Sunday, March 7, 2021

Locksmith Cons

 



I just completed a script on the topic of locksmith scams. This week, I plan to film this episode. It will be uploaded to YouTube and accessible to all. 

When someone is locked out of their home or car they want help quickly right? 

Well, this tendency to draw out the mobile phone and do a quick search for a locksmith can lead to problems. 

These problems can include overlooking red flags of con artists looking to over charge you. Like drilling and replacing a lock that is supposedly too old.

According to the Better Business Bureau victims will get a low quote over the phone...as low as $15. 

But when service person arrives, there's many reasons to spike up the costs. Customers sometimes end up paying hundreds of dollars after the onsite estimate. 

How and why do this happen? 

Events unfold just as customer contacts a con artist. A con artist may have a generic greeting like, "Hello...locksmith services." A professional company will always answer with the name of the business. 

Another thing that should raise eyebrows if the purported company uses logos or brands on it's website that is similar to legitimate places of business. Also, is there a physical address for the merchant? 

Just like researching a product on an online store, we need to make sound efforts in checking out contractors we plan to use. 

The Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org/ScamTracker?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BBB.org/ScamTracker&utm_campaign=scam-alert and the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2021/03/when-its-not-really-government-calling?utm_source=govdelivery are reliable sources to check ratings, and to make or review complaints. 

Does the company vehicle have a logo? Does the service person have an identification (yes, you have a right to see it). You also have a right to get a itemized estimate when it comes to labor, parts, mileage, and service fees. 


My funny and informative show will dive into this topic of locksmith scams. It will show how these cons happen and offer proactive ways to be vigilant. 

You can stay updated by checking out my YouTube Channel Prime Time Prevention at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg. Anyone can access the funny scam prevention videos but subscribers will get alerts as soon as a new video is uploaded. 

Until next time, stay safe and stay secure! 

Ken Harris

Puppeteer/Digital Fraud Fighter

Shadow World Puppets 

https://www.kenharrisnews.com










Friday, February 26, 2021

That Darn Gone Scam!

 



I am thrilled to make available my comedy short film, "That Gone Darn Scam" available for FREE on FilmFreeway from February 26 to March 1st at https://filmfreeway.com/ThatDarnGoneScam?fbclid=IwAR0IlWf2DEJ1OMtEKWsUt4IMfHnOMAVV_ev5eL4rjta6KxQOmavkE3C-0P8

This comedy highlights the "grandparent scam". I hope viewers find it just as entertaining as it is educational!

According to Sam Kunjukunju of the American Banker's Association, 10,000 baby boomers in the country turn 65 years old everyday. They are vulnerable targets for scams. Exploited seniors endure physical ramifications as well as emotional scars. 

Many of us know or can relate to a senior. This is why it's important for us to stay informed and be vigilant. 

Feel free to share this short movie with family and friends! I am sure they will enjoy it!

If you enjoy the film, be sure to check out my weekly show Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV. It runs weekdays from 9:30am to 10am and every 6 hours with new episodes every Friday! 

Here is the information for Spondulics TV, a new platform with movies, shows, and programs aimed at elevating financial capability for all.

Eastern Time Zone. Programs repeat every 6 hours (7am, 1pm, 7pm at https://spondulics.org/talent FYI on app downloads: Roku 171 FireTV 9 AppleTV 6 iOS Mobile 24 Android Mobile 6 AndroidTV 6

As the first America Puppeteer to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention through a web series, I am proud of my association as a volunteer AARP digital fraud fighter to help others in a creative way.

Thank you!

Stay Safe and Stay Secure!





Thursday, December 31, 2020

Targeted Attacks

 



What is Behind Online Targets Attacks?

 

Most recently a cyber attacker compromised a friend’s Facebook account and sent a series of odd messages enticing his followers. This can happen to anybody. Hackers can be individuals or groups who target a person or organization. Sophisticated attacks can even be orchestrated by a foreign government with a specific agenda such as political, military, or economic gain. 

 

A lot of planning goes into this. Cyber crooks start by studying websites and social media accounts. They harvest key information, such as backgrounds, structures, acquaintances, and where the prospective target is located.

 

If a business or consumers phone list is accessible online, they can identify victims and their roles, including levels of management. They are keen on extracting social media profiles and data that has been publicly shared. 

