header info

To see what jewelry creations are currently available Click here! To see the current calendar of classes Click here!

To see my USPS shipping rates chart Click here! To see my Etsy shop Click here!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

But What if Your Facebook Account Really Was Hacked

The other day I blogged about how to take steps to protect yourself from scammers cloning your Facebook account (basically impersonating you) and "hitting on" all your friends.

Today I will address... what if your account was hacked and/or things to do to make it not as bad as it could be.

One of the first things you want to do is go into your settings...


... then click on the SECURITY tab on the left side and once there, click on the edit option for the LOGIN ALERTS...


... This opens up to a window where you can select the option to be notified if an unknown device logs into your Facebook account...


Aside from that one, I also use the second one, Login Approvals.  If you set this up, you'll have to enter a code that is texted to your phone if you try to use your Facebook account from a device you don't normally use.

Anyway, if you do get an alert that someone did or is trying to log into your FB account and/or if you know you've been hacked because someone is using your account to post or msg things, then the first thing you want to do is change your password.  If you can't because someone else already did, then reset your password (that's like when you click the "I've forgotten my password" button).

You can also report a problem with your account.  I'm guessing that's under "report a problem" (pull down menu that showed you "settings")... but I don't want to go there 'cause my account is okay at the moment.


Maybe also post something on your timeline so any of your friends who check there can be warned not to open suspicious msgs from you or click on video links, etc.

If you want to try to avoid all this, there's one thing I learned about awhile ago that sounded reasonable.

Go back to your settings and this time click on APPS...


... then click on SHOW ALL and start editing them (or deleting them).  You decide what your apps can and cannot see.

So happy trails and safe socializing.  Fingers crossed we all remain relatively unscathed.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Protect Your Facebook Account from Scammers

There's a thing that's happening more and more lately, so I thought I'd address it here, so any of you who want to can take proactive measures to prevent this from happening to you.

First I'm going to explain it so you understand it exactly... then I'll show you what to do if it happens to someone you know... and then how to keep it from happening to you.

I call them scammers rather than hackers, because they aren't actually hacking into your Facebook account.  Although many people do think they've been hacked.  They freak out that someone has access to their Facebook account and they change their FB password, etc.

While it's never a bad idea to change an online password every so often, rest assured that in the scenario I'm about to explain, the scammer has not hacked into your FB account nor do they have your password.

Because there is more than one person in the world with any given name, Facebook couldn't let only one "Mary Smith" be called "Marry Smith" on Facebook.  How would the other thousand Mary Smith's in the world?  (They'd probably feel like the thousands of Mary Smiths who don't get to use their name on Twitter or Instagram, but that's beside the point.).

So when you create a FB page, you get a unique identifier, but you can CALL yourself anything (within reason).

So let's say Mary Smith #1 makes a Facebook page using Mary Smith as her profile name.  So when Mary Smith #2 comes along, she makes a Facebook page also using Mary Smith as her profile name, but the URL to her page will be different from that of Mary Smith #1.  But what YOU see when you look at either profile page (more on this later)  is just a FB page that says "Mary Smith" and probably a photo of each respective Mary Smith.

When you want to find someone on Facebook, you search on their name, right?  And more often than not, more than one profile of that person comes up.  So you either look at the avatar (profile) pic to see if you recognize who you're looking for or you see if they've listed a location where they live, etc.

So what's the scam?

If you get a friend request from someone you thought you were already friends with on Facebook, 99% of the time you're being scammed into "friending" a fake FB account.

What these people do is look around for people whose "friend lists" are public (more on that later too).  Then they just make a new FB account, call themselves your name (remember, your name is not proprietary on FB) and start sending out friend requests to all the friends on YOUR friends list.

Now your friends will most likely do one of two things.  They will either go, "Oh heck, I know her; of course I want to be FB friends with her".  Then they confirm and are now friends with the scammer.

Or... they will go, "Um... she's already my FB friend.  What's going on?"

Three times in the past month, I did this second thing.  Then what I do is notify my friend (make sure you're using their real account when you msg them... find them from your friends list and make sure you see reasonable posts on their timeline).

You can check out the timeline of the person making the friend request without having to friend them.  What you'll usually see is rarely anything more than the fact that it's a new account and they have a profile pic.  There will be no history and their friends list will usually be short... only those friends who have already fallen for their scam.  You can see the scammer's friends list without friending them (unless they're clever enough to do what I'm about to show you at the end of this blog post)... and if you want, you can let these friends on the list know they "friended" a scam artist.  But that's not usually necessary because FB shuts down these scam accounts almost immediately after being reports.

