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BBC Rip Off Britain: Live

Fakebook: How to Spot Fake Facebook Adverts – BBC Rip Off Britain: Live

Whether it’s fake news, fake likes or fake adverts, Facebook hasn’t been far from the top of the news agenda over the last few months.

Rip Off Britain - Fake Facebook Adverts

Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face (Image: BBC)

On Monday’s Rip Off Britain: Live (BBC1, 9.15am) I addressed the fake Facebook adverts issue which has recently seen money-saving expert Martin Lewis sue the social network for damages after his face appeared in fake adverts for scam financial products.

The fake Facebook adverts I see generally fall into three main categories:

Fake Celebrity Endorsements

Advertisers have long worked with trusted names to grow reach and sales – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, as Martin Lewis and others have found, it’s a doddle for rogue advertisers to mock up fake celebrity endorsements, fake news reports – even entire fake websites – in an attempt to ensnare unwitting readers into their sales funnel.

MY ADVICE: Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face, or appears to be a news story from a reputable news site, do your own research first.

Free Trial Offers

Invited to sign up for a free trial of smart pills, skin cream, eye serum or anti-wrinkle rub? Be very, very wary – it’s not often there’s a free lunch on the Internet. Or a free miracle anti-ageing or weight-loss cure.

Buried away in the T&Cs may be clauses which mean – one way or another – you’ll end up forking out a fortune, often as a subscription. And working out how to cancel it or get a refund can prove a real headache.

Good trial offers do exist online, but they’re often for digital services – video and music streaming services, for example.

MY ADVICE: Be suspicious of free trials of physical products on social media from companies you’ve never heard of, and give the terms and conditions every possible scrutiny, keeping a digital copy to refer back to.

Don't trust this fake ad

Don’t trust this fake ad (Image: MoneySavingExpert)

Misrepresentation

This is where the beautifully presented goods you see in the advert bear little resemblance to what you eventually get in the post, and it’s something we’ve covered many times before on Rip Off Britain.

Often the advertisers rely on people giving up hope at this point, not bothering with the inevitable hassle of returning an item. And the firms that walk this tightrope certainly don’t make it easy for those that can be bothered.

MY ADVICE: Always do your own research, away from the social network, before you press ‘buy’; research the company advertising the goods, see where they’re actually based and what other people say about their experiences of buying from them.

More Tips To Spot Fake Ads

  • Be suspicious if the advert you click on passes you from one website/company name to another; always make sure you know who you’re dealing with and check each company carefully if you haven’t heard of them before (and watch out for look-alike company names)
  • Look at the web address of the page and check it matches the title of the site – don’t trust a news story purporting to be from a well-known news source (BBC News, for example) but with an unfamiliar web address (http://buythisno-w.com/bbc-news-live-debt-free/ for example).
  • Look for an address and phone number – and if it’s a free/cheap number then call it to get a feel for their customer service; if not, then go elsewhere
  • Beware of pressure tactics: “stock running low”, “offer ends in 19 minutes”, “8 others are also looking at this product” are all there solely to speed you into buying. Make up your own mind, on your own terms and in your own time
  • Get rich quick schemes? Bitcoin, binary trading etc? I advise you to steer well clear – schemes like these rarely help anybody get rich except the people selling them

BBC Rip Off Britain: Live airs every day on BBC1 and 9.15am Monday 25th -29th June 2018 – catch up on iPlayer here.

BBC One - Rip Off Britain Logo

BBC Rip Off Britain Season 10

Rip Off Britain is back with a new series on BBC1 this week.

In one of this season’s films, I talk about how internet-connected doorbells are now being used help to catch crooks.

Filming in Manchester for series 10 of BBC Rip Off Britain Think of a connected doorbell as a video intercom – similar to those already popular in flats and offices – that connects your front door to your phone. Not only do they provide peace of mind when your doorbell – or perhaps that of an elderly relative – rings, these smart devices can also record video of who is at the door. Needless to say, they have already been used to help identify criminals.

In another item for the show this series, I take Julia Somerville to a Bitcoin cashpoint to explain what cryptocurrency is and how it works – and how some viewers may have lost substantial sums of more traditional cash to so-called Bitcoin scammers.

This year for the show we’ve also been making some quick advice films for Facebook – here’s me talking about why some viewers’ second-hand smartphone have suddenly stopped working days or weeks after they’ve bought them:

Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1 at 9.15am from Monday 13th June 2018, available on catch-up on BBC iPlayer.

BBC Watchdog Nectar Card Fraud

BBC Watchdog: Nectar Card Fraud

I was back in the BBC Watchdog studio last night for an item on how Nectar card fraud has been leaving some viewers with a decidedly sour taste in their mouths.

