A spicy tip for avoiding cybercrime

Well, the election is finally over, and as a longtime supporter of this candidate, I am so glad that the winner was (EDITOR, please insert name of winner here).

Cyber-security issues played a big role in the campaign. There were missing emails and Wikileaks and Russian hackers, and it got me thinking: Was I supposed to pick up milk after work?

The answer is “Yes,” but it also got me thinking about online threats.

Cybercrime can happen to anyone. It did to us. Somebody stole my wife’s identity and used her credit card to charge $328 at Pollux and Benges. She was so upset as she told me this, she almost got tears on her new dress and matching Mary Jane pumps.

But how can YOU prevent cyber-thieves from stealing your money? You can do what I do, which is to have none.

As the saying goes, “You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip,” which is good, because that would be really gross.

The only one sure-fire way to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime is to never actually turn on your computer. Experts suggest that you avoid getting within 10 feet of one unless you’re going to use your monitor as a place to hang chiles to dry.

If you’re going to log on anyway, at least be very careful about falling for “phishing” emails.

A “phishing” scam is when hackers access your computer and disable the letter “F” key, forcing you to use “ph” instead.

Similar to real-life fishing, cyberthieves will attempt to lure you with bait so you unwittingly give them your account numbers. The more sophisticated thieves will send you realistic-looking emails that appear legitimate. The less savvy ones will use actual bait, like nightcrawlers.

How can you spot a phishing email?

Is the email supposedly regarding your “checking account” from a “First National Alpine Wells Community Banks of the San Juans?”

If so, you obviously know it’s fraudulent. You don’t have a checking account with them. You have a savings account there. So you can laugh at the stupid scammers as you click on the link and transfer money to savings.

These emails are in addition to the Nigerian email scam, which I’m always surprised hasn’t run its course. Each day I get at least five of these. Oftentimes they start out the same: “Dear Allah Elect.”

This disappoints me more than anything. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore. It makes me want to go to Nigeria and do a seminar for those aspiring to a successful career in the email scamming industry.

“Lesson one,” I’d tell them, “when you’re attempting to gain trust with white Christians in America’s heartland, ‘Allah’ may not be the best opener.”

Do people still fall for these?

I hope not. Wiring money to Nigeria means you will lose a lot of money. Not as much as if you bought the same mutual funds I do, but you get the idea.

Con artists have even moved beyond email. Foreign scammers will call you and tell you that your grandchild or other relative is being held in a Mexican jail and that you need to wire bail money. Authorities say if you receive such a call, you should hang up immediately, as it’s not true. At least, for most of you it’s not true. I can definitely see this happening on my wife’s side of the family.

Then there’s malware, which can lead to what’s called a “DOS,” or “denial of service.” It’s the computer version of your wife telling you she has a headache.

Malware could cause your computer to crash and lead to negative consequences, like having to spend time with your children.

The important thing is be careful and maybe even not spend so much time online. Personally, I’ve vowed to take a little post-election break, and not even go to the computer.

At least, not until the chiles dry.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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