If this happens to your account (someone impersonates you), don't post on your FB wall that you've been hacked.  You weren't.  There is nothing compromised about your FB account.  Someone is just impersonating you.  They do not have any of your private information.

Okay, so what you want to do (and I can't show you screen shots of going through the steps until this happens again) is report it to FB.  Anyone can report it.  I've done it numerous times.  I'll try to recall the steps.

Open the scammers timeline (just click on their name, don't accept the friend request), then look for the extended menu next to the "Message" tab (see first red circle).


In the extended menu is an option to REPORT.  Click on that, then you'll see options (now here's where I'm going off my memory).  I think the one I pick is "this person is impersonating a friend" (or something like that).

Go through the questions... it will ask you the name of your friend (I usually just put the URL to my friend's true FB page).

When I report these to Facebook, the scammer's account is shut down within minutes.  WTG, Facebook!

The only time it might not be a scammer (that other 1% of the time), is if my friend, for some reason, created a second FB account for themselves.  So I usually msg my friend and ask before I report it.  If they say they haven't created a new FB profile recently and requested my friendship, then I go ahead and report the scammer.


So back to unique FB identities for a second.

Let's say Mary Smith #1 created her FB page a long time ago.  She may have the URL (to her FB page) as something like: https://www.facebook.com/marysmith

And her page (her timeline) will say Mary Smith next to her avatar picture on her FB banner.

When Mary Smith #2 comes along, she won't get the URL that says Mary Smith.  Her URL may even look more like this: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012083678532&fref=jewel

But her page (her timeline) will say Mary Smith next to her own avatar picture on her FB banner.

Let me back up and show you what I see if I search on the name "Laura Bracken".  Here's what I see...


Notice there are four "Laura Bracken" FB accounts right away.  They all have avatar/profile pictures but only two have locations.  Sometimes it isn't easy trying to find someone you really want to find.  People looking for me might not know which one of these I am... unless they knew I live in Penryn, CA.

Anyway, now I'm going to show you how each of these "Laura Bracken" accounts look different.

Here's the URL to my account.


When I started my FB account, there was probably a question asking me what my name is and another one asking me what I want to be known as, or something like that.  (Sorry, I don't feel like creating a fake FB account right now just to demo the process.)

But anyway, you can see, my name (Laura Bracken) shows up next to my avatar, but my URL is something different.

Here are Laura Bracken #2, #3, and #4.  BTW, I'm not exposing anyone's secret info... these profiles are all open to the viewing public.




I'm showing you these four profiles to show you that there can be many "Laura Bracken" FB pages, but we all have unique URLs (the red rectangles).

So what these scammers do is create a new FB account, add YOUR profile photo to their account (photos are easily stolen from the internet... it's as simple as left-click, save as) and give themselves YOUR name.  To the casual observer, it will look like YOUR actual FB page.

To the trained eye, it looks like a scammer if it's a new account (next to nothing on the timeline... no posts) and they don't have many friends (hopefully, they haven't had time to scam too many of your friends yet).

So that's what they do and how you can try to differentiate a real friend request from a scam one.

If you get a friend request from someone you thought you were already FB friends with... HUGE red flag.  Don't just "confirm" their friendship.  Investigate, notify your friend, report the scammer to FB.

Now, lastly I want to show you how you can try to avoid being scammed yourself.

What these scammers want is access to your friends list, so let's just take that away.

The first thing you do is go to your timeline  and click on your FRIENDS tab...


Then click on EDIT PRIVACY...


This brings up a pop-up window.  Use the pull-down menus to select your choices.


Then click DONE.

If you select "Only Me", no one can see your friends list with one exception.  People who are my friends and your friends will be listed as "mutual friends".  So your FB friends will always be able to see who you and they both have friended, but your FB friends will not see anyone who is your friend but not their friend.

I don't know why FB has it set this way, but it's better than nothing.

So there you have it.

If any part of my explanation is wrong or confusing, let me know via comments and I'll see what I can do to fix this.

If this info helps you in any way, let me know via comments.  I love knowing that taking a chunk out of my day to blog stuff like this is actually useful to some people.  :-)

Later!




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Etsy (again), Saddle Rings, Pilbara Jasper

Who has embraced (or gone along with, kicking and screaming) the new Etsy layout/format?

What do you like and not like about it?

I've never been fond of shop banners that take up two-thirds of a computer screen.  We have an option to have no banner, but I've heard the banner is good for mobile use.  I'm sure in time I'll get used to it in time.  There are a few features that I used often that seem to be gone but squawking won't bring them back so I'll just move on.

I think I'm kind of behind in showing you... anything I've made recently.  So I'll start a little backwards.

