Even though nothing is reported in the press, I would imagine this doesn’t get a lot of press coverage. All it would do is warn the targets.

The brightest — and funniest — moment of the day is when Garry called me from the police station and when I looked at the phone, it said “Interview Room 3.” It was a very NCIS moment.

I have alerted the police, all three credit monitoring agencies, filed reports with everyone. Deleted embedded copies of my credit cards from anywhere I knew they existed. Each time I use a shop, I will have to replace the card numbers then and as soon as the transaction is complete, delete it.

No matter what anyone says, if they are keeping your credit card information, your data is NOT secure.

These days, I’m not sure what secure even means.

NOTORIOUS HACKERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Notorious

The day after I got hacked, it hit the TV headlines. Every network news station had the information at the top of the hour: REBOOT YOUR ROUTER. Apparently, millions of home users had already been whacked in Europe. Now The Notorious Gang was here, hacking home routers and stealing credit card information.

It turns out they are the same Russian-funded group connected to Cambridge Analytica — Steve Bannon’s babies — and of course, you-know-who, the guy who occupies the White House. And it all started with Facebook. The social media site I only use as PR for my blog.

Speaking of notorious, these thieves have been known to rake in billions of dollars in a single day, probably mostly from people like me who really can’t afford it.

I didn’t even know that this particular card had been hacked and only found out when the card wouldn’t go through because it kept saying the address was wrong. I finally called the company and the address they had was nothing to do with mine.

I’d like to say I have no idea how they manage to hack our cards, but it isn’t that difficult. I’m no hacker, but I understand the rudiments — and that three-digit code on the back of your card? You realize that any routine number-running mini-application could track it down in about 2 seconds. Maybe less.

I still have to look it up, but thieves — NOTORIOUS hackers — don’t bother. They just push a key. A program runs. They find the number and are charging thousands of dollars to your accounts a minute later.

I’ve gotten everything back, though I have a lot of closed accounts at the moment. My credit score took a hit too. Fraud apparently makes credit companies wary of extending credit. Who can blame them?

What a pity they didn’t announce the notorious router hacking crew until the day AFTER they hacked me. What a pity that Facebook gave out my personal information to hackers, no doubt for a fee.

How notorious does something need to be before we notice it’s happening to us? Apparently pretty damned notorious!