Author Archives: kevin

tinder and match.com scams

Match.com Scams: Security Tips for Dating Sites & Apps

Avoid scammers & protect your privacy on dating sites like match.com: Are you thinking of trying out an online dating site? Millions of people now have profiles on Match.com, Tinder, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish, and online dating is now a multi-billion dollar business.

But wait, before you go ahead and set up your dating profile, there are some things that you need to know. Protecting your privacy on dating sites and avoiding scams is very important. There are so many people out there who want nothing more than to take you for a ride.

If you want to keep yourself (and your finances!) safe, you need to be as cautious as possible. Luckily for you, we have all the information you could possibly need to protect yourself. Enjoy!

match.com security scammers

Tip: Actually read the privacy policy

Before you sign up for any dating sites, you need to check out their privacy policy. Most people simply select ‘accept’ without reading what they’re agreeing to. The problem with that is that you could be signing all your personal information away without even realizing it. Frankly, that’s a very scary thought! Here are some of the things that you have to be mindful of:

  • The site giving your information to third parties
  • Whether your profile can be found by search engines
  • The information that is shown as ‘public’

It’s well worth taking the time to sift through all the text and figure out what you’re agreeing to. That way, you can take care of your personal information and truly understand what rights you’re giving away here.

Tip: Be ultra strict about your settings

Once you’ve actually set up your site, it’s time to take a proper look at your settings. Sure, it’s easy to just leave it and assume that it will all be okay, but doing so is a real mistake. Remember, you should have a whole load of control over what is shown on your profile and what is not. Head to the settings tab and see what controls you have.

If you want to protect your privacy, it may be worth making yourself ‘invisible’ to the public. That way, you can make sure that only people you want to contact you can contact you.

Be extra careful on “free” dating sites

“When something online is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

Open a “free” swimming pool in the middle of the city, and see what happens. Pretty soon you won’t want to stay in the water! Dating sites shouldn’t be free either. There should be a cost to participate, and a valid credit card attached to every account.

Match.com has a free trial, but it only lasts 7 days at the most. New members on a free trial are a mixed bag, so be extra careful in your interactions with them. (Also know what a site like match.com really costs before signing up)

No ‘free’ dating sites or apps should ever ask you to hand over your banking details. If they do, you should be very careful about handing them over. In the same respect, if on the off chance a user asks you to give your account details, you absolutely need to report them.

Tip: Keep your communications safe

One of the things that you will come across time and time again is match.com scammers asking you to hand over your phone number or email. If you’ve only just started to talk to them via the site or app, you really don’t want to rush into external communications. The truth of the matter is that if this person’s a con artist, they could well want to lure you away from the site to scam you.

If you do wish to chat to people outside of the app or site, it could be worth making a dedicated email address (that’s not attached to any of your personal information or accounts) that you can use. That way, you can speak to anyone without worrying that your personal information will be available to them.

How to catch a ‘catfish’

online dating scams

In case you haven’t heard, ‘catfishing’ is a massive deal for the online community. If you’re hoping to keep your privacy safe on dating sites, you need to be aware of this common issue. Basically, there are people out there who will pretend to be someone they are not, i.e. assume the identity of another individual.

Usually, Tinder or match.com scammers (or other popular dating sites) will do this so that they can con people out of money or steal their identity. You might also fall victim of Ransomware, where someone locks you out of your own computer and demands that you pay a ransom to access your files. Yikes! (consider backing up your files

When you first start talking to someone, it’s worth doing a little background research. Take a look at their social media accounts and online activity to see whether they are legitimate. Who are their friends online? Hopefully they have ties to a good mix of family and friends, and not just superficial ties to more shady characters or fake Facebook accounts.

Tip: try a “Google reverse image search”

match scammersIf you want to check out if a user is who they say they are, there’s a simple trick you may wish to use.

Copy their picture from the site and reverse image search it on Google.

If you find that the photo appears on other sites under a different name, you should steer clear of that person. If you find anything else troubling, you may even want to report them to the site.

