Archive for the ‘Other News Articles’ Category

Ethics Guy: Doing business virtually in a crisis

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Kim
REBGV

It goes without saying that we’re expected to look after our clients and not to put them in harm’s way. 

I’d think many potential buyers and sellers are sitting things out for awhile, waiting for the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 to subside. 

If you encounter a seller or buyer who absolutely has to buy or sell for some reason, know that you’re not obligated to take their business. If you do, however, you become their agent and as such, you’re obliged to follow their lawful instructions so long as they comply with government instructions. 

First, the mea culpa, I’ve never done a virtual deal. My deals were all done with quill pens. But we’re facing strange times so let’s take this “doing business virtually” idea out for a test-drive. 

Let’s start with my definition of doing business virtually. 

For me, it means you’re causing something to happen without you being there in person. Think about it, we’ve been doing business virtually for quite a while now. I mean, you’ve been phoning, emailing, texting and Touchbasing your clients and each other for years. 

We’ve made your listings visible to anyone on the planet via the web for at least 20 years or more. 

Posting photographs, floor plans and virtual tours is commonplace. With access to the wealth of property information from LTSA, local government maps and now, the enterprise version of AutoProp, it’s never been easier to get the necessary information to clients and others. 

For years, you’ve been writing offers with products like Docusign and legally executing contracts. Making counter-offers and other contract changes is also a breeze, since all of the parties go to the same live document to affix their encrypted signatures. 

Some members are promoting their listings virtually and handling offers electronically. These offers are being made subject to inspection. This means that the buyer makes the offer based on the listing information, pictures and virtual tour. The deal is established by way of contract, subject only to the buyer inspecting the property in person. Again, the informed consent of the parties for that inspection, with an appropriate nod to the health risk, tenants’ rights and physical distancing, would be absolutely vital.

Most buyer agents have been emailing their buyers’ offers to sellers’ agents for ages. Perhaps less frequent, is the use of products like Facetime, WhatsApp or similar, to present and discuss contracts, documents and other things, without us having to be physically there with our clients.

See. We’re already virtual REALTORS®. 

But there’s more we can do because, the times being what they are, we’re expected to do everything we can to keep this infernal virus at bay. For us, this has now become a professional and societal obligation.

That’s why your Board relaxed Rule 3.22 regarding showing availability and continues to strongly recommend that you refrain from holding Open Houses, avoid in-person interactions as much as possible, and adhere to the most up-to-date physical-distancing requirements from our government and public health officials. 

These requirements, and they are required, are changing often. We have an obligation to know and follow them.

For example, the provincial government announced on Wednesday that, while the provincial emergency order is in place, landlords are not permitted to enter a tenant’s rental space (for showings, routine maintenance etc.) without the tenant’s consent. Exceptions were given to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit. (Expect more details from the Residential Tenancy Branch early next week.)

Your showings, if there are to be any, must be kept to an absolute minimum, with them being arranged only with the consent of the parties, including any tenants.

Please work with your clients, and their tenants where applicable, to discuss how to responsibly achieve their housing and shelter needs amid today’s public health emergency. 

As much as possible, employ other approaches to in-person interactions, such as virtual showings and other technology-based solutions. 

We’re all in a challenging spot and we’re trying to do the best we can given the circumstances. Let’s all do our part.

We’re watching the COVID-19 situation carefully and will continue to provide you with advice as often and quickly as possible.

As I prepare to hit send on this message, I worry that a new government announcement could make my suggestions outdated by the time you read it.

That’s just the times we’re living in.

Stay safe,

Kim

Market Update ? The Coronavirus Impact on Bitcoin

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Bill Barhydt
other

We hope everyone in the extended Abra community is safe and are following the recommended guidelines for getting through this crisis. We know this is a difficult time for everyone and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone such that we can all get through this together as quickly as possible. Stay home and stay safe!

Team Abra is fully up and running and our systems are processing more transactions than ever. Our team is working remotely but hasn’t missed a beat in continuing to offer the great service we have for the past three years.

Bitcoin has seen its wildest couple of weeks in years. After plummeting almost 50% in the past month it has now climbed over 25% in the past week. It’s safe to say volatility has returned to Bitcoin after months of relative calm.

Bitcoin price chart for the month of March

Why I’m more bullish on Bitcoin now than a week ago…

  1. Quantitative easing coming  Expect to see $5-10 Trillion globally in new money being printed to deal with the deflationary pressures of the Coronavirus disaster. That means people will be seeking out appreciation and yield to address this new dynamic. This could be the time Bitcoin finally becomes more correlated to gold and less correlated to discretionary investment spending.  There is way more gold to go around than there is Bitcoin.  This could lead to an explosion in Bitcoin’s price.
  2. Bitcoin halving is less than two months away The new supply of Bitcoin created every month is about to be cut in half. This is going to be a big shock to the mining community as well as the investment community and hasn’t been priced into Bitcoin at all in my opinion. Given quantitative easing’s effect of pumping out massive amounts of cash and driving demand for deflationary assets there simply won’t be enough Bitcoin to go around. This could lead to an explosion in Bitcoin’s price.
  3. More awareness for Bitcoin as a hedge against currency inflation Currency inflation drives the value of your investments towards zero over the long term. I expect more fiat currencies to fail in the next 2-4 years. The Euro is clearly at risk. This could lead to negative bank rates and super high lending rates and create a huge strain on the banking system. People will be looking for a safe haven for their investment dollars. This could lead to an explosion in Bitcoin’s price.
  4. Exciting new opportunities for earning with Bitcoin People are waking up to the idea that you can earn money with your Bitcoin beyond just price appreciation. Look for more announcements from Abra in this area very soon! This could lead to an explosion in Bitcoin’s price.

Bitcoin price fluctuations will be dramatic in the next few weeks. But the mid term outlook for Bitcoin is better than ever. There are no guarantees in life but I’m convinced that having at least 10% of my assets in Bitcoin is the right play for me.

We want to hear from you. You can reach me online on twitter at @billbarhydt or you can reach the Abra team @AbraGlobal or @abra_Support. Of course you can email us anytime at [email protected]

With peace and love…

Bill

Copyright 2019 Plutus Financial, Inc.

The Best Tips for a Quick Home Office Set-Up

Friday, March 20th, 2020

REW

You’re suddenly faced with the need to WFH. Here are some essential elements you need to enhance productivity in your (new) home office.

By REW (Real Estate Wire) Mar 21, 2020

Working from home has become our new norm. There are many new factors to this change in working life, from sharing the same space as the rest of your family or roommates to increased noise/distractions to the need for more personal, focused space. These extra challenges need unique solutions.  

