Scam of the day – October 3, 2016 – Latest edition of most dangerous celebrities on the Internet

Each year, computer security company, McAfee releases a list of the most dangerous celebrities on the Internet.  These are people whose popularity is exploited by identity thieves and hackers who lure unsuspecting people through links in emails, social media and text messages relating to these celebrities to malware filled websites where they unknowingly download ransomware or keystroke logging malware that enables the identity thieves to steal all of the personal information from the victim’s computer, laptop, smartphone or other electronic device and use that information to make the person a victim of identity theft.  This year comedian Amy Schumer tops the list followed by Justin Bieber, Carson Daly, Will Smith, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Chris Hardwick, Daniel Tosh, Selena Gomez and Kesha.


It is important to remember that merely because a website turns up high on a Google search does not mean that it is legitimate.  Google doesn’t check out websites for legitimacy in ranking sites.  The ranking is done by secret algorithms that some identity thieves are adept at manipulating.  Also, as I constantly warn you, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  Merely because it appears that a friend is passing them on to you does not make them legitimate.  As for celebrity videos and photos, you should have a healthy mistrust of websites with which you are not entirely familiar.  For gossip, is a good place to go.  They always have the latest gossip and they are legitimate.  Finally make sure that you keep all of your electronic devices secure with anti-malware and anti-virus software and keep your security software current with the latest security patches.

Scam of the day – January 1, 2014 – Why Target is wrong about their PINs being safe

By now many of you may be sick of more information regarding the massive Target data breach of 40 million credit and debit cards, but the cold, hard fact is that much of the information that you are hearing may be misleading and inaccurate.  Even more important is the fact that relying on such information could lead to dire consequences for you if you were one of those people whose card data was breached.

On December 26th, I told you here on Scamicide that most likely Target was playing a semantic game when it said that the PINs used with debit cards were not compromised.  I told you that the reason for that was that Target was probably taking the position that because its PINs were encrypted, they were not compromised.  The next day, Target clarified its position by telling you exactly what I said was the truth which is that indeed PINs were taken, but that they were encrypted.  Now Target is telling everyone that because the PINs were encrypted, there is no risk to the people who used their debit cards to make purchases at Target during the time of the breach.  This is false.  While theoretically, the encryption program used by Target is unlikely to have been compromised, studies have shown that the world’s most popular PIN is 1234 and it does not take a rocket scientist or sophisticated hacker to decipher this PIN. Nor is it very difficult to guess the next most popular PINs which are, in order of popularity, 1111, 0000, 1212 7777, 1004, 2000, 4444, 2222 and 6969.  In fact, 27% of all passwords could be deciphered by trying the 20 most popular combinations.  It also should be noted that the Target hackers are obviously quite technologically sophisticated and it is possible that they may indeed have algorithm solving software that just may be up to the task of deciphering the PINs of  a great number of the stolen debit cards.


The first thing for anyone who used a debit card at Target during the affected time period should do is get a new debit card and change the PIN.  When setting a new PIN, make it a random number and not one readily guessable, such as 1234.  Pick a sequence that has a meaning to you, but is unusual or make an unusual four letter word using the keypad that is easy for you to remember.   This should also be a wake up call for everyone who has a PIN that is not sufficiently complex to change it to a safer PIN.  Finally, as I have been advising you to do for a long time, limit your use of your debit card to ATM machines.  The risk when using it for retail purchases is, as I have described in numerous “Scams of the day” much greater than the risk when you use a credit card.

Scam of the day – June 28, 2012 – New phony government website scam

As I recently indicated in a recent “scam of the day,” technologically savvy scammers have used their knowledge of the algorithms used by Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to have the phony websites of the scammers come to the top of the list when you look for a legitimate website.  Recently in North Carolina, Lloyd Scher wanting to renew a driver’s license went online to get the phone number of the Deparment of Motor Vehicles of North Carolina and the search engine took him to a scammers website where he would have been charged for getting free forms.  Fortunately, Scher recognized that it was a scam and did not fall for the scam.


Whenever you go to a government website, it should end with “gov.”  This particular website ended with “com.”  Don’t provide personal information on line unless you are sure that the website is legitmate and never provide information that you think the website should not need.  Also never provide personal information unless the domain name starts with “https.”  The key is the letter “s” which indicates that  the information you provide is being encrypted.  Trust me.  You can’t trust anyone.  Just because a search engine brings up a website does not mean that it is legitimate.