 

Afterwards, scammers identify the specific individuals to target. Like a scholar researcher, a hacker will gather all the information they can snare and it’s not limited to social media. Messages on public forums, pictures you shared, interests, and hobbies shared by family and friends can make you vulnerable. 

 

A spear phishing attack is one of the popular methods used. Attackers customizes a specific phishing email for a certain target. Since they have familiarized themselves with a target in mind, they can generate an email that may appear very convincing. This message includes an urgent request to have sensitive documents, such as personnel records, sent over. When you respond, you assume you are communicating with a person you know. This is how a scammer can use this trick in having you email sensitive data. 

 

Accepting virus infected attachments from a shady sender compromised personal and financial accounts. These malicious attacks request receivers to enable macros or introduces a link to click on. After you comply with this, you are taken to a website that hacks your operating system. After the cyber attacker gains access to your computer, all the information on it is compromised and your device can be used as a launching point to cripple other systems in your network. 

 

Antivirus software and other technological safeguards alone cannot quell targeted attacks. What you can do is limit the information you publicly share. This will make it challenging for 

thieves to research and target you. 

 




Here are some other signs of a targeted attack.

 

  1.  Phone calls or messages with a sense of urgency.
  2.  Someone pleading with you to bypass or ignore work related procedures. 
  3. The “from address” in their email is work related; but the “reply-to-address” is someone’s personal email attachment. 

 

Be mindful of email attachments, most certainly the ones that ask you to enable macros. You should open attachments that you expect from trusted senders. Here are some things to look for in these cases. 


  1. The tone or content don’t seem right.
  2. Misspellings with the signature.
  3. Odd language.
  4. Calling you by a name you never go by. 

 

Phishing attacks can be avoided. You can learn more about this scam from an episode of my show, “Cyber Brats” on Spondulics TV at https://spondulics.org/watch?v=17


You can also check out my website at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe


Until next time, stay sage and stay secure!


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV!

 Spondulics TV launches Friday, November 20, 2020. 

The mission of this new FREE digital platform is to elevate financial capability for all with shows and events from content creators. 

My show Cyber Brats, a half hour program where I spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention tips through puppetry, has a daily 9:30am slot. 

New episodes will be available beginning each Friday!



I am thrilled to have completed 8 episodes for this year to help people with safety tips in a hilarious way!

Also, I plan to have a 3 part Christmas Special air on December 11th! 

You don't want to miss "A Very Cyber Holiday" where I highlight the issues of Online Shopping Scams, Gift Card fraud, and Charity shams!



This special is like a prequel to the existing tv series. It explains how convicted fraudster Cyber Sly changed his bad ways and become a radio talk show host. 













Don't miss Cyber Brats on Spondulics and you can also check out my Youtube web series at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg?view_as=subscriber



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Weak Passwords

 

                                                  (A scammer puppet made from scratch)


"Weak Passwords" by Ken Harris

 

How often do you think of the significance of passwords to your personal and business accounts? Are you complacent in properly managing safeguards to crucial networks that matter to you? If none of these thoughts have no weight in your daily life, perhaps you should reconsider. 

 

It’s actually no different than the importance of ensuring our homes are properly secured when away. A weak password is like an open door to a willing cyber thief. 

 

Here are some basics to keep in mind about passwords. 

 

  • Create a strong password by making it long. Every character makes it strong.
  • Ensure your chosen password is difficult to guess. 
  • Avoid using birthdate, pet names, or anything that you shared on social media. 

 

You might consider using a paraphrase as it is one of the simplest ways to create a strong password. This is made up of many words such as, “I need to go to the bank”, or use of random words like, “cloud-mountain-thunder-journey”. Just select one that is easy for your to remember. 

 

When creating a password, you might be prompted to include an assortment of symbols, numbers, or upper and lowercase numbers. 

 

Whatever you do, always use a different, unique password for each account. In event your account is compromised by a hacker, you will have some peace of mind knowing your other accounts are still secured. 

 

If remember many passwords poses trouble, you should consider utilizing a password manager. This is a special program that securely stores all of your passwords. You only need to remember the actual password manager. 

