I Was Accidentally Charged $700, Had My Picture Published As Someone Else And Only Embraced Internet Security Afterwards

I Was Accidentally Charged $700, Had My Picture Published As Someone Else And Only Embraced Internet Security Afterwards

Pay attention to where you information is on the Internet because it could be misused without you ever knowing.
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Bing. Email.

"You sent a payment of $663 to Facebook."

Bing. Text.

"Hey, this is your picture in this magazine. I didn't know you were a doctoral student conducting research with your professors."

Sadly, both of those scenarios were me, all in a span of three months. Let me explain:

Last semester, I took a class that required to learn and execute Facebook Ads. Obviously, a credit card was linked so students were not using their own money. Well, somehow my PayPal got linked to the student account (my fault, and I'm not ashamed to share that). It charged me once at $30 and got it reversed on my own, so I didn't tell anyone.

Then it happened again, double that amount.

So, I told my professor (good idea, Rebecca). We had quite the banter back and forth with Facebook, and they ended up taking even more from my account instead of giving it back to me. Well, they fixed that, but I still didn't have the funds back from the second time. Let's just say we settled the second time around - I got about half back, but I'm not mad because I thought I wouldn't get anything back.

Fast forward to this semester. I got an email last Wednesday informing me Facebook had charged me almost $700 for Facebook Ads. To be really honest, I flipped out. I thought this was over with, and I was afraid I wouldn't get the money back. Long story short, there was a mistake and my card was never removed from the class that had access to these funds.

My point here is, know exactly where your information is going on the Internet, whether it be Facebook Ads and PayPal or Facebook and those games that you get annoying notifications for. Thankfully, I am getting a total refund.

Last year, I was in an intern for CollegeFashionista.

Basically, I took photos of fashion and wrote blog posts about it, and I had a profile picture just like any other communication medium. For some reason, whenever I googled my name, this photo of me would pop up - none from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc..

About a year later, my roommate's grandma texted her, "Hey isn't this your roommate?"

The photo I mentioned earlier had been mistakenly placed in a magazine, wrongly attributing me as a doctoral communication student.

Now, that sounds fancy, but it is still my photo in a magazine, with no permission to use.

I had mistakenly gotten into a slew of emails, and the reporter had googled my name instead of the correct Rebecca. Apparently, he used the first photo that popped up.

What if that wasn't even the correct Rebecca?

Pay attention! Pay attention where your photos are, whether it be on a blog, social media, etc. If you have to, put a Google Alert for your name. I would have never found out about it, and the magazine probably would have never mentioned it to me.

You know how annoying it is when you try to make an easy password, but you didn't put a special character in? Just do it. Protect your stuff, and know where your information goes.

Cover Image Credit: Rebecca Calloway

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?
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In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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This Phone Kidnapping Scam Could Cost You Thousands And My Situation Should Be A Warning

This article is to tell you my story and provide tips on how to understand what is a scam/how to prevent them.

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A few weeks ago, my family was caught in the middle of a kidnapping phone scandal that costs us a couple hundred dollars. Many times you hear these stories on the news and think it couldn't happen to you or your loved ones. Then, when it happens, you haven't taken any cautionary measures. This article is to tell you my story and provide tips on how to understand what is a scam/how to prevent them.

This scam took place between my sister and father at first. All the scammers needed was the two phone numbers and some computer software to trick us. They began by calling both my sister and father at the same time. The call to my sister's phone looked like it was coming from my father because they use software that made the call come from my father's phone number. Caller ID showed my father's name and made it seem like they had his phone. The same concept happened to my father with my sister's number.

After they get you to pick up, they told both my father and sister they had kidnapped the other. They told my father they kidnapped her off the streets. They told my sister that my father had a debt to pay and they're holding him hostage until they get the amount. At this point, both my sister and dad think the other is being held hostage (when neither was). They tell you not to hang up the phone or they will hurt the loved one.

They then ask for money in the form of VISA gift cards or such. They will tell you to buy/max out multiple cards to the highest it will allow (usually $500) and then tell you to read the numbers of the card to them. This makes them untraceable. The number varies between each scammer so that might now always indicate a scam.

The reason you don't immediately hang up is that they are smarter than just telling you they have someone you love. For example, they used personal information they made my sister tell them against my father (and vise-versa). They make you say your location (ex. my sister's college) and what is around you to make it believable.

Also, people tend to begin these times and they will use all of the info you share against the other person they called to make it seem real. On top of the info, they record parts of the conversation when someone is talking and play it back for the other. In our case, they told my sister to say, "Don't worry dad, I'll take care of us. We'll be okay". Then, they played this clip back for my father to make it seem like they actually had her there.

Now, most people just think it's so easy to just hang up and call bullshit but they make it very clear not to mess with their rules. They told my father not to tell anyone about this, stay on the line at all times, and do what they say. If he was to not listen, they threatened to rape and/or kill my sister. This obviously is a brutal image to even imagine, so it's not worth risking it. So, he stayed on the line.

My mother then came up to my father and figured out what was happening and the real game began. She took the phone and used her skills at lying to delay buying the cards. My sister didn't have anyone with her at college so she ended up giving them a few gift cards. She then was stranded at a Kroger just waiting. They kept her on the line to keep recording her voice for my mom. Now that my father wasn't on the phone, he called the police and began investigating. He called her roommate and asked if he had seen my sister.

The roommate hadn't seen her; however, he had her location turned on. He tracked her to Kroger and ran there (he lives in the city). The roommate and my father worked with the police and SWAT team to get my sister. Meanwhile, my mom is just acting like an idiot and asking many questions because she wanted them to think she was confused. Any lie she could think of, she was using.

When the SWAT team saw my sister, they didn't grab her immediately. They made sure nobody was with her. After confirming she was alone, they radioed that they had the victim. This caused my sister confusion because she didn't think she was the victim. She still thought they had our mom and dad. So she's yelling at SWAT to find my parents. They then bring her to the station and explain what was actually happening. After my parents got confirmation my sister was safe, they called the scammers out and they hung up immediately. All were safe and the police were now trying to track the scammers.

Overall, it took hours to get the full story from all 4 people (and what you just read was the abridged version). They then took my sister's phone and made my parents come to pick her and her phone up.

HOW TO PREVENT SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

- Turn on your location with at least 3 trusted people and tell your family who has it

-Make a code word in case this situation happens so you know it's real

-Never actually buy the cards they ask for

-Always have a pad and paper so you can write notes to people if they are around

-DO NOT tell them how much money you have

-Never trust the scammer, even if they tell you some true information

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