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Fast Tips On How To Grow The Numbers Of Your Instagram Followers

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No 4G for the Moment, but 2013 Promises Great Things for British Consumers

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Mac Security Hype

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Starting out as a Webdesigner

This article is aimed at giving some rudimentary tips and guidelines which help in making a website designing business a successful one. Starting off a new business is as critical as it More »

Smaller alternatives

QuickTime-Alternative

There seems to be a tendency in the IT industry of applications increasing in both size and resource usage with every new version that’s released.In some instances such increases are unavoidable however often it seems to be a case of lazy programming as old versions are rehashed by having new bits ‘bolted on’ rather that some thought being put in to rewriting the code efficiently from scratch.It’s in instances like this that I start to look for an alternative and fortunately for every oversized application you can practically guarantee that someone has come up with an application designed to function in the same way but with a smaller footprint.

Time and time again I suggest AVG as an alternative to some of the bloated anti-virus checkers out there but thought today I would touch on some other applications which haven’t been given enough coverage.

Quicktime Alternative – Unless you configure it correctly, Quicktime has a habit of becoming both intrusive and resource hungry.Whilst some of the less used features of its bloated relative will be absent, this alternative is almost half the size and doesn’t suffer any reduced functionality as a Quicktime file player.You may not think it but the MOV format is actually surprisingly common both on the Internet and on many digital cameras so sooner or later you will need a suitable player.

Realplayer Alternative – You may find that you are required to have Realplayer installed when you come across a website which has embedded RealMedia content.Your browser will of course point you in the direction of the larger and more resource hungry official player however, as you would expect, this alternative does exactly the same job.

Foxit Reader – Adobe Acrobat is actually one of the applications that I despise the most - I’m not sure if it’s just bad luck but I’ve found it incredibly slow and unstable on every computer I’ve ever installed it on.Having a PDF reader on your computer is absolutely necessary; these files which are designed for transmitting documents complete with layout and images have a habit of cropping up everywhere.The Foxit reader runs like greased lighting and is would appear to be a great deal more stable than the official Adobe release.

Firefox – We’ve covered this one a dozen times before.This free, faster, more functional and more secure alternative to the fantastically bloated piece of software going by the name of Internet Explorer is absolutely essential.

Media Player Classic – Whilst this application looks like it is almost two decades old, it’s possibly one of the most comprehensive media players and is designed as an alternative to Windows Media Player which ships with Windows.Consisting of a 2mb download, Media Player Classic doesn’t even need installing - it consists of one file that you run whenever you want to use the application.It is best used when in conjunction with the Realplayer and Quicktime alternatives previously mentioned as with these three installed on your machine you will be able to play practically any format using the one player.

Rather than giving URL’s for each individual application, you’re probably best using a site such as www.freewarefiles.com to locate and download them.It goes without saying that all of the above are free of charge and don’t include anything suspicious such as Adware or Spyware.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

TrueCrypt

truecrypt

Something that I haven’t given a huge amount of thought to in the past is the subject of encryption.This was until the subject was bought up today by a customer of mine who was considering the purchase of a USB Flash Drive but explained it was to replace one that he had mislaid which unfortunately contained a number of confidential files.

USB Flash Drives aren’t really like floppy discs of days gone by; with a floppy disc you were limited to the amount of data you could possibly lose if you misplaced it.A modern day 32GB drive would equate to the equivalent of almost 23,000 floppy discs worth of information precariously stored on a keyring sized device; this represents a huge amount of data which could easily end up in the wrong hands.

The need for encryption doesn’t stop with flash pens; those that hold particularly sensitive information on their computers may like to encrypt a particular file or drive, so that if the machine is stolen the data contained within will be rendered essentially useless.

As a result of these valid concerns I have been testing encryption software with the intention that I could recommend a suitable application for Click readers in order that they can protect any confidential data.I settled on TrueCrypt which is an open source application that can be obtained via a tiny 2.5MB download free of charge from www.truecrypt.org.

Whilst TrueCrypt is incredibly easy to install, I found that things quickly start to get a little trickier once you actually start using the application and as such I would recommend skimming over the rather thick user guide before getting started.The application has been designed by people passionate about security and this is evident in the fact that you are actually given options as to the way you would like things encrypted and the strength of the cipher.

