Category: Sci/Tech

ID spoofers continue to harass consumers

Capital One is Caller ID spoofers are playing games again, and a brief Google search reveals I’m only one of hundreds, maybe thousands, involved.

A woman claiming to be from Capital One Bank called here last night. Her voice was so heavily accented (Indian?) that we had difficulty understanding each other. It sounded like she was saying I owed them $170 or some such amount. I told her I hadn’t used my card since last fall, when they jacked up my interest rate for no reason. Then I asked her what the charge was for, in case I’d forgotten some purchase. She couldn’t give me a name. Then she said something about a charge for balance payment insurance. I told her I’ve never bought such a thing. I never really did understand what she was after, so I just told her if I owed any money, send me a statement.

After I hung up, I got online and checked my Capital One account. Sure enough, $0 balance. I don’t know if it was a scam of some kind, or really Capital One, but either way, I don’t conduct financial affairs with strangers on the phone.

She was calling from 1-800-955-6600, a Cap One number. Google it, and you’ll find people are in an uproar all over the country about calls from this number. And from what they’re saying, I could be in for a long series of harassing phone calls.

I have my own imaginary take on Capital One, and it’s not at all flattering to them. Bad management, caught with their fingers in the cookie jar when the economy started to tank, and trying to save themselves by jacking up the interest rates on all their customers. The really sad thing is the spoofers, posing as Capital One, might actually succeed in bullying some people into sending them money. It’s a despicable thing to do, and way too hard to track them down and punish them.

Note, 6/21/2008: Got four more calls yesterday, and another this morning at 8 a.m. Called Capital One and confirmed they are not the ones making the calls. So it does appear that there is some ID spoofing going on.

© 2008 Some rights reserved.

High-altitude Colo. webcam up and running again

Storm at sunset
Storm at sunset

Most readers probably won’t care, but my favorite high-altitude (11,600 ft.) webcam, TundraCam, is back in operation.

The TundraCam is fully controllable, with zoom and pan functions, and has a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountain high country west of Boulder, Colorado. It is located at a research station on Niwot Ridge and can be reached only via hiking trails. Fully exposed to the worst weather the high country can whip up, the camera may sometimes be frozen in place or knocked completely offline. When this happens during the winter, it can be several months before anyone can get to it for repairs. (I seem to have problems getting this cam to work with IE, but it usually works with Firefox.)

Personally, I enjoy using the camera to admire the view, check the weather, watch the sunset (never up early enough to catch the sunrise), and see the lights of Denver and Boulder at night. I’ve even watched hikers coming and going.

It appears TundraCam has been repositioned a bit from last fall, so I’ll be spending some time getting reoriented. Meantime, welcome back, TundraCam!

© 2008 Some rights reserved.

ET doesn’t live here … but his friend Jeff Peckman does

Peckman's "alien" peeks in over lower edge of window
Peckman's "alien" peeks over windowsill

DENVER, CO — Be it known that the wonderful city of Denver does not, and in the foreseeable future does not expect to, harbor any extraterrestrials. Yes, we do have aliens here, but not the 4-foot-tall gray type. ET and his posse have yet to be spotted in Denver.

Nevertheless, one Denver resident, Jeff Peckman, has proposed the formation of an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver, just in case. He appeared before city officials earlier this month to explain his proposal and to the credit (or discredit) of the city, he was not laughed out of the building.

Peckman claims to have a never-before-seen video of a Roswell-type alien. The video was shown to media representatives today in Denver, but only one still shot was released. The picture shows Peckman’s “alien” peering in over a windowsill. Reporters were told the video could not be shown publicly because it may become part of an upcoming documentary.

Peckman is sponsoring a petition drive to get his proposal on the November ballot. It’s sad that this sort of initiative can actually make it onto a ballot, but that’s the way things are done here in “Colorful Colorado.” Sadder still is the thought that it might actually get passed into law, and taxpayers’ dollars will have to fund it.

© 2008 Some rights reserved.