Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1saleaday.com review

Many people may be wondering about the website 1saleaday.com, a web site that displays several deals for the duration of 24 hours. The problem is that most reviewers of the web site have had a bad experience with 1saleaday.com, and now bid their warning to others. The common complaints included low-grade products, lost shipping orders, and products that are dead on arrival (DOA). I decided to take the risk using paypal to ensure my credit card data was not compromised. I purchased two 6' HDMI cables. After about 2 weeks, the cables arrived and upon inspection, I found them to be a lower-quality product. The total cost for the cables was $5.99 including shipping.

Looking closer at the situation, it only makes sense I got what I got. A company like 1saleaday.com is still out to make a profit. To do this they have to offer low-quality merchandise (or almost unwanted merchandise) to continue to make that profit. They are in the business of making money, but it appears they don't have the resources to handle customer complaints very well. For a company like this, loosing repeat business is a very bad move for these revenue seekers.

My caution to those who are interested in what 1saleaday.com has, you honestly do get what you pay for AND you most likely wont ever get something for nothing.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You get what you pay for - beware of ecaseshop.com

My wife has an iPhone which has cracked on the back plate. I went in search of replacement parts online and decided to take the chance with ecaseshop.com due to good pricing. The web site didn't have reviews online and I decided to take the gamble. I purchased the iPhone 3G Black Housing unit and waited to see what I had purchased. After a couple weeks, the product (made in Hong Kong) showed up and I was exited to use it. I opened it at the post office and found that the plastic seemed really cheap. But I knew the weights and densities might feel different with the metal internals of the phone connected to it. As I went to begin the iPhone cosmetic surgery (with the knowledge that doing this could void any remaining warranty), I found that the tools they had said they would send were not the right tools at all. The "X" and "-" screwdrivers were star-screwdrivers that don't fit at all. I went on to compare the weights and densities of the housings to find that the OEM one was in fact more dense and felt stronger than the one sent by ecaseshop.com. I decided that the risk wasn't worth it and left my wife's phone with the OEM parts. My caution to those interested in ecaseshop.com is to know that you get (sometimes less) than what you pay for. On that note, does anyone want a new iPhone black housing kit?

PS. When I was waiting for the shipment, I got a notice from them saying "if your package has any questions, we'll let you know via email." I guess they know me better than I do.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spokeo - Helpful or Hurtful?

Some people may not have yet heard about spokeo.com, a service that allows people to find others by email, name, phone number, or friends. This alone seems innocent enough, but what happens when they decide to aggregate (or collect) too much personal information about people. What if they had information like how much you make, what your house is worth, your likes/dislikes, contact information, personal pictures of you, phone numbers, address, ethnicity, relationship status, occupation, and credit scores. The fact is they claim to have all this and more.

Spokeo has created a program that searches the web to collect information on you as a person. They store all this data on their servers (which by doing happens to violate most social networking site's terms and conditions).  This information is then sold at a price to others who want to find out your details.

Target Marketing: By having all your information marketing companies can potentially search you out by your salary or other qualifications with regards to what they are trying to sell and then call you, email you, or send you snail mail in attempts to gain your business. This data is worth quite a bit of money to them and the sad part is, you don't get anything but spam for your personal information.

Targeting Youth: Web sites that provide a service are required to inform their users that they must be 18 or older. This has to do with laws in the United States that protect underage kids online. Spokeo however has banners on the web site show underage teenagers (most likely high school kids) using their service to dig up data on friends. While those under the age of 18 (but older than 13) are allowed to use the web site, it is illegal for the company to collect and store information for individuals  under the age of 18. Despite the attempts of Spokeo to filter their collections, they are not able to verify the age of users in their system offering others a way to search and target underage kids. (These girls are most likely looking at people their own age...)

Unencrypted passwords/Password storing: Spokeo offers to connect to your email to download your contact list into their database (they will make money on these emails but you will make nothing) and possibly show you information about your contacts. They don't use any HTTP encryption when you provide this information. This makes it easier for hackers to see your password running over the web and obtain access to your email account to use for whatever illegal activities they desire. This can be especially dangerous when you have this email account linked to bank accounts, auction sites, and other personally sensitive information on the web. Secure HTTP is not difficult to implement, but it does cost about $15-$30 a year, a price they are not willing to pay to keep your passwords safe.

