Today, we do things vastly different than twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. After all, who even knew what GPS was 10 years ago. With new technology, there are always going to be problem issues that may not immediately be apparent. Some clever thieves are putting two and two together and using technology to make their jobs easier. We need to re-think the way we do things and adapt accordingly. Below are a few things that need to be re-considered...
1) GPS devices
Today, everybody uses GPS without giving it much after thought. If you use a stand-alone GPS device, or the GPS in your SmartPhone, never leave these devices unattended in your car. Smart thieves are now targeting events like football games and concerts. If they break into your car and there is a GPS device, they now have detailed directions to your home. They probably also have your garage door opener for easy access into your home. To make matters worse, they know you are gone for hours and have time to pull a truck into your garage and clean you out. Dr's Solution - Never put your exact home address in your GPS. Always choose a gas station or service station nearby. You can still easily find your way home if needed, but nobody needs to know where you live if your GPS device were to be stolen.
2) Documents and Garage Door Openers
It is not just the new technologies that can get us in trouble. Even if you don't have a GPS device, did you leave a copy of your registration and/or your insurance information in your glove box? While this used to be a great idea, it no longer is for obvious reasons. Thieves are now targeting long term parking lots at airports as well as concerts and sporting events. They can break into your car, knowing you won't even notice for 2-3 hours. If you left your garage door opener in the car, they have enough time to clean out your house of valuables.
Dr's Solution - Leave your car insurance, and registration in your wallet with your drivers license. If you are going to any kind of sporting event or long term parking, where you will be away from your car for hours, do not leave your garage door opener in plane sight. It's best to throw it in the trunk or hide it.
3) The Shopping Mall/Grocery Store Scam
When you go to the mall or grocery store, never leave your handbag in the grocery cart. There is a new scam where the thief steals your wallet while you're shopping. Thieves realize that the normal victim would immediately report a theft to the store's management. Shortly after the victim gets home, they get a call from what appears the be the store manager, explaining that the wallet was found with all the credit cards, and Driver's License, but no cash. The victim immediately drives back to the store to retrieve it. Upon arrival, she is then told that nobody turned in her wallet and nobody in the store called her saying they had . Meanwhile, while this is happening, guess who is cleaning out her house?
Dr's Solution - Wear your purse at all times, or put it in your trunk and just bring your wallet and Smartphone in the store. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart, even for a moment. Leaving it on the front seat is as bright as leaving a MacBook or Smartphone in plane view. Don't do it!
4) CellPhone Name Memory Storage
Never mention the relationships of your friends or family when saving numbers in your phone's memory. That means "Hubby", "Mom", "Dad", "Wife", "Sweetheart", and "Honey" etc., should never be used in your phone memory. I read a really sad story about a woman who called her husband to tell him her purse was stolen with her cellphone in it. He said he had just received her earlier text message asking for their debit card PIN # and sent it to her. When they both realized what had happened and immediately drove to the bank, it was too late. Their account was cleaned out by the thief.
Dr's Solution - Use people's names, not affectionate terms for them. Also, never respond to an important text without picking up the phone and calling. It's a lot easier to fake a text than a phone call.
5) Good Practices to Help Avoid Identity Theft
a) PHISHING Never click on any links e-mailed to you from banks, PayPal, e-Bay, or any other credit establishment. It's always smarter to launch a web browser than respond to an e-mail which may be fraudulent. Since thieves usually use alias names that you already know, or do business with, it's a good idea to move your mouse over the return e-mail address and looking at it carefully. Many times, there is one letter misspelled in the hopes it will not be noticed. The grammar is often wrong too. This practice can also save you from virus and malware threats too. Often times what appears to be an e-mail from a friend in your contact list is an attempt to infiltrate your computer. Beware of opening links in e-mails from friends with messages like, "I thought you would enjoy this". More often than not, the e-mail is not coming from the friend's name it is associated with. Usually, when waiving your mouse over the return address, you will see the real e-mail address and not the bogus one with your real address.
b) MALWARE SCAM
If you do get pop-up windows suddenly opening and weird stuff starting to happen, and then "coincidently" get a pop-up message explaining your computer's symptoms and offering a fix, avoid responding. Putting malware on a computer and then selling "virus repair" solutions is big business these days. You do need virus and spyware protection. Ironically, many of the expensive Virus protection services these days are no better then the free ones.
Dr's Solution - I personally like and use AVG and AVAST protection which work great and are FREE. Malware Bytes is a great FREE CyberSecurity solution that works terrific and is used by Enterprise business too.
c) IRS PHONE SCAM
One of my clients had told me that he had received several calls from the IRS demanding payment for money owed. Coincidently, we were having lunch together last week when one of those calls came through. He put it on speakerphone and we had a good laugh as I explained to him that the IRS will never call you or e-mail you. Remember, they are still old school as far as communications. If you owe them money, they will usually wait months, if not years before notifying you so they can also collect the extra penalty charges. This was a recording that claimed the IRS will put a lien on him or garnish his paycheck if ignored.
