Scam of the day – December 8, 2016 – Holiday online shopping scams

Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may indeed be the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by cybercriminals who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them.   I received an email today showing me how I could get iPads and iPhones at 90% discounts by clicking on links and ordering them online.  If I had clicked on the links, all I would have succeeded in doing would have been paying electronically for goods that I never would have received.  Meanwhile, by clicking on the links, I also would have run the risk of unknowingly downloading keystroke logging malware that could have stolen all of the information from my computer, such as my Social Security number, credit card number and other financial data and made me a victim of identity theft.

People also get in trouble when they go to phony websites that appear to be those of legitimate retailers and turn over their credit card information to a scammer and never get the goods they think they are purchasing.

TIPS

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered.  Never click on links in emails, tweets or text messages unless you are sure the communications are legitimate and it is hard to do so without calling the legitimate company because even if it truly appears to be coming from a legitimate person or entity, their email, twitter, or smart phone may have been hacked into and the communication you receive is from a scammer.  Only deal with companies that you know are legitimate and confirm that you are actually on a legitimate website because phony websites can look quite good.

As for online shopping websites, there are a few ways you can determine whether or not a shopping website is legitimate or not.  First, find out who actually owns the website. Websites such as http://lookwhois.net/ will enable you to merely put in the URL and see who actually owns the website you are considering using for shopping.  If it doesn’t match the  legitimate company that you think you are doing business with, you will know to stay away.  Also, call the company at a telephone number you know is legitimate to confirm the precise website URL that they use.

Scam of the day – February 17, 2016 – Identity theft danger in vacation photos

At one time tourists were easy to spot with cameras in their hands and hanging on straps around their necks, but today, stand-alone cameras have largely been replaced by our smartphones with which we not only are able to take good photographs, but also do all manner of personal and financial transactions. This is very convenient for us all, but particularly for identity thieves who will linger in tourist spots and be ready to assist you by taking a picture of you and your family at popular tourist destinations.  The problem is that rather than take your picture, the criminal takes your smartphone and promptly runs away with it leaving you without a photograph and, more importantly without your phone, which may have stored large amounts of personal information that can be used by the thief for purposes of accessing your bank account or otherwise making you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Your mother was right when she told you not to trust strangers.  The best way to deal with a problem is to avoid it in the first place so don’t give your smartphone to a stranger to take your picture.  Some good smartphone security measures you should already be taking include setting up a strong password to unlock your smartphone and make sure that you have good anti-virus and anti-malware security software installed on your smartphone and constantly updated.  It also is a good idea not to store personal information on your smartphone.  Finally, there are a number of good apps that will help you remotely track your phone’s location as well as lock it and erase information remotely.  Here are links with more information about those apps for Android and iPhones.

http://www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/consumer-tips/how-to-deter-smartphone-thefts-and-protect-your-data/anti-theft-protection-for-android-wireless-handsets

http://www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/consumer-tips/how-to-deter-smartphone-thefts-and-protect-your-data/anti-theft-protection-for-ios-apple-wireless-handsets

Scam of the day – September 19, 2014 – Free iPhone scam

The lines were long yesterday before the Apple stores even opened for the first day of sales of the new iPhone 6.  It does appear that the iPhone 6 does have a lot of new and exciting features.  As always, however, whenever the public is excited or enthusiastic about something, so are the scam artists who are ready to exploit the public’s fascination.  A scam is appearing on Facebook where you are asked to “like” a promotion found on your Facebook page where merely by completing a survey and sharing a link with your friends, you will receive a free iPhone 6.  Of course, you are not going to get a free iPhone 6 in exchange for merely completing a survey and sharing a link with your friends.  What you are going to get, when you complete this particular survey, which requires you to provide your cell phone number, is a cramming charge on your cell phone bill for a text messaging service for which you have unwittingly signed up.  As for your friends, if they click on the link that you have enabled them to receive, they will end up defrauded as well.

TIPS

The old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true” still stands.  No one is giving away free iPhones to everyone who merely completes a survey.  Legitimate companies do ask their customers to complete surveys and sometimes they will even provide an inducement for completing the survey, but generally, your reward is to be enrolled in a lottery for a particular prize.  Everyone who completes the survey does not get a valuable prize.  On the other hand, scammers are constantly sending out surveys that either, within the fine print, sign you up for an expensive services that is often added to your phone bill through a scam called “cramming” or they take the personal information you provide and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  As difficult as it sometimes may be, everyone should carefully examine their phone bill each month to make sure that no fraudulent cramming charges are included on the bill.  If you find one or more, you should contact your phone service provider and instruct them to have the charges removed.  Also, be wary of providing personal information to anyone even if they seem legitimate.  Think about whether that information that you are asked to provide could be used against your best interests.

Scam of the day – June 7, 2014 – Latest iPhone scam

Recently many iPhone users have found that their Find My iPhone anti-theft feature had been accessed and used to lock the screen.  The victims then received a ransom demand of $100 by the hacker in order to unlock the screen.  However, this scam does not end there.  Other scammers are sending out emails posing as Apple and informing you about the problem with iPhones being remotely locked and prompting you for your username, password and other information under the guise of helping you to defend yourself from the threat of a remote locking of your iPhone.  The problem is that this email is a phishing email sent by a scammer who is merely trying to use this ruse to obtain your information to be able to take over your Apple account.

TIPS

If you were unlucky enough to have had your iPhone hijacked, you can correct the problem yourself through a “hard” reset.  Here is a link to instructions from Verizon as to how to do a hard reset: http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/devices/knowledge_base.html/39607/

As for dealing with the phishing emails that purport to be from Apple, my advice is the same as it always is.  Never provide information that can be used against you in response to an email, text message or telephone call from someone where you have not initiated the communication.  If you receive any such message and have the slightest thought that it might be legitimate, contact the company or person at an email address or phone number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the communication you received is a counterfeit phishing communication.  Making an email look legitimate is very easy to do, so trust me, you can’t trust anyone when it comes to communications asking you for personal information

Scam of the day – November 19, 2012 – Holiday shopping scams part 1

Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may be for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by scammers who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them.  Today’s scam of the day will be the first of many that I will be doing that deal with holiday shopping scams.  I received an email today showing me how I could get iPad 2s and iPhones at 90% discounts by clicking on links and ordering them online.  If I had clicked on the links, all I would have succeeded in doing would have been paying electronically for goods that I never would have received.  Meanwhile, by clicking on the links, I also would have run the risk of unknowingly downloading keystroke logging malware that could have stolen all of the information from my computer, such as my Social Security number, credit card number and other financial data and made me a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered.  Never click on links in emails, tweets or text messages unless you are sure the communications are legitimate and it is hard to do so without calling the legitimate company because even if it truly appears to be coming from a legitimate person or entity, their email, twitter, or smart phone may have been hacked into and the communication you receive is from a scammer.  Only deal with companies that you know are legitimate and confirm that you are actually on a website that you know is legitmate because phony websites can look quite good.