Some other applications that I tried didn’t get you as involved in the process but as a result they also didn’t give you such a high level of control.I personally quite enjoyed the ‘Plausible Deniability’ feature which allows you to set up a dummy password which would unlock the drive but give a false indication that there was in fact nothing stored on it.The idea behind this is that should you be held at gunpoint (!) or possibly more dangerously, forced by the wife, to reveal your secrets then you could easily get yourself off the hook.

You have several choices as to how you encrypt your data.You can of course completely encrypt the drive so that you have to supply a password to access any of your files but additionally you are able to create a smaller encrypted virtual partition.Setting up an encrypted partition means you can use the drive normally for files that you don’t need protecting but then store any confidential information in the smaller, encrypted partition.

When working with Flash Drives you have the option of installing a small decrypting application so that you can then read the files on any other machine; you simply insert the flash drive in to the machine, enter your password and your files are then visible and ready to be worked on.

As a word of warning, there is no workaround should you happen to lose your password; once your files are encrypted they are going to stay that way until the correct password is used to unlock them.You could attempt to circumvent the password by setting an application in motion to brute force crack the encryption but this could take hundreds, thousands or even millions of years depending on the level of protection employed.Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Home design CAD

home-sweet-home-3d

I must be one of the only mugs buying a house at the moment; this is at a time where the majority of other prospective buyers are running for the hills due to the current economic climate.To make matters more interesting I also made an offer before the property officially came on to the market so I was unfortunately unable to use some generic comment regarding the apparent ‘recession’ in order to leverage the price.Anyway, my foolhardy attitude aside, I am now faced with the task of becoming an interior designer and rather predictably felt that we had to get a computer involved somewhere along the way.

Last year I reviewed Google SketchUp for Click and thought that I’d give it another spin before decided it was possibly a little bit too complicated for the relatively simple room designs that I wanted to create.I was looking for something more along the line of the basic CAD (Computer Aided Design) applications that members of the public are allowed to use in stores such as IKEA.After a little searching I stumbled across a free of charge, open source application called ‘Sweet Home 3D’ which seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

There are several different versions of the software available, including those for Linux and Mac Operating Systems however most users will probably be interested in the 25mb Windows version which can be downloaded free of charge from https://sweethome3d.sourceforge.net.Interestingly there is also a Java version which runs directly from any Java compatible Internet browser therefore removing the need for an initial download and installation.

As the name suggests, this program is primarily aimed towards those looking to do an element of interior home design; it isn’t a fully blown CAD package.What makes it so easy to use is that you simply give it the dimensions of your room(s) so you can get the walls in the right places, then it is just a case of dropping in objects such as bathtubs, beds and kitchen units.All your furniture is separated in to different categories such as ‘kitchen’, ‘bathroom’ and ‘bedroom’ which makes selecting the correct item incredibly easy.Over fifty pieces of furniture come in the initial installation but there are literally hundreds of additional 3D models can be downloaded free of charge which range from a telephone point to a spiral staircase.

The size and colour of the items are easily adapted so whilst you may not be able to find something that closely matches the sofa on page 5 of the DFS catalogue you should get a fair approximation.When you’re happy with your 2D design you are then able to switch to a 3D view in order that you can get an idea as to how it will look in real life.

Whilst Sweet Home 3D isn’t at all comprehensive when compared to other CAD packages, this is also what makes it special.Unlike an application such as AutoCAD, it should take literally minutes to get to grips with rather than taking you three months to learn and costing you hundreds.Those looking for something advanced will probably be disappointed but those looking to quickly knock up a room design or a floor plan should find this application ideal.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

AVG 8.0

avg-8

I always know when AVG release a new version of their fantastic free anti-virus software as it usually results in a torrent of abuse being launched towards me by my readership - “you said this software was free and now it’s asking me for money or it’ll stop working.”

Now, I must admit that it is true that whenever a new version of AVG is released and an old version is discontinued, they do try and push users down the route of buying the more advanced package.I don’t blame them for this as everybody needs to make money, however those that actually bother reading the message will see that there is still a free option available.It is this version, AVG 8, which I will be reviewing today.

I have always pitched AVG as being the anti-virus checker that my readers should be using and amazingly the best thing about this application ISN’T the fact that it’s free - In actual fact there are plenty of reasons that you would want to use AVG even if you had to pay for it.

My favourite feature of the application is its non intrusive nature; it silently gets on with it - In my opinion there is nothing worse than a virus checker that gets you too involved and prevents you from getting along with the job in hand.Everything is done in the background so you want have to be involved if you rather understandably don’t want to be; it will update itself and even perform full system scans without you ever realising and then, if it finds a virus it will efficiently dispose of it.