A friend and wonderful metalsmith came to visit me a month or two back and recommended an online class in "boho rings".  I'd been working with saddle rings for a couple months already so this was the perfect class to learn a few more tips and chat with others working on similar projects.  The class pushed me into etching silver a different way than I had etched it previously.  I'm still experimenting with silver etching and will keep you informed of my progress.

Here are some of the saddle rings I made.  They're much more comfortable that I thought they'd be.  I still have full range of motion while wearing them and they fit the bill for what I'd been wanting to create for myself (I decided I needed to wear louder jewelry when I'm out and about... this is definitely loud jewelry).

http://brackendesigns.com/product/double-dragon-copper-ring-amber-and-silver-accents

http://brackendesigns.com/product/large-zen-garden-sterling-silver-boho-saddle-ring-featuring-changing-color-mood-stone

http://brackendesigns.com/product/medieval-style-large-sterling-silver-boho-saddle-ring-featuring-amber-and-amazonite

And where shall I end today?  Oh, I could tell you about a stone I found intriguing that I'd never heard of before.  It's called Pilbara Jasper.

Here are some examples:


But I have so many stones sitting in the workshop that need to be used before I start buying more.  (Yeah, like THAT'S going to happen!)

So let's get on with our day.  My goal is to (aside from making the rings and bracelets people have already ordered) try to make myself a necklace diffuser for my essential oils collection (which is growing like crazy).


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Making Twisted Wire, My First Silver Saddle Ring, and a Plain Twisted Wire Ring

I made this ring the other day...


... and I was explaining how I intended to use beaded wire around the cabochon, but I couldn't find it.  So I quickly twisted some silver wire and made this.  Which I think ended up looking better anyway.

I also ended up making a quick and dirty YouTube video showing how I "quickly make" twisted wire.  I think it can really add a nice touch as an embellishment (above) or even be cool just as a plain ring (below).


Here's the video...



But now I need to go put the other links on my website since I say "see my website for more jewelry making tips".  Ha ha ha!

If you feel like leaving a quick comment on my YouTube video, here's the link.  Thanks!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Cost of Destash

I was going to bid on something in a Facebook destash group the other day.  It was a $5 item.  I was ready to place my bid and then I checked shipping.

It was $3.50.

I know that the actual postage for that item would be $2.54.

Something inside of me balks at paying an extra dollar to ship something that is an inexpensive destash item.  I hear lots of destash sellers bemoan that they still have handling costs and need to be recouped.  I'm going to disagree (mind you, this is all personal opinion, nothing more).
  • It's destash so the packaging doesn't have to be fancy.  When I ship my own jewelry, I do use nice new jewelry boxes, ribbons, tissue, bubble wrap, etc.  But destash items can usually be shipped with bubble wrap and/or recycled bubble wrap, recycled jewelry boxes, folded cardboard taped closed, etc.
  • You just aren't going to get me to pay 70% of the item's price for shipping/handling.
  • The other day I shared my sources for low cost new supplies (again, you can go recycled for about zero cost).  My total for brand new bubble mailer and brand new cardboard 3x3 jewelry box is $0.42 (see below for my sources).  
  • My logic as a seller of destash items says: "I'd rather suck up the $0.42 postage on every single transaction and make 100 times the transactions as some of my fellow destashers."  After talking with many destash buyers, I see a lot of them agree with me that shipping costs above the bare minimum often dissuade them from initiating a transaction.  In other words, if they see you tacking on $1-2 dollars in "handling" costs, they walk on by.  These are generally really low-priced items we're talking about... most can't justify paying $4 to ship a $2 item.
In the end we all have to do business the way that works best for us.  And through experience, I have learned that I'm much better off selling 95% of my destash and making less profit per transaction than selling 40% of my destash with a little profit padding. 

BTW, if you do want to keep some new shipping supplies on hand for when you run out of recycled packaging, here are my sources.  The costs shown include shipping.

I have Amazon Prime so these bubble mailers come out to $0.12 each:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GHXWI4

As for the boxes, at first glance these seem like a super low price, but these guys add big shipping charges. Interestingly enough, however, even with the shipping charges, it’s lower than anyone else I could find. I order two lots of 100 each and they come to $0.30 per box including their shipping charges: http://www.storesupply.com/pc-13187-1007-cotton-filled-jewelry-boxes-kraft-87403.aspx

Both these items shipped really quickly. Bonus.
If you're interested in seeing what destash group I'm talking about, here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SRAJDdestash/ 

We destash everything related to jewelry making (tools, beads, findings, books, displays, etc). I pretty much list my destash items at garage sale prices. After all, I'm trying to get rid of things so I can get more things. :-)