Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

“Medicaid Database Department” phone scam

I just received a new (to me) ‘caller has a foreign accent’ telephone scam phone call: this one claiming to be the Medicaid Database Department.

It’s gotten so I wouldn’t let my elderly loved ones answer the phone anymore. (And if that’s not possible, I’d sign them up with nomorobo and one of the paid spam-blocking services.[ see])

“How the Scam Works

Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries across the country report receiving calls from scam operators (frequently with foreign accents), who claim to represent Medicare, Social Security, or an insurance company. These callers claim that new Medicare, Social Security, or supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that the beneficiary’s file must be updated. The scam artist asks the citizen to verify or provide their personal banking information, which is then used to commit theft.”

Read more..

May 1, 2019 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet scam, News, phraud, security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Identity Theft Season: How To Protect Yourself

Folks, here is another article containing advice we all need to be doing — particularly now.

* Identity scams are up this tax season: How to protect yourself

The bad guys are out in force this tax season, so be especially careful with your personal ID information. Follow these proactive steps.” Read more..

* * *

Today’s quote:The best thing to do when you find yourself in a hurting or vulnerable place is to surround yourself with the strongest, finest, most positive people you know.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet, News, security, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Safe Online Job Hunting

Recent events have made me decide to repost an important prior article.

A reader wrote in with a simply terrific question, asking about our modern way of finding employment. I think the answers are important.


I was laid off earlier this summer and have been looking for new employment since day one of my termination. The method for job search is now the Internet. You no longer can knock on doors and submit resumes and fill out application in person.
My question to you is, I have filled out numerous applications online and a number of companies ask for the last 4 digits of your social security number, and some will ask also ask for your month and day but not year of your birth.
I can understand if they are asking for a cell number, and some other standard information.
How can you tell if these are legitimate job sites or persons who are looking for quick score of your personnel information?

I have run into a few sites that offer jobs that seem to good to be true, once you contact them, they ask for up front money. A legitimate job site will not ask for any money. If they get paid it is from the employer.

Thanks for all you great information and keep up the good work,

A: I would like to applaud your awareness. Identity Thieves (and other scammers) are not only posting phony job listings, but whole websites. They are taking advantage of our desire (desperation?) and the supplicant nature of the job seeker.

  • Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
  • Depending where you look, the stats say someone’s ‘identity’ is being stolen every second, or once every three seconds. (Either one. Where’s the outrage?)
  • This isn’t something that “happens to other people”: cybercrime is big business, costing our economy over a hundred billion a year. That we know about.

I have written many articles on cybercrime, as well as ID Theft. I won’t repeat myself here (but encourage you to use my ‘keyword’ Search widget). I will focus in on the sentence I highlighted in bold — how can you tell if it’s a real job opportunity?

Well, the short version is: you can’t, always. There is no magic formula. You simply must apply a double dose of “paranoid common sense”. And apply a protective self-policy. Because, yes, you will have entered a predator’s favorite hunting ground.

These scammers will post positions on legitimate employment-seeking websites. And those sites will make an effort to find and remove the scam postings. Do they succeed? Yes. Allatime always 100%? Instantly? Don’t make me laugh. These crooks post new ones as fast as their old ones are taken down. Faster.
The online classified services simply aren’t as equipped to try to sift out the bogus, having neither the budget, staff, tools, or.. motivation. You should apply a triple dose of “paranoid common sense” in the classifieds.

(My questioner points out that some ask for month and day, but not year of D.O.B.. Why? Because your year is published in tons of places. The crooks will simply research, then add two and two… With the amount of info about us already posted online, the crooks don’t have to research too much, or gain too many tidbits, to pose as you.)

A protective self-policy – Cyber Safe Resume: Let me remind you of a few early postings. The second one directly relates to this subject..
Identity Thieves Want Your Resume
Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed
A Top Site for Finding Work

All are great supplements to this article, and if you are currently seeking employment, well worth your time (it helps they are short, ha!).

Here’s one more: Scams & Schemes in Work and Employment Services

Review the following websites for additional recommendations on how to proactively protect your identity:

(You may also want to consider investing in an ID “protection service, such as, LifeLock.)

I know you want the job, and don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize your chances.. or get your application tossed before it’s even read, but in this world, today, you really have to leave the box blank, or put in “I will provide this to a real person, but not in this online form.” If you only click one link here today.. click this one: Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed.

Research the company using a search engine. Call them and ask them, when you have doubts and concerns. (And understand, the scammers will post phone #s, and answer them too. The con is not restricted to ‘online only’.)

