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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Veterans in Touch – Protect yourself Part 2


Above / Though no QR Codes are placed on this Naperville Park District sign designating Veterans Park, the sign stands to represent plenty of local fundraising initiatives that have created this memorable location to observe Memorial Day, Veterans Day and more. Since 1989, flags have been flying high to recognize all Veterans at the park located at 303 E. Gartner Road. (PN Photo 2021)

During a recent meeting with PN columnist Mike Barbour, now retired, the Vietnam Veteran asked for help spreading the word about scammers, a new brand of fraudsters that have set up fake Ukraine-themed fundraising schemes. He also advises the community to be aware that some scammers try to take advantage of the public around dates that observe Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, D-Day on June 6, 1944, and Veterans Day on Nov. 11, seeking support for so-called Veterans initiatives that do not exist.

Barbour encourages support of local Veterans organizations such as the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, Naperville American Legion Post 43, Operation Support Our Troops America and Naperville Responds for Veterans, all of which host fundraising initiatives to provide services and programs that benefit members of the military, past and present.

Timely notice about QR Codes from the Better Business Bureau

Here’s some advice about QR codes, those square machine-readable codes consisting of black and white squares that companies use to point consumers to their apps, track packages or view menus. As QR codes become more popular,  BBB.org/scamtracker is seeing more reports of con artists using them to mislead consumers. Be enlightened.

According to Naperville resident Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, since the human eye can’t read these codes, they have become a way for scammers to disguise malicious links.

“You receive an email, a direct message on social media, a text message, a flyer, or snail mail that includes a QR code,” says Bernas. “You are supposed to scan the code with your phone’s camera, and it will open a link.” 

In some scams, the QR code prompts you to enter your personal information—credentials that scammers are able to steal. Other times, con artists use QR codes to automatically launch payment apps.  

In fact, some scammers attempt to mislead consumers by tampering with legitimate business ads by placing stickers with fake QR codes on them, Bernas notes. 

Bernas suggests installing a QR scanner with added security. Some antivirus companies have QR scanner apps that check the safety of a scanned link before you open it. They can identify phishing scams, forced app downloads and other dangerous links.

Again, keep an eye out for signs of tampering or freshly-added stickers around town. And especially beware of QR codes that request funds for an unfamiliar charity. Be safe.

Mike Barbour’s column from January 2021 – Protect Yourself Part 1

 IDENTITY THEFT is a crime that has grown throughout the years as technology has advanced over the last decade. The younger Veterans and active duty troops seem to be up on best practices. For us older Veterans who have come kicking and screaming into the new millennium, you are encouraged to implement these best practices:
  • USE STRONG PASSWORDS – Create passwords that use upper and lower case letters numbers and symbols
  • SECURE YOUR WIRELESS NETWORK – Make sure your wireless network at home is protected
  • PROTECT AGAINST VIRUSES – Regularly update ant-virus protection software on your computer
  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSIBLY – Assume that anything you post online can be accessed by anyone
  • PUT YOUR DEBIT CARD AWAY – Avoid using your debit card when shopping online
  • BE CAUTIOUS WHEN DOWNLOADING MOBILE APPS – Only download apps from official app stores and check other users reviews

Currently, in the United States, at last count there are over 65,000 organizations that have “Veteran” in their name. Many of these organizations are scammers. The citizens of Naperville are extremely generous. I have been asked many times about various Veteran charities. Are they legitimate? Where does the money collected go?

Emails are going around now that call out some of these organizations. My advice is if you want to donate, do it on a local level.

I know personally the good work that the American Legion and the VFW do in the community. Naperville Responds For Veterans and Operation Support Our Troops America are two local organizations that go that extra mile to help Veterans and their families.

Rehabbing bathrooms to make them accessible for Veterans with injuries, painting and redoing a WWII home, building ramps for handicapped Veterans are just a few of the projects Naperville Responds has completed over the last several years.

I have seen the good work that OSOT AMERICA does on a daily basis. It’s not just sending packages; it is about taking care of the soldier when he comes home.

You read all the time about BUYING LOCAL. Along those same lines I say, DONATE LOCAL.

Editor’s Note, June 6, 2022 / On this D-Day and every day, remember the honorable men and women serving U.S. armed forces around the world, standing in harm’s way in defense of our liberty. Also be grateful to military families awaiting their safe return.

We salute all Veterans in appreciation for all the sacrifices and service from military men and women to protect this nation’s freedom, while striving for peace. Help spread the word about the Honor Flight to all World War II and Korean Veterans. And know that soon the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a Woody Williams Foundation initiative that will be on the Century Walk tour, is scheduled to be dedicated in Veterans Park on Sun., Aug. 7.


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Mike Barbour
Mike Barbour
Mike Barbour is a Service Officer, American Legion Post 43, and regular contributor to PN. Also contact him at mbarbour@wowway.com.

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