Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beacon Media: Why Do They Need Your Personal Information?

If you are not familiar with the term, let me tell you about it. "Phishing" has precious little to do with catching catfish down at the local canal. Rather it is the capturing of personal and financial information from the unwary for the aggrandizement of the person or organization doing that phishing. Here is how the term is defined on the site SearchSecurity.com:

Phishing is an email fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients ... A phishing expedition, like the fishing expedition it's named for, is a speculative venture: the phisher puts out the lure hoping to fool at least a few of the prey that encounter the bait.

If you have a Yahoo or Google email account, go into the file they reserve for spam and the chances are pretty good you'll come up with some passing fair examples of phishing. Below are a couple that I found this morning. Grammatical and spelling errors are from the phishers themselves, and are left intact here to preserve the flavor.

From the Desk of Mr. Isdore Ben
External Review Committee in Debt
Skye Bank Nigeria PLC.
Date 1st Day of June, 2010
Attention Beneficiary,
DEAR SIR/ AM.

We wish to inform you that you have been scheduled to be paid $10,000,000 through our Automated teller machine card (ATM Card) which you will only be required to proceed to any ATM Cash Point to withdraw the sum of $2000 per day till the payment is completed. You are advised to contact me ASAP via my email address so that I can deposit your ATM/mastercard fo FedEx for them to deliver your ATM/Master Card to your given address in your Home Country less than THREE WORING Days (3 DAYS).

Kindly confirm your information where to send your ATM/MASTERCARD
1) Full Name
2) Full Address
3) City
4) States
5) zip code
6) Valid Phone Number
7) Sex
8) Current Occupation
This information will be used to process your billing card address where you would be receiving your monthly statement on card transactions made.
Best Regards,
Mr. Isdador Ben
External Review Committe On Debt.
Skye Bank Nigeria PLC.

The next example is quite brief and to the point. The author apparently seeing no point in attempting to weave a tale around the request. He just wants your information.

From: felisazambranomayo
Subject DONATION
To:
Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010, 11:11 AM
You have been awarded a donation funds of $1,350,000 usd. Contact Mr Simons Regiado with the following information.
Email: fdf33@w.cn
Name, Address, Age, Occupation, Tel, Counry

Beacon Media, home to many local free distribution throwaway publications including the Sierra Madre Weekly, are not technically participating in phishing because they have not made their personal information request by email. Rather they do it on their website.

Beacon Media is currently conducting their "Reader's Choice 2010 Survey." This is where they aim to determine your favorite restaurants, clothes stores, and other sundry consumer shops and stops. And you, as one of their readers, are invited to give your opinions on these important matters. To check it all out click on this link. Once you arrive at the Sierra Madre Weekly webpage, go to the upper right hand corner and click on the VOTE ONLINE box. Which, rather than taking you to the survey you might have expected, links to a questionnaire where you'll be asked to volunteer some very personal information. Only after you have forked over that material will you be permitted the privilege of taking a survey about your local consumption preferences.

Here are the questions you are expected to answer before being allowed to participate in the Beacon Media Readers Choice 2010 Survey.

Your Name _____________________ (required)
Email _________________________ (valid email required)
Address _______________________
Phone # _________________________ (required)
Age Range: (required)
(0-18)
(18-25)
(25-35)
(35-45)
(45 or older)
Occupation ____________________
Are you a homeowner? ____________ (required)
Avg. Houshold (sic) Income (required)
($10,000 - $15,000)
($15,000 - $30,000)
($30,000 - $45,000)
($45,000 - $100,000)
($100,000 or more)

They then go on to ask some questions about your news and media preferences, if you read their fine publications, and do you leave them around your home so the other inmates can look at them. Including, I suppose, the house budgie. All required, of course. Only after you have divulged what seems like some very proprietary information are you given the privilege of telling them about where you enjoy going for yogurt, or if you prefer Supercuts over Tress Excess. Or whatever that place is called.

But this does beg a very simple question. Why does Beacon Media need to know about stuff you probably wouldn't even tell people you know? Questions that are very similar in scope to those being asked by the phishers from Nigeria? In exchange for an opportunity to tell all about your favorite nail salon in Monrovia? Pretty lousy deal if you ask me.

