Important for Facebook Users

Thanks to Donna Papacosta of the Trafcom News podcast for pointing this out.  Amit Agarwal posted an article today on his Digital Inspiration blog on a threat to your Facebook account.

It seems that there’s no end to the number of ways that online criminals will try to rip you off.  This time it’s a Facebook application that attempts to steal your login information.

It looks innocent enough.  It starts with a notification that a friend has sent you an email message.  But when you click on the link, you’re taken to a bogus Facebook login screen, asking for your ID and password.  Fill it out and you’ve given your information to a third party.

If you use Facebook I urge you to check out Amit’s post.  I don’t think anyone can be completely safe from every threat, but it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on on your screen.

Email from the IRS?

I received an email yesterday with the dreaded "Internal Revenue Service" in the "From" column.

 
IRS_email_1
 


Naturally, anything you get from the IRS is likely to cause a chill to run down your back.  Maybe your mouth gets a little dry and your hands start to shake a little.  But this message is potentially much more devastating than a real IRS message. 

Notice the subject, "please see the attachment".  I didn't open either attachment (There are two.) 

IRS_email_2

That was red flag number one.  Shouldn't the people who collect the money be able to count to two?  Shouldn't the subject be "please see the attachments"?  Maybe I'm being nit-picky but isn't the Internal Revenue Service the poster child for nit-pickyness?  I'm just saying.  [Note:  Nothing here should be construed as criticism of the faithful public servants who collect our taxes.  They're just doing their jobs.  Some of my best friends are retired IRS employees. I love the IRS.]

So, in the spirit of the season, I did some research hoping to save you, loyal readers, from any potential problems.  Here's what the IRS says on their web site

"The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.

  • The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
  • The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords
    or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other
    financial accounts."

That's pretty clear.  If you receive anything like this, the IRS wants to know about it.  It's called phishing.  You can forward the email to them following the instructions on their site.

But most important, the last thing you want to do is turn any personal information over to crooks, even if they're posing as the IRS. 

F-R-E-E Doesn’t Always Spell Free

Surely you’ve seen him on television, dressed in his pirate costume, or driving his junker compact car.  No doubt you’ve heard him constantly on the radio sadly singing about how he should have gone to freecreditreport.com, but he was too "lay-zee."  According to a story at the New York Times.com, you should have heard and seen the commercials many times.  Experian, the parent of freecreditreports spent $70.7 million dollars on national advertising last year.

That’s a lot of money to spend promoting something that’s "free".  But as the Times story points out, freecreditreports is anything but.  "Consumer groups have long objected to sites like FreeCreditReport.com.
Consumers may obtain a free credit report each year from the three
major agencies, as mandated by an act that Congress passed in 2003. The
only authorized site for that is AnnualCreditReport.com. "

So don’t be fooled by the cute little guy in the pirate suit.  He’s just an actor.  It’s the people he works for that are the pirates.

More on Event Marketing

Last week we posted on a session we attended on the topic of show and event marketing.  The first half of the presentation was given by Sally Cheney of Sally Cheney’s Superstore in Tennessee.  The second half presenter was Mike Piper of Best Sewing in Seattle.  Today we look at Mike’s take on the subject.

Mike began by saying that as advertising becomes less effective shows and events become more important. Continuous activity will lead to continuous sales.  He likes to do a variety of events, both in-store and out.  He feels that post cards are the best way to promote his events.  "You have to do something every month."

Mike’s a believer in having lots of activity going on at a home show or other off-site event.  Have lots of working samples.  If one is good, five is five times as good.  He also sells his demo models during the event.  He gets the money up front and delivers the demo when the event is over. 

Probably the key to Mike’s event success is his attitude.  "We sell things!" he says.  He’s not spending the money to do a show just to visit with people.  If you come into his booth (and he will come into the aisle to get you) someone’s going to ask you to buy something. (See our earlier post  There’s Nothing Wrong with Making a Sale.)

One thing that is often overlooked is residual business.  If you put on a good event, you’ll have customers coming into your store for months because of it.  Events and shows don’t just lead to immediate sales, but also to on-going sales all year long.

IRS Scam Warning

Your friends at the Internal Revenue Service have issued an alert to taxpayers on the latest version of an email scam.  The email, claiming to be from the IRS, says the recipient is under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return.  You’re asked to click on a link that contains more information.  In fact the link is a Trojan Horse, a piece of software that can take over your hard drive and allow someone remote access to your computer.

According to the IRS, they never send unsolicited emails or ask for detailed personal or financial information, including PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret codes for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.

If you receive a questionable email that appears to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links.  Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.  (Follow the instructions.)

Other scams involving the IRS include emails with links to a fake IRS web site which asks for bank account numbers, emails claiming that the recipient has a refund coming and asking for bank account information, and one stating that the IRS’ "anti-fraud commission" is investigating the recipient’s tax returns.

Bottom line, no reputable organization ever asks for confidential information over the internet.