Monday, December 26, 2011

Can't catch me! The zfsendtotarget telemarketing scam

By posting this, I hope I can help you avoid the same "zfsendtotarget" telemarketing scammers that tried to catch me.

I submitted the following complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today:

The caller said she had information that my computer was infected, and she was calling to help fix it. She said she had a secure code from my computer. She said the secure information had been given to her company from Microsoft. She said her company employs Microsoft and Cisco certified technicians.

She reached me on my home landline, which is in the National Do-Not-Call registry.

I asked for her name and company. She identified herself as "Rose" from Zion Technology. There was a delay (latency) in the call that sounded like an offshore company. I heard other voices in the background that sounded like a call center.

I asked for her company's street or mailing address, or any other contact information she was able to give. I said I believed she was legally required to give me this information, but she did not give me any other contact information. I do not have caller ID on my phone.

She asked me to start my Windows computer and go through a series of steps: Start menu > Run > cmd > assoc

She called my attention to this line on my screen:


She then read aloud that same series of numbers and letters, and claimed that this proves their company already has access to my personal computer data. This statement was false. By researching quickly online, I found that the number she read to me is actually the same on all Windows computers.

Next she asked me to do these steps: Start menu > Run > cmd > eventvwr. She asked me if I saw this on my screen: Event Viewer > Custom View > Windows Log. I did not answer that question, but instead tried to delay her by claiming that my computer was not an English language computer and I could not answer her question. I did not want to reveal anything that might help her compromise my system.

I said I was willing to keep going, but only if she told me the web site of her company. She did not answer, but instead pressed on asking me to follow her instructions

I then told her that I was aware of this web site:
and said I believed she was not telling me the truth about the secure code. I asked her again for the contact information for her company. She cursed me ("your are a bullshit") and hung up.

After filling the FTC online form, the FTC web site gave me this additional info:

If you have done the above steps and have any additional questions or any additional information you would like to add to your file, please call 877-382-4357 to speak with a counselor. When you call, please have this reference number: ******** to help us quickly retrieve your information.

I don't blame the caller. She is just a corporate wage slave like the rest of us. And if you read the Guardian article, you'll see they really are selling something - an antivirus product, probably marked up 500%. It's just that they violated Federal law at least twice - by lying on a telemarketing call, and refusing to give contact info.

I hope this might help you avoid the zfsendtotarget scam!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One college senior graduates debt-free, and is grateful for minimum wage jobs

This one is circulating: College senior graduates completely debt-free ... Never mind that it's a professionally shot and Photoshopped image. I do believe in the virtues of hard work and frugality -- but I do not agree with the implication that our collective suffering is caused mainly by a bunch of lazy people on the dole.

So anyway, I liked one commenter's reply :)
Text of image:

I am a sasquatch, living completely debt-free.
I pay for all of my expenses by working scale and occasionally tipping off tabloid reporters looking for a Big Foot sighting.
I chose to live in a state park instead of a fancy private zoo. I get leftover picnic spreads which cover 90% of my meals, the rest I have to forage for.
I live comfortably in the forest, knowing I can't have everything I want. I don't have a credit card or new car, and my Blackberry is as good as dead these days. I get all my news from month old newspapers instead one of those fancy tablets. I'll also have to wait until Footloose comes to Qwikster instead of seeing it in the theatre. If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St or the government for my own bad decisions. I would probably blame the Loch Ness Monster.
I am NOT the 99% because I don't exist.
Whether or not you choose to believe in fairytales is YOUR decision.
On a more serious note: Here's the same work ethic, more believable, and without the "do this or you're stupid" attitude: How I Graduated College Debt Free and Survived

Monday, August 29, 2011

Refuel the economy

The economy is not a person who needs to "tighten the belt."

The economy is a vehicle that can "carry us forward." If government "paves the way" and we workers "energize" the economy with our ingenuity and hard work (not to mention our "drive"), then we will "reach our goals".

Naysayers who insist "don't tinker with it" will seem amateurish. Move on, hire a real mechanic.

Not my idea... Al Jazeera English: The economy is a 'machine', not a 'body'

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My answers. Sticking to em.

I put some thought into last week's Wellstone Club questionnaire. Here are two of my answers.

Agree or Disagree? "I would like the Wellstone Club to be more engaged in ISSUE-ORIENTED organizing (in contrast to "electoral" organizing.)"

My answer: Disagree

I thought hard about how to answer this. I knew what "issue-oriented" meant, but I was unclear whether "electoral organizing" referred to taking sides in elections, or working to improve democratic institutions. So I googled "electoral organizing" and voila, I found the Wellstone Triangle:

So now I can state my views in your terms. I strongly believe that we need to gather passionate people with *somewhat divergent* views, find common ground, then choose candidates and campaigns that most closely match our collective values. So, even though I'd like my issues represented, we can speak even louder for *our* issues. Form coalitions with existing issue-based organizations that are already doing great work, rather than taking a narrower stance on particular issues. Of course, we need to stand for something; we need planks in the platform, values in the mission statement that lead us to choose our electoral causes.

Agree or Disagree? "I would like the Wellstone Club to work for the reelection of Barack Obama."

Answer: Agree

I would break the question into stages. (1) Whom should we endorse in the Democratic primary? Nobody; keep quiet. In 2008, I voted for a bridge-builder, and I got an appeaser, so I will make a protest vote -- privately. Publicly, I don't want to raise hell, because... (2) Should we endorse Barack Obama in the general election? Yes. Surely the alternative will be much worse. (3) How hard should we work for his reelection? We should do our part, but save our real energy for the openly progressive candidates (which is not to say ideologues) who can win and make a difference at all levels of politics.