Of course, the overseas phishers are trying to get into your bank account. And, once they obtain the keys to your financial kingdom, will proceed to suck every dime they can out of it. But what is Beacon Media's angle? What exactly are they after?

There are two things some companies do with information like that. They can either sell it to marketers interested in targeting certain demographics, or they might use it as an inducement to attract advertising. Local businesses being quite interested in getting their hands on the email addresses, locations, and phone numbers of "housholds" having six figure incomes. Think of the fun dinner time calls you could be getting!

Personally, I believe you'd have to be nuts to hand over information like that to people you don't even know, and therefore should not trust. No matter how many stories about dog washes and baby parades they run in their papers.

But there is a sucker born every minute, I guess.

47 comments:

  1. Phishing is phishing. That is disgraceful!

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  2. You can only wonder what they do with that kind of information. I'd be surprised if they get 10 responses to something like that.

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  3. Ain't a gonna tell umJune 16, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    Why does Beacon Media need to know my sex, income, and occupation, etc. unless they plan on selling that information in the future?

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  4. So many websites, require you to sign up, register and want all kinds of information of this kind.
    That's why we get so much junk mail, junk email and annoying telemarketer calls.

    One thing I really like about the Tattler.
    Crawford doesn't take ads, he doesn't make us register (in order to sell our information to scammers). It's called INTEGRITY.

    Obviously, Beacon Media does. I wouldn't trust Henderson, either, based on what we know about her ethics, or lack of ethics.

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  5. Can we say identity theft?

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  6. not a SIR, so I guess AMJune 16, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Does anyone know if this phishing has been the usual practice for Beacon? Makes the winners of the "best of" highly dubious.

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  7. Reader Survey = Marketing
    Businesses that really want to be the Readers Choice will send friends and relations onto the site to vote from many different emails, so where's the accuracy.

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  8. Seems like the real purpose of this "survey"
    was to dupe the gullible into giving up their
    information.

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  9. It's my lucky day!June 16, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    I know Mr. Isdore Ben, he's about to send me money shortly as well!!

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  10. 9:20, as you say, it's not a real popularity contest.
    It's an advertising gimmick won by the businesses who have the most willing to vote people.
    Guess I won't be trying that readers' best acupuncturist after all....

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  11. Makes 1-800 Dentist look like the
    Legion of Oral Hygienic Excellence.

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  12. channel 3 watcher 1stJune 16, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    We'll need to take our very own readers survey after the next Planning Commission meeting this Thursday. Up at bat, Karen Warner and the we-love-you-sacramento housing element of the General Plan, and then, drum roll please, One Carter,aka Stongate Housing design guidelines. Get ready for tasteful recommendations for the hillside McMansions.
    So Tattlers, do you like your mansions with or without decorative fountains, of course green in design.

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  13. What is your favorite # of floors?
    A) 4
    B) 5
    C) 6
    D) 7
    E) Oh I don't know. Can I have my cookie?

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  14. Planning Comm. members are NOT foolsJune 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Noon posters, you are too cynical. The Planning Commission will hold the Carter project to the same guidelines they would apply to anyone else, so for the lots that are in the Hillsides, there's the HMZ, and for the flat lots, there's plan old codes that apply there too.

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  15. I doubt whether even 1,000 people pick up that throw-away weekly.

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  16. I don't know about 1,000 people, but I do know that the people who keep our streets clean pick up quite a few.

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  17. We're stuck with those terrible hillside developments. Stuck thanks to a bunch of ninnies on the council of 2204, a compromised city attorney (you know Colountuonu, the specialist in Prop 218), and a thoroughly unscrupulous developer, known as such to the ninnies well before decision time. Bad and sad, but now it is time for the Planning Commission to do what it can to make this housing project not so bad and sad.

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  18. That's all well and good, 4:14. But where do YOU go for yogurt?

    And do you own your house?

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  19. What I want to see on the hillsides are the hills.
    Stealth McMansions possibly.

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  20. The City Council we have now will cover for anything any developer wants to do. It is a two-fold strategy, but the guts of it is they will be telling the people of Sierra Madre over the next few years to not believe what they see or hear.

