Protecting Yourself From Fraudulent E-Mails

In 2004, IDC estimated that each day there are more than 30 billion E-Mail messages crossing the Internet. The Radicati Group estimated that in 2004 there were nearly 900 million active mailboxes on the Internet with approximately half of these being used for business purposes.

Bearing in mind that these statistics were taken 2 years ago, it is certain that the numbers are much higher today. Clearly, E-Mail communication has become extremely pervasive in Internet business environments as a result of the ease with which information can quickly and easily be delivered to one or many people anywhere in the world. 74 percent of business people surveyed recently believed that losing E-Mail service presents more of a hardship than losing telephone service.

Unfortunately, the standard method of E-Mail communication over the Internet uses the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). This protocol was designed to transmit 7-bit ASCII character data between two IP hosts using the simplest and most efficient method possible. Security was an afterthought and security systems are almost never implemented by default in an SMTP-based mail system. Threats against an E-Mail system and its users have emerged just as quickly as the growth of the number of mailboxes. That brings us to a well-known E-Mail topic called “Phishing”.

Phishing schemes have emerged as one of the biggest threats to users personally. Phishing comes from the idea that you toss out a line and see who will grab it. The messages usually look reasonably legitimate and may actually appear to come from an organization from which you do business.

Often, phishing schemes can be exposed because you will receive a message from a bank or organization with which you do not do business with, or there could be typographical errors in the message. Depending on circumstances, one could believe that such a message is legitimate. However, since we know that no bank or payment processor will ask you for personal account data via an E-Mail, that is the final clue that the message is a fraud.

One good way to tell is that several good E-Mail programs will allow you to view the HTML code in the E-Mail. If it does not point to the intended URL, simply don’t use it. Another way is that some E-Mail programs reveal the URL by just placing your mouse cursor over the link. When you do this in Outlook, the true link will appear in a yellow balloon. One look at the URL will tell you if it is legitimate.

In any event, the general rule of thumb is this. If you receive an E-Mail from ANY bank or payment processor asking you to log in and validate your account information, you must assume it is a fraud…period! If your situation leads you to believe that there may be some legitimacy to the message, do not log in using the URL provided in the E-Mail. Go directly to the bank or payment processors website using your bookmark or their known URL. Practicing this rule may save you from falling victim to a phishing scheme.

So you got a Speeding Ticket, so now what?

So you got a Speeding Ticket so now what?
Speeding tickets are no fun. If you are pulled over for speeding and issued a citation legally, you do not need a lawyer unless you were also driving recklessly and are also cited for reckless driving. Speeding tickets are fairly straight forward, for the most part. However, depending on how much over the speed limit you were driving and which state you live in, your vehicle could be impounded (typically 40 mph over the speed limit). Additionally in some states, if you are under 18, your license may become suspended. But, if none of these conditions apply to you, you have the right to do two things: either pay the ticket, usually through mail, or else dispute the charge against you. After becoming aware of the law, I learned that anyone who pleads guilty on speeding tickets where they were cited for not speeding at all or cited for not going too much over the speed limit, subjects himself to unnecessary punishment from the law, since most speeding tickets of this type can be dismissed. I had a friend who was once cited for speeding when he was not and decided to fight the ticket.
So how do I fight a speeding ticket if I don’t think I was speeding?
Courts do not like to waste time and taxpayer dollars on petty crimes. To dispute a speeding ticket, you must within 10 days in most instances either sign the portion of the ticket that says “not guilty” and mail it to the place where you would send the payment for the fine or write a letter of dispute with the ticket number included in the letter, as well as your reasons for disputing the charges. In the written dispute, you must include ticket numbers, the date the ticket was received, the “act and section of the defense,” and your personal information. Thus, it depends on the state, but for the most part, states have a writing address where the dispute can be mailed. Check with your local county clerk to learn where to mail the dispute form.
After you have completed the dispute form, you will then wait to hear from the proper authorities, which will mail you a letter stating the date that your hearing will start. Make sure you attend the hearing and try to be at the courtroom at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the court hearing.
When the judge or district magistrate in some cases asks you how you plea, make sure you plead not guilty. He will then ask you to tell your story. As in my friend’s case above, he simply told him what had happened. He told the judge that when he saw the cop he looked at his speedometer and he was only going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone. The cop had cited him for going over 45 mph in the 35 mph zone. The cop was there and he conceded. At this point the judge will decide if your case is worthy of continuance and may possibly throw out the case or in the case of a district magistrate will decide your case; otherwise, in the case of a judge, you may be summoned to appear at another hearing at which your case will be decided.