Install and forget is a nice philosophy and beats gigantic boated pieces of software such as Norton Internet Security which prompt you every 15 seconds about problems that you wish it would just work out for itself; I’ve never understood a virus scanner which will actually ask me if I want to remove a virus it has found.In my eyes this is a stupid question - why would I voluntarily keep something that is liable to wipe my hard drive and provide me with months of extra unpaid work?

Version 8 improves on the background scanning of the previous AVG application and provides new and quite possibly overdue Spyware protection, along with a handy LinkScanner feature.The latter is a new component which provides you with a quick graphical evaluation of a sites perceived safety before you visit it whenever you do an Internet search in an engine such as Google.It works by taking the findings of those that use the AVG toolbar by warning you via a small graphical link if a site that appears in your search results is likely to be malicious.

Updates are provided free of charge for the life of the product and of course all the usual features such as e-mail scanning and resident shield are provided and turned on by default.

In terms of installation, the application is a 45.6mb download which can be obtained by visiting https://free.grisoft.com– It is worrying to see such the size has growth significantly from AVG 7.5’s 16mb footprint but this is still much smaller than many other virus checkers on the market.After advice given to me by our resident techie who resides upstairs from Refresh at Switch Computer Support, I would recommend removing AVG 7 before installing version 8 as by all accounts the installation program does sometimes simply ‘forget’ to remove the old version first which can cause problems.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Technology Flops #2

os2-warp

Last week I started looking at some technologies which, after having started life with such a potentially promising future, were quickly consigned to the history books.Along with the infamous Microsoft Bob application and Smart Appliances such as a fridge that connects to the Internet we had the formats HD DVD, Minidisc, DAT Tapes and of course Betamax.As you’d expect, I’ve saved the best until last.

OS/2

Originally a joint venture between IBM and Microsoft in 1987, things in the first few years looked optimistic with Microsoft publically insisting that OS/2 was the future.This was until the release of Windows 3.0 which sold extremely well due to the Operating System being bundled with many PC’s – OS/2 on the other hand was considered an expensive alternative.

As you’d imagine, their marriage hit the rocks and IBM went alone.In 1992, they released OS/2 2.0 which they touted as being “a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows” before rebranding the following version 3 as OS/2 Warp in an attempt to highlight the new performance benefits.OS/2 Warp 4.0 was released around the same time as Windows 95 and included several impressive technologies such as speech recognition.It was however the last widely distributed version of OS/2 before IBM admitted defeat and stopped marketing the OS to individual users.

The reasons for its demise are multiple; most prominently was that Windows was bundled with most computer systems, many users didn’t see the need to replace it or even realised that they had a choice in the matter.A comparatively small user base raised issues such as poor driver support for non-IBM hardware; a problem for those interested in adopting the OS.

Failed Dot-Coms

What a fantastic time the 90’s must have been for entrepreneurs.Quite simply, you think up a half-baked idea involving the Internet, don’t even worry about the part of the business plan that talks about how you’re going to make a profit, and someone, somewhere is likely spend millions taking a punt on you.

Virtual Reality

The principal of virtual reality has always excited me; the idea is that through the use of hardware such as some special goggles and gloves, you can instantly be transported to an immersive 3D world.I’d imagine nothing substantial has ever developed is a combination of concerns over the cost of the equipment, coupled with the fact that nothing marketed so far has been substantial enough to justify investment by the home user.

Whether virtual reality has a future of not is unclear; to me it seems odd that we still play computer games on the same flat screens as we did decades ago but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a killer alternative on the horizon.

eBooks

I have mentioned them before in the past and whilst the idea is fantastic and indeed environmentally friendly it doesn’t seem like the world is ready for them just yet.A lack of high quality, affordable readers and the fact that most prefer the reassuring feel of paper has meant their adoption in the marketplace has been very slow indeed.