 

Your password is a secret and it should stay a secret. Don’t share it with coworkers or your supervisor. If anyone knows, it is no longer a secret and so much for your peace of mind. 

 

I would not use public computers to log onto online accounts such as checking email at hotels or libraries. Since anyone can access these computers, they may be infected with malware. It’s best to log into accounts from computers or mobile devices that can be trusted. 

 

Some websites use security questions for your accounts. You offer answers to personal questions in case you forget your password and need to reset it. Here’s the problem with that. Some of these questions or answers can be found online or on your social media accounts. Only use information that is not publicly known about you, or simply make up answers to questions. 

 

Some accounts offer two-step verification also called two factor authentication or multi-factor authentication. This requires a one-time code in addition to your password to log in. A unique code is generated in a special app on your smartphone that is used with your password to log-in. 

 

Whenever possible, enable two-step verification so that your accounts are protected by more than just a password by itself. Weak or compromised passwords are one of the most common ways cyber attackers break into organizations or online accounts.

 

If you believe you accidentally shared a work-related password or believe it may have been hacked or stolen, be sure to change it right away. Afterwards, notify your technical support team asap. 

 

I use family friendly puppetry to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention. 


See how I use puppets to spread tips at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg?view_as=subscriber


Check out my website at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe for more information! 


Stay safe and stay secure!


Ken Harris

Puppeteer/Filmmaker


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV!

(rehearsals for an upcoming episode)

Hey there,

I have great news!

My Youtube web series, "Cyber Brats" was selected for regular programming on a new streaming TV platform called "Spondulics". 

This Fall, FREE weekly 30 minute episodes of my show about cyber security awareness will be accessible on this platform on their website, Instagram, twitter, and Facebook media pages. 

In addition, it can be watched from apps such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Android, and others. 

I am beyond thrilled to have another avenue in our vast digital world to help spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention tips in a unique and funny way. 

This is my new official logo.

As you may already know, Cyber Brats, while it is family friendly, is geared towards consumers and businesses. 

Cyber Brats takes place in a fictional radio station. It is hosted by Cyber Sly, a former con artist turned tech expert, and cohost Alex Midas, a former business man who lost everything to a scammer. 

I added some new faces to this program. You will also see Chuck Green, the goofy station manager, and Will Shivers, the shy information officer. 

Each week, the show will examine topics such as social engineering, malware, phishing, passwords, and other strategies used by scammers.

The ultimate goal is to convey how these scams work and share tips to keep you vigilant. 

Once you learn how these tactics occur, you can implement this and share it with family, friends, and coworkers. 

Knowledge and practice is the key to safeguarding financial security and as sophisticated schemes change over time, we can learn and pickup new online safety habits. 

As an AARP Digital Fraud Fighter, I am happy to share what I know or learn on a regular basis. Thank you for your support in helping me do this. By you being a subscriber, I am in a position to exchange information on a broader scale. 

Stay tuned for the 1st episode of Cyber Brats within a few weeks where I'll being using puppets in a fun and constructive way to spread scam prevention. 

In the meantime, check out my video rehearsals for an episode below!

Thank you for being a Viewing! It means a lot to me! You can subscribe for my free monthly newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe

Stay Safe and Stay Secure!

Ken Harris 

P.S. If you haven't already, check out the scam tracking map in your neighborhood at https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/tracking-map/?intcmp=AE-SCM-FRD-SUBNAV-MAP
This is a useful tool to see what's been reported in your neck of the woods as well as reporting any issues and accessibility to the scam podcast Michelle Kosinski and renown expert Frank Abagnale!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ways Fraudsters Can Fool You

Ways Fraudsters Can Fool You




Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

A segment of my web series "Cyber Brats" was recently shown at the StringsNThings virtual puppet festival from San Pedro, CA in July! Be sure to check it out above!


2019 was a profitable year for fraudsters. Nationwide, they targeted their deceptive tactics at slightly over 16 million consumers. Based on the statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft alone saw a lost of 17 billion dollars.

This year, with the avalanche of the COVID-19 paralyzing our economic system, con artists has already taken advantage of cooking up new types to take advantage of the uncertainty.  Stories relating to unproven treatments, medicines, fake contact tracing agencies, and so many more hideous acts has sprung up around the country.