Dr's Solution - If you have an issue with the IRS, pick up the telephone and call them!
d) Sign-up Trick to Monitor How You Get Hacked
A friend of mine shared a great idea that I also implemented. These days, even if you are diligent, you can still be a victim of identity theft. After all, I'm diligent, and am a Cybersecurity expert. Yahoo, Google, T-Mobile, and PayPal all had Cybersecurity protection measures in place. In T-Mobile's case, it was Experian, their credit bureau that was responsible for leaking their client information. I cannot prevent you from being hacked but may be able to tell you which company was responsible for it.
Dr's Solution - Whenever you sign up for anything through a big company, instead of putting your Middle Name or initial where it asks for name, put theirs. For example. If you are signing up for a new Google Account, under name, I would put "Joel Google Saltzman". For a New Yahoo account, "Joel Yahoo Saltzman". This way, if one of these companies is hacked, I immediately know which one it was and don't need to change passwords for twenty others.
There is not much you can really do to protect yourself, beyond using good sense. I was personally a victim of identity theft. There are not many experiences worse than getting notified from the three credit bureaus that thieves have your social security number and are attempting to open up new credit cards under your name. Notifying the credit bureaus is not enough as their "hold" only lasts one year. Always contact the police department and file an identify theft claim, regardless if they try to talk you out of it. If this is done, you can then contact the credit bureaus who will extend the one year "hold" to seven full years. It will not effect any of your current creditors but if someone tries to establish a new account, it cannot be done without your tacit approval.
To schedule a consultation with Dr Wireless, contact Joel.
Unlimited 4G Data is back with a vengeance. Now that Verizon has upped the ante by being the first carrier to introduce full HD Unlimited Data and 10GB of Hotspot included on their basic offering, Sprint and T-Mobile have also met the competition. Both have upgraded their offerings from Standard Def to High Def and added the same 10GB of Hotspot. Bravo Verizon for becoming relevant again. Meanwhile, AT&T has gone from delusional to just pricey. Delusional in believing that anyone would bundle their U-Verse or Direct TV just to pay $100 for Unlimited data that they cap at 22GB anyway. With Verizon jumping back in the game, AT&T removed the bundle requirement but is still way overpriced compared to the competition.
With AT&T, they actually offer HD but you must physically turn off their "Stream Saver" feature which is set to SD by default. With T-Mobile, it is necessary to enable HD pass once in their AP and you are good.
Attention T-Mobile Unlimited ONE Plan users
You are eligible for the new deal but it will not happen automatically as this is a "meet-comp" promotion. That means, if you "ask" for it, you will get it FREE. If you do not ask, your plan will remain the standard SD version without the 10GB of 4G Hotspot feature. Same with Sprint. If you are with either of these carriers, do yourself a favor and call them and ask for it. Usually you can dial 611 from your phone. Alternatively, TM's (800) number is 800-937-8997. Sprint's is (888)788-4727.
Another benefit of Verizon's new Unlimited plan is it forced TM to reduce the cost of their One Plus plan from $15 to only $5. If you do not fly often and don't need voicemail to text conversion, stay on the basic ONE plans and just ask them to add the HD and 10GB of Hotspot for FREE. Don't tell them Dr Wireless sent you though!
In the past, it was AT&T and Verizon who dictated the way things were done in the wireless industry. A funny thing happened along the way though. Those two 800lb Gorillas made a big mistake - They told their subscribers that they didn't really need unlimited data. They also claimed that offering this was not sustainable and T-Mobile would suffer network congestion.
Well T-Mobile found a way to get it done, as did Sprint. Both also had almost double the amount of available spectrum than Verizon. It is called Standard definition 4G LTE. While the speeds are just as fast, the resolution has been dumbed down to 480p from 1080p. That is still DVD-quality images and un-noticeable on most Smartphones. However, if you hook up a SmartPhone to a big Flatscreen with an HDMI cable, you will definitely see the difference. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all utilized this approach. Until last week, Verizon had not even offered an Unlimited data plan for over 5 years. AT&T had also pulled theirs about the same time as Verizon, but re-introduced it last year. The caveat was you had to "qualify" to get it. To "qualify", you had to bundle their mediocre U-Verse service, or Direct TV Home internet service. If you did that, you then "qualified" to purchase their Unlimited 4G LTE Wireless Plan for $100 per month. What a deal, huh? Late last year, AT&T was in major hot water over this plan. That's because they forgot to disclose that once you reached 22GB, your speeds were slowed down to 2G speeds. I'm not sure if management is stuck on stupid, or just de-emphasizing their wireless business in favor of their content business. In any case, I'd be more than angry if I jumped through all those hoops and then read what's available above. I'm not going to even bother comparing this plan to Sprint, T-Mobile's or Verizon's because it's over priced, and requires the purchase of a home internet bundle to even get it.
