Beware: Phone Scammers Are Posing as Equifax Reps

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iStock

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the recent Equifax data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 143 million people. After trying to assuage customers by offering ID and credit score monitoring, the company came under fire when they tried to insert some fine print in the monitoring agreement that waived a consumer’s right to sue as a result of the stolen data. Then, the company admitted the hackers had gained entry via a security issue that had a patch available—Equifax just hadn’t bothered to implement it.

The latest issue: On September 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a warning on their blog cautioning consumers to be mindful of phone scammers posing as Equifax representatives.

“It’s a scam,” FTC employee Lisa Weintraub Schifferle writes. “Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”

Schifferle advises that anyone receiving a call from someone posing as an Equifax employee hang up immediately, even if your caller ID indicates it’s genuine. (Spoof numbers can mimic virtually any business.)

Unfortunately, that’s not all victims of the breach have to worry about. CBS News reports that information mined from the hack could be used in a scam to file tax returns and receive a refund—the person with the compromised identity won’t know it until he or she files their real return and is told it’s already been processed. If this happens, it's best to phone the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338) for advice on how to proceed.

Experts are also asking consumers to be on guard against “spear-phishing,” the practice of sending emails that appear to be from banks or other businesses that have enough of your personal information to look legitimate. Clicking through might open the door to malware that can steal even more of your data. It’s best to initiate contact with financial institutions yourself and avoid clicking on any links. When it comes to your financial and personal information, a little paranoia can go a long way.

[h/t Lifehacker]

You Can Buy an Extinct Volcano in Devon, England, for $60,000

People buy private islands, so why not buy a private volcano? Posbury Clump, a 250-million-year-old inactive volcano located in Devon, England, could be yours for the seemingly reasonable price of about $60,0000.

As Smithsonian reports, the volcano is 500 feet tall at its peak and surrounded by 4.9 acres of woodland (holly, oak, and ash trees), so you get sweeping views of the English countryside. The wooded outcrop and rolling hills make Posbury Clump look less like a volcano and more like a forest. Architects used the basalt stone from a former on-site quarry to build two of the area's most famous structures: Crediton Church and Medland Manor.

Because of its unique potassium-rich lava and other rare geological features, Posbury Clump has been designated a site of scientific interest, and as such has been formally marked for conservation.

Currently, only a few houses reside in the area, but Posbury—settled during the Iron Age, between about 800 BCE and AD 100—once housed convent Posbury St Francis, which was a part of the Posbury Clump estate. Those interested in possibly purchasing the volcano can contact agent Jackson-Stops. The cost is £50,000, or around $60,800, which is about what you'd pay to rent a studio apartment in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood for one year.

Just remember: If you do buy the volcano, you won't be the first person to purchase such a thing. According to Atlas Obscura, famed cartoonist-turned-oddities-collector Robert Ripley tried to purchase Parícutin (a baby volcano that suddenly sprung up from a cornfield in Mexico) in 1943, but was beaten to the punch by muralist Gerardo Murillo. Several individuals have privately owned New Zealand's active Whakaari volcano, and people privately own volcanoes in California and Oregon, too.

Reality Bites: A Humongous Tick That Chases Its Prey Has Been Found in the Netherlands

ironman100/iStock via Getty Images
ironman100/iStock via Getty Images

Humans have long been discouraged from tolerating the parasitic behavior of the tick. These pathogen-ridden arachnids latch onto their hosts for a blood buffet while transmitting a variety of diseases through their bites. Typically, ticks in infested areas wait for their hosts to stand or pass by and hope a bare leg presents itself.

But not all ticks are so passive. In the Netherlands, there have been reported sightings of Hyalomma marginatum, a kind of Andre the Giant of ticks that are twice the size of a more common species, Ixodes ricinus (sheep tick). Worse, they don’t sit idle. If they want to bite you, they’ll run after you.

The non-native species has been spotted twice in the past month. One was in Drenthe, a province in the northeastern part of the country, and the other was found in Achterhoek. They measure up to 0.2 inches but can grow to 0.7 inches when engorged with the blood of their hosts. The ticks are known to hide in brush. When they spot a potential meal, they run toward it. H. marginatum can detect a victim from up to 30 feet away and track it for 10 minutes before abandoning pursuit.

The species is typically found in northern Africa and Asia as well as parts of southern and eastern Europe. How did they get to the Netherlands? Researchers theorize they hitchhiked on migratory birds. And while their appearances have been scarce, they’re still a cause for concern. H. marginatum is known to harbor the virus that causes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which lists uncontrolled bleeding among its undesirable symptoms. The ticks, which were collected for analysis, tested negative for that disease but one was positive for the bacteria Rickettsia aeschlimannii, which causes spotted fever.

There have been no sightings of H. marginatum in the U.S., but native ticks remain a perpetual concern. If you’re outdoors, it’s always a good idea to monitor yourself for ticks and take steps to remove them safely.

[h/t LiveScience]

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