Your social media posts can be used against you

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For many reasons, it’s a good idea to watch what you post on your social media accounts. One of them is because companies like Airbnb may well be monitoring the habits of its possible renters in order to predict bad behavior.

As more reports have surfaced involving Airbnb renters trashing homes, the company realizes that more screening may be needed to avoid future problems.

Airbnb says it already makes a risk assessment on everyone who fills out an application for a reservation along with a background check. The company explains that they use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate and flag suspicious activity before it happens. But now it seems that this process may not be going far enough.

It has been reported that Airbnb filed a patent last year with the European Patent Office (EPO) for a new technology that will allow it to search the internet in an effort to calculate the risk of someone trashing a host’s home. The patent documents suggest that the technology is for determining the trustworthiness and compatibility of a person along with assessing behavioral and personality traits. Airbnb seems to be downplaying the patent by stating that it acquired the U.S. patent after buying the California-based background check startup Trooly.

There are plenty of platforms out there that track our habits, interests and day-to-day activities on the web. This is the information that is being targeted for scanning purposes and predictive correlation analysis with the “trait analyser” software.

This software is expected to use artificial intelligence to dig through people’s internet posts, including social media activity, to detect illegal activity and scan for traits of narcissism, neuroticism, Machiavellianism or psychopathy.

But some would-be customers are concerned that this type of screening may be too intrusive. Cybersecurity experts are weighing in on the risks of relying upon machine learning in making decisions that would normally be made by humans.

Either way, if we decide to put personal information out there in the public forum, it shouldn’t surprise us that our information could be used in ways we hadn’t intended.

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FAKE TEXT MESSAGES: Several Coeur d’Alene, Hayden and Post Falls readers called or emailed to say they’re receiving text messages that appear to come from FedEx. The message is usually personally addressed to the recipient or simply says Hi Mate and states, “Your FEDEX package with tracking code XX-XXXX-XXXX is waiting for you to set delivery preferences:” Then there is a link to click.

This message is coming from a scammer. Do not click on the link. Delete the message. I received the message and knew it was fake because I am not expecting any packages.

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FTC WARNING: The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to small businesses regarding scam artists who suggest they’re connected to government offices and you should pay them to complete your business registration. The mailings look like an official bill for documents to complete your registration and may even include what appears to be an official government seal.

To further convince you to pay up, the mailing may include your business ID number and urge you to hurry up and pay or you will be in legal trouble.

The FTC states these mailers are not from the government and the paperwork they are talking about probably doesn’t need to be completed or if it does, you can do it yourself. At best, these companies are overcharging you for services that are free or at worst, they’re trying to steal your money or account information.

Let employees in your organization know about this scam and have clear procedures in place to approve all expenditures. If you’re being asked to pay with a wire transfer, reloadable card, gift card or bitcoin, it is more than likely a scam so avoid it. If you believe you’ve encountered one of these scams, report it at www.ftc.gov/complaint

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a full-time copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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