I do wish you a speedy and successful job search. (And no, I don’t live under a rock. I know it is dang tough out there. But don’t add to your troubles by becoming an ID Theft victim.)

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet, privacy, security | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alert: Automated Verizon Call Is A Fake

Folks, I almost fell for a scam telephone “phishing” phone call reporting to be from one of my cellular service providers. I think hope you are going to want to read my ‘confession’, and forward this warning to all your friends and family.

See, truth is, I did fall for it, but fortunately the trap did not close on me, and I did not give away my personal information, which (probably) would have been used in an “Identity theft”. (Or, they might have just glommed my credit card.) Me! Mr. B. Paranoid.

verizHere’s how it worked (and why I thought it was real):
I have been very busy helping people un-Windows 8 their new Windows 8 PC’s (bypassing the “Metro” UI, mainly) and so I found the message on my answering machine. It was a ‘recording’ woman’s voice. What I mean by that is it was an “automated” call. Anyone who has navigated a telephone “menu tree” (“para Espanol, pulse dos“) has heard this voice. “She” was, in a way, familiar. And “spoke” perfect robot-English.

The automated message identified me by name, said it was an “Important message regarding changes to my account status”, said I needed to call today, and provided me a 1-800 number to call and told me I would be asked to enter my cell phone number.

It pronounced my names correctly, and identified my Verizon phone number correctly. It repeated itself appropriately, and was – to put it simply – professional and exactly how I would expect an ‘alert’ call to sound. It sounded to me exactly the same as other legitimate calls I have received — such as our County’s “emergency alert system”, and my bank’s “unusual activity detected” calls.

But what really made me “bite” was, I knew that I had been “meaning to get to” paying my latest Verizon bill, but had put it off, then forgotten, in my busy-ness.. Had I delayed too long? Was this a pay-or-get-cut-off call? Could be.

So.. I called the 1-800 number to see what was up. And it rang once and disconnected. Thankfully!

I am not beating myself up too much, as I was juggling a lot of activity (aka “multitasking”), but at that disconnect, I did what I should have done first, I went to my computer and logged in to my Verizon “My account” and looked for any alerts, notices, or big red letters saying “PAY NOW OR GET CUT OFF”.. or anything that might explain that message on my voicemail. I did see a very mild “past due”, but nothing else.

Now I was quite intrigued! So I called the Verizon customer service number posted on the website (1-800-922-0204) and spoke with a young man who asked me several questions.. then asked me to play the message to him.
And he told me, “that’s not us. That’s a scam.”

How did he know? “Our robot voice is different, and that’s not one of our telephone numbers.”

Like I would know those two things.

So.. “in conclusion”.. I am abashed and embarrassed. This call had the earmarks of a phish, but I let those things .. not raise red flags. But this was undoubtedly the most professionally done phishing scam I have witnessed. A truly “pro con” (job). And, I guess I learned that I am not quite as “paranoid” (alert and wary) on the telephone as I am when online, and surfing the web.
And maybe I ought to quit trying to do three things at once, and pay more attention to one thing at a time.. But I feel stupid none the less.

Today, it was Verizon. Who knows what company they’ll impersonate next. I’ll never ‘trust’ another robot voice again!

So be aware. And be wary. They are trying to get us.

Dang. I feel dumb. Go ahead and laugh at me if you want. But I feel darn lucky too. What would I have given away if the call had gone through? What does untangling one’s self from Identity Theft cost these days? Don’t find out.. and don’t let your friends and family find out. Tell them about me, this call, and my dumb move. Let them laugh at me too.. and maybe raise their ‘paranoia’ as a consequence, and avoid scams like this.

I cannot print how I would punish the perps behind this one, if I could get my hands on them, but I can tell you I’d do it on TV.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | advice, cellular, cyber crime, hackers, mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed

Identity Thieves Targeting Job Seekers

As the joblessness rate climbs, scammers are setting up fake Websites to trick job seekers into giving up sensitive personal information. A lot of unemployed people are eager to divulge information they believe will land them a job, and so become the target of scams. (From: Identity Thieves Want Your Resume.)

Yesterday, a loyal reader wrote me a note which told me of their recent unemployment, and how an increased awareness of Identity Theft had caused them to alter their resume into what they referred to as a “cyber-secure resume” .. and how that alteration had paid a dividend. They have graciously allowed me to share the message with all of you.

“Hello Tech Paul,
First I would like to say how much I really enjoy and appreciate your newsletter. It is very helpful and informative.  You mention and instruct us about malware and online security tips.  Like many others, I have recently become unemployed and found that by posting my resume online, I had left myself vulnerable to identity theft.

