Tag Archives: phone

Babble.ly – A Free Anonymous Phone Number Service

imageWordPress has made it very easy to “follow” WP hosted blogs, with the inclusion of a “Follow” widget. Occasionally, I’ll take a quick peek at a new follower’s Gravatar profile simply out of curiosity. Far too often, these profiles list a personal telephone number.

Here’s a recent example, with the telephone number blacked out for obvious reasons.

Gravatar 1

There may be a good reason why this person has chosen to post his telephone number openly on the Internet – but, I can’t think of one that satisfies the most basic of privacy considerations.

It’s not as if there aren’t solutions to freely posting a contact telephone number – without compromising a “real” telephone number – there are. One such solution, and a free solution at that, is offered by Babble.ly.

Rather than focus on the single issue illustrated by the example I’ve laid out above – I’ll rerun last year’s article on Babble.ly. instead. This article provides an overview of how Babble.ly works, and how you might benefit from this free service.

Originally posted January 26, 2011

Privacy is a major issue for most people who use the Internet; particularly those who use web based listing service such as eBay, Craigslist, and online dating services. Not surprisingly, to interact with these services, participants need to provide a contact phone number.

Not all participants feel comfortable in providing their home, business, or cell phone numbers to unknown parties that can conceivably place them at risk. So, how can you address this challenge, if you fit into this category?

Luckily there are a number of free services that offer solutions to this problem. The new kid on the block is babble.ly – currently in Beta. Babble.ly (currently in Beta  provides a connection service, by way of a URL, which you can post – instead of your actual phone number.

Those with access to this unique URL can call you – with Babble.ly acting as an intermediary which effectively protects your real phone number, as well as the phone number of the caller.

In testing, the process went smoothly and the step by step instructions were clear and very easy to follow.

First, I entered my phone number. The number in the following graphic is a “dummy” number. I did, in fact, enter my real number. After which, I pushed the “Create Link” button.

image

Verifying my number (as per the instructions), prompted a call from the service …….

image

It was a simple matter to enter the required verification code from my handset.

image

Finally, I’ve got my link.

Babble

Clicking on the link you have provided the recipient (which I did), will open the following self explanatory screen.

image

In testing, the call completed flawlessly.

Babble 2

Fast facts:

Easy – Get a free disposable link for your phone number. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, forums, dating sites, anywhere you want!

Private – When the link is clicked, babble.ly will connect your call. Your number always remains private. Don’t want to talk now? Reject the call!

Customizable – Keep the link as long as you want. Done with the link? Revoke it. Log in, or call 415-325-2003 for our automated system.

If you’re looking for a free, safe solution, as an alternative to posting your phone number anywhere on the Internet, Babble.ly should appeal to you.

Note: Calls are limited to 10 minutes and, to U.S. and Canadian numbers during the beta.

Connect with Babble.lyhere.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Free Anonymous Phone Numbers, Internet Dating Safety Tips, Internet Safety Tools, Privacy

Online PC Care Tells Me–“Remove Onlinepccare Scam From Your Website”

imageThe funny think about the “truth” is – it’s a variable. There are countless versions of the truth (unfortunately), including – “your truth”“my truth” –  and, “the truth”. It seems Online PC Care is questioning “my truth”, and is disputing the contents of an article I wrote earlier this year – Is Online PC Care A Scam? – outlining my highly unsatisfactory personal experience with one of its cold call sales representatives.

In an email (full contents below), Online PC Care states – “the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image”.  Now, before I go any further into this, let me say – Yes!! I’m absolutely delighted to hear it!

Online PC Care’s email:

Sir,

It has come to our notice that your website is publishing illegitimate scams against us. This is resulting in a very bad reputation of our company. The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim. So this is causing a negative effect in the minds of the persons who are visiting your website.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers who has recommended us to their friends and relatives. In our website, we have numerous testimonials from people all over the world.

In such a case, the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image. I suggest that you review our website thoroughly, study the way we operate, and then come to the conclusion whether the scam posted is a legitimate one.

