Monday, April 25, 2016

Gone — Phishing

Beloved, no more, I've curtailed the flood of hucksters preying on me.

A PSA for the internet wary

 Goodbye ‘My Dear Friend’ and ‘Dear Heart’ and ‘Beloved Friend’ and ‘Precious’ and ‘Dear Beneficiary’ all you ‘Sweeties’ and ‘Hot Babes’ out there. As dear as you all purport to be, I’m not feelin’ the love.

Goodbye to so many amazing opportunities, from ‘finance project’ to ‘wool blanket offer’ to ‘unclaimed funds’ to all those ‘bigger is better’ and ‘I’m yours’ messengers who think ‘Rae’ is a man with an embarrassment for a penis. I will bravely go forth on my own.

Good riddance to the ‘urgent upgrade’ and ‘deactivation alert’ and “LAST WARNING” and “YOUR VERIZON ACCOUNT CANCELLED” and “GET BACK TO ME” imperatives. Some of you are getting hard to distinguish from the real thing. I’ll risk it.

There will be no more cuddly babes and libido assists awaiting my perusal in my email inbox, no more teary grandmothers with a bad case of cancer and a check they need cashed, and no more inheritances from London I must claim with a good faith check of $3,000.

I am done with Verizon. I’ve spent the last year weaning myself off my primary email program. The cracks through which all manner of lurker and thief and huckster have brazenly gained access to my inbox have widened unchecked.

I was drowning in spam. It was taking me hours every week to dredge and purge.

Last weekend was the last straw. I had a spam emergency and made a panicked appointment at the Apple Genius Bar on 14th Street in NYC. Scores of emails with the same subject, “DISABLING YOUR ACCOUNT” poured into my Mail inbox throughout the early morning. I couldn’t delete fast enough and flagging as ‘junk’ didn’t curtail the flood. My computer was jammed up with junk and helpless to resist.

Two young genius guys got interested and tried tracking the email address, which, by the way, was blank when I clicked on it. No return email address? How did they pull that off? The problem solvers at Apple found a website and verified the phishing expedition, which used multiple email addresses with multiple digits. “Can’t trace it,” they said. And because the scammers use so many addresses (just like robo-callers do), it was impossible to stay ahead of the flood simply by deleting.

Verizon must bear a large part of the blame. Over a year ago Verizon stopped trying to fix my email when suddenly I, and other Verizon email subscribers, could no longer send and receive email. For some reason, I began receiving email through Verizon (once my primary email program) but I still couldn’t send via Verizon. They’ve done a poor job of staying in front of the problem by updating their spam filter blocks. Workers overseas hung up on me when I asked for help with spam and outgoing email. Managers said, “I can’t help you.” Letters and emails to Verizon central were ignored. I emailed everyone still using my Verizon address and asked them to stop many months ago but that move did not resolve the spam issue.

Email is not a priority for Verizon. I was spending hours of scarce time cleaning out my inbox every week. Finally I gave up and spent three days calling or writing all my vendors that supply content via Verizon, like the NY Times and the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Smitten Kitchen (FeedBlitz). I’ve discovered, alas, that even when you change your email address, the auto forwarding mechanisms that periodicals use do not get the message. More work to come.

My Apple management email app, “Mail,” is now all business. My business. My writing business and my marketing business operate much more efficiently now that the mega-clutter has swept out to sea. Opportunities for babes and inheritances and enhanced organs, what few remain, go straight to junk. As for all those orders I was getting for wrenches, die-cut tools and light bulbs, I do hope the companies find the vendors they’re looking for.

Now I’ll have to turn my attention to those 18,000 photographs clogging up the works.

P.S.  I found a great UMass Boston website that provides information on Phishing and guidelines for internet safety.

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