BBC Watchdog Nectar Card Fraud

(Image: BBC)

Reports of fraudsters targeting the Nectar loyalty scheme aren’t new, but a recent spate of activity has brought it back to the top of the Watchdog mailbag.

Nectar began rewarding shoppers in 2002, and now around 20 million members collect and spend points at a variety of high-street and online retailers. In February this year, Nectar was bought by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which now also owns catalogue chain Argos.

In the fraud, Nectar points are redeemed – often in high street stores – to buy goods. The first victims know is when they try to spend their Nectar balance and find instead that their account is empty. So prolific are the fraudsters that, in some cases, victims have even found they‘be been left with a negative balance.

There are some patterns to the fraud:

  • Victims are adamant that their physical Nectar card – which is required to redeem points for goods in store – hasn’t been stolen, mislaid or even in the same town as where the points were redeemed
  • Argos appears to be a hot-spot for fraudsters redeeming Nectar points

How does Nectar card fraud work?

That is the million Nectar point question. On the surface, this is very straightforward:

  • In order for Nectar points to be redeemed in-store, a card bearing the customer’s name must be produced (as per Argos T&Cs)
  • Yet, victims report that their cards haven’t been lost stolen at the time of the fraud – some were even in different countries

So, a natural conclusion would be that the fraud involves card cloning, whereby fake copies of victims’ cards are being made by fraudsters which are then used in-store.

Whatever Nectar knows about the fraud, however, it remains tight-lipped. Its typical response is:

We take security extremely seriously at Nectar and have an active programme of monitoring and remediation.

We ask people to treat their Nectar cards like they do their bank cards, in that if they notice suspicious activity or if it goes missing, we ask that they report it, so that we can block their accounts, protect their points and conduct a thorough probe.

We encourage customers to help minimise exposure to suspicious activity by embracing good cyber hygiene such as using complex passwords for online accounts and changing these on a regular basis.

We have rigorous processes and procedures in place to constantly monitor for fraudulent activity and we regularly invest in new technologies to protect our customers’ accounts.

Two things occur to me here:

  • Nectar suggests we exercise “good cyber hygiene”. While that’s always sound advice, reading between the lines here it suggests that Nectar is concerned that its online accounts are part of the fraud. This could be how criminals are able to identify Nectar accounts with large balances.
  • Nectar also asks members to treat Nectar cards like bank cards. This makes me angry, as Nectar clearly isn’t meeting its side of the bargain: once Nectar implements chip and PIN, multi-factor authentication and more robust fraud detection on its own systems, only then does it have the right to talk about bank-like security.

How to keep your Nectar points safe

Nectar card fraud is a real cause for concern for its members, but Nectar’s security is not – in my opinion – doing a good enough job of preventing it. As we don’t know for sure exactly how it’s happening, it’s difficult to give specific advice, but here’s what I do recommend:

  • Regularly login to your Nectar account online to check your balance for any unrecognised transactions; immediately flag up to Nectar if anything doesn’t look right
  • Check your Nectar password is different to any you use for your other online accounts; I recommend using a password manager app to generate unique passwords and keep them safe

Watchdog airs on Wednesday nights, BBC One at 8pm and is available on-demand from BBC iPlayer.

AI and the Rise of the Machines: Children’s Global Media Summit

Earlier this month I chaired a panel for the BBC-hosted Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester.

The summit takes place every 3 years, and I was thrilled to be invited to host the dauntingly titled The Rise of the Machines panel.

We asked: What do artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality mean for the future of content consumption and creation? Not for our generation, but for our children’s.

Rise of the Machines - CGMS

Needless to say, it was a fascinating session. I’m immensely grateful to panellists Dave Coplin, Agust Ingason, Tawny Schlieski and Adam Howard for bringing it to life for our standing-room-only audience, as well as to producer Mark Owen.

The headline speaker at the event, however, was HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge. Visiting Manchester with soon-to-be mum-of-three Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, he shared both his optimism and concerns about the impact of digital technology on children, expressing how little we still understand about the effect that always-on connectivity has on young people’s development.

There were many more important announcements at CGMS, including a great new BBC initiative – Own It – to support and empower young people online.

Visit the CGMS website for more highlights.

BBC Rip Off Britain: Keyless Car Crime

The new series of Rip Off Britain – series nine! – began on BBC1 this month and once I am on-hand as its resident technology expert.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Angela about how high-tech car criminals are able to hack their way past current keyless security systems. I also shared a few tips that may help concerned viewers prevent their cars being stolen. Here’s a quick taster:

Car crime has largely moved on from the coat hanger and hot-wire days of old, with crime rates decreasing by 80 percent since 1993 according to the Office for National Statistics. However, a new wave of tech-savvy car criminals is now making easy work of making off with many makes of car.

