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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What did you just say?

Just like online security, our day-to-day conversations with strangers can threaten our security. Most of the areas where we express ourselves online are password protected. We can go back and edit things that were written, change our personal data in profiles, Google even has an “unsend” feature for email. The spoken word cannot be retrieved as easily.  Sometimes we just talk too much to the wrong people. We either offer up personal information or unknowingly provide it when prompted by a stranger who knows how to extract information.

Every neighborhood has door-to-door salesman. Are they pushing product or gathering intelligence? Some criminals pose as salesman, going from house to house trying doors hoping not to run into anyone and making note of what they can; alarm signs, cars in driveway, shrubbery, lights, the presence of dogs, etc. Some are bolder by selling random products, services, or free estimates looking to speak to homeowners, gain their trust and glean the information they need through conversation.

A conversation was overheard between a female neighbor and a salesman. The gentleman was selling organic cleaning products. He was very charming, loquacious, and had quite the patter. Throughout a ten-minute, low key, no pressure conversation in which he demonstrated his product, the salesman was able to determine that the lady was willing to open the door, home alone during the day, with one, two-year-old child, and no dogs. By sight he could determine her age, physical makeup, and basic layout of the home as seen through the front door. He never really asked any direct questions, but through friendly conversation the lady was put at ease and freely provided the information.

Running con games on people isn’t the oldest profession but it’s been around long time. People trying to trick and deceive are excellent speakers. You can be in the middle of a conversation and giving up details before you realize it. They manipulate conversation to their advantage. Mind reading acts don’t actually intercept your brainwaves, they pickup on subtle cues that are provided through your words and body language. Pronouns and conjunctions can provide a lot of information if you know how to listen.

We do not want to be rude to others. We want to be friendly. So it’s easy for others to approach and engage in what seems like innocent conversation. The trick is finding that line that allows us to be nice without providing our biography.



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