Archive for General Online Safety

User Agreements : Selling your Soul

I watched him closely for a few minutes, trying to decide if I should even ask.  I’ve learned over the years that sometimes, I don’t want to know.  Really.  But he’d been studying the words on the screen for longer than I’ve ever seen him read anything that wasn’t printed on the back of a cereal box in bright colors. And when he laughed, I had to know what parallel universe had my 16 year-old son reading the fine print without a colorful picture in sight.  So…I asked.

“Whatcha reading?”  He placed a finger on the computer screen to hold his place like it was a book or something.  I suppressed a smirk.

A smirk that quickly morphed into shock when he answered, “The User Agreement for GameStation.”

“What?  You’re reading a User Agreement?  I can’t get you to read the notes I leave you on the fridge.  And …and why were you laughing?”   Turns out, he agreed to give his soul to GameStation that day.  No.  Seriously.  That was part of the ‘User Agreement.’  Read more

Why Privacy Matters

“How did you find me?”  I had to ask.  I felt like he at least owed me an answer since I had politely answered all of the questions he’d had about the car I had owned a few months earlier.  A car he recently bought from a used car dealer.

“I back-tracked the VIN number through the DMV website and found your information through the state’s online database.”  His response sent a wave of uneasiness through me.  This was no tech geek; he was an ordinary guy who worked in construction.  I was floored by how easily he was able to track me down.  I immediately began imagining what someone with even a little computer background could find out about me.  When I hung up the phone, I began a little digging of my own.  I was surprised at what I found.  Read more

Avoiding Lines and Hackers

The store was a madhouse and I was one Furby away from the possibility of a rap sheet.  The irony of the situation, I didn’t even want a Furby.  I wanted out of that store.  I wanted to be in my PJs, with a cup of cocoa, sitting in the comfort of my cozy house.  But I wasn’t.

No.  I was in retail hell.  The problem was that I had heard too many horror stories about online hackers from my mother-in-law (who, might I add, has way too much time to peruse the internet for said horror stories), and I had conceded to holiday shopping with her instead of online in the wake of those stories.   However, at that moment, in the midst of the Furby fury, I almost didn’t care about any horrors online shopping might bring.  After all, in our world of online banking, PayPal and eBay, someone had to be shopping safely online.  Right? Read more

The Guilty Hour: How Scammy Sites Quietly Convince You to Buy

It’s kind of a generally understood rule among many internet marketers that most of their sales are going to come on weeknights right after dinner time. Some even call it the “guilty hour.”

Take Mindy, for example. She’s not too different from any other working woman in her 40s – her days are full of stress and staring at spreadsheets, and her evenings are chaotic, making sure kids are where they need to be and fed. Once it all calms down and she’s full, she plops down on the couch with a glass of wine and her iPad. And she looks for things to make it all better.

More than once this has led her to sites promising magic diet pills, EXTREME WEIGHT LOSS, and life-changing supplements. She’s drawn in by those big, promising headlines, but it’s the photos that seal the deal for her. She sees the beautiful women in bikinis, the stunning “before and after” shots, the doctor seemingly nodding his approval. The Dr. Oz screenshot is especially useful during the guilty hour.

Despite being educated and intelligent, Mindy has been taken for a ride every time. It’s because she’s walking into a system designed to hold her hand in a quick sprint toward a purchase. It isn’t a magic trick, but the way many e-Commerce sites get people like her to buy is a bit of sleight of hand. Read more