Finally, avoid these common scams

Of course, you should take all of the above into consideration when it comes to setting up your site. However, there are a few common scams that it’s worth knowing about ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The ‘sob story’ scam: This scam on match.com or Tinder is perhaps the most common. Someone you start talking to on a site like match.com will suddenly have an ‘emergency’ and need financial help. As tempted as you might be to give them a loan, don’t do it! Remember you don’t know this person at all and you owe them nothing. Just last year a woman lost her lifesavings to a match.com scam, ($270k) which is hard to comprehend, but shows you an extreme example of how people get conned by scammers
  • The malicious link scam: If someone sends you a link and asks you to click on it, it’s a red flag.  Much of the time, the site will be a porn site or even a page with a virus or creepware on it, which can be really hard to get rid of. (consider having Norton Security on your devices) 
  • The webcam scam: You need to think twice before agreeing to go on webcam with someone you don’t know. They can record the session (and whatever happens during it!) and use it to blackmail you later. Be careful.

It’s not a bad idea to read all the bad reviews and complaints for match.com before joining. It might scare you away, or it might just make you more savvy.

If you follow all of the above advice, you should have no problem using dating sites securely and safely. Remember, you are in control of the information you give out, and so you can make sure that you are always as private as possible. Happy dating!

*Dating photo credits: Huffington Post + omgphotos.com

shared ip address seo harm

Yahoo & Bing Dropped Your Website? The Dirty Truth About Shared Hosting

One day I noticed that my site wasn’t showing up on Yahoo when I searched for “Chairman Meow.” I knew that was a red flag, so I tried a few more search terms. Still nothing. Then, I checked my other sites under the same account. All of them missing. It didn’t take me long to realize that my site(s) had been dropped by Yahoo and their partner Bing.com, and something weird was happening.

I’m not part of any paid-linking or “black hat” SEO schemes, and I don’t really do anything “shady” online, so why was my site dropped by Yahoo?

Has Your Site Been Dropped By Yahoo / Bing?

Try doing a search for your domain name on Yahoo.com. If you don’t see your site come up, you may have been dropped. If it has, you’ll likely see your Facebook page, or an obscure page or two from your site might turn up in search results instead. So, was your site unfairly dropped?

If you’ve been paying a guy in the Ukraine to do your SEO work, or send out spam emails by the thousand, you probably aren’t an innocent victim. Your site was probably dropped for the same reason they throw certain characters out of bars and NASCAR events. However, if you play by all the rules, consider taking action immediately to get back in search results.

Site Dropped for No Reason? Your Shared Hosting Plan May Be to Blame

If you’re paying under $50 a month for hosting, (like most of the masses) you’re on what is called, “shared” hosting. With hosting companies like GoDaddy, your site is on a server with hundreds of other sites, all with the same IP address. (the unique 11-digit number /address of each server) When one of the sites on your server starts behaving badly, Yahoo / Bing will likely block the whole server, even with WordPress hosting.

That means that your blog about “knitting patterns” and “photos of kittens” will be penalized because it’s on the same server as “DonkeyPorn.xyz,” because to Yahoo, you look the same!

Oh, no! What Other Sites Are on My Server / IP Address?

shared ip address blockedEver sit on a wet, sticky public toilet seat? That’s how I felt when I took a look at who else I was sharing a server with. There were hundreds of sites, and a few stood out as being shady. Clearly one of these dirty sites was the culprit, and to blame for my site being dropped.

You can do a reverse IP lookup online to find out who you are “in bed” with here. Just type in your site domain:

In my case, I got a message saying:

“It appears that the web server located at 123.456.78.910 may be hosting one or more web sites with explicit content. The web sites in question are highlighted in red below. There is a possibility that all of the web sites on this web server may be blocked by web filtering software. Search engine rankings for these web sites may be affected as well.”

Still in shock, I called GoDaddy to inform them of this news. “Do you realize you are hosting my website with a bunch of porn sites?” To which they replied that they have no control over what people put on their websites, and don’t have a screening process. What?!

Contacting Yahoo / Bing for Re-inclusion?

