Archive for January, 2011

“Microsoft” Phone Call Scam

Ireland has been hit this week by a series of scammers who call unsuspecting people to inform them that their computer or app has a problem, they ask you to visit websites which may disable your antivirus by containing viruses. Please be aware this is not Microsoft and Microsoft never call customers if there is a problem with your computer, especially one you didn’t know you had. If you we’re dupped into give your laser or credit card details, cancel the cards immediately and notify the issuing bank.

At the moment the scam is using the business name CISTRON, but no doubt soon after this post is published they will start using a different name.

The real Mircosoft released this description of the manner in which it describes the rough layout of the calls, based on thousands of complaints.

” * A cold caller, claiming to be a representative of Microsoft, one of its brands or a third party contracted by Microsoft, tells the victim they are checking into a computer problem, infection or virus that has been detected by Microsoft.
* They tell the victim they can help and direct them to a website that then allows the scammers to take remote control of the computer.
* The cold caller will then spend some time on the computer trying to demonstrate where the ‘problems’ are and in the process convinces the victim to pay a fee for a service that will fix the computer.

As with any cold call scam the best proceedure is to hang up the phone and pay absolutely no attention.

Doing Less with more

So for the last two months i’ve been traveling in Asia and India, as always I find traveling gives a unique opportunity to get ideas and perspective.

One of the big take-aways from this trip is that when needs become musts there is a tendency to do less with more. It’s got me thinking that maybe the role of an entrepreneur is to self discipline and limit resources with the specific intent of gaining the maximize ROI in terms of operational efficient.

Gary Chang is a great example of how limited resources mixed with smarts can be an awesome combination, transferring his 330 square feet apartment – into a 24 room luxury pad!!

Another example of this is Jugaad in India. In the rural communities you see many home made vehicles called Jugaad, these are self made vehicles which run on a pump meant for agricultural use. A family can rely on the engine for their transport, then use the same engine for lighting in their house if needed and when the waters come to pump water around their farm our out of their house if there is a flood.

So the question is do you have facilitates or assets that could be used beyond their current state? Could a night club on Dublins expensive Stephens Green be easily transform into a clothing shop during the day when its not being used, simply by applying some of Garys principles from the video?? Think of the synergy and imagine how much value could be created that at the moment we are just ignoring.

It’s just the way things are done are here…

“It’s just the way things are done in our industry”, it’s an easy justification to almost any non-productive practice. Be it why banks need to close their doors before their key target market (the 9 – 5 employed) can utilize their services or why Lawyers operate a burn them out mentality with the not so occasional overnight shift, when it would be more productive to have twice the number of lawyers working half as often (and you’d probably attract all the best ones if you did).

Sometimes the stupidest reasons for businesses start-ups to do anything is the exact reason they do it. “I can’t understand why my competitors do it this way so I’d better go ahead and copy them or I’ll look like I just don’t get it”.

Its also why insurance companies let you fill in big long forms online to get a quote only to deliver you to a page saying they can’t make an online quotation. But you should try their phone support (although it’s not open right now), but hey their computer intranet might have some super secret information not available to the website or they might just waste another 10 minutes of your life…

These examples are so common place we start to not even notice them anymore but it always makes me think of the classic Henry Ford Quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Sometimes we just need to change the rules of the game altogether.