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The Futurist: The Rise, and Sad Reality of Scams

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.


There is no central Windows Computer that collects all the error messages in the world. seriously!!!!

I mentioned in the seven or so futurist columns that I've written guessing the future isn't always easy. I have published for the last ten or so years, maybe longer my gas every year in December, which I think will be big in technology the next year. In fairness, my success rate is about 30%. I did have that I thought 3D printing would become a mass-market for years in a row, and obviously, that's one that I probably was completely wrong. You can take the probably out. I was completely wrong. That said, I look to two things: the first being what's going on in the consumer world. The second is how are scammers using the tech? When I first started in IT, the US Department of Defense and the many other departments of Defense throughout the world drove innovation. NASA alone came up with nine different technologies that all today are worth more than $1 billion in market share. But the shift moved innovation to the consumer market, probably starting 15 maybe 20 years ago. With the rise of the cell phone came the rise of more and more scams.

My favorite scam of the past was the always delightful Windows help desk call. I love those calls simply because the scammer was relying on my unwillingness to do the math. There are more than a billion Windows computers in the world. They each generate a minimum of 10 log messages a day. Every time you log in, you connect to a network every time you launch a program. Logins, Launching security are all registered in the event log. Each of them, on average, generates ten or more events a day. The window helpdesk scam is funny because of the numbers. It just isn't possible to sort that many event log messages and find the one from your computer. If, and that is even bigger, there was one computer system handling all of that worldwide! Sad; you that scam did work on a few people, and I feel bad for them. But the reality is the blame is holy on the person perpetrating the scan. That's why I always tell people to put on the plausibility filter first. My favorite version of the Windows helpdesk calling me was the person telling me errors were coming from my Dell computer; I looked in Windows event logs many times. I can honestly tell you in all the times I've looked, and I have never seen the make model and type of computer sending the event register. Yes, it does get register but not in the event log. I also didn't at the time on a Dell computer. I still don't. So I told the person I don't own a Dell computer. The scammer got belligerent and accused me of life. And then hung up!

The other one, and I got it several times, was the IRS calling. Suppose you are in the US now, the IRS or the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is the tax collection agency of the US government. I've consulted for the IRS many times, and I can tell you they never call you and leave a threatening voicemail. If you get to the point where the IRS feels like they need to threaten you, they appear at your house. You'll find in the United States most government agencies that need to contact you about an issue will do so via a registered letter sent via the United States Post Office. The difference between the Windows help desk scam and the IRS scam was that the IRS scammers never talked if you answered the phone. They left threatening voicemails. The windows helpdesk tried to engage you on the phone so that you would give them access to your computer. Both of those scams were very prevalent about two to three, maybe four years ago, but are slowly but surely gone the way of the dinosaur.

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The scams will adapt, hopefully the plausibility test helps you avoid them!!!

The more sophisticated technology gets, the more sophisticated the scans. One of the short-term things right now, not in the future, is that telephone companies implement a very large scam filter based on the scan database. That's why more and more scammers have used what was called a relay. They don't use the number they're calling from; they come up as on no on your phone. Slowly over time, the phone companies will catch up. In the future, you'll be able to control the number of stem cells coming into your phone. Now, if, like me, you enjoy the occasional sport of seeing how long you keep them on the phone, you might answer if you. On the other hand, I know many people who are bored with those Gamson would prefer not to answer the phone.

One of the recent ones I heard of was an email from the United States Postal Service saying you had postage due that had to be paid for the box to be delivered. United States Postal Service does not send emails with Bill. USPS will leave a bill in your mailbox. That is how the USPS notifies you of postage-due or a registered letter that they couldn't deliver. They would never send you an email. But that is a new version of the new scam. And the evolution of scanning will continue ransom where is a big scam topic right now. Ransomware was being someone gains control of your computer through malicious code and encrypted all your files. Without the proper key, you can't use unencrypted files. There's an easy way to combat that particular scam. Either has an off-line hard drive copy of all of your stuff. Or use a service like Carbonite and back it up to the file. The Carbonite application encrypts your data in the cloud, but it also encrypts the data it collects not to pick up that mouth where encryption.

Many years ago, I had a teacher, one of the few in my school, who had a phone inside his classroom. There are several reasons why few teachers had phones in their classrooms. If my teacher forgot to turn off the phone, it would ring during class. He would reach down and turn off the ringer. He would say, "if it is urgent, they will call back." It was in the days before voicemail or answering machines. That is the first tool to use; if it is urgent, they will call back. I have gotten the IRS message 11 times. Honestly, all 11 were identical messages. Different numbers to call back, but the message was the same we will seize your assets. You must call and pay the amount, or you must call back immediately. In the future, I'm afraid scans are to be more adaptive. They know how many times the voicemail was left, and they're going to become more and more urgent. Instead of 11 calls with 11 identical messages, they will adapt the messages. By the fourth or fifth time, they will consider the ominous "this is the last time we are calling.". We learn to respond to deadlines. Sadly, they work for scammers as well!

I will end with this. In the future, scams are going to get more and more adept. The plausibility test always applies. Why am I getting this message? Does this message truly apply to me? My old teacher's rule applies as a plausibility test as well. If they urgently need you, they will call back. Remember that these scams are threatening on purpose. They intend to scare you. Fear provokes one of two responses flight or fight. All I would say is insert the plausibility test before you choose to flee or fight. Then remember, the true value proposition for the scammer is to get to as many people in a day as they can. If you wait, you force them to reengage over and over in time, and they will stop. Because again, their goal is to cast as wide a net as possible to find the one or two people willing to gamble. Apply the plausibility test every time you get something like that. After all, the money you save may be your own!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 DocAndersen

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