Don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your office space is an oasis of productivity and creativity.

  1. Prioritize. No at-home office has it all

What are your goals for this new space?

  • Will you need to be on the phone or webinars? 
  • Do you need to have a creative space? 
  • Do you need quiet or is a little noise, okay?
  • What do you want to look out to? Wall, window, art?

Decide if your work can handle a bit of distraction by household foot traffic or if total isolation is required.

  1. Choosing the Right Location

Then select an area in your home that will maximize those requirements. It often helps to have a conversation with others in the household about your professional space. When you are working, you will need them to respect your boundaries. 

If you have a dedicated office with a door and everything, then congratulations, you are miles ahead of many who fight for a quiet workspace – I included. When you close the door, it certainly sends a clear message that there is work in progress. 

If you have to set up shop in common use space, however, there are a few things to consider:

  • Try choosing an area with the least amount of traffic to minimize distractions.
  • If you are taking over a corner of a room like a kitchen or living space, you may want to invest in good quality noise-cancelling headphones. When they are on, it means you are in business.
  • Define your office hours for you and with family members. This conversation will go far in assisting them in respecting your working hours. It will also help you maintain your work/life balance that sometimes gets lost when you work from home.
  • Create a sign on your door or wall with your “do not disturb” or “working hours.”  Sharing a space may mean defining your boundaries.

 

  1. Clutter and Organization

This point is particularly crucial if you have an open space in your home. You will want to keep it clutter-free to minimize the messiness when you have visitors. Plus, less clutter will keep the area open and give a more substantial feeling. Having a bunch of clutter will continuously remind you there is work to be done.

Less paper means less clutter

You may want to consider going paperless or at least decreasing the amount you need. In today’s environmental climate, it’s certainly a hot topic. Consider external hard drives and digital storage devices for this purpose. Not only will they keep the space bright and clutter-free, but they are more mobile too.

Organization goes hand-in-hand with decluttering your space. The more you can keep everything in its place, the better. It will also give the illusion of more space.

  • Manage your cables – you can use a power strip that keeps all your cables nice and organized, but twist-ties work great too. 

The tubes can be easily labelled, so you don’t end-up under your desk, stuck, trying to figure which cable to unplug. Make sure they stay neat and in order. This simple tip will allow for a cleaner space and take away the clutter.

  1. Functionality and Focus

Be purposeful when deciding the function of your space. If the office is serving multiple purposes, it will be tough to focus. It can completely clutter your headspace. 

It is common for work at home moms to allow their children to occupy the office space. Before you know it, there are drawings, toys and arts and crafts sprawled over your month-end analysis. These may help:

  • Have a separate area or drawer for all their masterpieces and keep your home office well-defined for your purpose.
  • Choose the right furniture and go far in creating functionality.
  • Less is more when it comes to a small home office. By creating a simple, functional space, you will be able to stay focussed and productive.

“There are inexpensive units you can buy now that add to the overall décor of a room,” says Halifax Interior Decorator Genevieve Clarke. “By purchasing pieces that are specifically designed to house printers, files and computers, you can close the cabinets, shut the drawers when not in use.”

These units create a clean and organized feel.

Hand in hand with office equipment-specific furniture is the trick of going vertical. In other words, get rid of the sprawling desk, tables, multiple chairs, and tonnes of filing cabinets. Instead, consider shelves and wall cabinets that don’t take away the floor space, says Clarke.

Choose a smaller, wooden table with rounded edges to compliment the area and don’t forget to make use of the space under the desk.  

  1. Colours, Creativity, and Décor with a Difference

Decorate strategically. Be thoughtful in your choices.

Colours are powerful. Make this space your own and a place where you can be creative and productive. Choose colours that suit your taste and make you feel like you want to be there. Don’t feel like repainting? Here are some removable wall stickers that you can put up yourself.

Starting at a blank wall stifles you. Consider getting a cheap(ish) art piece you can hang near your desk. 

  1. Bring the Outdoors in with a Wood Element

According to one of the principles of Feng Shui, you may want to incorporate a wood element into your space. This natural element could easily be a small, wooden desk. Consider plants. They make the perfect pairing with wood elements.

“If you are adding in plants, keep them small and simple,” adds Clarke.

Not only will the greenery add an unobtrusive colour to the room, but plants will also give a sense of warmth and energy. Plants oxygenate a small place, helping you stay alert and awake. They can also increase the humidity around your desk and remove toxins from the air.

Extra Tip: Succulents are perfect for indoors and office spaces, and very affordable too.

  1. Natural Light is Naturally Beneficial

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, allowing natural light in a home office will increase productivity. Have your desk or chair facing a window or door with unobstructed views. Just make sure you don’t start daydreaming!  

This natural source of vitamin D will increase your happiness level, helping you keep calm and creative, and boost your immune system – which we all need right now, am I right?

If you do work nights, make sure you have a work lamp at your desk and a soft light that’s not too harsh on your eyes.

Extra tip: Blue light blocking glasses are definitely a must in this case too. You can find them on Amazon in various shapes and prices.

Other Things to Consider When Working From Home

  • Get started early
  • Act like you are at the office. This means to wake up and get ready for the day (shower, dress, etc) 
  • Set up a daily routine – Get your creative work in the morning with a fresh mind and leave the tasks for later in the day. You’ll end up being more productive.
  • Schedule your breaks – as much as we all need to stay inside, there are ways to maintain social distancing and still breathe some fresh air and move around.
  • Take a walk – or exercise indoors – and stay hydrated.
  • Reconnect with friends and family through calls, text, and videos.
  • Stay hopeful and surround yourself with positive people and positive information.

Creating a home office can be fun. Take the opportunity to use your creativity in creating a work oasis. Make it a place where you can nurture your professional development, boost your productivity, and find energy in your work. 

Be safe everyone!

© 2020 REW. A Division of Glacier Media

Corona virus analogy

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Pause a minute ??.

other

Pause a minute …….

One of the worst days so far for Coronavirus was the 10th of February. On that day, 108 persons in China died of Coronavirus.

But, on the same day 26,283 people died of Cancer 24,641 people died of Heart Disease 4,300 people died of Diabetes and on that day, suicide, unfortunately, took more lives than the virus did, by 28 times. Moreover, mosquitoes kill 2,740 people every day, humans kill 1,300 fellow humans every day and snakes kill 137 people every day.

Take a deep breath, and wash your hands

Economic fallout from China’s coronavirus mounts around the world

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Asian and European auto plants run short of parts

David J. Lynch
other

The economic casualties from China’s coronavirus epidemic are mounting as Asian and European auto plants run short of parts, free-spending Chinese tourists stay home and American companies brace for unpredictable turbulence.

