Beware of Fake Apps, Copycat Websites & Unsecure Payment Sites This Holiday
If you have a long holiday gift list, sometimes it's easier to buy online rather than shop at local brick and mortar stores.
This season, I've read that we'll spend close to $91 billion over 61 days, according to Adobe's 2016 Digital Insights Shopping Predictions. The company report claims that Black Friday, which I took part in, sold $3 billion in online sales. It's terrific news for retailers, but there's a group of folks who love the heightened gift buying season too; the rip-off and scam artists behind devious shopping swindles.
AARP offers good suggestions that I echo in order to keep your credit cards and money far away and safe from the hands of con artists.
Bogus apps flood Apple and Android stores imitating familiar retailers like Dollar Tree and luxury brands including Christian Dior. A few have phishing methods that steal personal information and hijack mobile devices until a ransom is paid, says the New York Times.
How to avoid: Before you download, check the logo and description for misspelled words or titles, omitted letters, or poor English, since many originate in China. Avoid the ones with few customer reviews, new apps, or links to apps from other retailers.
The ones that arrive via email, text messages and social media posts and promise a generous reward like a coupon or a product for giving your opinion about future purchases. The links that lead to the survey often hide computer malware that attempt to retrieve personal or financial information.
How to avoid: Be leery of generic "Dear Customer" inquiries. When legitimate companies ask about customer experiences, they personalize using your and the product you bought, along with the date and time of the purchase. You can expect to receive legitimate review emails within 30 minutes after the online transaction. Also, don't fall for expensive reward items just for answering a few questions. Before clicking on any link, hover your mouse over the URL and if the address doesn't display the company's name before the dot com, assume it's a scam.
Beware of copycat websites
Those that mimic well-known retailers. The counterfeit online sites may look like the real deal, but carefully observe the domain address in the URL. It may be off by a letter, or variation of a company name like Walmartco.mn, indicating the website was registered in Mongolia, or walmart.cm for a site in Cameroon.
How to avoid: Pay attention to the product description text and URLs not ending with .com or .org. Check out the Contact Us page to find the business address and verify it by looking up the company on the Internet, or a phone number. If a number is listed, call it to make sure it's working and doesn't lead you to just voicemail. Credible companies have live operators.
Unsecure Payment Sites
If you're buying online, never provide credit card information on any page without an https://. The "s" means it's secure. To stay tuned to current scams, sign up to receive Fraud Scams at AARP: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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