Friday, August 31, 2012

Never list your mother’s maiden name as a security question when you open an account online

Although it seems obvious that no one should ever do that—it’s still being done every day because it’s “so easy to remember.” It also makes it possible for a hacker to get into your account, as was the case with the Sarah Palin e-mail hack by David Kernell, back in 2008. At the very least, choose a totally different name for your mother’s maiden name.

Personally, I prefer to give different answers to security questions for each account. This applies to ALL security questions, not just “What was your mother’s maiden name?" Use different answers for questions such as these: Where were you born? Where was your father born? What was the name of your first pet? Where did you first go to high school?

As for the password itself, never, ever use a real word, even if it’s in a foreign language. For detailed instructions on how to choose a secure password, see chapter 17 of How to be Invisible

Friday, August 24, 2012

Navy SEAL author of "No Easy Day” revealed to be Matt Bissonnette from Wrangell, Alaska

His name was “Mark Owen," according to the publisher, but multiple sources told Fox News his name is in fact Matt Bissonnette. If these “sources” were from the military, Bissonnette must have known from the start that using a pseudonym would be useless.

But for all other authors hoping to write a tell-all book under another name, here are four tips as a starting point. We’ll assume your real name is John True.

1. Tell your agent your real name is Pat Book, but warn him that this name must be kept PRIVATE. You wish to write under the name Jaime Bond.

2. The agent will accidentally reveal your “Pat Book” name to the publisher, who will then want the SSN for Pat Book.

 3. Use a New Mexico LLC for the copyright and have a nominee act as member. He or she will furnish initials plus the last name and the SSN to the publisher.

4. Never, ever, contact either the agent or the publisher by telephone. Use e-mail or postal mail only.

Follow all the rest of the instructions in How to be Invisible, and you’ll remain anonymous forever! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Scammed Facebook users could lose insurance claims because they post too much information online"

From an article in the UK's  MAIL ONLINE (sent to me by a reader from London): “Simply posting a picture of your car, or details about which phone network you use, is now enough for many scammers to be able to hack your computer and steal your bank details within minutes.… One example given included a man who faced losing thousands after a picture of his new car posted online gave scammers enough detail to trick him into opening an email, which appeared to be from the DVLA [Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency].”

Facebook users face losing claims against banks and insurance companies because they are inviting fraudsters to scam them by posting so much personal information online. Anyone burgled after advertising holiday plans on social networks, or scammed after inadvertently leaving clues about their accounts or passwords online, could find they are left completely out of pocket.

Read more:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tripadvisor and a Hilton Garden Inn

I checked into a Junior Suite at the Hilton Garden Inn (Bothell WA) last Tuesday and quickly discovered that the only window was in the bedroom. The desk and chair were in a windowless room by the entrance door. Not what I needed, as I was going to spend several days re-writing my “Invisible Money” e-book. I checked the front desk to see if I could get a better room but was told no, they were all the same.

At least the Inn was only two years old, and there was nothing any better in Bothell so I decided to stay. However, I did bang out a review for TripAdvisor with the subject line Not good for business. Since I travel under “Jack” but with an alternate last name, I figured no one at the Hilton Garden Inn would know who put up the bad review.

Flash forward to this morning. I told the girl at the desk that I was leaving, poured a cup of coffee to take with me, and had just put the lid on when a young man stepped up, introduced himself as Chip Peterson, said he was the general manager, and asked if I was the one who put up the bad review.

“How did you know it was me,” I said with a smile.

“Your email signature was JJLuna1914 so I looked up JJ Luna online and learned your first name was Jack. Then I checked our guest list. You were the only Jack who was registered. You called our place ‘bad for business,’ which is sad.”

“Well, I did give you four stars for being new, right?”

“But you called the office area a dungeon! What can I do to make this right?”

There was no way to change the room layout, of course, but I give Peterson five stars for tracking me down—he’s a sharp general manager who keeps his eye on TripAdvisor every day. More general managers should follow his example!

Message for travelers:

If you plan to give a hotel or motel a bad review, but prefer not to be confronted by the manager, at least wait until after you’ve checked out. And as for Bothell’s Hilton Garden Inn, unless you plan to spend many hours every day at your computer, it’s quite a nice place. Friendly staff, great breakfast ($10.95), and free underground parking.

Here’s my review:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can a prepaid cell phone be tracked?

In many cases, yes indeed, as Melvin Skinner found out. The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration did not violate the Skinner’s constitutional rights when it collected his phone's GPS data. According to an article on The Hill’s blog, “DEA agents tracked Skinner's pay-as-you-go phone as he transported drugs between Arizona and Tennessee. They arrested him at a rest stop in Texas with a motor home filled with more than 1,100 pounds of marijuana.”

But to track a cell phone (prepaid or not) you need to have the number.  So how did the DEA get the number?  One of my readers—an attorney—had the answer:

“Based on the facts described in the appellate court decision, it is likely the prepaid number was identified because of calls made between it and two regular (non-prepaid) cell phones being used by another drug trafficker. Law enforcement had obtained court orders to intercept communications from those two non-prepaid phones.”

Let’s hear it for pagers, folks. That’s why I still recommend them in the new edition of How to be Invisible.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One way to prevent home burglaries in the daytime

A recent rash of home burglaries in several major cities has one thing in common. The burglars take advantage of the fact that the home owners have foolishly used their home address when buying a vehicle. (Readers of How to be Invisible would never make such a mistake!) Here's the modus operandi:

1. Watch for late-model upscale cars entering the parking lot of a mall or supermarket.

2, As soon as the owner enters the building, break into the car, snatch the registration, and leave at once. If a personal name and a local street address are listed, assume no one is now home there!

3. Race to the home, ring the bell, and when no one answers, burglarize the home in broad daylight. (BONUS--If the owner had a garage-door opener clipped to the visor, use that to  enter the home.)

SOLUTION   One way to prevent home burglaries in the daytime is to re-title your vehicle in the name of an anonymous New Mexico limited liability company (NM LLC). For details, contact me: Jack (at)