That’s just the start of a financial hangover that is expected to linger for months even if the flulike illness is soon brought under control, economists and supply chain experts say. The Chinese epidemic’s aftereffects will probably cause the global economy to shrink this quarter for the first time since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics in London.

Chinese factories had been scheduled to reopen Feb. 10, after a Lunar New Year holiday that had been extended for several days because of the medical scare. But with many workers unable or unwilling to return to employers located in a sprawling quarantine region, the resumption of routine operations in many workplaces has been delayed.

Caterpillar this week said most of its Chinese suppliers have returned to work. But Foxconn, a major electronics producer for Apple, said it will be the end of the month before even half of its facilities are operating.

The country’s links to the outside world, meanwhile, remain frayed. United Airlines and American Airlines said this week that they would not resume normal service to mainland China until April 24, almost a month later than planned.

The ripple effects of China’s shutdown are spreading, with the auto industry especially hard-hit. Nissan temporarily closed one of its factories in Japan after running short of Chinese components, one week after Hyundai in South Korea did the same. Fiat Chrysler warned that it may shutter one of its European plants. Some U.S. manufacturers could face parts shortages in one to two weeks.

“I worry that it’s going to be a bigger deal than most economists are treating it as right now,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, the German financial services company. “It will take time to restart all these economic engines.”

About 5,100 cases of covid-19 were confirmed in China on Thursday and 121 more people died, Chinese health officials said Friday morning. Most of the new cases and deaths continued to be in Hubei province.

More than 63,000 confirmed cases and approximately 1,380 deaths have been reported in China since the outbreak began.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported the 15th coronavirus case, an individual who had been in quarantine in Texas since arriving on a State Department-chartered aircraft from Wuhan on Feb. 7. And Japan reported its first coronavirus death. It also said 44 more people had tested positive for the illness aboard the quarantined cruise liner Diamond Princess, bringing to 218 the number of ship-borne infections.

The coronavirus struck China as many U.S. corporations were reconsidering their global footprints. President Trump’s tariffs on roughly 70 percent of all Chinese goods, imposed during a two-year trade war with Beijing, raised doubts about the future of trans-Pacific supply lines.

“We were already hitting the pause button on globalization,” El-Erian said. “This [virus] disrupts the movement of goods and it disrupts the movement of people, making companies reassess how international they want their supply chains to be.”

After initially dismissing the epidemic as principally a Chinese problem, U.S. policymakers in recent days acknowledged it will damage the global and U.S. growth outlooks. Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell said this week that there will “very likely be some effects on the United States” from the epidemic, which has closed thousands of Chinese factories that supply American companies.

Among the first tangible effects in the United States is a decline in the number of Chinese tourists. Visitors from China represent a lucrative market for U.S. airlines, hotels, luxury retailers and entertainment venues, with average spending of about $6,500 per person.

As of Feb. 7, the number of passengers flying between North America and China was 75 percent below last year’s level and was shrinking by the day, according to Quandl, a financial data provider.

At Sino American Tours, a Manhattan travel agency that caters to Chinese Americans, bookings have plunged by 20 to 30 percent, said Charles Man, vice president for marketing.

“Of course, we’re impacted,” he said. “A lot of people canceled trips back to Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Taiwan and Singapore.”

Chinese officials, meanwhile, are growing increasingly concerned that their efforts to contain the virus are strangling the economy. President Xi Jinping this week instructed subordinates to avoid “overreactions” that interfered with China’s development goals. Huang Qifan, an influential economic policymaker, has said the ongoing supply chain disruptions are more costly than the two-year U.S.-China trade war, according to Trivium, an economic research firm in Beijing.

Indeed, the battle to contain the epidemic brought much of the world’s second-largest economy to a standstill. The Chinese provinces most affected by the coronavirus are home to 49,884 branches or subsidiaries of foreign corporations, including nearly 9,500 American operations, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

A Chinese quarantine applying to roughly 60 million people — more than the population of Spain — interrupted routine business operations for almost every member of the Fortune 1000 list of the world’s biggest corporations, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The Chinese government’s enforced halt to commerce was akin to an economic stroke, cutting off the flow of needed parts and materials to companies all over the world. And just as with a stroke, the effects will linger after production across China sputters to life.

“It’s going to happen in phases,” said Hitendra Chaturvedi, a former supply chain specialist for Microsoft. “It’s going to take six to eight weeks before everything comes back on line.”

Each major Chinese supplier to a global corporation relies upon a network of smaller companies to provide food, uniforms, sanitation and parts. Nike, for example, depends upon 110 Chinese factories, each with their own supplier webs.

“They’ll be having their own problems,” said Chaturvedi, who teaches at Arizona State University. “It’s not like you hit the button and everything starts to work automatically.”

Along with crimping production of current products, the coronavirus shutdown has interrupted research and development efforts and thus may also delay the introduction of next-generation models, he added. That could affect consumer electronics makers such as Apple, which relies on China for almost half of its 775 global supply facilities.

One of those firms, AT&S of Austria, cut its revenue forecast for the current fiscal year by nearly 7 percent after the virus disrupted production at its Shanghai and Chongqing facilities. The company produces printed circuit boards for Apple and Intel as well as European automakers.

In some parts of China, businesses must pass a local government inspection before resuming work. Since there are only so many inspectors, that creates a bottleneck. Some foreign executives are trying to speed things up by showing officials receipts proving they are major taxpayers, said James McGregor, chairman of APCO Worldwide’s greater China region.

Many office workers face long lines to have their temperatures checked before they can enter their buildings. Once inside, some have objected to running central heating systems, preferring space heaters to the alleged dangers of recirculated air, McGregor said.

ASE Technology, a Taiwanese semiconductor maker, is struggling with a shortfall of returning workers and uncertainties about which of its suppliers are fully operational.

“This virus is a negative lottery and everyone is doing whatever they cannot to win,” Ken Hsiang, the company’s head of investor relations, said on a Feb. 7 conference call. “So, the fear that is gripping the world, the overabundance of caution at a personal, company and sovereign government levels are completely understandable. The impacts to our business are totally unpredictable.”

China’s $14 trillion economy now is a patchwork affair. In some areas, local officials are prodding employers to return to work. Elsewhere, officials remain preoccupied with the risk of contagion. The share of businesses that are operating normally ranges from about 26 percent in central Sichuan province to nearly 70 percent in Shanghai, according to Trivium.

Many employees remain reluctant to return to jobs in crowded factories, where an isolated cough might idle an assembly line. Those who want to return often face transport headaches as some public services have yet to return to full operations.