Speech Recognition

This technology suffers from a combination of technical difficulties and the fact that, quite simply you look like an idiot when you use it.Whilst those with disabilities may find the technology helpful, the rest of us should just learn to use a keyboard; it’s faster, you won’t have to worry about background noise and most importantly the entire room won’t necessarily need to hear the abusive letter you’re writing to your bank manager.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Technology Flops

microsoft-bob

I’m not sure if it’s possible to feel sorry for a format, but if it is then I think I might actually feel sorry for the HD DVD standard; after living such a short life it has been consigned to the history books having been trounced by the technically superior BluRay format.In order to ease the pain I thought it might help to take a look at some other technologies that the future looked so promising for, but in reality they failed so spectacularly:

Microsoft Bob – I have only used Microsoft Bob once in my life before immediately deleting it from the PC it came bundled with way back in 1995; by my estimation this would have made me thirteen.Bob was an application which sat on top of your existing Windows installation and was designed for making simple tasks such as deleting a file or writing a letter easier for the non technical user.Unfortunately I don’t think it really appealed to any particular demographic hence disappointing sales figures and the application was scrapped before Windows 98 was released.

The cartoon graphics and constant sound effects imply that it was designed for kids, but this is flawed as most kids actually know how to use a computer.Likewise, the average user who simply wasn’t technically savvy would find the application condescending - no one needs a cartoon elephant telling them how’s best to write a letter to their solicitor.By eliminating these two target markets we are left with a demographic of possibly simple people who both don’t know how to use a computer but are willing to take lessons from a series of annoying cartoon animations.These animations were persistent, annoying and don’t allow the user to do anything without their supervision.

Minidisc – Whilst it couldn’t really be considered a total flop, the Minidisc standard which was introduced by Sony in 1992 never really gave the Compact Disc a real run for its money.I think the reason for this is that for most users the format didn’t really offer any real advantages, and compared to the rapidly decreasing cost of CD-R discs it represented a sizable investment.Even to this day I can’t see any reason why the Minidisc standard was created in the first place and certainly how it managed to achieve the sales it did.

DAT Tapes – The Digital Audio Tape was designed by Sony to replace the old analogue cassette tapes back in the mid 1980’s.Owing to concerns in the industry over the ease that users could pirate DAT takes, along with an early user adoption of the recently released CD standard, the format suffered a short existence outside of the professional recording studio scene.

Betamax – We all know this story so I won’t go in to great detail.Whilst Betamax was technically superior to the VHS standard, it was a casualty of one of the first format wars.Betamax was introduced in 1975 and represents another failed Sony format - I’m certain they’ll be relieved at the BluRay format they so prolifically backed has come out on top this time.

Smart appliances – How would you fancy a fridge that monitors its contents and then takes it upon itself to order more milk off the Internet when you’re running low?These kinds of appliances create a real buzz at the trade shows, but in reality I’d genuinely take myself out in to the ‘big blue room’ by walking twenty metres to the garage down the road.

More than anything I’d be worried that I’d chuck something out that I didn’t like and then in a panic it would assume that I’d eaten it and order me more whilst I was down the pub.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Wii Fit

wii-fit

With all the talk of video games corrupting the minds and bodies of youngsters it’s nice to see Nintendo taking a completely different direction to video gaming in the form of their ‘Wii’ console which I previewed last year just before it was released in the UK.The unique selling point behind this console is that rather than relying on the conventional video games controller, the Wii interacts through various movements that the user makes in real life.

The basic package comes with a ‘Wii remote’ and ‘nunchuck’ – these are held in either hand then your hand movements get translated in to on screen actions.In the mini games supplied with the console these actions are used to simulate playing a game of tennis, ten pin bowling, golf or cricket.

The combination of movement and cute characters lead to an experience that is a lot more innocent and physically involving than usually seen.I’m not the kind of person who tries to pin the problems of our society of computer games and videos, however it is refreshing to see that the majority of titles for this console are physically involving, non violent and not to mention sociable games that encourage the entire family to play together.

Just recently whilst shopping we decided to treat ourselves to a new game called ‘Wii Fit’ which through the use of a supplied ‘balance board’adds a whole new twist to the way that you use your console.Although not cheap at £69.99, the board allows the game to detect your actual weight along with monitoring how you are standing or moving at any given point in time.By using these readings along with some user supplied information such as height it is able to determine your BMI (Body Mass Index) and put you though your paces with various training exercises.Your performance and weight will be monitored as you use the board so that over time you can work on improving your BMI and Wii Fitness Age.

The activities that Wii Fit will have you performing fall in to four categories; Aerobic Exercise, Muscle Conditioning, Yoga Poses and Balance Games.The activities within these categories include but are not limited to the following – Snowboarding, Step Aerobics, Tightrope Walking, Push Ups, Boxing, Jogging, Ski Jumping, Lunges and soccer headers.The difficulty of these activities increase as and when the game feels you are ready.

