Off the Beaten Path
Join me on an adventure. Where will we go today?
The following are actual stories that I lived during my travels or happened to friends of mine. Please be aware that these are all common scams to take money out of your pocket and sometimes take YOU. Human trafficking has orders for all kinds of humans. Do not believe your age or other demographic keeps you from being a potential victim.
Eating by yourself at a table means you need to be doubly observant. Do not leave your purse, phone, or anything at the table if you go to the restroom. Ask for a new glass of water or whatever you are drinking just in case someone slipped something into your drink. Never leave an open drink on the table where someone could easily slip something into it. A man asked to sit with me in a crowded restaurant. No, my boyfriend is about to arrive. Get your check and leave immediately.
Waiting outside my hotel, a woman offered to take me around New Orleans and show me where all the locals hang out. No, thank you. I am waiting on my family to pick me up for dinner. Walk back into the hotel.
Knock on the hotel door - delivery. I did order room service. Looking out, the person is not in the hotel uniform. Please leave it outside the door. My boyfriend will pick it up after playing this video game.
I am waiting on a cab. A car pulls up and says - you waiting on your Uber? No, I am waiting on my boyfriend. He just went to get the car out of the garage.
Keep your windows up or most of the way up. Two true stories follow. The first had a man reach in at a red light, grab the purse from the front seat, and run backward. The car was on a one-way street and had to take the block, and he was long gone by that point. The second also has an open window. A man reached in, opened the door on a sunny afternoon, put a gun to the head of the driver, and instructed him to go out to a secluded road. Fortunately, the driver survived but was left at a dead end with no phone, professional equipment, and car gone.
Blue lights may appear in your rearview mirror when driving home late at night. Immediately call 911 to verify if it is a police car or someone trying to abduct or rob you.
Please put two-step verification on every account you own. It is a pain, but I saved my Instagram account last month when someone tried to access it. I have been part of data breaches with Wells Fargo and other banks so my information is out on the dark web.
It is annoying, and I get so aggravated when I get that email or text stating that I need to use the code to log into the app or website. I am so glad that I left two-step verification on my accounts. A data breach revealed my Google account log-in and several other accounts use that Google account to authenticate.
So, yesterday, my accounts may have been sold on the dark web. This is more common than we realize. The dark web is set up under the world wide web and uses peer-to-peer networks, incognito for the less sophisticated users, etc. My Netflix was accessed in Argentina. My Apple ID was attempted in Japan, and my Instagram was attempted in Kentucky. This all happened within one hour last night. Because of two-step verification, only Netflix was used, but no financial accounts are tied to it. I IMMEDIATELY CHANGED THE PASSWORD once I received the alert it had been used in Argentina. Because I beat them to the change, my Google account remained secure.
Whenever someone tries to sign in on an untrusted device on an account with two-step verification, I receive a security code in an email or a text to my phone. This means I am me, guaranteed. You can turn off two-step verification if you travel and use many devices. You may still get security codes sent randomly, and your account is more risky. Some apps, such as Microsoft Authenticator, help, but as demonstrated last night, the two-step verification setup works.
Before you set up the two-step verification on Google and other accounts, please have several unique security contact emails or phone numbers with your account for backup purposes. If you lose your phone or security information without a backup contact method attached, you most likely will lose that account.
With multiple internationally presented social media and blogs, I am more of a target, as demonstrated last night. Still, I recommend you use two-step verification at a minimum on your financial accounts, such as online banking, bitcoin, and investments.
Once you have two-step verification, be aware that there may be ways that scammers will use it to take over your accounts: bank, social media, etc. They will try to log in with an easy-to-obtain thing such as an email. It requires a two-step verification. They call and pretend to be that company and say they are going to send you a verification code. They will hold and trigger the two-step process. You get the code and give it to them on the phone. You have now handed them control of your account. Several of my friends lost their Instagram accounts this way and now people are selling snake oil on that account under their name.
Do not use gas stations by the interstate with debit cards. It is easy to set up a clone to grab your information. If you use a debit card, run it as a credit card so that your PIN is not entered.
Even good people will do an act of desperation when they are desperate.
Keep yourself safe. These are all actual scenarios.
Rachel Marinero provides the following video about phishing to better help you understand red flags. I have permission to share through the CANVA professional software program.