So it is a request on our part to remove the scam, as it is appearing totally ill. It’s a good initiative you have taken to reveal the scams, but when the allegations are made against the company who is so well reputed in the market and very honest in their services, then it becomes troublesome for us to bear it. We are waiting for your reply soon in this matter.

Yours Faithfully,
Amit Roy
Onlinepccare Team

Response breakdown:

The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim.

The article is a virtual blow-by-blow description of a cold sales call from a Online PC Care representative, who lied throughout the conversation regarding fictitious issues affecting my PC – “the overall presentation was structured in such a way, as to attempt to fraudulently convince me I had serious computer problems, including a non-existing malware infection.”

In fact, the conversation referred to in the article, was the second such conversation I had with an Online PC Care representative in that particular week. I choose to report on the second call only, in order to give your company the benefit of the doubt – such as it was.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers……

You need to step back for a moment and take a reality break. The reality is – your company’s reputation sucks – big time! It behooves you to do a simple Google search using the keywords “Online PC Care”. I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to see that “Scam”, is the keyword most often associated with your organization.

The following screen capture attachment will save you the effort. You’ll notice in the Google search returns, that the Microsoft Answers site addresses the issue as to whether your company is involved in scamming.

Question – What information could “online pc care” a India cold call extract from my computer? They said they were Microsoft, I allowed them remotely into my computer, to fix a so called problem.

Answer – As you’ve realized – it was a scam!. You now need to notify your bank, and anyone who you’ve had dealings with over the internet, shut down your PC, and do a reformat/reinstall – there is no telling what the scammer has installed on your PC without your knowledge.

I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in seeing that my article is included on the first page. It seems “my truth” has validity. BTW, I’m curious to know if you’ve requested that Microsoft take down this inflammatory reference to your company. If not, then why not?

Google search inquiry – first page.

image

Let’s not stop there though. If you’re curious as to what your reputation is, as determined by the WOT (Web of Trust) online community, then you’ll be interested in the attached WOT reputation rating screen shot.

It couldn’t get much worse – could it?

image

FYI, I’ve included in this response a few (a very few), article references which investigate Pecon Software (your umbrella company).

The Guardian newspaper – Police crack down on computer support phone scam: An article which reports that Indian authorities shut down 19 websites following complaints from the UK and elsewhere. Here’s an excerpt –

Among those shut was supportonclick.com, registered to Pecon Software, a firm based in Kolkata. The company has now opened another support website, called onlinepccare.com, which is the subject of numerous online complaints about cold calling, “bullying”, and claims that the caller is from Windows PC care.

The Guardian newspaper: PC virus’ phone scam: supportonclick company insists it is innocent. Here’s an excerpt –

After being told to download a program that handed over remote control of their computer so the caller could install “fixes”, the PC users were told of the £185 charge for subscription to “the preventative service”. But the “fixed” computers never had any problems, and the value of the service was dubious.

Unfortunately, typical computer users pay little attention to warnings, and alerts designed to warn then against sophisticated scams. On top of which, consumers are easily manipulated, by well trained and persistent cold callers (but you know that), into ignoring safety precautions.

I’m glad to have received your take-down request, since it provides me with another opportunity to shine a light on the dark spaces in which parasitic organizations, such as yours, thrive.

Just to be clear – the ship has sailed, and I have no intention of retracting anything I’ve written regarding Online PC Care, or honoring your request for a take-down.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

19 Comments

Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Opinion, Windows Tips and Tools

Use Babble.ly Free Anonymous Phone Number For Online Safety

image

Privacy is a major issue for most people who use the Internet; particularly those who use web based listing service such as eBay, Craigslist, and online dating services. Not surprisingly, to interact with these services, participants need to provide a contact phone number.

Not all participants feel comfortable in providing their home, business, or cell phone numbers to unknown parties that can conceivably place them at risk. So how can you address this challenge, if you fit into this category?

Luckily there are a number of free services that offer solutions to this problem. The new kid on the block is babble.ly – currently in Beta. Babble.ly provides a connection service, by way of a URL, which you can post – instead of your actual phone number.