You might have better luck finding a personal email address for Taylor Swift than a helpful contact email on Yahoo.com. Before trying to contact them, I suggest you try to fix the root problem first. Paying for hosting on your own “dedicated” server is expensive and can cost $200+ month. So, to separate yourself from these bad actors, try getting a dedicated IP address.

Buy a Dedicated / Static IP Address

If you use one of the big hosting companies like GoDaddy or HostGator, adding a dedicated or “static” IP address to your hosting plan should be easy, and cost about $6/month. You should be able to log-in and do it yourself, and the transition should be simple. Contact your hosting company with any specific questions if it’s not obvious.

Contact Yahoo through Bing Webmaster Tools

Once you have a new IP address, you can either wait and watch search results, or contact Yahoo / Bing to tell them what happened. Yahoo’s customer support is notoriously bad, but since their merger with Bing, they offer webmasters a nice set of tools and help through Bing Webmaster Tools. It’s an easy sign-up, and let’s you look under the hood at how Yahoo / Bing view and index your site.

If you need to contact them, signup for Webmaster Tools, verify your site, and go to “Bing Webmaster help and How-to,” and click under “getting help & support” on “webmaster support.

bing yahoo contact site dropped

 

In my case, (not knowing why my site was dropped) I went through this process backwards and contacted Bing first, before getting a new IP address. They actually responded 2 days later. Within a week they confirmed that my IP address was being blocked due to spam originating from another site on my shared server.

Here’s the response from Bing Microsoft Customer Support
We highly appreciate your patience as we review this matter together with our Product Group. My name is Jenny and I will be providing you with the status of this Service Request.

We would like to inform you that the webserver that your site exists on is blocked by our bots due to Spam and the whole IP was crushed…

My Site Started to Reappear On Yahoo Search Within a Week

Bing webmaster support quoted that it would take “a week or two” to be back in search results, and as I type this, my .net site is slowly trickling back onto Yahoo search results a week after getting a dedicated / static IP address. This whole fiasco has lasted about a month so far!

Don’t Risk Bing Dropped By Yahoo / Bing; Get a Dedicated IP Address for SEO

Google doesn’t see to block entire IP addresses the way that Yahoo / Bing does, but getting dropped by Yahoo /Bing is serious. Together they account for a significant 29% off search traffic.

In my opinion, anyone maintaining a website or blog should have a dedicated IP address. It’s cheap insurance against being dropped because of the actions of someone else online. It’s also included with an SSL certificate, (which gives your site an “https:” url) and a layer of security if you collect information or take payments. If your site or blog is run on WordPress, consider managed wordpress hosting from a specialist like WP Engine Hosting.

carbonite plans pricing

Carbonite Costs, New Cloud Backup Prices

carbonite logoHow much does Carbonite cost? It’s easy to figure out the cost of Carbonite cloud backup. Their plans for Home or Office have 3 levels each, so you can determine which plan is best for your needs, and how much it costs.

In general, their 2-3 year subscriptions cost 10% less, and using a coupon can save you 10% on the first year. Here are the latest prices for Carbonite Home and Business (server) backup plans:

HOME Plan Pricing:

Here are the latest prices for Carbonite Backup. As you can see, the cost per-year drops with longer subscriptions. You can save 5% with 2-year plans, and get 10% off with 3-year plans:

 BASIC Plan: PLUS Plan: PRIME Plan:
1 Year: $59.99$99.99$149.99
2 Years: $113.99$189.99$284.99
3 Years: $161.99$269.99$404.99
Today's promotion: *See price*View price*See price

*View all coupons for Carbonitenew here


BUSINESS / Server Plan Pricing:

There are 3 levels of plans with Carbonite for Small Business: Core, Power, and Ultimate. While we break down the features below, here are the costs:

 CORE Plan: POWER Plan: ULTIMATE Plan:
1 Year: $269.99$404.49 (save 25%)$566.99
2 Years: $599.99$1,139.99 (save 5%)$1,619.99
3 Years: $999.99$1,899.99 (save 5%)$2,699.99
Storage:250 GB250 GB500 GB
Today's Promo: *View price*View cost*View prices