“Everything was supposed to be back to normal by now,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council. “It’s not going to happen for a while. I think that’s starting to sink in.”

The coronavirus is expected to dent global growth by depressing business and consumer confidence as well as temporarily severing supply chains, economists said. “Where the trade war ended, the coronavirus has picked up,” said Nathan Sheets, chief economist for PGIM Fixed Income. “It suggests a whole additional class of risks they need to worry about as they rely on Chinese suppliers. It’s another powerful shock toward global de-integration.”

Lasting effects on global trade also may emerge from the ocean freight market. Shipping rates on some routes out of China are down by one-quarter, despite new international regulations that took effect Jan. 1 requiring the use of cleaner but more costly fuel, said Patrik Berglund, chief executive of Xeneta, an online shipping platform based in Oslo.

Major retailers and manufacturers will soon be negotiating long-term shipping contracts amid an unpredictable market. They might benefit in the short run from lower prices. But if artificially depressed rates are locked in for an entire year, one or more shipping lines could tumble into bankruptcy and further unsettle global trade, he said.

“If there’s limited cargo coming out of all of Asia, depending upon how this develops, we might see shipping lines really struggling to pull through,” Berg­lund said.

Wall Street has taken the crisis in stride, with the Dow Jones industrial average still up about 3 percent so far this year. But the financial markets’ calm could be tested as additional data becomes available, said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics.

Negative readings on consumer or business confidence could send investors flooding into U.S. government bonds, pushing up the value of the dollar and leading to tighter financial conditions.

“We’ve been lucky to see no financial market ramifications,” he said. “That’s where a big part of the risk lies.”

© 1996-2020 The Washington Post

Canadian Monthly Real GDP (Nov) – Jan 31, 2020

Friday, January 31st, 2020

BCREA

The Canadian economy grew by 0.1% in November, offsetting most of the decline in October. Driving the increase were the construction industry (0.5%) and utilities (2.1%) where inclement weather in central Canada drove up demand (2.1%). 

There were gains in 15 of 20 industries, where retail trade recouped some of the loss reported in October, led by increases at auto dealers. Meanwhile, activity at stores typically associated with Black Friday were mixed. In contrast, decreases were reported in wholesale, transportation (due to an eight-day strike), and in the mining and oil sector (due to the temporary closure of a Potash mine). 

Activity at offices of real estate agents and brokers increased 1.3% in November, rising for the ninth consecutive month. The increase was due to higher housing resale activity in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

We expect growth in the Canadian economy to slow down in the fourth quarter to 0.5% after posting moderate growth in the previous quarter. One factor to look out for is the transitory impact on growth of the coronavirus both in Canada and abroad. 

How all leaders can contribute to the employee experience

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Jen Jackson
Mortgage Broker News

Increasingly, culture and engagement, along with other lagging indicators, are being seen not as unique challenges owned by a specific function, but as outcomes driven by antecedents and behaviours — measures of the state of the employee experience.

Just as the value of a great customer or user experience is well-proven, new research is revealing the benefits of a great employee experience. A joint study by IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute and Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute found people who ranked in the top quartile of their Employee Experience Index reported 23 per cent higher job performance, invested almost twice the discretionary effort, and were half as likely to leave.

These results aren’t surprising. People experience work in exactly the same way as any other aspect of their life — a series of moments, perceived positively, negatively or neutrally, merged together to create memories and narratives. In this way, the employee experience is the story people recall and retell about their day, week, month, year and career.

Today, future-focused organisations are working towards providing a compelling and coherent experience through all stages of the employee lifecycle: from the employer brand and onboarding experience, to delivering on those promises through the performance, learning and development, safety and wellness experiences, among others.

It’s an approach driven by an emerging Employee Experience function, combining aspects of People & Culture, communication, marketing and service design. However, a seamless employee experience requires a cross-functional approach, where all leaders play an active role.

Fortunately, where culture and engagement were nebulous concepts, designing an experience is a surprisingly logical process. And far from requiring monumental changes, grand actions or groundbreaking events, it’s the small things that make a difference.

How do people experience a typical day? What’s their onboarding experience? How do they experience learning and development? How do they experience safety and wellness? By breaking these experiences down into the moments that matter — the daily conversations, touchpoints and connections — leaders transform the way people feel about work.

Every connection Work is built on countless connections: between leaders and their teams, people and initiatives, people and knowledge, people and the organisation, and people and peers. It’s not unlike an electrical circuit — if even the smallest connection degrades, everything breaks down. Conversely, by strengthening each connection, everything improves.

Leaders play a crucial role in creating the environment and opportunities for connection to occur. This includes fostering psychological safety, facilitating open and transparent communication, improving collaboration, and sharing purpose. Their behaviour sets the benchmark, and if they live and breathe the desired behaviours, their people will too.

As social isolation becomes a significant issue for society, meaningful human connections at work are more important now than ever before.

Every touchpoint Every point of contact, interaction, and piece of communication, regardless of the medium or channel, is a chance to seize people’s attention, surprise and delight them, inspire them, pique their curiosity, teach them something, change behaviour, foster collaboration, improve connection and build culture.

This doesn’t mean every touchpoint needs to be perfect, though. People’s memory of an experience isn’t the sum total of positive versus negative moments, it’s an average of just the peak and end moments.

Mapping an experience, be it onboarding, online learning, a wellness campaign, or even the overall employee experience, reveals the touchpoints with potential for improvement. Whether it’s simply removing friction or turning an everyday moment momentous, a single touchpoint can dramatically change people’s overall experience.

Every conversation No matter the channel — in-person; via email; or a Slack, WhatsApp or text message — every conversation can be transactional or a chance to build a relationship.       

Good conversations happen when leaders ask questions rather than lead with statements, bring curiosity and empathy rather than judgement, and listen and talk in equal measures. These conversations build trust and connection.

By looking for the opportunities in every connection, every touchpoint and every conversation, all leaders can contribute to a better employee experience.

Copyright © 2020 Key Media

7 Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

When you’re in a new, unfamiliar place, it’s easy to fall for a scam

HARRY GUINNESS
other

When you’re in a new, unfamiliar place, it’s easy to fall for a scam you’d never even consider at home. Here are some of the most common travel scams—and how to avoid them.

Whether it’s your first visit to a city, or you’re in a different country that uses a different currency, the disruption of your regular routines and expectations make you an easy target when you travel. Let’s look at the most common scams unscrupulous locals use on tourists.

Taxi Scams

Taxi scams have a long (and lucrative) tradition. They’re one of the most common scams going, and you can fall for them as soon as you arrive. There are a few different categories.

The simplest is your taxi driver ridiculously overcharges you. He might quote you a flat fee that’s significantly more than the going rate, use a sketchy meter that goes up too fast, or take a roundabout route.

