Rebecca Herold

The Privacy Professor's
Tips of the

Blackmail and hazards and theft... oh my! 

Threats are coming out everywhere. Here's the scoop on this month's scares: 
You most likely know what the big news in social media is right now - ongoing changes to Facebook (at least a dozen with this last round, including the annoying right-side constant-update feed). 


Regardless of what you think about the "updates" Facebook regularly unleashes on its users, one thing is for sure: they'll keep coming. The latest changes are disturbing for reasons other than minor discomfort with the way your news feed page looks now; one can be flat-out intrusive and invites peepers into your personal life if you, and your friends, do not have privacy settings to keep out such voyeurs! If you have not yet, change your Facebook settings now so that strangers can't view your personal information. What's more, make sure your kids' setting are changed as well; there are way too many creeps who are trolling FB pages for young victims. Here's a brief article I wrote about this topic, and easy directions to fix the problem. (For now.)


New to Facebook - Subscribers

Subscribers are basically folks who want to see all your public posts in their newstream, without actually having you agree to be their friend. You can turn off the ability for people to stalk...er, subscribe to you if you do not want this.  This is pretty much like those who "follow" others on Twitter.  Except, of course, Twitter is a much different type of information-sharing community.  And, on FB, your friends' settings can also make some  of your comments to them public and viewable by subscribers even if none of your settings are "public". 


Most of the folks I know who use FB do so to be able to interact with people they actually know since so many more types of information are shared on FB as opposed to a community where communications are made 140 characters at a time.  So, if you are not comfortable having someone you've never heard of before, or someone you know but who you would rather not know, stalking you and your wall posts, photos, videos, etc. on FB, you can turn off the ability for folks to "subscribe" to you. 


Most of you will have had "subscribers" turned on when FB switched to this new format.  To disallow folks from subscribing to you do the following:


1. Go to your profile (click your name at the top right portion of the screen to get there)

2. Click Subscribers link on the left menu

3. Click the Edit Settings button in the top right part of your screen

4. Click "Off" in the drop down menu to the right of "Subscribers"


Note: when you hide or decline a friend request, that person can still subscribe to your public updates if you have allowed subscribers. So, if you don't want people you don't know seeing all your posts automatically within their newstream, including your comments to others, turn off subscribers.




Hitting the pavement in search of treats...

(and uncovering tricks along the way)




What may look sweet could be the just opposite, dressed up in a decent costume. Is that offer, warning or big news legit? Ripped from the headlines and with The Privacy Professor's advice on keeping goblins out of your shadow, here are this month's...

Tips, tricks and tidbits


You get a message that looks like it's from an attorney. It is chock-full of legalese. It indicates you must take action. It carries a link to what appears to be a law office's website. What is it? A scam. Don't supply personal information to any organization that you do not do business with, and before you take up business with an unknown organization, do your research to ensure they're legitimate. And, always make sure you know exactly why anyone needs the information they're requesting of you, and how they will keep it secure.


Have you received a notice that almost sounds like blackmail? Some warn that there are photos you may not realize you have on your computer. And these photos are supposedly worthy of prosecution or jail! Don't reply or respond to these types of messages. Consider reporting them to the FBI. 


Some folks now depend almost completely upon social media to get their news. Then, they spread what they read throughout their own networks. From "breaking news" that a celebrity has died to official-sounding national announcements, scammers and hackers create false headlines all the time in the hopes that unsuspecting social media users will spread their trumped-up news that may even appear to come from credible sources. You must understand that all tweets and posts cannot be depended upon to be true. Check out multiple major newswires before you repeat what you read.


There's a different brand of identity theft making waves now. People are committing crimes and then after getting caught, presenting the identification of someone else so they can be blamed! Keep an eye on your wallet and check it frequently to make sure its contents haven't been hijacked.  


A phishing scheme claiming to come from the IRS is making the rounds again. You may receive an official-looking email (I did!) that has several URLs - some legit and some not - that indicates you must communicate with the federal government regarding your taxes. If you click on one link, you'll be directed to the real IRS site, so that may reassure you enough to click on the next link (the wrong one) which will take you to a malicious site. Remember that the government is not going to ask you to click on a link in an email and supply personal information. They will contact you by postal mail -- not by emails that ask you to provide info via links. If any communication such as this supplies a phone number, plug that into a search engine before calling to make sure it belongs to an official government organization.


Have a safe and BOO-tiful (sorry, I couldn't resist!) Halloween and October!



Rebecca Herold & Associates, LLC
Mobile: 515.491.1564, Business: 515.996.2199