Those with access to this unique URL can call you – with Babble.ly acting as an intermediary which effectively protects your real phone number, as well as the phone number of the caller.

In testing, the process went smoothly and the step by step instructions were clear and very easy to follow.

First, I entered my phone number. The number in the following graphic is a “dummy” number. I did, in fact, enter my real number. After which, I pushed the “Create Link” button.

image

Verifying my number (as per the instructions), prompted a call from the service …….

image

It was a simple matter to enter the required verification code from my handset.

image

Finally, I’ve got my link.

Babble

Clicking on the link you have provided the recipient (which I did), will open the following self explanatory screen.

image

In testing, the call completed flawlessly.

Babble 2

Fast facts:

Easy – Get a free disposable link for your phone number. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, forums, dating sites, anywhere you want!

Private – When the link is clicked, babble.ly will connect your call. Your number always remains private. Don’t want to talk now? Reject the call!

Customizable – Keep the link as long as you want. Done with the link? Revoke it. Log in, or call 415-325-2003 for our automated system.

If you’re looking for a free, safe solution, as an alternative to posting your phone number anywhere on the Internet, Babble.ly should appeal to you.

Note: Calls are limited to 10 minutes, and to U.S. and Canadian numbers during the beta.

Connect with Babble.ly, here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Beta Software, Cloud Computing, Connected Devices, FaceBook, Free Anonymous Phone Numbers, Interconnectivity, Internet Dating Safety Tips, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Privacy, Windows Tips and Tools

Use Free Prey To Track Your Lost Or Stolen Laptop Or Cell Phone

imageRecent statistics indicate that more than 10,000 Laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone. Broken down, this same set of statistics indicate that a Laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds!

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, to increase the probability that should your Laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you.

One solution is offered by Prey, an Open Source application, that can enhance recovery chances. Stolen Laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board, the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

image

What is Prey?

Prey is a small applet for your Laptop or Android Cell Phone, which, when activated by a remote signal, either from the Internet, or through an SMS message, will provide you with the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally – trigger specific actions on the device.

According to the developer – “Prey helps you track and find your Laptop or Phone if it ever gets out of sight. You can quickly find out what the thief looks like, what he’s doing on your device and actually where he’s hiding by using GPS or WiFi geopositioning. It’s payback time.”

There have been substantial changes and improvements to Prey, since I last reviewed it here on January 28, 2010.

Installation is very simple, as the following screen captures indicate. BTW, Prey can protect your desktop/s, as well.

image

image

image

image

Fast facts:

100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect – If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather – Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy – Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements – Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe – Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware – Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.

You monitor your devices on Prey’s web Control Panel, where you can watch new reports arrive and manage specific settings, such as changing the frequency for reports and actions.

You can add up to three devices for free, and can optionally upgrade to a Pro Account in case you wish to bypass this limit.

Full auto updater.

System requirements: XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux – all other distributions, (64 bit where appropriate), Android.

There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost device, will be recovered – but, it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood.

Download at: The Prey Project

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

5 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Android, cell phone, Cloud Computing Applications, Connected Devices, downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, GPS, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Linux, Mac OS X, Open Source, Software, Ubuntu, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free Phone Calls From Gmail – Yes It’s Free, But Is It Any Good?

image If you live in North America, you’ll know that “FREE” is one of the most overused, and undefined words – ever. Free, has so many variables attached, that it’s virtually worthless as a descriptor.

If you don’t live in North America, it’s still probable that the same conditions apply where you live, as well.

Despite the fact that “free”, is a very uncertain term, and despite the fact that we’ve all aware of that old expression – “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, advertisers continue to appeal to our lower instincts by crafting entire campaigns around “FREE”.

So last week, when Google announced “free” phone calls to “actual phones”, not just PC to PC (including long distance), from within Gmail, in both Canada and the US, my natural sense of skepticism kicked in.

Being the old cynic that I am, I immediately thought –

It’s got to be a hassle. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Google Voice is the easiest VOIP application I’ve ever used. Even easier to use than my long time favorite VOIP application – Skype.

