Founder | Online Privacy, Safety & CyberSecurity | Host of @EasyPreyPodcast Scam and Fraud Prevention
If your reputation or the reputation of your business gets trashed online, it can have a lasting impact. But there are things that you can do today to limit the impact of negative online statements about you and some of them are easier than you might expect.  Our guest today is Chris Silver Smith. Chris is the CEO of Argent Media, a marketing agency focused heavily on reputation management where Chris helps people clean up their reputations in search engines. Chris has also served as an expert witness in defamation lawsuits in state and federal court. In his long time column at Search Engine Land, he has advocated for reputation victims. Show Notes: [1:00] - Chris started his career in internet marketing and designing. He also worked for Verizon for many years and eventually made his way into researching and developing SEO (search engine optimization). [2:28] - After working for Verizon, he moved on to working for SEO companies and became intrigued by reputation management which was predicted to be fast-growing. [3:37] - Reputation management is compelling to Chris because of the personal stories that get involved with it. [4:20] - Reputation management could mean helping companies whose CEOs may have made a social media mistake or even smaller companies who have negative reviews. [5:48] - Chris shares a story about a CEO who was accused of many things by an escort and truly had not done the things he was accused of. [6:50] - Sometimes the bad reputation is because of actual unwise decisions that people have made. [7:35] - Chris says that his most memorable personal case was a porn revenge situation who was a trafficking victim. Chris wound up working as an expert witness for free. [9:30] - The woman did eventually get away from her harasser and he followed through with his threats of ruining her reputation. But she won the lawsuit and felt that her negative reputation was completely created by her harasser. [10:40] - There are more common reputation management cases that Chris has seen several times, such as college or high school students getting in trouble with the police. [11:21] - When I say reputation management, usually that means something bad appears when you google someone’s name. [12:33] - Chris has dealt many times with fake mugshot sites that post mugshots and charge a fee for people to take them down. [13:45] - After Google de-optimized these mugshot sites, it is easier to take these posts down with Chris’s help. [15:39] - There’s so much out there and it is so easy to defame people on the internet. [17:11] - Chris references the story of the sex trafficking victim to answer how some of these reputation management victims don’t care about the money. They really want their reputation cleared and prove that the accusations are false. [20:10] - People who have had their reputation damaged or attacked often have a really severe emotional response to it and are referred to counseling. [21:20] - People are surprised at how easy it is for their reputation to suddenly become tarnished. [22:24] - It is important to know the difference between your public persona and a private one and curate what you put up publicly. Maintaining this can come in handy when your reputation is attacked. [23:34] - Chris shares a story about a competitor who purchased the domain name for his new business and how he was able to amicably solve the problem. [26:04] - A strong online presence is a good idea. You should have a personal website and periodically Google your name. [26:50] - Chris recommends using Tumblr, Flickr, and YouTube under your name that could help create an online presence that would show up in the search results. [28:31] - Even informal stuff is great for basic SEO. Use your name as often as you can. [29:00] - It may feel like you’re overhyping yourself, but that’s optimization. Search engines work off text. [30:02] - Facebook is great because you can have a personal page for friends and family but can simultaneously have a business page. [31:47] - Chris shares many examples of common mistakes people make when video and audio is being recorded. [32:50] - Remember that every single thing you do publicly now is likely to be recorded and can be uploaded either on purpose or accidentally. [33:10] - Chris shares a story of employees who were connected to a man who ran a cult. They disclosed it and moved on. [35:02] - Chris’s wife’s name is Karen and now there are many memes and negativity surrounding the name. [36:51] - There are quite a few businesses out there that accidentally get sucked into the news because of their names when they really have no connection. Chris calls this name collision. [38:39] - There is a cost with fixing a damaged reputation and sometimes it is less costly to change names and move on. [39:47] - Chris has worked cases with restaurant chains that has actually resulted in some policy change within the companies. [42:32] - It is better to get ahead of the curve if you can. [43:40] - It is good to go ahead and claim your name for a personal webpage and on social media in case you ever need it. Prepare and protect your reputation upfront instead of fixing it later on. Thanks for joining us on Easy Prey. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review.  Links and Resources: Podcast Web Page Facebook Page Easy Prey on Instagram Easy Prey on Twitter Easy Prey on LinkedIn Easy Prey on YouTube Easy Prey on Pinterest Chris Silver Smith on Twitter Argent Media Search Engine Land Chris Silver Smith on LinkedIn Chris Silver Smith Web Page
