Jacquelyn Lynn - Online Consumer Advice and Commentary

Jacquelyn Lynn is a business writer whose dynamic books and insightful articles have been helping business owners and managers work smarter and more profitably for more than two decades. She is the author of Entrepreneur’s Almanac, Online Shopper’s Survival Guide and co-author of Make Big Profits on eBay, as well as a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine. For more information and for the link to her business blog, visit www.jacquelynlynn.com.

My Photo
Location: Central Florida

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Can car shopping make you a victim of identity theft?

It seems so innocent – and understandable. You’re shopping for a car, you want to take a test drive, and the salesperson asks for your driver’s license. It makes sense that they would need to know who you are and confirm that you are indeed a licensed driver before they let you behind the wheel of one of their cars.

But the potential problem lies in the fact that some dealers will make a photocopy of your license, and if that photocopy gets into the wrong hands, you could be at risk of being a victim of identity theft.

Click here to learn how to protect your private information when car shopping.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ransomware: Don’t get held hostage

Ransomware is a relatively new form of malicious code that can seize control of a victim’s computer and hijack the files. The files are then encrypted by the code, so you can’t read them. The thieves responsible for the ransomware then demand a ransom before they’ll give you the decryption key.

The amount of the ransom can range from something nominal, like $10, to hundreds of dollars or a demand that the victim make a purchase to meet the demand.

Click here to read excellent article by Brian Krebs on the Washington Post blog about this subject.

You can protect yourself from ransomware by using the same “safe computing” techniques you’ve been using – use firewalls, keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date, download security patches when they’re released, and be cautious about downloading files even from people you know. And, of course, maintain regular backups of your entire system, not just your data files.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Watch those eBay and PayPal spoof e-mails

I just received a very clever spoof e-mail. It was designed to look like it came through the member-to-member eBay system, and the message was that this person had paid for a Dell laptop computer and wanted to know when it would be shipped.

While I do occasionally sell things on eBay (I buy far more than I sell), I’ve never sold a computer. What the sender of the e-mail is counting on is that the receiver will panic and start clicking on links to let the “buyer” know that they’ve contacted the wrong person. And when you start clicking on those links and answering questions, you are giving information away that a scammer can use to steal from you.

Whenever you receive an e-mail regarding an eBay transaction that you’re not involved in, go to your eBay account to see if the e-mail shows up there. If it does, it’s legitimate. (Go to My eBay, then to My Messages.) If it doesn’t, it’s a spoof – forward it to spoof@ebay.com so that the eBay security folks can check it out and report it to the proper authorities.

Be equally suspicious of any e-mails that claim to be from PayPal saying that your account has a problem and that you need to verify your information. Forward those messages to spoof@paypal.com. Never try to access your eBay or PayPal accounts from the link in an e-mail—always close the e-mail, and log on to your account from the main website.

The scammers are smart – you have to be smarter to avoid becoming another fraud victim.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Be careful what you put on the internet

The growth of blogs along with social networking websites means more and more personal information is getting on the internet where anybody can see it. This means prospective clients or employers might see what you posted for the benefit of your friends and family.

A smart prospective client is going to search on both you personally as well as your company when deciding whether or not to buy from you. Employers are doing routine searches on current employees to see what they’re posting on line, and workers have been fired for revealing insider company information on blogs or posting pictures and stories of scandalous behavior. HR managers are also using the internet as a screening tool.

The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. offers these tips for posting on social networking and blogging sites:

Lock your profiles! If your site is for friends’ eyes only then, if possible, allow access to your site only to those who have a password that you have provided. If you cannot limit access, then consider your profile open to anyone, including an employer or prospective employer. As a rule, do not post anything that you would not want your mother to see.

Remember that your profile is your résumé. If you insist on having your profile available to the world, use it to your advantage. Posting insightful comments on your workplace, industry, current events, or whatever is on your mind shows others that you can articulate ideas, especially if you avoid resorting to insults or derogatory language. Instead of posting pictures of your latest drinking escapade, show examples of interests and hobbies that make you unique, such as photos of you playing guitar, windsurfing, or community service. Anything that shows your expertise with a digital camera or web design is always a plus.

Blog Anonymously. If you are writing on controversial topics or using your blog to criticize an employer, then do so under a pseudonym. A prospective employer may not agree with your views and is not likely to hire a person who publicly disparages an employer.

Vent Wisely. It is okay to express discontent about an employer (anonymously), but to limit the chances of the criticism being traced back to you, do not include names of co-workers or the name of the company in any of your postings. Also refrain from using “inside” jokes, phrases, terms used commonly among circles in the company.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dealing with Cyberbullies

Recently I saw an article by Mindi McDowell that addressed the issue of cyberbullies – people who use technology to harass (or bully) someone else. McDowell says that cyberbullying can range in severity from cruel or embarrassing rumors to threats, harassment, or stalking. It can affect any age group; however, teenagers and young adults are common victims, and cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools.

The full text of McDowell’s article is at http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST06-005.html. It’s worth reading.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Teaching children about breast cancer

Why do children need to learn about breast cancer? Because this disease is striking women in their 40s, 30s, and even 20s at alarming rates—women who either have young children or are still in their childbearing years and are hoping to have children.

Metu and Lee Learn About Breast Cancer by Dr. Shenin Sachedina is a book for children five and up that will help them understand this disease and how it may affect the adult women in their lives. Dr. Sachedina is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in breast disease and is the founder of The Central Florida Breast Center in Winter Park, Florida. To learn more and to order the book, please visit www.metuandlee.com.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Are You Using PayPal to Avoid Paying Tax?

Last year, PayPal users moved $27.5 billion through that system. The company, owned by eBay, now has 100 million account holders worldwide.

Apparently, some of those account holders believe they can avoid paying federal income tax on income received through PayPal. This is wrong. If you are receiving funds through PayPal that should be reported as taxable income, you should report it and pay the appropriate tax.

On April 16, 2006, the IRS requested records on all PayPal transactions from 1999 to 2004. Will they get that information? I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting they will.

Remember, failing to report income is considered tax avoidance and/or tax evasion. It’s a crime and you can go to jail for it—just ask “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch, who was recently sentenced to 51 months in prison for tax evasion.

There are plenty of ways to reduce your tax liability that are legal and ethical. Consult with a qualified tax advisor to see what strategies will work for you. And make sure you report any income you receive through PayPal on your tax returns.

Jacquelyn Lynn