Voice quality has gotta suck. Wrong again! Voice quality beats my home phone quality – hands down. In fact, if you’re a speakerphone user, I’ll wager that this application will be an improvement.

It isn’t really free. By now, I was a little tired of being wrong but, I was wrong again! Google’s free phone calling feature in Gmail is, well, FREE – at least until the end of 2010.

Setup couldn’t be easier. Highlight “Call Phone”, in your Gmail chat menu.

image

Then, just download and install the voice and video application from the next screen. The installation app will automatically calibrate your devices. Alternatively, you can choose to self calibrate.

image

Following installation, you’ll notice that the “Call phone” icon has changed to green – from the previous gray.

image

Clicking on the Call phone icon will open a phone keypad, as the following screen capture shows.

image

Choose your Country, (Canada or the US for the moment), input the phone number – either with your mouse, using the onscreen keypad, from your keyboard, or your Gmail contact list. Click on “Call”, and voila! – you’re connected. Incidentally, the application will automatically save your call history.

image

Incoming calls:

The service provides a US phone number (not yet available in Canada – but it’s on the way), chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes.

Requirements:

US or Canadian based Gmail users only – for the time being.

A Gmail account.

Web Cam and Speakers (I found this the easiest setup), or

Microphone and Speakers, or

Headset.

Download: From within Gmail.

Features:

Explore some of the most popular features of Google Voice by watching these videos:

image

  • Overview
  • Voicemail transcription
  • One number
  • Personalized greetings
  • International calling
  • SMS to email
  • Share voicemails
  • Block callers
  • Screen callers
  • Mobile app
  • Conference calls

I must admit, I’m very enthusiastic about this new service from Google. I find it very convenient, and it’s already saved me some cash in long distance fees.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

13 Comments

Filed under Business Applications, Communication, downloads, Freeware, Gmail, Google, Google Software, Interconnectivity, Software, Video Apps, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools

Cell Phone Fraud – Cyber Criminals New Scam

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. National White Collar Crime Center, cell phone fraud attacks are on the rise.

Given the unsteady state of world economies, a near perfect opportunity has been created for cyber-crooks to take advantage of people’s fears, and the worries, created by the uncertainties surrounding this crisis. Not surprisingly, there has been a major increase in financial-themed phishing, vishing, and spam.

Yes, you’ve heard of phishing, but what’s this vishing you ask?

The IC³ (Internet Crime Complaint Center) describes vishing as an attempt to persuade consumers either by email, text message, or a telephone call, purportedly from their credit card/debit card company, to divulge their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), claiming their account has been suspended, deactivated, or terminated.

In a common scenario, recipients are asked to contact their bank by calling a telephone number provided in the e-mail, cell phone text message, or alternatively, by an automated telephone recording. When the potential victim calls the telephone number, they are greeted with “Welcome to the bank of …” and then requested to enter their card number in order to resolve a pending security issue.

In the email scam attempt, in order to persuade the recipient that it is not a scam, the fraudulent e-mail sets out all the caveats the potential victim should be aware of in dealing with this type of email.

Who would consider that a scam artist would warn you that a bank would not contact customers to obtain their Personally Identifiable Information by e-mail, mail, text message or instant messenger?

To further convince the recipient of the validity of the email, it goes on to state that the recipients should not provide sensitive information when requested in an e-mail, and not to click on embedded links, claiming they could contain “malicious software aimed at capturing login credentials.”

Would this convince you that this email was genuine? It just might.

A new version of this scam recently reported to IC³ involves the sending of text messages to cell phones claiming the recipient’s on-line bank account has expired. The message instructs the recipient to renew their on-line bank account by using the link provided.

These types of attacks against financial institutions, and consumers, are occurring with such frequency that IC³ has called the situation “alarming”.

To reduce the chances of being victimized the following are minimum safety precautions you should take:

Consider every email, telephone call, or text message requesting your Personally Identifiable Information as a scam

Never click on embedded email or cell phone links

When contacting your bank; use a telephone number from your statement, a telephone book, or another independent source

You can read more on this issue at the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

4 Comments

Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Phishing, Windows Tips and Tools