In the gym themed exercises a virtual personal trainer talks you through the exercise and comments on your performance; for example, when performing a yoga pose due to the way the balance board works they will be able to tell if you are shaky or shifting your balance incorrectly.Rather embarrassingly I am yet to come anywhere close to beating my trainer at the push-up challenge he presented to me at the beginning of the week.

The Wii Fit board should never be advised as a substitute to the gym and to pitch a computer game as the best way to a healthy lifestyle would be severely misleading.Even if nothing else, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is no way you could do any form of resistance training as you would if weightlifting or on a rowing machine.WiiFit in my eyes however is perfect for encouraging a healthy lifestyle especially I would hope in the younger generation.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Vimeo

vimeo

This week, regular reader Ian McMillan wrote to me noting a website which until now I haven’t mentioned.I have printed his letter below as I thought it would be of interest to anyone who regularly uses video sharing websites such as YouTube.

At the moment, my experience of high definition television and camcorders is confined to watching demonstrations in the shops and so I was interested to come across the website Vimeo (www.vimeo.com).There are many video sharing websites (YouTube being the best known) but Vimeo if different in the fact that it has online videos in high definition.

A standard YouTube video has a picture of 320 by 240 pixels and mono sound whereas the videos on the Vimeo HD Channel are 1280 by 720 pixels (widescreen) and have stereo sound.As a demonstration of the difference, take a look at the video of San Francisco at https://www.vimeo.com/844044 - as you can see it is clearly far sharper than a YouTube video.Whilst there has been talk of YouTube launching its own HD service, Vimeo is currently the only provider with true HD videos on the web.

As with Joost and the BBC’s iPlayer, there is a move towards streaming television over the Internet.This has led to concerns that ISPs are groaning under the weight of the bandwidth required.Internet connections based on copper wires are not ideal for online videos, and it would be more efficient to use fibre optic cables for this purpose.

Something to consider is that online HD video will stretch any current computer and Internet connection to its limits.To receive it properly you will need a reliable broadband connection of 2Mbps or more, and a modern computer.It is also worth bearing in mind that if you currently have a cap set by your ISP of a few gigabytes a month then this will soon be used up when downloading online videos.In the future, people may be able to go to the Internet and download the latest Hollywood movie in HD format in a few minutes, but we are still a long way off achieving this under real world conditions.

Whilst those that are used to ‘full’ HD resolutions of 1920 x 1080 will most likely be disappointed by the quality of Vimeo videos, it is undeniable that they are of a much higher quality and at a faster download speed than those on YouTube.

It is unlikely that this website will pose any real threat for Youtube as there are several fundamental differences between the two.Vimeo has gained a reputation for attracting the more artistic viewer as a result of the high quality of videos and the fact that only user created videos are allowed.Whilst YouTube state that they don’t allow copyrighted material, in reality the situation is quite different with the service being awash with TV shows, music videos and movie excerpts.

I am surprised that after spending $1.65 billion on purchasing YouTube just over a year ago that Google have done so little improving it; the servers are slower than ever, the videos are still of a poor quality and often both the content and the comments remain completely uncensored.Whilst Vimeo have chosen not to compete directly and may not be the ones to steal the YouTube crown, they certainly show the way things can be done.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Online Fraud #2

online-fraud

Last week I talked about the rather bizarre attitude that the police and banking institutions seem to have towards credit card fraud and how it has become the fastest growing form of crime in this country.

At present the issue simply doesn’t seem to be a focus of attention for the authorities, most probably because it isn’t something that is in the public eye.As long as consumers are protected and small businesses are left to pick up the tab then why should the police stop these people getting away with theft?

Unsurprisingly I don’t feel the same; if someone is stealing money off anyone, whether it’s a business or individual then they deserve to be caught.In an attempt to push this issue out further in to the public eye, I have below an e-mail from another local company which I received on the day of publication of my last article.

“I just wanted to drop you a quick email commending you for the excellent article written in the Herald Express on 11 April.We too are an Internet based business and like you we have been targeted and earlier last year heavily stung on a number of transactions totalling approx £2000.

We reported the matter to the relevant banking agencies who discouraged us from wasting our time by reporting the matter to the Police.Having previously been victims of identity theft we were unsurprised, though highly frustrated by this attitude as the Police were not interested in identity theft and so were unlikely to do anything about this type of “hard to solve” fraudulent activity either.With a heavy heart, we as new business owners had to reluctantly carry the loss and adjust to less income than anticipated.