Another way taxis overcharge is by including extras, like toll bridge charges or airport pickup fees. And they’ll charge them twice: once automatically on the meter and again at the end of your ride.

Particularly in Asia, taxi drivers might tell you that your hotel, a tourist attraction, shop, or restaurant is closed, either permanently or for lunch/siesta/Wednesdays. But the good news is, he’s got a friend who rents rooms/knows an alternative, and he’ll happily take you there.

Of course, your hotel isn’t really closed—he’s just going to overcharge you, take you on a tour of the city during which you’ll be pressured into buying stuff, and then take a kickback from whichever businesses you visit.

How to Avoid Taxi Scams

Taxi scams are easy to avoid with two simple rules:

  • Only use licensed taxis hailed from an official taxi point or by someone you trust. Don’t hail taxis from the street or, even worse, get in an unlicensed taxi. When you do, you’re putting yourself at risk of being scammed. Instead, get a taxi from an official taxi rank or ask the concierge/your waiter to call one for you.
  • Know how much the trip you’re taking should cost. Ask your concierge or waiter roughly what the fee for your trip should be or check online. This way, if the driver tries to charge you more or the meter goes up suspiciously fast, you can demand to be let out. You can also use Google Maps to make sure you’re being taken the most direct route to your destination.
  • Avoid taxis entirely. Services like Uber, Lyft, and Grab are available in much of the world, and because you pay with a credit card, it’s more difficult to be scammed.

Fake Tickets and Sketchy Listings

That guy selling you cheap Hamilton tickets on Craigslist because he can’t go on short notice? He’s lying. That super-cheap apartment in a great location? Also a lie.

Fake tickets for events and attractions (or real tickets sold for double the price) are another common scam travelers fall victim too. If you’re planning to visit the Louvre and someone offers you discount tickets for €10 on the street, it’s tempting to buy them. However, when you get to the Louvre, you’ll discover the tickets are fake, and you’re out €10—plus the cost of the real tickets. Or, someone might offer you £10 discount tickets to the British Museum but, when you get there, you find out it’s free.

Airbnb has also conditioned people to the idea of renting accommodations other than hotel rooms. Two apartment listing scams I’ve personally encountered are:

  • Listings on Craigslist that don’t exist. The scammer asks for a deposit by wire transfer or Western Union, and then never responds. When you arrive at the building, everyone is perplexed. This happened to my stepmother in New York.
  • The property owner wants to “cut out” Airbnb. Once you book, the “owner” contacts you by direct message and says that she’s having a dispute with Airbnb and wants to “cut them out.” She asks you to pay a deposit through a different site and vanishes.

How to Avoid Fake Tickets and Sketchy Listings

Only buy tickets for events through official sources, like the website, at the ticket desk, or from your hotel’s concierge. Never buy “discount” tickets from people on the street.

Only book your accommodations through trusted sources with some protection, like the hotel’s website, Airbnb, or Hotels.com.

Currency Traps

Scammers want your money. If they can trick you into giving it to them directly, they will. And, when you’re not familiar with the currency you’re using, it’s even easier to be fooled.

Fake bank notes are a problem everywhere, so watch the change you receive, especially if you pay with a large bill. If you’re unfamiliar with the currency, you probably won’t notice you’ve been given fake cash until you try to spend it.

The inverse of this is when you pay with a large note and are then accused of using fake money. They might even switch it out for a fake note when you’re not looking. In this case, they’ll insist they legally have to confiscate the fake note—and you still owe them money.

Also, if you use a street-side currency exchange, they could just exchange your genuine dollars for fake ones.

You especially need to be careful when you use a card abroad. Tourists are easy targets for card skimmers because they tend to have money and, if the skimmer waits a few days before trying your card, you’ll most likely have left the country and won’t be able to take legal action. My brother (he’s Irish but lives in Alabama) was skimmed at a bar in JFK airport when he was flying home for Christmas.

How to Avoid Currency Traps

Familiarize yourself with the local currency when you arrive. Get a feel for what it looks like, what the different denominations are, and so on. You’ll never be as comfortable with it as a local, but at least know what the person on the front of each bill looks like.

Check your change carefully. Make sure it’s the correct amount, and the notes are real.

When you hand over money or your bank card, pay attention. This won’t necessarily stop a skilled scammer but, if they see you’re watching them closely, they’re much less likely to try something. There’ll be another mark along shortly.

When you’re withdrawing money or exchanging currency, only do it at a bank or other official currency exchange. A bank’s ATM is much less likely to be sketchy than one at a local bar.

Guilt Trips

Guilt trips aren’t technically a scam, but rather, an awkward situation. Someone will approach you on the street and try to give you something, like a friendship bracelet, rosary beads, or Buddhist charms—and they can be quite forceful. After you accept, they’ll insist on payment. If you refuse, they get loud, aggressive, or insistent hoping you’ll pay them off to prevent a scene. Whatever you pay will be far more than the tack was worth.

This has happened to me a few times. Once, a monk (or rather, a scammer dressed as a monk) put a charm around my neck and insisted I pay him for it. On another occasion, I was on a train and on every seat was a small packet of disposable tissues. I assumed it was an advertising campaign but, a few minutes into the journey, a woman demanded that anyone who’d taken the tissues pay her for them.

A similar scam is run in some shops. The staff offers you a cup of tea or a drink while you browse. If you try to leave without buying something, they accuse you of abusing their hospitality and try to guilt you into making a purchase.

How to Avoid Guilt Trips

Don’t accept anything free from anyone, especially on the street.

If someone seemingly gives you something for free but then insists you pay for it, politely give it back. If they start making a scene, ignore them. Most locals will be familiar with the scam and assume you’re in the right.

Damaged Rentals

When you rent a car, motorcycle, Jet Ski, or anything else abroad, imaginary damage is a scam you need to watch out for. Here’s what happens.

You rent the vehicle and head off on your merry way. When you return it, the person at the rental company points out some scratch, ding, dent, or imaginary damage, and insists you caused it. Of course, the cost of repair is exorbitant.

How to Avoid Damaged Rentals

To avoid this scam, film a video of any vehicle you’re renting from every side. If there are any scratches, dents, or dings, call them out in the video. If you can, have the rental agent with you while you do this. This way, when you return the vehicle, you can prove the damage was there when you rented it.

Also, when you’re renting a vehicle, never leave your passport or ID as collateral. They’re perfectly entitled to ask for that information and photocopy it, but if the option is to either pay a large deposit or leave your passport, pay the deposit. If they have your passport, they can hold your ability to leave the country hostage until you pay up.