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  21. A survey filled out by a new Sierra Madre resident,
    address: fake Stonewall, real stone pillars
    income level: Kabillion
    homeowner: multiple
    age: 22

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  22. Carter used to be a good streetJune 16, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    I seriously doubt that Long Dragon Realty has been informing the buyers or potential buyers that the carterstonewallgatewhatever is a source of real hatred in this community.
    And for those who have sat out the proceedings, once the mansions loom up there on the ridges, there's a good chance they'll hate it too.
    That's not saying anything about the fire/flood/earthquake, and oh yes, murder, that happened up there.
    Think Long Dragon is filling the customers in?
    If I had that kind of money, I would find someplace more harmonious to buy.

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  23. I just heard from Isdore Ben. He says that because you people have been talking about these secret matters none of you should now expect to get your money.

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  24. Hey new Sierra Madre resident, good news!~ You qualify, what with the Kabillion and all, for a subscription to THE magazine! You are THE's dream client.

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  25. News flash......the sky is blue also.... WOW!!!! WHERE HAVE YOU PEOPLE BEEN? This sort of practice has been going on for years, this is nothing new. Next time you are at the mall register to win that snazzy car sitting there, what do you think that's all about? Fill out a home loan application, paperwork at the rental car place, book a flight online, your personal data is floating around like monarch butterfly on spring day, use your laptop in a public place..it's worse than a BP well head....but don't worry rattlers JC will keep you up to speed........BTW...they found Lindburgs baby.....

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  26. Pasadena has its own residents, including a Planning Commissioner and a former Councilmember suing the City Council over approving a project that's out of scale with the City's guidelines. Now it's going back to the Design Review folks for a weight loss program. The community does not have to take it lying down.

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  27. Hey 4:31 - where do you go for yogurt?

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  28. That's right 4:32. So this community will have to pay some attention to the Planning Commission deliberations about these new houses.

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  29. If the Lindburg baby were still around it would now be retired and wondering why there aren't enough good activities for seniors in town.

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  30. The Lindburg baby's loss of life was a tragedy.

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  31. I take issue with that 4:39.
    Senior activities are offered, not spoon fed.
    You may have to seek them out, but that's good exercise.
    Don't be so spoiled.

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  32. KBkb, thanks for taking the time to enlighten with your advanced wisdom.

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  33. That was a nice post. And I'm glad they found that poor baby.

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  34. Knock off the disrespect to the dead.
    Dragging the thread down.

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  35. It's not my fault! KB brought it up. And besides, if disrespect for the dead was wrong, they'd have to abolish Halloween.

    Or is that Storybook Character Day ...

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  36. The 4:31 post might come out of the lofty office of Beacon Media itself. We're just gathering all this data like everybody else does, but we won't actually DO anything with it.....

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  37. When is the Tattler book coming out?

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  38. A Tattler book is a great idea 4:55.
    A collection of articles on one small town's struggle against over-development converted into one long narrative. Maybe an obituary, or maybe a blueprint for others.
    Crawford, consider it. Minus the comments, you've got excellent material.

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  39. I hope any Tattler book would include the pictures. Sometimes they are very funny!

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  40. Is Izzie Ben the same as Dental Ben whose office is on the Sierra MAdre Strip?

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  41. I gave Ben my ATM card because he told me he needed it to put some money in my bank account.

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  42. like the Observer, the Weekly makes up it's demographics and uses a print run as it's circulation numbers

    however, at least the Weekly prints papers, the Observer has been suspected of printing small runs and claiming larger print numbers, it's a shock that advertisers in the paper aren't savvy enough to ask for certified print invoices.

    everybody knows that the "Best Of" contests are always won by advertisers and those businesses call in or submit their name as a favorite as if it was American Idol.

    you notice that number results are never posted, most likely the Best Pizza consists of 15 responses all by employees

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  43. Great summation 5:34.

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  44. You mean he isn't going to put money in my bank account? I'd better go check.

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  45. Must be a really slow Blog day at Tattler World HQ when you post such utter dribble!

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  46. I think the word you wanted to use here is "drivel." As in "...when you post such utter drivel."

    11:39 must be a Beacon employee ..

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  47. 11:39 is a day late and a word short.

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