Conspiracy theories are all crazy, right? Well, maybe not. There’s some history as to why so many people believe in them. What we really need is a conspiracy theory detection kit and that’s what we have in today’s episode. Our guest today is Dr. Michael Shermer. Dr. Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine, the host of the Science Salon Podcast, and a presidential fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. For 18 years he was a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Why People Believe Weird Things and his latest book is Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist. Show Notes: [1:40] - Dr. Shermer’s magazine is called Skeptic Magazine which is devoted to teaching critical thinking skepticism and scientific reasoning. [2:03] - None of us are omniscient. We can’t know anything with certainty. Most of the decisions we make in life are made with uncertainty. So how best should we best make decisions? [2:39] - For centuries, we have developed methods, tools, and technology to help us with this problem of uncertainty. [4:47] - Finding the cause of something has many variables and once you start getting into economics and politics, things get messy. [5:50] - It is important to separate the correlation between seemingly cause and effect relationships. Dr. Shermer uses the fraudulent connection between vaccines and autism to demonstrate. [7:48] - The curse of knowledge is the Hindsight Bias. After the fact, it is clear what should have been done, but at the time it wasn’t clear. Dr. Shermer shares several great historical events as examples of this. [9:27] - There’s let something happen on purpose and make something happen on purpose and it is unfair to place blame on others using the Hindsight Bias. [11:40] - There is a difference between conspiracy and conspiracy theory. A conspiracy is something that actually happened and a conspiracy theory is the idea that there is something that is happening. [12:08] - The main reason people believe conspiracy theories are true is because many shocking conspiracies have actually happened. They are not so far out of the realm of possibility. [12:55] - It is not completely crazy to think that something will happen because historically something similar has happened. Dr. Shermer uses examples from the Kennedy administration. [14:49] - Another reason people are quick to believe conspiracy theories is because of the messiness of the world. Our brains are wired to try to simplify things. [15:39] - Money is a proxy for power and a lot of people believe that these people who have power are actually more powerful than they are. For example, Bill Gates is the center of some conspiracy theories, but in reality, what power does he actually have? [16:10] - This is not unreasonable for people to believe because there have been powerful people with money who have rigged the system. [16:58] - It is easier to believe that horrific things that happen in the world are controlled by a small group of people. This is an example of the human brain trying to simplify things. [17:17] - The fact is, nobody is running the world. And in a way, that is scary. [18:27] - The more people that have to be involved, the less likely the conspiracy is true. People don’t typically keep secrets and have big mouths. [19:56] - Dr. Shermer uses a 9/11 conspiracy theory as an example of how crazy the theory sounds due to its complexity. [21:05] - Some conspiracy theories are harmless, but many can be harmful. [22:40] - An example of a dangerous conspiracy theory is the one surrounding Hitler’s rise to power. Hitler’s initial platform was spreading the conspiracy theory that the only reason they lost the first world war was because they were stabbed in the back by the Jewish community. [23:25] - People are very confused about the term freedom. You have to give up certain freedoms for security. [24:54] - The United States and Italy are examples of countries with a loose culture. This means that they are not rigidly following guidelines and the spread of COVID-19 is rapid in nations like this. [27:12] - Chris and Dr. Shermer discuss the title of Dr. Shermer’s new book Giving the Devil His Due which was inspired by the play A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt. [29:12] - The book is a series of essays on the theme of free speech. [29:27] - The only way to make sure you haven’t gone off the rails and believe things that aren’t true is to interact with people who think differently from you. This gets you out of a