Fighting the bad guys


Around here, we have two smartphones. I have had one for a long time now and we convinced my wife that she should have one and we get rid of the landline. Actually, it was a salesperson at The Source that had the final shove when he said that she could have the same number as the land line.

The fam and I tried to get her to get a completely different number but that was a non-starter since she really wanted people that only knew of us by the old phone number to remain connected. So, we dropped the issue.

It’s been about a year now since we made the move and I’m really a slow learner. After we take the dog for a stroll, my first impulse upon entering the house is to check the answering machine. Will I ever get over this? I’m Exhibit A for “old habits die hard”.

When we had a land line, caller ID wasn’t an option here even though we could conceivably display the information on the handsets.

As anyone with a smartphone knows, these days it isn’t uncommon to get unsolicited phone calls all the time. In a previous life, they still came but they mostly seemed somewhat legitimate – carpet cleaning, duct work cleaning, etc. Sadly, these days, my wife with the transported line gets a lot of calls and I’m guessing it’s because a lot of these people have bought into a service that lets them know that it’s a real number.

For the most part, I escape this except that I had three in a row yesterday from numbers that I didn’t know. I don’t have my phone set to ring; it just vibrates my watch instead. I could answer the phone but that lets the caller know that it’s a live number. I could immediately discard the call but that indicates that there’s a human on the other end. So, I typically just put up with the vibrations until they stop and usually that’s it.

Yesterday was a bit different. The third call actually left a voice message that I just had to listen to. After all, it could be a legitimate person calling from a number that I didn’t recognize. That wasn’t the case. This time, it was from a computer generated voice that let me know that the police had a warrant for my arrest and if I wanted to avoid the arrest, I needed to press 1 now.

Well, duh, that would be a confirmation that they’ve reached a real person although the fact that the number had voicemail should have been enough. And, secondly, if the police wanted to come for a chat, they’d be welcome. With COVID, we don’t get visitors anymore. I’d be happy to make them a coffee. Thirdly, I’m sure that I pay enough taxes that a real person could have made the phone call if legitimate. Fourthly, I wouldn’t think the police would want to give someone with a warrant advanced notice.

Normally, unsolicited numbers pop up with “POTENTIAL FRAUD” on the screen. These three didn’t for some reason. I’m guessing that the reason is that the number they claim their calling from was a local number on the same exchange as my phone. But, as we all know, any number can be spoofed. (Love the lead story at this site – go get ’em)

It’s but another reminder that sometimes it’s a not-so-nice world out there. I appreciate the fact that many of these unwanted phone calls are flagged before I even see them. When they do come through, I used the blocking feature to block and report them but I suspect that it’s meaningless as they’ll just spoof a different number.

I think we all have experienced the onslaught of unwanted content in other forms as well. But just how big a problem is it? Check out this article on security from Google.

In total, we blocked over 99 million Covid-related ads from serving throughout the year, including those for miracle cures, N95 masks due to supply shortages, and most recently, fake vaccine doses. We continue to be nimble, tracking bad actors’ behavior and learning from it. In doing so, we’re able to better prepare for future scams and claims that may arise. 

Our Annual Ads Safety Report – https://blog.google/products/ads-commerce/ads-safety-report-2020/

99 million!

Wow. Being connected in whatever way that I am, I know that there are all kinds of things out there – good and bad. But that number just blows my mind.

Obviously Google, being in the advertising business, has a huge interest in making sure that the advertisements that it lets through are legitimate and worthy. It’s pretty comforting to read this report describing what they’re doing.

These numbers are just a confirmation that having eyes wide open and a sense of what’s good and what’s not so good fully in place whenever you choose to be connected is a good skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that needs to evolve as the bad guys come up with new ways to beat the system.

Be careful out there.

OTR Links 03/18/2021


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.