*Additional storage costs: $99/100GB. View full business pricing at carbonite.comnew


carbonite personal prices

Carbonite HOME Plans:  (Personal)

All personal plans for Carbonite include automatic secure cloud backup with free U.S.-based customer support. Here’s an overview of each plan:

  • BASIC Plan: Unlimited backup for one PC or Mac computer – Free trial available
  • PLUS Plan: Adds a mirror-image of your entire disk for full system backup + optional backup for external drives
  • PRIME Plan: Adds automatic video backup as well as a courier recovery service, which sends you your data on a physical disk
  • View Carbonite backup couponsnew or view plans & pricing on carbonite.com

carbonite business plans prices

Carbonite BUSINESS Plans: (For Office)

All Carbonite Business / Server Plans include computer backup for an unlimited number of computers with a minimum of 250 GB cloud storage space, plus free U.S.-based support 7-days a week. Here’s a summary of the Business Plans:

  • CORE Plan: Protects up to 250 GB of files on an unlimited number of computers, external hard drives, and NAS devices
  • POWER Plan: Includes 250 GB of cloud backup and adds image backup and bare metal restore feature for one physical or virtual server
  • ULTIMATE Plan: Backup up to 500 GB of files from unlimited computers and servers
  • Carbonite E2 – Protect all your small business dat both on-site, and in the cloud with powerful hybrid backup. Learn more about Carbonite E2
  • View coupons for Carbonite Businessnew or see plans & pricing on carbonite.com

You can add additional storage in 100GB increments to any Carbonite Business plan. See carbonite.com for PC / Mac operating system requirements.

creepware security online

New Creepware Threat: Security Software Protects Your Computer

New Security Threat: Remote Access Trojans, aka “Creepware” – (Please share this!) As if there weren’t enough potential security threats against your Mac or PC computer, a new spyware virus called, “creepware,” has emerged.

Why should you care about creepware? It literally gives hackers full remote access and control of your computer, without you knowing. It can quickly get installed when you download something online, or even from links on social media sites like Facebook. Here’s a video from Norton:

creepware computer virusPretty creepy, huh? While some attackers may want to get on your computer to steal your music and look through your photos, one common practice is to take over your built in web cam, and literally watch you remotely through your own computer!

You know that laptop that your daughter left on after doing her homework? With creepware, it’s as good as a window right into her bedroom for any number of creeps to look through. I’m sure most men wouldn’t want to be watched while they are online at night (doing important research of course) either. Yikes!

In a recent episode of Shark Tank, one of the inventions was a little plastic blocker that you can slide over your web cam, which is a good start. (I’m sure a post-it note would do as well) For more comprehensive protection, consider software from a top name in internet security like Norton or McAfee.

WHAT DOES CREEPWARE DO?

  • Send abusive messages or spam from your computer
  • Steal your passwords
  • Open web pages, and spread the creepware / spyware to others
  • Cause your computer to crash

HOW CAN YOU AVOID CREEPWARE?

  • Use an updated date antivirus / internet security software
  • Only download files from trusted sites
  • Don’t use “torrent” file sharing sites, like those that allow you to download free music or movies
  • Keep the shutter of your webcam covered if you aren’t using it, and beware of suspicious activity with your webcam
  • Backup your files online with a service like Carbonite (get offer codes) (coupon available)

It’s a good idea to have a comprehensive, 360 degree solution to viruses and trojans for your computer and devices. Because these creepy threats are always evolving, so is the software to protect against them. That’s why you should always make sure your software is updated regularly. Need an incentive? We have the latest coupon codes for Norton software, including Antivirus and Norton 360 on our site!

wi fi safety public

Use a VPN to Staying safe on Public Wi-Fi (Um, What’s a VPN?)

public wi fiProtect yourself on public wifi with a VPN: If you’ve never heard of, or indeed used, a VPN (virtual private network) before now, never fear. The truth of the matter is that a whole bunch of people just don’t know what these things are. When you ask them about a VPN, they stare at you with a look of sheer bewilderment.

