Providing investigative services tailored to the business community introduced me to small business owners. Many of them, as well as myself, with questions about the logistical and legal issues faced by businesses. This blog was started to address the questions. Although I’ve moved on from the investigative field there is still a desire to offer common sense solutions to small business owners. Sometimes we cover non business issues. Hope you enjoy reading. Please feel free to share.
Note: This post
was originally published on November 27, 2016 and has been updated with new
On top of all the safety concerns we have for shopping in
the real world, you have to be careful online as well.Not only from identity theft issues but
bogus, price too good to be true deals, on fake websites and fake mobile apps.
You use to be able to look at a website and have your spider
sense tingle warning that this doesn’t look quite right. But now, at first
glance, it’s hard to pick out a thrown together site. Site building skills and
packages are such that pretty much anyone can construct a site that looks like
a multi billion dollar corporation is at the other end. When in reality it’s a
small time operation or worse an out of country company that is selling bogus
products or collecting personal data.
One quick way to tell if the site is not quite on the up and
up is to take a tour and make note of the grammar. One thing the scammers
haven’t quite grasped is writing in grammatically correct English. Sites that do
not pay attention to simple grammatical structure probably don’t have your best
interest in mind. We’re not talking about a typo here or their or misusing
there, they’re, or their, you'll see serious grammar issues that scream no
quality control. But don’t use this as your only method.
There are several “detectors” that can be found online that
you enter the questionable website address and the detector gives you a report
on the site, including a score, location, technical data, owner, and contact
information. One such site is Scamadviser.com. [This is just one of many and no
endorsements are being given.] This site seemed to provide the most detailed
information that online users could use.
If you’re not sure of a site, run it through a “scam busting
site”, you should be able to get enough laymen details to make a determination
if the site in question is someone you want to provide your credit card.
In the early days of the Internet, criminals would identify
the most popular retailing websites and then figure out the commonly mistyped
spellings of the retailer’s names. They create their own sites under the
misspelled names. Users always misspelled Amazon, or example. Type in Amason, and you are directed to the
scammers’ site. Companies figured this out and began buying up the domain names
associated with the misspellings.
The technique is called typosquatting. The practice
diminished but is picking up popularity again. It’s hard to think of or even
buy every possible spelling combination, so criminals are able to slip past the
gatekeepers. The fraudulent sites are very close facsimiles to the real sites.
Once a user interacts, malware is downloaded onto the users computer and/or
information is stolen.
Mobile devices are targeted as well through fake retail apps
sold in smartphone stores. The apps mimic legitimate retailers, but they
install malware that steal identity, financial information, and sometimes install
ransomware (If you ever want to see your files again August 8, 2016) The RiskIQ cybersecurity company estimates that 1 in 10 Black
Friday apps were fraudulent. The biggest app stores fall victim to fake apps.
Retail apps may be safer downloaded from the retailers website.
Another oldie but goodie is fake shipping notices sent via
in email. They are always prevalent but become more so when criminals know that
there will be an increase in online shopping/shipping. The notices can look
real and appear as they are from a retailer from which you recently purchased.
With the flurry of shopping everyone does at this time of year, it’s easy for
fake notices to lost in all the emails received. Know what you purchased and
from whom, monitor the confirmations and shipping. Most companies will send out
a confirmation email, a product shipped email, and possibly a follow up.Be on guard for anything more.
It’s hard to say stick with nationally named brands and big
retailers. Lots of small businesses make their living through online sales and
often have good deals especially on unique items. Just as if you were shopping
in the real world, you wouldn’t buy from a questionable character off the
street, so do some research before you buy online. And watch out for too good to
be true deals, especially on hard to find items. Use common sense.Check reviews. Do your homework.
Be safe. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
See our blog archive for other posts relating to shopping safety:
German clockmaker Peter Henlein developed a clock that could
be worn around one’s neck in the early 1500’s. Called the Nuremberg Egg, the
device had a miniature torsion pendulum and coil spring that allowed it to keep
fairly accurate time. Since then humans have been obsessed with wearable
devices to provide feedback and information on everything from the time to the
weather to biometric data. Today’s technology adds the ability to track the
device and by association the wearer.
GPS technology hit the public aviation sector in the 1980’s.
In the 1990’s automakers began installing GPS navigation services in their
vehicles. Once navigational systems were installed it was a short leap to use
the GPS data to track where the vehicle had been by downloading the data. The
next step was live tracking of the vehicle, which is commonplace today for most
fleet operations and emergency services. The miniaturization of the technology allowed
GPS services to be installed in phones and wearable devices.
Businesses have been tracking their fleets for some time.
Not only as an accountability measure but also as a way to collect and analyze
data to improve routes. In the last several years, companies have been using
GPS data from Smartphone’s to track employee locations. Most recently,
companies have been issuing employee wearable devices that not only track their
location but also performance and sometimes health data.
Wearable devices have become a $15 billion a year market,
mostly charged by the introduction of the Fitbit in 2009 and the Apple watch in
2015. As with fleet tracking, business is not missing out on the ability to
Managers can monitor employee location and production to
better understand the needs of the workplace. Studies have shown that employees
that are tracked do have better performance. There have been myriad studies
over the years that suggest workers perform better not because of new
technologies but because they are being watched. Which overall benefits the
There are legal concerns that have been raised, such as
invasion of privacy regarding intrusiveness into the employee’s activities and
health data. Some of the devices allow the monitors to see biometric data,
which could reveal an employee health issue violating privacy laws.
As the courts and laws catch up with technology the question
of legality can be gray. Like phone call/text data and location, data from
tracking devices are becoming the status quo for evidence collection. Data from
tracking devices have been used for years in auto collision court cases.
Personal fitness wearable device data has just recently been introduced to the
courts in personal injury cases and police investigations.
Most of the questions arise regarding invasion of privacy, especially
outside of the workplace. Company owned vehicles, so far, appear to be legal to
install GPS devices and track. However, when a company puts a device on an
employee’s personal vehicle it gets trickier. Even company owned vehicles could
be targeted as any issue or law can be questioned in court.
Company owned Smartphones seem to fall in the category of
the vehicles regarding privacy. Employees don’t have much of a case until the
employer requires the use of the phone out side of the workplace, during the
employee’s personal time.
Wearable devices issued by a company to employees have not
yet been used in a court case. Anytime data is being collected, it is only a
matter of time before one party uses the data against the other. Whether it is
company v. employee or vice versa.
As with any company policy, how the employees are informed
of the policy and how it is implemented goes a long way in keeping the business
out of court. As cases start to go through the courts and company policy is
examined, the court decisions will affect how policy is shaped from thereon.
Simply, one bad policy or managerial decision can change the landscape for
Worker’s rights advocates will be watching the use of
wearable technology in the workplace. As with any new rule of law or
technological application businesses should be cautious to jump on the
bandwagon until they have thoroughly researched the use of such devices and the
end goals for collecting the data.