Today’s Scam of the day, unfortunately is very much a repeat of warnings I have had to make after tragedies such as the school shootings at the Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Today,’s warning, of course, relates to the tragic shootings of innocent people at an Orlando nightclub this past week. Scammers and identity thieves will be preying upon both our best and worst instincts in response to this tragedy. People seeking videos and photographs of the event may find themselves clicking on links that purport to provide you with such material, but may only end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from the computers of these curious people who will find themselves becoming victims of identity theft.
Another group of scams stemming from the murders will be the pleas for charitable contributions for the victims and their families. You should always be wary when anyone asks you for a charitable donation, but particularly when a charitable solicitation quickly follows an emotional event such as the killings in Orlando. You will want to make sure that you are giving to legitimate charities that will use your contribution wisely rather than giving your money to a scammer or a “legitimate” charity that misuses your donations by paying its administrator inordinately large salaries. It is important to know the difference between a legitimate charity and a phony one.
Whenever you are contacted by a charity whether by text, phone, email or otherwise, you can never be sure that the person contacting you legitimately represents the charity or that the charity itself is legitimate. If you are charitably inclined, you should not respond directly to the person or entity soliciting you, but rather first, confirm that the charity itself is legitimate. Many phony charities have similar names to legitimate charities. You should always check out the legitimacy of the charity first before considering making a contribution. A good place to find out if a charity is legitimate or merely has a name that sounds legitimate is www.charitynavigator.org. This website also will provide you with information as to how much of the charity’s collected donations actually are applied to its charitable works and how much goes to administrative fees and salaries. As a general rule of thumb if a charity spends more than 25% of its donations on salaries and administrative costs, you may wish to contribute to another charity.
As for looking for videos and other “inside” information about the Orlando shootings, many of the sources for that “exclusive” information will be infected with malware that will attack your computer and lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft. So first and foremost, it is important to have good firewalls and security software installed and kept up to date on all of your electronic devices including your computers, smart phones, iPads and other portable devices that you use. Many people may think to protect their home computers, but fail to protect their portable devices even though they may use these devices as much and even more than their home computers. Second, you should not click on any link unless you are sure that it is legitimate and even if the link is contained in what appears to be a text message or social media posting of a friend, you can’t be sure that your friend has not had his or her account hacked into by an identity thief in order to make you more trusting than you should be of the message being sent. Additionally, even if you receive a text, email or social media posting that actually is from a friend of yours, it may merely be passing on to you a tainted link that your friend does not realize they are helping to spread after receiving it themselves from a source that they should not have trusted. Frankly, the safest course of action is not to click on any links from anyone that try to appeal to your curiosity about major public events such as this, but rather limit your search for information to legitimate news websites that you can be confident are not likely to contain tainted or provide inaccurate information. As for those people who lust after disturbing videos and photographs that they think they will only be able to access from “special” sources, those special sources are usually phony as are the videos and photographs that they provide, however, the malware that you get from them is very real and dangerous.