July 19, 2005

Out of office reply: Burgle me now

The Linguanet forum is once more awash with Out of office replies from university lecturers, teachers and individuals alike. As well as being a pain in the neck for those of us who are not on holiday - not to mention envy-making - these replies can be a real danger to your home.

Graham Davies points out for one more year on the Linguanet forum that burglars can target individuals quite easily when it is clear they are no longer around:

"Don't use the Out of Office automatic reply facility in your email system,
especially when replying to public discussion lists, as this can signal to
thieves that you are away from home and you may return to find your house
burgled. It is fairly easy to match up a person's name in an Out of Office
reply with a publicly accessible address list on the Web."

Read this article on security in vnunet for more on this phenomenon.

Likewise, the number of bloggers who inform the massed millions that they are away on holiday is beginning to make me think of a career-change. Stuff internet identity theft or credit card fraud. How about some good old thievery from the homes of the feckless?

I would strongly suggest following Loic Lemeur's lead to keep your home in one piece, even if your readers think you're deceased.

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Some federal cases within the last year suggest why identity theft has become one of the fastest-growing forms of white-collar crime:
A man was indicted in Miami on identity theft-related charges relating to his alleged filing of false federal tax returns in the names of 614 Florida prisoners, seeking more than $3 million in fraudulent refunds.
On the brighter side of things there is a web site that can help you reconize identy theft before it is too late.
www.badspace.com has some terrific articles on this subject plus links to other websites to help you if you discovered your identy was stolen all to late.
check it out for your own safty.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

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