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

While pickpockets are straight-up thieves rather than scam artists, the two overlap when a scam is used to distract you so someone can pick your pocket. For example:

  • Someone plays three-card monte or the shell game while a pickpocket works the crowd.
  • A street performer or busker plays while a pickpocket (possibly independent) works the crowd.
  • Someone spills her drink on you. While she pats you down, apologizing profusely, she also picks your pocket.
  • A well-dressed tourist asks you for directions. While you help, he picks your pocket.
  • Someone asks you to sign a petition. As you do, your wallet is stolen.
  • You’re using an ATM, and a local offers to help. She vanishes, along with your cash.

How to Avoid Pickpockets

Pickpockets are tricky to avoid as they walk right up to you. Be extra careful when someone invades your personal space. The man asking you for directions might be genuine, or he might also be taking your wallet. Similarly, if someone spills something on you, step back, and don’t let them pat you down. Maybe they’re just clumsy, and you can clean it up yourself—or it was a distraction so that they can swipe your pocketbook.

Be careful how much cash you keep in your wallet and where you keep it. It’s better to use a money belt. Also, make sure you leave a backup bank card in your hotel room. This way, if your wallet is stolen, you still have access to cash.

Fake Goods

This might surprise you, but stalls in street markets are not official Nike retailers. Nor is that kindly gentleman selling genuine Ray-Bans (75% off) from a rug by the side of the road. Almost all (let’s be honest—it’s all) the name-brand goods for sale in street markets are knockoffs. If they’re real, they’re stolen.

Another market scam draws you in with things like handcrafted rugs, high-quality silks, local goods, and so on. You inspect them and find they’re actually well made. You purchase one, and it’s taken out back to be wrapped up for your flight home. After you get home, you find you’ve bought a cheap polyester rug or an otherwise fake product. The genuine article was switched when it was sent to be packed.

How to Avoid Fake Goods

Don’t buy name-brand products at a street market. No, that’s not a cheap Rolex for sale. No, those aren’t Nikes—the logo’s facing the wrong way. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

When you’re buying something genuine, handcrafted, or local, don’t let them package it in such a way that you can’t inspect it. Insist you can do it yourself; this way, they can’t switch out the product for a fake. If you can’t package it yourself, don’t buy it.

Dealing with scams is an unfortunate part of traveling. In Europe or Asia, you’ll almost certainly run into someone who’ll try to take advantage of you. With a bit of foreknowledge and common sense, however, you’ll be fine. Make it clear you know what they’re up to, and they’ll look for an easier mark.

© 2020 LifeSavvy Media

Phishing, Doxxing, Botnets, and Other Email Scams: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Email has proven susceptible to a wide range of attacks

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SendGrid sends over 60 billion a day on behalf of over 80,000 paying customers around the planet. As the sender of so much of the world’s legitimate email we have to be aware of and protect our customers’ customers from a wide range of malicious messaging attacks.

Email is arguably the most widely used digital communication mechanism in use today—it is also the most abused channel because of its popularity and open nature.

When email was created in the 1970s, no one could’ve imagined the reach it has today. During the Internet’s infancy, email was a simple communication tool between academics and the inventors of ARPANET. Today, email is a driver of commerce, human interaction, and unfortunately high-profile compromises of data and systems.

Email has proven susceptible to a wide range of attacks and leveraged in more complicated fraud and other malicious campaigns. As a major driver of email traffic on the Internet, we must stay abreast of the different forms of messaging abuse and Internet fraud so that we can, from an information security standpoint, deploy appropriate counter-measures to keep bad actors off our network.

Senders of legitimate email should know and understand the kind of compromises that exist and how they can avoid behaving like spammers. This will help improve their brand’s engagement while decreasing their exploitable footprint through the application of appropriate authentication technologies.

Starting with a common lexicon and with an understanding of the perils and how to fend them off is the first step in creating a safer inbox for our customers and for email users all over the world.

419 Scam

You’ve probably received one of these—the email claims to be from a high ranking official overseas that has millions of dollars they wish to transfer to you but, they need your personal information and a small fee to facilitate the transfer. Sound too good to be true? Well it is.

The 419 scam or Advance Fee Fraud, derives its name from the section of the Nigerian penal code dealing with fraud, 419. The scam rose to prominence in Nigeria as a kind of cottage industry. Unfortunately, these kinds of scams are impossible to combat using email authentication as they are often sent person to person, from a webmail account, and using dictionary attacks to generate random lists of recipients or by obtaining the contact/address book of someone’s compromised email account.

The advance fee fraud has been around for over a decade. It isn’t a sophisticated attack, it preys on personal motivation and greed. In 2006, The New Yorker wrote an article about a psychotherapist who fell prey to one of these scams in what was then an early expose. More recently, advance fee scammers have been targeting professional conferences to obtain overseas visas by registering for events that issue invitations to participate, and help facilitate international travel.

Botnet

Botnets have become ubiquitous in today’s contemporary anti-abuse and digital messaging landscape. In their simplest form, botnets are individual PCs that have been infected with some form of malware and controlled by an individual. The individual who owns the PC may not realize that their machine is infected. The infection could be completely transparent to the user, or it could be debilitating as more of the computer’s resources are directed toward unseen background functions.

The operator of a botnet will often use the collective computing power of a botnet to launch things like a denial of service attack (DDoS) or turn each of the individual machines into a mini email server to send small amounts of spam. Since the volumes are small, they can fly under the radar, but thousands of machines together represent a sizable attack vector to an ISP/domain. Since each machine may have a different IP, the domain that the botnet operator uses, and the content of the messages, becomes the only method by which these pieces of spam can be identified and blocked—hence the importance of domain-based reputation.

Legitimate mailers need to be aware of botnets and their attack signatures—using multiple ESPs, or spreading email across too many IPs can manifest as a quasi-botnet attack, more probably like a snowshoe attack (discussed below). Marketers may employ multiple IPs to ensure throughput and the spreading of complaints, in addition to the separation of brand-based reputations and other logical segmentation criteria. But keeping the IPs contiguous (all the IPs in a single netblock and in sequence) can help to differentiate the traffic from that of a botnet and ensure an ongoing healthy reputation.

Botnets are hard to identify—to dismantle a botnet, authorities need to locate the command and control server used to direct the actions of the bots (PCs), which may or may not lead to the botnet operator. Generally there are layers of obfuscation and misdirection between the bots, the command and control server, and the operator to make the dismantling and mitigation efforts of anti-spammers and law enforcement infinitely more difficult.

