Routing your info right to Russia

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You’d better read this if you have email or occasionally “get on” the Internet, because you probably have a router.

What is a router? From Wikipedia: “A router is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. Routers perform the traffic directing functions on the Internet. An example of a router would be the owner’s cable or DSL router, which connects to the Internet through an Internet service provider (ISP).”

If you don’t reboot, you may inadvertently be “colluding with the Russians.” The FBI warns that a new version of Russian malware might be residing on your router. The malware called VPNFilter can interfere with your router’s functioning, spy on information being sent over the router, and even render it “inoperable,” according to an FBI statement about the threat.

What You Should Do — NOW:

Update the firmware of your router;

Enable encryption of your password;

Disable Remote Management in your system settings.

If you’re in doubt as to how to accomplish this, call my friend Dennis Edelbrock, the “Computer Guy” at 208-660-1617.

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SUMMER JOBS FOR TEENS, SUMMER PROFITS FOR SCAMMERS:

There has been a huge increase in the number of reported scams targeting teens seeking summer employment. Teens are targeted through emails, websites, print media and robocalls. If you are a teen, or have a teen in your family, make sure to thoroughly check out any job offer, especially job offers from out-of-state or remote locations. A job offer that requires the applicant to pay an up-front fee is usually a scam. Don’t bother with these. Doing yard work or cutting grass in our area is usually far superior to being stranded in an unfamiliar town selling questionable products and services door-to-door.

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HERE’S A NASTY ONE: Social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and others allow almost anyone to “reach out” (I hate that term — one of the new clichés) to anyone using a particular social media platform. Recently, a group of hardcore blackmailers have begun using the sites to target people for blackmail and extortion.

The scam starts like this: A 20-something female sends a friend or contact request. I suspect they do this after viewing the profile of the intended victim. The request usually shows a young woman, scantily and suggestively attired. If the request is accepted, the new young female friend begins an innocent appearing stream of contact through email, private messages and instant messages. The tone of the messages is at first friendly, then overly friendly, ending with overtly suggestive and sexually explicit texts and images.

Finally the scammer asks the target to send some semi-nude and nude photographs of himself. Once the scammer has collected enough embarrassing photos, emails and texts, they demand payment from the target and threaten that if payment is not immediately forthcoming, they will publish the material on the world wide web, for all to see.

I don’t know any man who hasn’t received numerous ”friendship” requests from unknown young women, via social media. I make it my practice not only to NOT respond, but also to block and report these types of attempted contacts. This is no joke. Unwary men have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some have even committed suicide, fearing the humiliation and embarrassment of having compromising material published or sent directly to family, friends and employers.

NEVER GIVE IN TO A BLACKMAILER — CONTACT THE POLICE! The bad guys count on you NOT doing that.

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RECALLED — 220,000 POUNDS OF SPAM: This is especially for my Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean and “Prepper” friends. (I happen to like Spam myself. I’ve got a case or two on my shelf downstairs.)

More than 228,000 pounds of the Minnesota-based Hormel canned meats were recalled after four consumers complained about metal objects in the food. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the canned chicken and pork in question was produced in February at the company’s plant in Fremont, Neb. Those products were shipped throughout the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists the following products in the recall statement: 12-oz. metal cans containing “SPAM Classic” with a “Best By” February 2021 date and production codes: F020881, F020882, F020883, F020884, F020885, F020886, F020887, F020888 and F020889.

INTERESTING NOTE: In Japan and Korea, SPAM is considered a thoughtful gift for a guest to bring to a host, much like flowers or a bottle of wine.

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WARNING: MAGAZINE EXCHANGE: Recently a number of consumers have contacted me about a company going by the name Magazine Exchange, with headquarters in Seminole, Fla. It seems that after being contacted by the company and ordering their favorite magazine for a year, they begin receiving magazines they did not order. Not only that, but they’ve been signed up for multi-year subscriptions. If you have any doubts, go to the Internet and type in “Magazine Exchange Scam.” You’ll see the legion of unhappy consumers and their tales of woe.

REMEMBER: In Idaho, IF YOU DIDN’T ORDER IT, YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT — OR RETURN IT! If you have any questions call me.

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MEDICAL EXPENSES: Be sure to inspect your medical bills carefully. If anything jumps out at you, give me a call and let’s talk about it. Unfortunately, people don’t inspect their medical bills like they should. The attitude is often, “insurance will pay it.” The reality is YOU pay — it just goes through a third party. If the rates for service go up, your insurance will always go up.

In this market, the cost for a simple colonoscopy, by a board certified doctor, ranges between $1,200 and $3,000! If you don’t think there’s a connection between prices for services and what your insurance costs you every month, you need to wake up. There is a direct connection. Be a good consumer and make it your business to know what services cost. A good example is the wheelchair I occasionally use: at a local medical supply retailer, I was told that the cost of the chair depended on which medical insurance company I was insured through. The cost ranged from $1,100 to almost $1,500. I ended up finding the identical wheelchair, from the same manufacturer on Amazon, for $150! That included delivery to my front door at no additional charge. People wonder why insurance costs are skyrocketing? I don’t.

Note: I am in the process of contacting area hospitals and getting their feedback regarding “treatment room rents” for patients who are treated at the facility but not actually admitted to the hospital. This is a complicated issue and will take some in-depth research.

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REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He’s On Your Side”

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I have many more tips and interesting cases that I’m working on. Call me at 208-699-0506, or email me at BillBrooksAdvocate@gmail.com (#GoGetEmBillBrooks) You can follow me at www.billbrooksconsumer advocate.com. I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the broker and owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d’Alene.

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