Potential Dangers: With a service providing so much information it definitely opens the doorway for more spear phishing (when people intersect your personal information and use it against you to get money or other things they want). In this case if I was to use Spokeo to get information about your house and I looked up your bank with your unencrypted email account and password, I could then call you pretending to be a bank and tell you that your previous mortgage payment did not go through and that you needed to provide a credit card and make the payment now to avoid various fines. Now of course doing this would be a little more work than the average internet user can do, but definitely could be done by a hacker.

Removing Yourself from Spokeo: If you search yourself and find that you are listed in the system you can ask to have your personal information removed from public view (I doubt this would prevent them from selling your data, but will prevent from others using their system to find you.) To remove yourself do the following:
  1. Go to spokeo.com in your browser and then search yourself by name.
  2. Select your state and city until you find yourself. If you are not listed, you have evaded them for now but you may show up in their system later. Unfortunately you can remove yourself from the system until you are in it.
  3. If you do find your self, load your profile. You may not see all your data since they only show 'previews' of information (these are the same for everyone - but only paid subscribers can see all the data available on you). 
  4. Copy the URL address of your profile. 
  5. Click on the privacy link in the bottom right of the web site. When this page pops up paste the URL into the URL field provided, then provide a junk email address that you have email access to and type the alpha-numeric code. 

You can do this 1 or 2 times with that one email address. This is nice to remove a spouse, family and friends. If you have several junk email accounts you can remove even more of those you care about.

Spreading the word: Send this post to friends and family to spread the word of warning and help others to remove themselves from the Spokeo service.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Craigslist Property Scam - Capital Management

Lately, someone who claims to be "Jason Duvall" from "Capital Management" has been posting housing listings for the Provo/Orem Utah area.  This may or may not be a scam.  We are unsure at this point.  The most recent that I have seen looks like this:

$570 / 3br - ::Apts -3B Luxury Living!:: (provo)

:Apts - 3B Luxury Living!::
-3 Bedrooms + Bonus Room / Office
- 1 and 1/2 New Bathrooms
- New Carpet 
- New Tile Floors
- New Equipped Kitchen W/
Garbage Disposal

$570 ONLY

After emailing them and asking questions, only one question was answered.  This was their reply:

iluvtennis2004 -

Thank you for inquiring about this unit. It's available now. We're looking to fulfill a 9 or 12 month lease.. This lease does include heat and hot water. Tenant pays electricity.. I like to mention the electricity usually runs about $35-$55 a month. We'll waive your move in fees (usually 1 months rent) AND we're offering 2 weeks FREE if you sign a lease before February 28th.

We require a completed credit report for each prospective tenant before scheduling a walkthrough. Please use this link: Fill out the quick credit application and follow the prompts to complete the process. This will also let me qualify you for our zero move-in deposit special.
After you have finished the application, please send your report Confirmation ID and I will get back to you shortly to schedule a viewing and (hopefully) a lease signing!! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Warmest Regards,
Jason Duvall

Capital Management
Sent from my Verizon Wireless Blackberry

Some things about this email were huge signs that I should not follow through:
When I emailed him, I signed it with my name.  When the email was sent back, he used part of my email address as my name.  A credit check is also required before I walk through the place.  If credit checks are required, they are usually only after you agree that you would like to move into the apartment, condo, house, etc.  And lastly, there is no email address, physical address, or telephone number after his name and his company's name.  Upon researching this company, I found no legitimate Capital Managements in Utah.

The email of this person is 2003jasonduvall@gmail.com.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recovering from an Internet Scam

Have you been a victim of an internet scam? Here are several things to begin the recovery process.

The most threatening scam these days is identity theft. I have had friends who have had their identity stolen and credit ruined. Unfortunately, sometimes the ones who steal our identity are people we know and feel we should trust. In one case, a friend's roommate stole her identity to get a cell phone. Another case involved someone's daughter attempting to get a credit card. When talking to an investigator, they couldn't do much more than write up a statement and say they would look into it.

The recovery process for identity theft is a long and bumpy road. In most cases you don't have proof that you didn't authorize the transaction. So what do you do now?

Here are some tips that will help you recover from identity theft. First, carefully look over the information that the thief is now in possession of and think of the possibilities of what they can do with it. In the Madden-Brooks scam listed previously, it appears that the real damage will be that of spam and marketing your information. If you completed the whole credit check process, you may have given crucial information that could be used for stealing your identity.