Doxxing and Swatting

Doxxing

Doxxing isn’t necessarily a messaging abuse strategy or specific attack, it is however related to subscription bombing because it’s the act of outing someone’s personal information (addresses both physical and Internet) so that like-minded actors can abuse the individual. When you stop and consider the 2016 subscription bombing attacks, these were targeting specific, individual email addresses that were enrolled in hundreds of different lists. A person’s private email was effectively “outed” and subjected to abuse.

Swatting

Swatting is the act of making a hoax call to authorities to get them to show up at someone’s house. This was most famously done by a spammer who tried to retaliate against Brian Krebs, an infosec investigative journalist. The spammer sent pure heroine to Krebs’ house and then spoofed a call from a neighbor to local PD.

These two attacks are both forms of Internet abuse that have found their way into wider and more pervasive forms of malicious digital activity. Oftentimes they have some kind of messaging vector associated with them, but are not pure email attacks by any stretch.

Joe Job

According to Wikipedia, a Joe Job originated in 1997, when a user under the joes.com domain was cut off for abusive practices. In retaliation, the user spoofed joes.com and sent a massive spam run where the reply-to was joes.com. Typically a joe job spoofs someone’s domain and redirects the abuse back at the spoofed domain. The resulting flood of bounces, blocks, and other feedback signals can act like a denial of service attack or massive nuisance as the recipient servers do what they’re trained to do: prevent abuse from reaching their end uses and redirecting notifications of the block to the purported originator.

DMARC is a good way of mitigating these kinds of attacks because it instructs a connecting domain what to do with email that fails an SPF/DKIM check (which most likely will fail if it’s set up correctly). The owner of the DMARC record could simply tell the receiving domain, if SPF and DKIM fail, then please drop the mail, discard it, it’s fake, and sending me bounces is not necessary. Instead, the owner of the DMARC record could request forensic information to alert them of the attempted fraud and do his or her own analysis on the abuse.

Phishing, Spear Phishing, and Cousin Domains

Phishing

Phishing might be one of the most common and widely known forms of messaging abuse on the Internet today. In the most simple terms, phishing is the act of trying to fool someone into revealing their password or other sensitive information so that a hacker or spammer can take over their accounts, make purchases using their financial information, etc. The typical way an attack like this occurs is that a known brand or website is spoofed and messages that look like they came from a known entity are sent.

The messages are spoofing the brand’s domain and the content has been engineered in such a manner that its goal is to fool the recipient to believe they are legitimate. The typical language goes something like this: “Dear User, your account has been limited! Please log in to re-enable your account.” Numerous companies employ first and last name personalization to help differentiate their legitimate messages from fraudulent ones.

Your bank will never ask you to log in or provide your log-in information electronically.

Technologies such as two-factor authentication have also been helping curb the tide of attacks such as this by creating a close loop system to establish identity and authenticity.

Technologies such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC help a company protect their brand (and specifically messaging domains) from abuse and implication in phishing attacks by linking the domain to its specific sending IP through SPF. DKIM ensures that the content is intact through cryptographic keys while DMARC provides a set of instructions to the receiver on what to do if the message fails authentication (e.g. discard it because it is spam or phish).

Spear Phishing

What differentiates spear phishing from phishing is the targeted nature of the attack. Spear phishing is usually associated with the CEOs and other high ranking corporate officers at a company. Spear phishing is the unique and targeted application of social engineering to obtain passwords and other sensitive information that could lead to the compromise of large volumes of customer data and/or millions of dollars in company funds and revenue as revealed last fall in the spear phishing hack of Matel.

Cousin Domains

If a company successfully locks down its messaging domains and provides a reject flag in their DMARC records so that fraudulent messages attempting to spoof their brand are dropped by a receiver, they can still be the target of a cousin domain attack. Cousin domains or look-alike domains are exactly what they sound like: domains registered by spammers that look like a legitimate domain, e.g. g00g1e.com, amazoin.com, bannnanarepublic.com, cc-info-security-paypal.com.

These domains are hard to detect because they are not trying to send messages as the legitimate domain. Instead, attacks using cousin domains are leveraging the brand’s look and feel and hoping to dupe someone into disclosing a password or other information. When a cousin domain is detected, the registrar of the domain is often contacted informing them that such a domain exists and asking them to take it down so no more messages can be sent purporting to be from that domain.

Ransomware

In its simplest form, ransomware is a form of malware that is downloaded to a local computer from a virus-laden email or through a compromised web page that could be linked from an email. Once a ransomware package infects a computer it has one of two basic purposes:

  1. Encrypt and hold the contents of the computer hostage (rendering it useless and inaccessible) until such time as the owner of the computer pays the operator of the ransomware through some electronic means.
  2. Threaten to publish the contents publicly thereby “doxxing” the owner and their computer’s contents.

Ransomware attacks have increased in frequency—they are particularly damaging in a day and age where so much of our professional and personal lives are online or contained in an electronic format. Oftentimes link shorteners are employed to obfuscate the redirect or underlying link that leads to the download of ransomware onto a machine.

A cross industry/law enforcement effort called NoMoreRansom.org has been providing solutions for victims of ransomware, fingerprinting, and creating unlocking mechanisms. NoMoreRansom is the brainchild of Europol, the European Cyber Crimes Division of Interpol.

Slow Loris

The slow loris might be one of the cutest creatures on the planet, however, this article is not celebrating the animal kingdom, otherwise I’d wax poetic about loris’, sloths, and koala bears. The “Slow Loris” attack refers to a method of ramping up connection and throughput by sending small quantities of email, similarly to how a legitimate ESP builds reputation on a new IP (otherwise known as IP warmup) until such time that the spammer can cram a ton of email through the connection until it is shut off entirely. Once that happens, the spammer will switch to a new IP/domain combo, perhaps slightly tweak the content to try and circumvent content filters that are now looking for his email’s fingerprint, and repeat the attack.

ISPs publish their connection rates and throughput limits as a means of helping mitigate the flow of inbound email. Every ESP in the world knows what these connection rates and throughput limits are and complies with this technical standard. If an ESP is not respecting their connection limits, then their traffic begins to resemble that of a spammer and an ISP is more likely to route mail to the spam folder or block it outright.

Snowshoeing

Spamhaus has a very succinct definition of snowshoeing on their site. The idea of a snowshoe attack is spreading complaints and volumes across a broad range of IPs and domains. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m a legitimate marketer and I use multiple IPs for sending my email. Am I a snowshoer?” No, you’re not. If you’re following all applicable best practices, then using multiple IPs is a standard way of achieving the necessary throughput you need to deliver email in a timely fashion. Oftentimes, ISPs have connection and throughput limits per IP and an ESP may also have their own limitations.