Next year, when the tallies for this year is compiled by the FTC, Better Business Bureau, and AARP, I'm sure the figures from last year will show an increase.

Vigilance is the key to decreasing our vulnerabilities to fraud and I found what better way than to share 13 common scams listed by AARP. By comprehending the basics safeguards in protecting out our finances, we can adapt to making better decision in the course of our daily lives.

At the bottom preceding this content I will also include links to resources that can either help you with a concern or provide additional information regarding online safety.

Identity Theft



Why does identity theft occur? Have you ever given that much thought why computer criminals do this? Here our 2 primarily reasons. 
  • To falsely apply for a credit card
  • To use someone's profile to get government benefits. 

How is this done?

  • An example of phishing takes form when you are asked to clear a bank account problem by verifying it with a social security number, bank routing number, or birth date. 
  • Gather information by dumpster diving. This can also be taken from inside the office or social media websites.
  • Fake job listings can also trick you into voluntarily sharing sensitive information on a job application. Fraudsters harvest this data and will use or market the contents on the dark web for profit. 


Investment Fraud

Gold Coin Scam 

Scammers will use the struggling economy to pitch this false narrative. You are urged to invest in gold and silver coins because they will eventually spike up in value. These so called precious metals are sold at a 300 to 500% mark up which means you will lose rather than reap the benefits. 

Free Lunch

The goal is to convince you to show up at a seminar and invest in a great investment right away. You are not given the option to thing it through and if you don't commit, you will miss out on the opportunity. The truth is they want your hard earned money and they are gone like the wind. 

Oil and Gas Scams

The ploy is to convince you that a company is using a new technology to drill for oil in an area not frequented prior. Never will they inform that legitimate energy investments carry risks. Also don't expect them to indicate they are a registered broker or registered with the state. 

Additional Scams You Should Know About


Fake Checks

Out of the woodwork you get this call informing you that you won a big prize! But there is a handling fee! They expect you to pay it because they are sending you a cashier check that will cover the processing fee. Ultimately, this check does not clear you are stranded without your prize after paying the fee. Talk about bummer. 

Tech Support

A phone call or pop up on your computer screen tells you your system is infected with a virus. These con artists want you to contact them and give them remote access to your device. What they really want to do is install a real virus and charge you to remove it. Afterwards, they might compel you to buy a useless computer maintenance program. 

Disaster-Related Charity Fraud

This is a prime example of scammers chasing headlines to line their pockets. They do this at the expense of victims who are really in need of help. Beware of phone websites, suspicious calls, and questionable emails. 

Sweetheart Scams

Dating websites is a beehive for con artists seeking to build an emotional connection to victims. Once this is done, he or she asks for money. These internet criminals have no intentions on ever meeting their victims and will resort to communicating via instant messaging and plain old emails.

Timeshare Properties

If you are looking to cash in on your timeshare company there just happens to be a company claiming to have a specific buyer interested. Just pay an upfront fee to proceed. After you do this, this contact person disappears and you are left scratching your head after signing all that paperwork that looked alright to you. 

The Grandparent Scam

What grandparent can refuse a grandchild in some sort of legal trouble. This false narrative comes by way of phone call in the middle of the night from thugs purporting to be a relative in trouble. Victimized grandparents have lost thousands of dollars to the type of scams.  (Just call the parents or the police department in question to confirm the story first!)

Foreign Lottery Scam

It's impossible to win. They are illegal here in the United States. Of course their agenda is to have you pay "taxes" or  a "processing fee" claim your earnings. Please don't wire anything. You didn't win the lottery. 

General Tips

  • Protect your Social Security Number and Personal Information
  • Monitor Your bills and financial statements
  • Check your Credit Reports
  • Safeguard Personal Identification Numbers (PINs and Passwords)

Online Communication

Did you know your can report or forward suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov? 

U.S Mail

Protect your incoming mail. You can stop pre-approved credit cards by calling 1-888-OPT-OUT or visiting https://www.optoutprescreen.com

You can also cut down on junk mail at https://www.dmachoice.org

Do Not Call Registry 1-888-382-1222 or https://www.donotcall.gov

Verify charities at https://www.give.org or at https://charitynavigator.org

Thank you again for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

Stay Safe and Stay Secure!

Ken Harris
Cyber Brats Title Card










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