That’s fair enough; the point is, though, that you don’t have to be super techy to know what one of these things is. In fact, it could really help you to educate yourself so that you can protect your private information from online thieves. Yikes. Here’s what you need to know.

Why is public WiFi dangerous? (would you like identity theft w/ that latte?) 

vpn public wifi coffee shop

Whether you’re in a coffee shop, bar or a shared working situation, you might login to a public WiFi hotspot. Most of us use this type of free internet all the time without ever thinking about it. But wait, maybe we should. You see, open WiFi hotspots can actually be extremely dangerous especially when it comes to our personal data. While you’re surfing away, checking your emails, or chatting to pals online, someone could be watching you.

Even amateur hackers can get their hands on freeware that helps them to spy on people. At the touch of a button, they can take a look at your communications and, yes, steal your personal information. You probably hear about hacking scandals all the time in the media, but never think that it could happen to you.

When you’re on a public network, though, you’re under serious threat. It’s crucial that you do something to protect yourself. Also, consider a backup solution like Carbonite (get a coupon) in case things really go awry and you lose or are locked out of your files. Yikes!

What is a VPN and why do you need one?

Helpful 4 minute video explains what a VPN is

VPNs have been around for quite some time, yet few people know how to use them. So, first of all, let’s address what they actually are. VPN stands for “virtual private network”. When you start using one, you can hide your location and information from those around you, even if they happen to be using the same network as you are. The VPN masks your Internet protocol (IP) so that from that moment on, no one can trace where you are. Simple. Right?

So, why do you need a VPN? Well, in short, when you’re doing things online like shopping or communicating, you want things to be as secure as possible. When people can trace you, it means that they may also have access to your information. Using the VPN means that that is no longer possible. In simple terms, if they can’t find you on the public network or WiFi hotspot, there’s just no way that they can access your information.

The moment you begin masking your location and identity, you can be sure that you are safe. Most people have no idea where to start with this kind of thing, but the truth of the matter is that it’s really extremely easy. All you need to do is make sure that you prepare yourself ahead of time. That way, you will never have an issue in the future.

But wait, what does a VPN actually do?

If you’re still a little perplexed, never fear. We will go into what a VPN actually does right here and break everything down for you as easily as possible. Once you start using a VPN, it will make a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node somewhere else. (The location of the node really doesn’t matter all that much; what matters is that it’s nowhere near where you are! It could be another state or, indeed, another country altogether.)

vpn public wifi security

When users or hackers try to view your network and where you are, no information will be available to them. So, if you happen to be in a coffee shop, using the public network, and a hacker decides to attack the people on that network with some nasty creepware, you will not be affected. Your network just will not be visible to the hacker, and so you will be 100% safe. Hurrah.

Are there any negatives to using a VPN?

There are a small number of websites or apps that might not work properly if you are on a VPN, so it’s good to have a backup browser.

Also, due to the encryption process, it might slow down your internet connection slightly., However, during peak hours visitors to popular sites like youtube report that their VPN connection is actually faster than the regular wi-fi connection. Go figure?! 

How to choose a VPN quickly and easily

So, since there are loads of VPNs on the market, which should you choose? Well, one of the best is the Norton WiFi Privacy (get coupon), which you may have heard great reviews of before now. Of course, there are many options available to you.

Before you opt for a VPN, ask these crucial questions:

  1. Is your privacy protected? The entire point of you using a VPN is to protect yourself, and so you want to be sure that the service is not logging your activity too. Look into the privacy settings and make sure that there is a ‘no log’ service promise there.
  2. Is there a data limit? You don’t want to have any limits when it comes to browsing the net. Sadly, some VPN services set data limits. It’s worth checking out their terms ahead of time to see that you have just what you need.
  3. Can you use different devices? It’s not just about laptops these days. From tablets to smartphones, we all have a bunch of things that we can use online. Ensure that you can use the VPN across all your devices so that you’re always safe when browsing!

Once you have asked and, indeed, answered these questions, it’s time to get started. Remember, using a VPN is the smartest thing you can do and it just makes sense. Happy surfing!