Scam of the day – April 11, 2012 – Further Global Payments scams

On March 31st in my scam of the day I told you about the hacking into credit card payment processor Global Payments that compromised the security of millions of credit card holders.  For those of you who were affected by this scam, you should be contacted by the bank issuing your credit card to arrange for a new credit card to replace the tainted one.  However, when you receive a communication from your “bank,” it may not actually be from your bank.  It might well be from an identity thief seeking personal information from you to further victimize you.

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As always, never give information over the phone or through an email to someone you have  not called or have not contacted at an email address that you know is accurate.  If you are contacted by your bank by phone and asked to provide information, call the bank back at a number that you know is accurate to insure that you are not dealing with an identity thief.

Scam of the day – April 9, 2012 – Phony AT&T bill

A new scam finding its way into your computer involves an email purportedly from AT&T containing an extremely large overdue bill for wireless service.  With more than a hundred million wireless  subscribers, sending random phony AT&T wireless bills for amounts as high as $1,000 is sure to incite some people who receive these phony bills to action.  But that is a mistake.  If you click on the link in the phony bill, you risk unwittingly downloading keystroke logging malware that can steal information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.

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Keep your security software up to date so it can recognize phony phishing attempts and identify malware.  Never click on links that you are not absolutely sure are legitimate.  In the case of an excessive bill, contact the company directly by phone at a number that you know is correct if you have any concerns.

Scam of the day – April 6, 2012 – Macs hit by malware

Identity thiefs and scammers have often targeted their malware attacks against PCs because, just as the bank robber robbed banks because “that is where the money is,” so did the hackers attack PCs because there were more users than Macs.  However, that has all changed.  It has just been disclosed that more than 600,000 Mac computers have been infected with Trojan Horse malware that can read all of the information on your computer and harvest that information including passwords, credit card information and any other information contained on the computer.  It is believed that the malware was spread using the same phishing tactics used so effectively against PC users where people are lured to a phony site appearing to be legitimate and the computer user clicks on a link that unwittingly downloads the malware.

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If you are a Mac user, you should have your computer checked for the presence of Malware.  Every computer user should have up to date security software that automatically updates and protects from the latest malware and viruses.  Never click on links that you are not absolutely sure are legitimate and be particularly wary of clicking on free music or games which are common places where malware lurks.

Scam of the day – April 5, 2012 – Mortgage scam update

As I warned you in “scams of the day” on February 26, 2012 and March 26, 2012, mortgage settlement scams are becoming more and more prevalent and dangerous.  Recently the New York Attorney General warned consumers to be wary of phone solicitations from people purporting to be part of the major mortgage relief settlement with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial.  Sometimes the scammers lure the victims into providing personal information that can be used for identity theft purposes.  Other times they offer to assist with obtaining settlement funds or a loan modification for a fee.

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Don’t trust anyone who calls you on the phone offering such help.  Don’t give your personal information to anyone on the phone whom you have not called and are not positively sure as to who they are.  No fees are charged by banks or HUD approved housing counseling agencies for settlement assistance.  The best place to go for accurate information is the website of the mortgage settlement, which is www.nationalforeclosuresettlement.com.

Scam of the day – April 4, 2012 – Upswing in Identity theft from children

Recently there has been a dramatic increase in identity theft from children.  According to the FTC more than 19,000 children had their identitities stolen last year and this number may be quite less than the true number because often, children whose identities have been stolen do not learn of the theft until, a older teenagers they apply for student loans or car loans.  By then a tremendous amount of damage may have been done and the job of fixing the credit record becomes much more difficult than if the theft had been discovered early.

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A significant amount of identity theft from children comes from family members, baby sitters or others who may have access to personal information about the child that has not been properly secured.  Keep the Social Security cards and numbers secure and away from prying eyes.  Also teach your children not to provide personal information on line unless they are absolutely sure of to whom they are providing the information and it is absolutely necessary to provide such information.

Scam of the day – March 30, 2012 – Draw Something scam

Draw Something is a Pictionary type game that has been available online since February and has been downloaded more than thirty-five million times.  Scammers, pretending to be from Draw Something are taking advantage of the game’s popularity by tweeting people and telling them that they have won a prize.    They are then sent to drawsomethingwinner.com to answer a few questions to qualify for the prize.  Unfortunately, it is a scam.  The real Draw Something has nothing to do with either the domain to which the victims are sent nor the tweet.   What you may encounter is either filling in a questionnaire for which the scammer receives a commission or something more sinister, such as giving up information that makes you a victim of identity theft.

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Remember, it is always difficult to win a contest you never enterred so you should always be skeptical when you receive a notice that you have, in fact, won such a contest.  If you are at all tempted to respond to such a tweet, check out the truth of the matter by confirming the validity of the contest.

Scam of the day – March 29, 2012 – RockYou Game site identity theft risk

Recently the operators of the online children’s game site RockYou settled a claim of the Federal Trade Commission that it did not properly protect the privacy of its users and failed to use proper security resulting in the site being hacked and the information on 32 million users being compromised.  This particular website by being aimed at children also violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protect Act Rule or COPPA which requires website operators to notify parents and get their consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information from people under the age of 13.

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You are only as safe from identity theft as the places that hold your information.  Try to limit the places that have your personal information and find out what security measures they take, such as encryption of the data.  You should also educate your children about the dangers of downloading free music or games because that is a common way that scammers install keystroke logging malware on your computer that can steal all of the information from your computer.

Scam of the day – March 28, 2012 – Farm scam

Recently many farmers around the country have reported receiving phone calls or faxes purporting to be from the United States Department of Agriculture complete with the USDA logo and seal.  Many of these faxes are from USDA Senior Procurement Officer Frank Rutenberg.  The truth is that the USDA neither has a Senior Procurement Officer nor an employee named Frank Rutenberg.  It may look official, but it is a scam with the sole intention of getting personal identification information such as Social Security numbers to make the unwary victim of identity theft.

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Never give personal information to anyone whose identity you have not confirmed.  If you are a farmer and you think that such a fax or phone call might be legitimate, confirm it with a call to the real USDA.

Scam of the day – March 22, 2012 – Windows security scam

A new scam currently turning up involves people receiving a telephone call from someone purporting to be from Microsoft and that there is a dangerous computer virus infecting the Windows operating system on the person’s computer.  The caller then asks the person to log on to their computer and go through  with the scammer the steps necessary to clear the computer of the threat.  The threat, of course, comes from the caller who uses the call to gather personal information to turn the person receiving the call into a victim of identity theft.

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Microsoft would not call you.  Never give personal information over the phone to someone you have not called or are not completely sure who they are.  As for your Windows software, make sure it is always up to date.  Automatic regular updating is best.  Also make sure that you have legitimate security software on your computer and up to date to protect you from viruses, spyware and malware.

Scam of the day – March 19, 2012 – New iPad scam

Once again, the scammers are there when anything new catches the public’s attention.  This time it involves Apple’s release of the newest iPad, which, once again is exciting the buying public.  But why buy a new iPad when you can get one for free.  Turning up in emails and on Facebook pages are offers of free iPads in exchange for merely testing the iPad.  If you click to the link to claim your iPad, you find yourself in the same danger as when you fall for any of these type of lures by scammers.  You may be led to a survey, which even if you take it, does not end up with your getting the promised iPad, but does provide a commission payment to the scammer.  More seriously, you may provide information that could put you in danger of identity theft or even worse, you could have unwittingly, by clicking on the link, downloaded a keystroke logging malware program on to your computer that can access all of the information on your computer, such as passwords, Social Security numbers and other information that can turn you into a victim of identity theft.

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Many of the free iPad scams actually refer to the device as an ” iPad 3″ which is not the official name of the device, so you can be sure that the offer is a scam.  However, whenever you see any of these offers, rest assured, they are scams.  Apple does not do these kind of promotions.  If you still are not convinced when you see this kind of offer, call Apple.