March has been a busy month. As the current President of the Sumter Rotary Club, this month has kept me running. We provide dictionaries to every third grader in Sumter County each year and this year we decided to also provide thesauruses to each sixth grader. I helped distribute them to several schools at the first of the month. The following week, Nancy Lee and I attended the Rotary District Conference in Myrtle Beach where we had the chance to hear about some of the great projects that Rotarians are doing throughout South Carolina. Last night, the Sumter Rotary Club had our annual Farm to Table event at the Sumter Civic Center. We won't have the ticket count until next week, but I'm pretty sure that we had record attendance and the food was amazing.
Now I'm ready for a little down time! But first, I'd like to share a few thoughts.
The stock markets recovered from the February dip, only to see another dip this month. We could be testing the February lows any day. As I shared last month, I suspect that we'll see this volatility for a while as the markets work though balancing economic growth and rising interest rates. One thing that had the markets concerned this week was the news that Facebook users may have had their personal information used inappropriately by a research company.
While Facebook can be a useful way to reconnect with distant family and old friends or to learn about businesses or causes we care about, we should all be cautious about its use. Years ago, I had someone tell me that you should never post or share anything on social media that you wouldn't want on the front page of the local paper, no matter your privacy settings. I would also add that we should all be skeptical of whatever we read on social media.
I had my own lesson on internet security this week. I received an e-mail receipt on Monday that appeared to be from Apple for a charge of $90.99 for data storage. While I do pay for an online data backup service from Apple, it's only $0.99 a month. Since this didn't seem right, I decided to directly contact Apple. My concern was well placed as it was not a receipt from Apple, after all, but was from someone trying to look like Apple. The customer service person I spoke with explained that they, more than likely, were hoping that I would click the link in the e-mail for "customer service". That would either load a virus on my computer or link me to a con artist trying to get my personal information under the guise of "helping to solve my issue".
You should never click on links in e-mails unless you know who the sender is. If you're suspicious of an e-mail its best to contact the company directly, and not the contact in the e-mail.
One thing to pay close attention to in suspicious e-mails is the actual e-mail address that it was sent from. In my case it was from something @apple-infomations-subscription.com, not from Apple.com. Also, there was an odd address in Jupiter, Florida that it was "billed to". The Apple representative said that this is usually the case, as the con artists don't really know my billing address so they just make one up, hoping I didn't notice. One last thing that stood out was odd verbiage used.
The internet, e-mail, and social media are all powerful tools that have made our lives better and our world more connected. But they also make us more susceptible to those trying to take advantage of us. Please be careful and if you're ever in doubt - stop and contact someone you know and trust to verify.
I hope that you have a great weekend. Spring break is just around the corner. Now if we could just get some spring weather to go with it, so that I can get the rest of the garden planted.