bubble and gives you a better ability to make your own decisions and form your own opinions. [29:58] - Dr. Shermer is concerned about the lack of diversity in ideas and opinions within politics. [31:00] - The new book has had mostly positive reviews. [32:12] - Even scientists need critical review. This helps us determine if we should be skeptical. [33:27] - It is important to know and understand the arguments behind a differing opinion from your own. [35:04] - Dr. Shermer predicts that there will be many changes and feels that this is not always a bad thing. Some changes will be good and bad. [38:01] - Dr. Shermer offers tons of free content on his website and also offers courses for more information. You can find them in the links and resources. Thanks for joining us on Easy Prey. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review.  Links and Resources: Podcast Web Page Facebook Page Easy Prey on Instagram Easy Prey on Twitter Easy Prey on LinkedIn Easy Prey on YouTube Easy Prey on Pinterest Michael Shermer Web Page Skeptic Salon Podcast Skeptic Magazine Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist by Michael Shermer Michael Shermer on Facebook Michael Shermer on Twitter Skeptic Magazine on YouTube    
Long gone are the days of companies giving away coolers on college campuses when students would sign up for high-interest credit cards. Unfortunately, there are still sneaky promotions, fine print, and ways these companies take advantage of unsuspecting customers.  Our guest today is Sara Rathner. Sara is a NerdWallet travel and credit cards expert. She appeared on the Today Show, Nasdaq, and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report and has been quoted in Yahoo Finance, Time, Business Insider, and MarketWatch. She’s held a total of 23 credit cards using travel reward points to see the world on a budget. A proud Northwestern University alum, she also has a certificate in financial planning from Boston University. She’s here today to talk about personal finance scams and how to manage your credit cards. Show Notes: [1:40] - Sara’s passion is personal finance and people reach out to her to ask questions. She really wants finances to be empowering and not scary. [3:04] - Chris remembers the days when he was in college seeing booths of credit card companies setting college students up with credit cards. Sara explains the Card Act that changed the law to protect young adults. [4:31] - There are times when your credit limit can really help you in a bind. [5:10] - Sara recommends everyone read the fine print of every credit card you apply for, even though it is not enjoyable to do so. You can find all this information before you even fill out an application. [6:06] - You want to find a card that provides greater value than its annual cost. You want to find a card that has rewards that you will actually redeem and use. [6:32] - The credit card industry is seeing a lot of change due to the pandemic. [7:29] - Sara explains how revolving credit accounts work and where credit card balances can get dicey. [9:14] - If you pay your credit card bills every month rather than the minimum payment, you won’t deal with interest. [10:00] - Chris shares an experience of reading the fine print on a store credit card application that claimed to be interest-free for the first 12 months. Sara confirms how that works and cautions people to know that fine print. [12:30] - Interest rates are negotiable to an extent. [13:11] - Missing a payment is huge. Many cards have late fees and a late payment could hit your credit score by 100 points or more overnight. [14:05] - The thing that you need or want now is great, but if it causes you long term financial struggle, oftentimes it wasn’t worth it in the first place. [15:23] - Sara recommends for those really large purchases to save up money rather than taking on the stress of debt if you can. [16:30] - There are a lot of recent scams, specifically small business loans and unemployment insurance, that are popping up after the pandemic caused people to lose their job and reliable income. [19:05] - Sara recommends going directly to the government agencies that offer financial assistance during this time and never to go to an outside source no matter how legitimate they appear. [20:58] - Sara shares an experience with a credit card company contacting her about a problem with her account and asked her for her credit card number to verify. She refused and called the number on the back of her card to make sure. [23:13] - Any time you are trying to buy and sell items on platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, be very careful because there are scams there, too. [26:07] - It is much more important to be careful and seem paranoid than take a risk. You’re dealing with strangers so their opinion doesn’t matter. [28:06] - Chris and Sara discuss sketchy ways scammers try to snag you. But there are legitimate credit repair resources online and many of them are free. NerdWallet is an excellent resource. [29:49] - It takes a few months for positive behaviors to show up on your credit reports, so if you stick with it you will be rewarded. [30:27] - NerdWallet is your financial best friend that has tons of great articles and calculators. Check out the app and website. [31:01] - Sara shares her most valuable piece of advice for those who think they have been a victim of a scam, including a website to report potential scams. Thanks for joining us on Easy Prey. