Scam of the day – December 28, 2013 – Target reloading scam

Many of you may be wondering why I have been writing about the Target hacking so often recently.  Certainly it is true that 40 million people are affected by the Target scam and the more information that I can provide to those people, the better they will be, but even if you are not one of those people directly affected by the Target hacking, the lessons provided by this hacking apply to us all.

Reloading is the name for the scam when scammers go back to victims of scams, identity theft or hacking purporting to provide assistance in straightening out the mess created when the victim was first harmed, when in fact, what the scammers are actually doing is getting more money out of the victim under the guise of helping the victim or getting more personal information from the victim that leads to further identity theft of the victim.   This is just starting to happen in response to the Target hacking.  Although, Target has legitimately been contacting its customers by emails, so have identity thieves either purporting to be Target or a consumer protection agency.  In both cases, the identity thieves attempt to lure the victims into clicking on links in the emails which either download malware on to the victim’s computer and permit the identity thief to steal all of the information from the victim’s computer and lead to the person becoming a further victim of identity theft or the link will lead to a page in which the victim is prompted to provide personal information directly which will lead to identity theft.  In other circumstances, the victim is told that he or she must pay for assistance from the phony consumer protection agency.

TIPS

No legitimate consumer protection agency such as the Federal Trade Commission or your local state attorney general’s consumer protection division ever requires you to pay for their services.  Also, as I constantly warn you, do not click on links in email regardless of how legitimate the emails look until you have confirmed that they are indeed legitimate.  In the case of Target, as with other companies, don’t click on the links in their emails, but rather go directly to their legitimate website at an address that you know is accurate for further information.  Also, do not provide personal information to anyone until you have confirmed that the person, company or agency is both legitimate and has a real need for the information.  Finally, make sure that your computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone are all protected with the latest anti-malware software and keep that software up to date.