That being said, here is what you need to know before choosing an Unlimited 4G LTE Plan.
1) You must first understand that that they don't really even exist. All carriers reserve the right to throttle their users once they reach a pre-determined level of data usage. For AT&T and Verizon, that level is 22GB per month. For Sprint, it is 23GB per month. For T-Mobile, it's 28GB per month. Once you reach these thresholds, speeds will slow to the point where e-mail will still work but forget about watching video or uploading/downloading large files.
2) 4G LTE is like New York Steak. There is USDA Choice, and USDA Prime. Prime costs 2-3 x more than choice because it is far more tender and can easily be cut with a butter knife. You can call them both New York Steak but there is huge difference in quality.
3) T-Mobile already had all the other carriers on the ropes before announcing their latest Un-Carrier initiative - All taxes and fees will now be paid by T-Mobile on their Unlimited ONE plans.
This finally woke up a slumbering giant. Last Sunday, Verizon began offering Unlimited HD 4G LTE for the first time in 5 years. To top it of, this is not watered down 480p resolution but true 1080p High Definition 4G LTE Data, the "PRIME" of 4G LTE Data. The other three carriers offer Standard Definition data, the "CHOICE" quality, still good but not Prime. Both Sprint and T-Mobile do offer special "bolt-on" packages that increase the resolution from SD to HD (or Choice to Prime).
T-Mobile, in response to Verizon's new Unlimited plan, just matched it. That is, they bumped their SD plan to HD too, and also added 10GB of 4G Hotspot. It's still less money than Verizon's deal but now the same offering.
Sprint's Unlimited pricing is as low as $18 per user when you have 5 lines. Unfortunately, there is a reason for that. Sprint sells their plans for a fraction of the cost of the other carriers because their coverage and data speeds pale in comparison to the other three carriers. While this may sound tempting, it's a one year tease and the price will go back up to who knows what after that.
One of the cool things about buying service with Verizon is they are the only major carrier that does not lock their SmartPhones. With all the other carriers, your devices are locked until you do your time. That means if you sign up on a 24 month zero interest equipment deal, your carrier will not unlock the device until month 24, unless you pay it off earlier. None of the carriers advertise this but it is super-easy for us to seamlessly move subscribers from one carrier to another. In the old days, contacts, calendar, and SMS messages were often stored on the SIM card. Today, only carrier information is stored on the SIM cards. That means that all of your current data stays. No resets required, it's just a matter of swapping SIM cards and the device instantly works with the new carrier. Since each carrier is willing to buy out your service, why wait?
If you are thinking about getting a better Unlimited Plan, contact Dr WIreless and we will make it happen!
Verizon has lost it's only advantage over T-Mobile. I had suspected so much but just received confirmation from one of my colleagues. Interestingly, when T-Mobile first began their "Un-Carrier" initiatives, Verizon and AT&T totally ignored them, implying that TM was a "second tier" carrier and not worthy of comparing.
There was never any doubt which carrier has been the innovator responsible for changing the wireless landscape. After all T-Mobile was the carrier responsible for all of the below...
-Eliminating those annoying two year Contracts by eliminating device subsidies.
-First Carrier to introduce native voIP wifi dialing over 8 years ago.
-Eliminated Data Overage Charges with Throttling once you exceeded your 4G allocation.
-Eliminated Global Data and Texting costs in 140 countries making this totally FREE.
-Reduced Voice Roaming costs from as high as $6 per minute to only $0.20 per minute in 140 countries.
-Eliminated Shared Data plans by Offering totally Unlimited 4G data while other carriers phased it out.
-Introduced Music Freedom which meant music does not count against your data allocation.
-Introduced BINGE-ON Free SD 4G LTE Video Streaming without limits
-Introduced "Data Stash" allowing unused data to roll over to the following month if not used.
-Introduced Mexico and Canada as FREE local service with no roaming or long Distance toll call charges.
-Introduced extended range LTE and voLTE
-Introduced a program offering FREE wifi boosters and now, 4G LTE boosters.
-Introduced FREE SMS messaging and FREE Wifi through GOGO when flying on Airplanes
-Introduced "Get Thanked" which is Free cool stuff for all TM subscribers on Tuesdays @T-MobileTuesdays.
-Eliminated all taxes, PUC fees, carrier recovery fees and all other annoying fees so...
For regular global travelers, it gets even better. The below One Plus and One Plus International super charge your plan with faster speeds and a lot of other cool features and functionality.
If you are still with AT&T or Sprint, why?
Contact me and I will take you out of your misery.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.