I’ve been following the high-tech car crime trend closely, trying to understand the ways in which criminals are able to bypass or subvert car keyless security systems – whether through signal amplification, wireless jamming or keyless code capture. Criminals often steal to order, targeting high-value vehicles that are driven to so-called ‘chop-shops’ and sold on for parts.

Next week I travel to Glasgow for BBC Rip Off Britain Live. I find the live shows particularly enjoyable because we are able to be responsive to news stories as they break. As such, I can’t say yet exactly which stories I’ll be covering, but I believe we’ll be discussing how the Internet of Things has made our homes vulnerable to hackers.

BBC Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1, weekdays 9.15-10.00. Watch here on BBC iPlayer.

bbc one logo

BBC X-Ray Summer Special – Photography Tips

David McClelland joins the BBC X-Ray team for a photography summer special.

As regular visitors here may know, I’m a photography nut. Naturally, I was very excited to be asked to be part of the BBC One Wales X-Ray Summer Special on how to make the most of your camera. I was pleased too that a primetime TV show had dedicated its slot to talk about photos – after all, with smartphones in almost every pocket now, snapping photos is something that many of us do all the time.

On a blustery afternoon in late-spring, I arrived by train into the picturesque Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth. Heading first for the seafront, and then to the Arts Centre, I spoke with presenter Lucy Owen about all manner of issues that might arise when taking pictures and sharing them online — even how to back them up:

The show also looks at how to take better pictures with your smartphone, how to get great footage while safely flying a drone, and how the National Library of Wales preserves its priceless collection of photos.

UK licence fee payers can watch the whole BBC One Wales X-Ray episode on BBC iPlayer.

The One Show - Toddlers and Tablets

Healthy Habits with Smartphones and Tablets – The One Show

This week I appeared on BBC1’s The One Show sharing advice on how parents can help their children to develop healthy habits when using smartphones and tablets.

One Show - Toddlers and TabletsFor the film, we visited a high street phone store and let a dozen under-elevens loose to observe how they used the selection of phones and tablets on display.

I’m a dad, and like most parents, I feel as if I’m making it up as I go along – which, of course, I am. How I introduce my children to technology is no exception.

Understanding a little about how children develop, what their needs are at different ages, and how easily influenced they are by adults around them, can all help make sure that children – and their parents – have a happy relationship with gadgets.

Technology offers amazing opportunities but, for me, the old adage that ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’ stands as true with smartphones and tablets as it does with anything else.

The One Show is on BBC1 at 7pm most evenings, viewers in the UK with a television licence can watch here.

First look: Nintendo Switch

It’s a familiar tale: any time I once made to play Metal Gear Solid, Pro Evolution Soccer or PaRappa the Rapper has long since been eroded by the glamours of parenthood and an erratic work schedule. Mario Kart Wii still gets spun up, as much of an occasional treat for me as it is for my kids.

I am the ‘lapsed gamer’.

On-the-go Gamer

But I do still play games. Armed with my smartphone or tablet, pocket puzzlers like the stunning Monument Valley, gory graphic novel epics such as The Walking Dead or riddlers including Mr Robot help ensure that train platform dead-time can still be game-time.

I’ve yet to tire of exploring new places with Pokémon Go, and I stand firm that the Swift Playgrounds lessons are every bit as satisfying as a good Sudoku puzzle – plus I get to learn a valuable skill.

I am the ‘on-the-go gamer’. Living the smartphone gaming dream I am part of the fastest area of revenue growth in the games industry.

So, when Nintendo formally announced its latest console last Friday I wondered if it was an attempt to appeal to gamers like me.

Nintendo Switch

Will gamers make the Nintendo Switch? (image: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch is a hybrid tablet/TV games console, as comfortable in your hands as it is hooked up to your television. Accompanying the hardware is a strong first year line-up of titles including new the Zelda Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey adventures.

Switch Coverage

But the big question is whether Nintendo has given itself enough of a fighting chance with the Switch to emerge from the shadow of the debacle that was the Wii U, to overcome the console behemoths that are Microsoft and Sony, and to take on the smartphone gaming market.

That was the topic of the story I wrote this week for Mobile World Live: “Will Nintendo fanboys make the Switch?”.

After going hands on with the Nintendo Switch at the London launch event, including playing the new fun fighting game Arms, I headed over to BBC Broadcasting House to report back for two live spots with the BBC News Channel and BBC World News:

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