Your article hits the nail right on the head on every level and it wholeheartedly echoes our experience and sentiments. It’s quite amazing that this kind of activity is allowed to go unchecked particularly when compared to the effort that goes into other perhaps less serious issues. It would be wonderful, though perhaps naive to think some sort of robust Police action would be initiated as a result of your own and I’m sure countless others articles, however I won’t be holding my breath!

Phil Edwards, Director

Consumabulbs”

In the past we have actually contacted the police and card companies stating that we have received a transaction which we know is clearly fraudulent going to a residential flat address.We have offered to send the goods and give a time and date when the package will be delivered, so all that is required is for a policeman to shadow the courier, wait for the goods to be signed for, then swoop in and arrest the culprit.The police do this a couple of times, get the cases on the news and suddenly card fraud in this country plummets as fraudsters begin to worry about the fear of prosecution.

Unfortunately we were told that they were simply too busy to bother with cases like this and that card fraud wasn’t an issue for them.Now, some might consider it ironic that today on Radio One I heard about a woman who is to be dragged before the Crown Court because police were ‘tipped off’ that she threw an apple core out of her parked car window.What started out as a £60 fine sent to her home address has now escalated to a £5,000 legal case as the woman, a mother of three, vehemently denies throwing the bio-degradable piece of fruit and wants to clear her name.She understands that if found guilty she could face up to six months in jail.

On one hand you have someone who is stealing tens of thousands of pounds from countless companies and getting away completely scot-free.On the other you have a mother of three who you have been told threw an apple core out of her window so which do you prosecute?It’s got to be the fruit thrower, surely?

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Online Fraud

bank-account-fraud

This week I decided that enough was enough and that it was time for me to talk openly about online credit card fraud and the rather bizarre attitude that the police and card issuing companies seem to have towards it.

As you may or may not know, the Refresh Cartridges website is my primary source of income and it is this income source that I use to put a roof over my head and food on our table; as such I can get very protective.Earlier this week we had a number of people come on to the site and use card details which we later found to be fraudulent.At the time, the amounts weren’t exceptionally large and so being a company that sends out hundreds of cartridges on a daily basis we did the basic checks, thought nothing more of it and sent the goods.

I’d approximate that around £600 worth of goods went out the door over multiple orders and naturally you’d have thought that this would have been something that the police might have been interested in, surely?After all, if someone came in to the shop, stole over half a grand from the till then went as far as leaving me their address (remember, the online fraudsters provided us with a delivery address), I’m fairly confident that they’d be soon knocking on his door.

Instead, and rather bizarrely the police won’t even allow a merchant such as us to report card fraud to them anymore as they say it is simply too widespread for them to deal with.I find this attitude particularly interesting; surely if a problem is particularly widespread then as a police force you would want to do exactly the opposite of ignoring it in the hope that it’ll simply go away?To make a rather absurd analogy, let’s assume that illegal gun ownership becomes widespread in this area; would Devon and Cornwall constabulary then not allow me to report that I’ve just seen a man walking down the road with an AK47?

It would appear that ignoring the problem is having the predicted effect; apparently credit card fraud is the fastest growing form of organised crime and in 2007 it increased 44%.I have even seen a website just recently that sells stolen credit card numbers quite openly for the bargain price of $10 a card; you even get a discount if you buy in bulk.

This left me wondering quite why the police don’t seem to really care about the problem and I could only summarise that the reason is that individuals aren’t really affected.If someone has their credit card stolen they are completely protected; the card owner will report their card stolen, they will be refunded and the money will then be taken straight back out of the bank account of the company that sent the products in good faith.

Most people assume that in an instance of credit card fraud, the banks are the ones that cover the cost but unfortunately it is the companies and their staff that bear the brunt.To add insult to injury they are often charged an additional £25 per fraudulent transaction by the merchant bankers for ‘administration’, effectively leaving the banking corporations in profit.

It is clear that as a business we are targeted as the goods we sell can be high value and are easily resalable.Give one guy a hundred stolen credit card numbers, thousands of different Internet companies to buy off and in a couple of days he could have tens of thousands of pounds of stolen goods to resell.

It is a sad fact the 90% of the addresses given are in London and that every fraudster that I’ve spoken to so far (yes, I do occasionally call them) has been a young male with a foreign accent.I’m not going to join the dots for you but with the government currently so cautious about the incomes of such demographics, you wouldn’t have thought they would be casually ignoring this form of organised crime.

 

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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