It came to my attention through the job section of Craigslist. A friend had told me that he became recently employed through a job posting from Craigslist, so I thought I would give it a try. I replied to a posting by emailing my (non-cyber-secure) resume and cover letter. Now, of course, I do not have my SS No., birth date, drivers license number and other such details on my resume. However, I did have my real full name, home address, home phone, and email on it.

Next thing I receive is an email telling me that I am fully qualified for the position, but before they would consider me further I must click on the link and complete the application and click on another link to complete the online credit check.  Funny, the email said nothing about the company, mission statement, details about the position, who specifically was interested in me, their name, or telephone number, etc. But, I clicked on the link for the application anyway and noticed that WOT did not like the site and I clicked the back button immediately.  Then I noticed that the URL for the credit check website was flagged with the red dot from WOT too. Since I only recently installed WOT , based on your recommendation, I hadn’t really noticed the green and red circles that WOT uses to flag sites until that moment where I said to myself (duh) pay attention dummy.

Anyway, I have since created a cyber-safe resume and cover letter which does not include full name, address, home phone, work locations, and educational institutions. The resume states that this information is not provided for security purposes. I also include a statement in my resume that a more detailed resume will be provided at time of interview.  My Cyber-secure resume includes an overview of prior job responsibilities, job titles and educational degrees and relevant dates, but not locations. For contact information, I include my first initial and last name, my cell number (which cannot be traced to my address through google) and my gmail email address.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with the Workforce Connection representative (unemployment compensation authority). I am required to post my resume on their job site, which I did (my cyber-secure resume). During our meeting, she told me that prospective employers will find my cyber-secure resume suspicious because it leaves out certain details. I explained to her my reasons for posting it that way (experience with Craigslist, fear of Phishing, and ID Theft, etc.). Turns out she had her identity stolen a year ago by posting her resume and she finally concurred it may be a wise idea.  Later that evening when I returned home, I checked my email and found she had sent an email to her distribution list warning her clients about the importance of posting cyber-secure resumes. This is what she said: One of my customers caught my attention with her cyber-safe resume.

Here’s additional information, courtesy of,, and

Kay E.”

[update: The article on creating a “cyber-safe resume” is]

Other related links:
In These Tough Times, Could You Use Some Extra $$$’s ?

Looking For Work? Caution

***Make $6,513 a day doing this***

A lot of good information here, people. Do yourself a favor, click some links. And thank you, Kay, for sharing this with us.

The byword for the rest of the year is use (Ultra-strength) paranoid common sense while online. The Internet is not Disneyland, folks.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, phraud, privacy, security | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Identity Thieves Want Your Resume

Identity Thieves Targeting Job Seekers

There is a significant rise in the number of fake job openings on online classifieds sites, like CraigsList, as well as on job-seeker sites, simply set up so that people will send their resumes to ID Thieves. Many people still include their DOB and SSN’s in their resumes, which makes stealing their identities pretty easy!

From Business Week:

As the joblessness rate climbs, scammers are setting up fake Websites to trick job seekers into giving up sensitive personal information. A lot of unemployed people are eager to divulge information they believe will land them a job, and so become the target of scams.

In another popular scam, perpetrators pose as recruiters ready to extend an offer — who request Social Security numbers or other personal information to do background checks. “We’ve even heard cases of fraudsters posing as potential employers, asking for bank account numbers,” says Jeremy Miller, director of operations at Kroll’s Fraud Solutions Practice. “They’re using the fact that a person is looking for a job and has that need, and counting on the fact that they’ll do anything to get that job.” (Please click the link to read entire article. It will open in a new tab.)

A while back I posted In These Tough Times, Could You Use Some Extra $$$’s ? which looked at various scams that land in your Inbox that are counting on the fact that you might be in need of income. The fact is, the more needy someone is, the less common sense caution they tend to exercise. The con artists know this.

There is strong evidence that if your social security number is harvested in this way, it will be sold to an illegal emigrant so that they can gain employment. In fact, someone may already be using your SSN and you wouldn’t know (see, A Dirty Little Secret).

Almost 10 million people in the US reported having their identity stolen, and this number is not going to shrink (see, report). So be cautious and do your homework. Make phone calls and verify the company, and that it’s hiring. Don’t mass mail your personally identifying information (”PII”) out to every job listing you see. And enter “ABR” (Available By Request) in some of those application fields.

10 million… that’s a lot of people.. is anyone else concerned? Hello?

I sincerely wish you you a happy and speedy conclusion to your job search.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 14, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, Internet, Internet scam, News, Phishing, security | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment