Scam of the day – April 14, 2017 – Easter scams

With Easter approaching on Sunday, this is a good time to warn people about Easter scams.  Whatever is of interest to the public is of interest to scammers who are always looking to turn the public’s interest in anything into a scam.  One of the Easter related scams about which the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyberawareness System involves phony shipping notifications from the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx or any other delivery company that are merely attempts to trick people into providing personal information that can be used to make the person a victim of identity theft.  Another common Easter scam is electronic greeting cards which download malware such as keystroke logging malware used to make you a victim of identity theft or ransomware used to encrypt your data and destroy it if you do not pay a ransom.

TIPS

You do not have to provide sensitive personal information in order to receive a package delivered by the U.S. Postal Service or a private carrier. If you receive such a notice about a delivery you were not expecting, you can check with the U.S. Postal Service, or the private carrier at a telephone number that you know is accurate in order to determine if the original communication to you was a scam.

Electronic greeting cards are tremendously easy to use and can be particularly helpful if you are late remembering to send a card on a particular occasion, however, you should never click on a link in a notification that you have received an electronic greeting card unless you have confirmed that the person you know actually sent you the card. Never click on links in electronic greeting cards from “an admirer” or any other term designating someone without a name.

Scam of the day – May 8, 2016 – Mother’s day scams

Every day is Scam Day and Mother’s Day is no exception.  Although for many of us, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to show our mothers how much we love and appreciate them, for scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists, it is yet another opportunity to scam people.  One common Mother’s Day scam involves an email that you get offering Mother’s Day gifts such as flowers, jewelry, shoes or clothing at tremendously discounted prices.  All you need to do is to click on a link to order online.  The problem is that many of these offers are indeed scams.  If you click on the link, one of two things can happen and both are bad.  Sometimes the link will take you to an order form where you provide your credit card information, but never get anything in return.  Instead your credit card information is used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Even worse is the other possibility which is by clicking on the link, you will unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the personal information stored on your computer and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.

Also, be careful when making online purchases.  Merely because a website offering great prices may be highly listed on Google or other search engines does not mean that it is legitimate.  All it means is that the scammers know how to manipulate the positioning of their website in a Google search.  Check out any company with which you may not be familiar with the Better Business Bureau or even Google the company’s name with the word “scam” added to the search and see what you come up with.  Even if you are dealing with a legitimate online company, make sure that your communications are encrypted when you are sending personal information or credit card information.  The easy way to do this is to look to see if the beginning of the web address of the company changes when you go to the page to input this information from “http” to “https” indicating that your data is being encrypted.  And of course, don’t use your debit card for retail purchases either online or in a brick and mortar store because you have less protection from fraud with a debit card than a credit card.

Finally, another Mother’s Day involves e-cards which are great, particularly for those of us who forget to get a Mother’s Day card until the last minute.  However, identity thieves will send emails purporting to contain a link to an electronic Mother’s Day card, but instead download that dangerous keystroke logging malware that I described above.

TIPS

It is always dangerous to buy anything online from any store or company with which you are not familiar.  Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission or just do a Google search to see if the company is legitimate.  Even then you are better off going directly to the company rather than dealing with a company through an email that may just be a forgery of an email from a legitimate company.  As always, if  the offer you receive sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  As for e-cards, never open an e card unless it specifically indicates who sent the card.  Phony e cards will not indicate the name of the sender.

Scam of the day – November 28, 2013 – Dangerous electronic greeting cards

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I hope your day is a good one free of scams and identity theft.  Electronic greeting cards have become very popular and with good reason.  Even if you don’t remember a birthday or delay sending a holiday card until the last minute, you can send an electronic greeting card, often for free, and have it delivered immediately.  Many electronic greeting cards are quite inventive with videos and music, as well.  But, unfortunately, you can always count on scam artists and identity thieves to try to spoil anything and electronic greeting cards are no exception.  The scam starts when you get a phony electronic greeting card that requires you to click on a link to read the card.  If you click on one of these phony greeting cards, you will end up downloading a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer and end up with you becoming a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

One of the first things to notice is who is indicated as the person sending the card.  If it states that the card is being sent by “a friend” or “an admirer,” you can be pretty sure that it is a phony card.  However, even if the card uses the name of someone you know, it still is risky to open the card without confirming with an email or a phone call that your friend actually did send you the card.  It is also important to keep your security software including anti-virus software and anti-malware software installed and up to date at all times.