Adding IPs to scale outbound traffic has been a feature of ESPs for a long time. What differentiates how ESPs spread traffic vs. how a snowshoer spreads their traffic has to do with the use of domains. A spammer will want to obfuscate as much of the traffic as possible to make it more difficult for an ISP or receiver to block them. Legitimate mailers use consistent domains with published email authentication records to establish their brand’s reputation and to protect it from spoofing and abuse.

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to go from a good legitimate sender to a spammer if you don’t apply all the necessary forms of email authentication to your outbound email.

Subscription Bombing

Subscription bombing is a relatively new phenomenon, or one that came to prominence recently. Spammers have realized that they can render a person’s email account null and void by leveraging the subscription forms hosted by ESPs. The typical way they do this is to subscribe a single account hundreds of times across ESPs so that it begins to receive massive quantities of email. The end result is that the individual owner of the account finds him or herself drowning in email they never signed up for.

One of the more high profile targets of this spate of recent attacks that began in the summer of 2016 was Brian Krebs, a technology journalist who has devoted a massive amount of time and resources to hunting down spammers and other digital miscreants.

Essentially, subscription bombing was a kind of doxxing attack—it targeted specific accounts and used bots to sign up en masse through insecure, non-CAPTCHA protected subscription forms. Not only were individuals abused by this attack vector, but ESPs that didn’t employ a CAPTCHA became unwitting tools in this specific form of abuse. The recommendation since this transpired was to use a form of CAPTCHA in protecting a signup form from automated signups by bots and other ne’er do wells.

Additional countermeasures include using a confirmed opt-in strategy. In this case, even if the bot were able to subscribe someone, the volume of email would stop at 1, until the individual completed the opt-in process manually. Or give the user an easy method to opt out, without suddenly unloading a massive amount of email into their account.

Waterfalling

Waterfalling describes the practice of moving their traffic from one ESP to another in order to achieve maximum effect. A spammer will take a stolen list and then “wash” it by sending it through a smaller ESP that may not have the tools and technology to assess the risk of a particular client through proper vetting. The same list will then be sent through another ESP and then another ESP, improving its value and efficacy with each pass until it is either sold or completely burned out.

Typically, the IPs that the spammer uses at each ISP will become blacklisted and most likely unusable. Usually a spammer will focus their efforts on smaller, mid-tier ESPs, avoiding large ones due to the upfront costs to deploy. However, it is not uncommon for a legitimate, or what is sometimes referred to as a graymail sender (a sender that barely toes the line of legitimate email) to employ multiple ESPs to spread their traffic as widely as possible thereby appearing to snowshoe (in the case that they use similar domains).

It might sound like employing multiple ESPs is always a bad thing—it isn’t necessarily. Sometimes the fact that a large company uses multiple ESPs is a byproduct of acquisitions and large organizations that results in messaging sprawl. Different stakeholders within an organization may choose to use different messaging platforms to deliver email thereby creating a large messaging footprint. As long as each stream employs best common practices, the overall reputation of the sender should remain high and positive.

Appointing someone to have central and critical oversight across all the various messaging streams will create the kind of continuity that leads to improved reputation and increased inbox performance, not to mention the ability to more quickly react to delivery issues.

Conclusion

The universality of email has connected the world in unimaginable ways. Similarly, it has created unforeseen vulnerabilities across a broad spectrum of systems and businesses. According to studies by the Messaging, Malware, Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), over 90% of all email traffic directed at an ISP or mailbox provider is spam. Legitimate email makes up a fraction of the total global volume of email. So the lopsided relationship between legitimate email and spam puts the onus on the world’s biggest brands and senders to ensure that their strategy and systems are differentiated from spammers every step of the way.

This guide is meant to provide context on how certain legitimate marketing tactics can appear to be similar to the approach taken by spammers when viewed from the perspective of an ISP or mailbox provider. This guide is in no way a handbook for fending off deceptive practices—today’s digital marketers are wearing both creative and technical hats. The marketplace is fractured and complicated so it behooves us all to know and understand the kinds of perils we face in our daily jobs.

Copyright 2020 SendGrid

Online Scams Targeting Teens and Young Adults

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Here are some common scams

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While Teens and Young Adults may be digital natives, their inexperience makes them susceptible to online scammers. In fact, according to a new report from the Federal Trade Commission, 40% of people age 20 to 29 indicated they lost money in fraud schemes in 2017 compared to 18% of people age 70 and older. While the results of the survey contradict the stereotype of tech-savvy young people, experts say younger consumers are far more open to sharing personal information online.

Here are some common scams targeting Teens and Young Adults to be on the lookout for to avoid becoming a victim.

Knock-offs

Scammers create online ads and online stores supposedly selling cheap designer goods, electronic gadgets and other luxury items. However, these companies are not licensed to sell those goods or the products are imitations.

Fake Scholarship Offers

With the rising cost of college to pay for, scammers use fake scholarship and financial aid offers to steal personal information from students.

Make Money Fast

Who wouldn’t want to make money easy and fast on the internet? So, cyber criminals promise non-existent jobs and get rich quick schemes. Victims are lured into giving away personal information or financial data with the promise of a well-paid job that will bring in lots of money in a short period of time or receive an offer to invest in a great opportunity with a huge payout. Although these scams may not target Teens and Young Adults, they may fall victim to them.

Contests

Aspiring young artists and writers are lured to arts and literature contests. The creative young people submit their works for a fee only to find out they need to send more money to see their writing published or to win an even bigger prize.

Acting & Modeling Scams

“A Talent Scout” is looking for America’s Next…fill-in-the blank. All that is required is paying for head shots or acting lessons upfront. And after handing over hundreds or thousands of dollars, no auditions or bookings occur. The acting and modeling industries are rife with these scams.

Employment & Training Scams

Enterprising Teens and Young Adults can find it difficult to find seasonal work, so online scammers offer jobs where they can work from home online. The only hook is they need to buy a bunch of products or pay for training up-front. Then, these unethical companies don’t deliver jobs or training as promised.

Online Auctions

There are at least two versions. First, after bidding on and winning an online auction, you find out the item doesn’t exist or never arrives. Or, the unsuspecting Teen or Young Adult sells their items online. The buyer says the payment is on the way and urges them to ship the item right away, but the payment never arrives.

To Good To Be True

While Teens and Young Adults maybe tech-savvy, their inexperience and online habits makes them highly susceptible to online and social media scams. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • If it looks to good to be true, it likely is. Stay away.
  • Look for online stores and auction sites with good reviews and ratings from real people
  • Walk away from a contest, job or scholarship offers that require you to pay upfront
  • Never give out your personal information unless you are confident you can trust the person or company you are interacting with

  © EECU