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Beware of Techno Scrooges

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Lots of people will get cool gifts of technology for Christmas this year. Cell phones, cameras, computers, PDA's, GPS, etc can be great and make our lives more convenient and even fun.

They were all designed to be used for good purposes in our lives, but, the truth is, with every new thing that comes along, someone quickly figures out a way to use it for bad.

Lots of people have caller i.d. and love the convenience of knowing who's calling before you answer the phone. The problem is, someone figured out a way to make it so you can no longer trust your caller i.d. It's called caller i.d. spoofing and the makers say it's intended to be used as a joke only, but, lots of people are using it for evil reasons and no one is laughing. I tried it out. It cost me $10 to buy a calling card number online. It allowed me to put whatever number I wanted in someone else's caller i.d. and even let me change my voice from female to male. I tested it out first on my mother. I put the FBI's number in her caller i.d. and proceeded to tell her she had a warrant out for her arrest. After getting flustered and upset, I told her to give me her social security number and I'd get it taken care of. She started to give it to me, then I told her it was actually me calling. I can easily see someone using this to get people's bank account numbers and other personal information. Bottom line, even if the caller i.d. says it's a trusted charity and they claim they are, I wouldn't believe them. Don't give information or money out over the phone. If you want to give, find the charity's address in the phone book.

Cell phones are such a great invention; it's hard to believe we used to make it through the day without being in constant contact with practically anyone in our lives. However, I interviewed a woman who's the victim of the worse stalking case I've ever covered. Her ex had found a way to use her cell phone to spy on her. I bought some software online that allowed me to have control over another person's cell phone. It let me listen to their conversations, even when they weren't using it, but, it was setting nearby. It allowed me to hear both sides of a conversation when that phone made or received a call and allowed me to read all the text messages sent and received as well. It became obvious how this woman's ex knew where she was, even after the FBI swept her home for bugs and moved her to a safe house. The best way to protect yourself is to have a phone that's not internet accessible. It's also a good idea to turn it off when you're not talking on it, if you're worried someone could be spying on you.

Blue tooth technology is a wonderful thing that allows us to move information between devices without any cables. But, some nefarious types have created blue jacking and blue snarfing. They download software on their phone and it seeks out all other phones with blue tooth within 20 feet. They can then send you messages or even make calls on your number and you foot the bill. They hijack the use of your phone, thus, the name blue jacking. While they have access to your phone, they can also steal all your information, your contacts, calendar, photos, etc. They snarf your information... bluesnarfing. The best way to protect yourself is turn off your blue tooth when it's not in use or set it the undiscoverable mode at least. You can also add a password to your phone or other Bluetooth device.

Just remember, while you're enjoying your new gee whiz gifts from under the tree, it's important to keep up with what threatens them and what protects you from techno scrooges.

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