Second, monitor your expenses and credit aggressively and/or find a legitimate company to help you do so. If you have online banking, make sure you check regularly for unauthorized charges. Credit monitoring also will help you to identify if others have used your personal information. Typically those who steal your personal information will use it in the first year of having it. That isn't to say that they wont use it later, but the likelihood of such is decreased.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another rental scam - nita.blaney@gmail.com

Looking further online for housing we ran into this scam. The email from nita.blaney@gmail.com was received back and oddly enough was fairly identical to the Madden-Brooks properties emails. This one however has a hidden (shortened url) link to the site they want you to visit (although after hitting the tracking website, you end up at www.gofreecredit.com; ironically a domain shorter than the one they give you). They also only provide a general area where "their" place is located, never an actual address. The tracking domain used for the url they provide is launch.roirocket.com.

Biggest mistake? They used the same exact pictures on all their craigslist.org postings.

This one looks a little bit older than Madden-Brooks, but I am confident it's the same people.

As always ask for the actual address of a place your interested in and google an email address your not sure about, see what else they have done.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Craigslist Property Scam - Madden-Brooks Properties (steve78@macmobilemail.com)

Well, my wife and I were looking through places to rent once our current lease expires and we of course went to craigslist.org. While searching craigslist, we found one place that looked and sounded amazing. It's title was: "$385 / 2br - Quiet,Beautiful Layout,Lovely Garden,Grass Yard".

Wow! That's a steal of a deal. Now we approached this situation like most people do thinking that this offer, being too good to be true, was posted in one of two kinds of ways. The first, the poster is dumb. Yes, mean words but it is true. Every now and then someone does something ridiculous for their own reasons (or because they have no reason). The second, is the one who is out to get you and in some way take advantage of our greed. This is because it is human to want something for nothing, like the people crowding around the sample booths at Costco. (I'm guilty.) 

So, what do we do when a deal like this comes along? Well, we email him of course! We want to know the reasoning behind this fantastic offer. The email we received back was very vague and never addressed the questions we originally emailed the poster about. The email received was this:
Hi and thank you for your interest,
   My inbox was flooded today with inquiries so I'll do my best to answer some of the questions:
   1)       Cable, wireless internet, heat, water, and electricity are included in the monthly rental fee.
   2)       The security deposit amount depends on your credit score.
   3)       Move-in can begin as early as next month.
   4)       I haven't gotten around to taking more pictures yet but I will be taking groups of interested parties for showings later this week.
   Due to the overwhelming response I've included a preliminary rental application for any interested parties. I only want to converse with people who are serious about actually moving into this property. So if you are interested in a showing and further information, please fill out the attached application and email it to me so that I can get back to you soon.
   I look forward to hearing from you,
  Steve Madden
  Madden-Brooks Properties
My wife, being the smart woman she is, started Google searching the name Madden-Brooks properties. There are no viable results. One result on craigslist.org is now reporting this is a scam. I would agree. The email the sender uses is not from a business but a spoofed email. The email also included a PDF file of a rental application. The file asks for good sell-able data about you including your birthday, full name, email, phone number, previous address, credit score (with a link to www.YesFreeCreditScore.com, a forwarded domain with tracking pixel commonly used to track users on the internet).

Two major red flags for us were the fact that the original posting didn't list an address and that people couldn't see it until they filled out the application.

I am going to fill it out with bogus information and see if I get a reply from the sender using a free junk email address.

My advice to those looking for good deals online is to thoroughly check everything because good deals rarely happen. Please leave your comments if you have more information about this scam. Thanks.

Email of scammer: steve78@macmobilemail.com

Original craigslist.org posting: http://provo.craigslist.org/apa/1544863861.html
Craigslist scam warning post: http://charlotte.craigslist.org/apa/1548067840.html 

In case the posting has been removed, here is what the user posted:

* Air conditioning
* Central heat
* Fireplace
* High/Vaulted ceiling
* Walk-in closet
* Tile floor
* Dining room
* Breakfast nook
* Dishwasher
* Refrigerator
* Stove/Oven
* Microwave
* Granite countertop
* Washer Dryer
* Cable-ready
* High-speed internet
thnkxx for looking

Pictures used on the original craigslist.org post are below: 

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