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review.  Links and Resources: Podcast Web Page Facebook Page Easy Prey on Instagram Easy Prey on Twitter Easy Prey on LinkedIn Easy Prey on YouTube Easy Prey on Pinterest Sara Rathner on NerdWallet Sara Rathner on Twitter NerdWallet on Twitter NerdWallet Web Page NerdWallet on Facebook NerdWallet on Instagram Report a Potential Scam  
To what extremes are you willing to go for complete privacy and security? No one takes privacy as seriously as today’s guest, John McAfee. John McAfee is known for founding McAfee Antivirus, being a crypto currency evangelist and a privacy activist. In this episode, John shares the lengths he goes to protect his own privacy with significant unexpected costs. John lives and plays by his own rules and this interview is no exception. If you are sensitive to profanity, I suggest that you head over to for a clean transcript. Listen on to find out how John maintains his extremely private lifestyle. Show Notes: [1:12] - John McAfee begins explaining the precautions he takes to keep his privacy safe by stating that he and his wife do not own cell phones. [1:39] - Even with a brand new mobile phone, when you call just three people, a government could find you and John explains how cell phones are susceptible to spyware. [2:05] - John also explains that he lives in a faraday cage, which blocks signals from coming in and out of the room. It is also sound proof. [2:52] - John also has a very serious VPN that goes through 9 different countries to ensure his privacy. [4:41] - While on trips and vacations, John and his wife take many pictures but don’t post them immediately. This keeps people guessing where they actually are at any given time. [5:42] - John also adds bogus information to photos that are posted, like varying dates. [7:19] - Chris asks John how he feels about Tor and John explains that it was infiltrated by the CIA so it isn’t possible to have any privacy or anonymity. [9:13] - If it is advertised at all, it is something that is owned by somebody and there is no privacy there. [10:09] - John explains that the only secure email out there is Google and it is also not very secure either. [10:37] - Google never trusts anybody. As long as they get their money, they’re happy and they’ll give you what privacy they can, given the constraints of reality. [10:58] - If you want any privacy at all, there’s no way to do that other than Gmail. [11:40] - John explains that he does not have a bank account or credit cards. He strictly uses cryptocurrency only, including large purchases like homes and cars. [12:50] - He is also particular on what cryptocurrency he uses and does not suggest using large or older companies like Bitcoin. [14:07] - Bitcoin specifically is easily tracked and can be followed. [15:00] - The newer cryptocurrency companies are much better about keeping your information safe and private. [17:54] - John explains how when moving from country to country, he has multiple legal passports. [19:56] - Because he is frequently recognized when he’s with his wife, they split up when traveling and meet up later. He wears hats, hoodies, various glasses, and due to Covid-19, masks.  [21:40] - John also makes sure to lie to his friends and family as well so that his location at any given time is not revealed. [24:01] - John explains how the costs of good privacy are very steep. [25:06] - How important is this level of privacy to the average person? John doesn’t advise this lifestyle for anybody. But for John and his wife Janice, it is critical. [25:50] - Striking a balance is tough, specifically if you own a smartphone. [27:45] - All this possible tracking done by smart phones is granted access by the actual user. You sign up to be spied on. [29:21] - John feels that he has to live the way he does in order to not be silenced by government agencies who don’t want him spreading what he knows to be the truth. [31:50] - John founded his computer security company by understanding the reality of the world. [34:04] - When asked about Julian Assange, John says, “A hero is someone capable of accomplishing.” John says Assange and Snowden are both very smart but were not prepared. [35:41] - John has been arrested 21 times in 11 different countries but because of how he chooses to live in private seclusion, he is free to speak out. Thanks for joining us on Easy Prey. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review.  Links and Resources: Podcast Web Page Facebook Page Easy Prey on Instagram Easy Prey on Twitter Easy Prey on LinkedIn Easy Prey on YouTube Easy Prey on Pinterest John McAfee on Twitter
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