Scam of the day – May 7, 2012 – New Amazon email scam

Recently a large  number of people have been receiving emails purporting to be from Amazon with “Amazon.com Your Cancellation” in the subject line.  Even though the email may appear to be legitimate, it is not.  It is just an example of phishing.  The email will advise you to click on links in the emails to verify your status.  Under no circumstances click on any links or open any attachments.  Downloading an attachment or clicking on a link inside the phony email can result in malware being installed on your computer that can read all of your computer’s contents including important personal information that can lead to identity theft.  Also, do not respond to the email by providing any information asked.  That too can lead to you becoming a victim of identity theft.

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The real Amazon.com will never send you an unsolicited attachment nor will it ever ask you to reply with personal information.  The real Amazon.com will not ask you to verify account information through a link in the email.    If you do have a present active order with Amazon or any question whether such an email is legitimate, merely go to www.amazon.com, click into “Your Account” and you can get proper information.

Scam of the day – May 5, 2012 – Better Business Bureau Scam

The Better Business Bureau is a very trusted institution which is why their name is often exploited by scammers.  For the fifth time in the last six months there has recently been a new wave of phishing scams involved with the Better Business Bureau’s name.  The scam starts with a business owner receiving an email informing him or her that a complaint has been filed against his or her company.  The business owner is invited to click on to a link for more information, however, if you do this, you risk unwittingly installing keystroke logging malware that can read all of the information on your computer including your banking information.  This information has been used by scammers to access the bank accounts of businesses falling victim to the scam.  Because it is so easy to make an email look like it is from a legitimate company, you should always be wary of any email that asks for information or asks you to go to a link.

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Never click on links or attachments unless you are positive that they are legitimate. When you evaluate emails from companies with which you do business, notice if they are addressed to your personally or to “Dear Customer.”  Make sure your anti virus and anti malware software is always up to date and if you have any concern that the communication is legitimate, confirm it with a phone call to a telephone number that you know is legitimate.

Scam of the day – April 29, 2012 – Mobile device hacking

Mobile device hacking whether it be your smart phone or iPad or other mobile device is turning into the new target of scammers and identity thieves and with good reason.  More and more people are using their mobile devices not just to store important personal information, but also to do financial transactions such as shopping and banking.  Unfortunately we have a perfect storm when it comes to hacking into portable devices.  They contain much information of value to scammers and identity thieves, they are easty to hack into and the owners of portable devices are not taking the steps to secure these devices as much as they would their computers.  Thus more and more people are having their information stolen and becoming victims of identity theft.

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Make the physical security of your mobile device a priority.  Theft of the devices is an easy way to fall victim to identity theft.  Also protect your portable device with hard to guess passwords.  Also use encryption software and make sure that your device is kept up to date with the latest security software patches.  Finally, one of the biggest threats to your security on your portable device comes from downloading malware through corrupted apps.  Only download apps from legitimate sources and only download apps you are sure are safe.  Finally, whenever you download an app, pay attention to the permissions and services that are part of the app agreement and do not give access to transmit data that is not necessary for the operation of the app.

Scam of the day – April 28, 2012 – New Postal Service Scam

A new, but familiar scam is being used to lure unsuspecting victims into downloading dangerous malware that can steal all of the information on your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.  it starts with an email that you receive that appears to have been sent by either the United States Postal Service, USPS Global, Global Services or the United States Postal Service Customer Service.  The email is a phony.  It purports to tell you that a package is being held and that you are being charged for each day that you do not claim the package.  It refers to a phony reference number for the package and provides you with a link to click on to obtain further information.  Merely opening the email will not cause you any  harm, but if you click on the link, you will download the devastating malware.

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Never click on links from sources of which you are not absolutely clear are legitimate.  If you have any question or doubt, call a telephone number for the legitimate company being used as the lure that you know is accurate to confirm whether indeed the email message is a scam.

Scam of the day – April 20, 2012 – Phony Verizon Wireless bills

Many people are receiving emails purportedly from Verizon Wireless claiming extremely large amounts owed.  I received one of these phony bills today indicating that I owed almost $2,000 in charges.   The phony bills look exactly like a real Verizon bill and many people are tempted to respond to the bill by clicking on the links contained in the phony email.  This type of scam called, phishing lures you into clicking on a link in a legitimate looking, but totally bogus email in order to clear up what appears to be an obvious mistaken bill.  Don’t do it.  By clicking on the links you risk becoming a victim of identity theft by providing personal information or by unwittingly downloading malware that can read all of  the information in your computer.

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Keep your security software up to date and include security software that recognizes phishing.  Never click on a link when you are not absolutely sure where the message came from.  In this case, if you had any question, you should call the telephone number for Verizon Wireless that you know is correct.  If you do receive one of these phony Verizon Wireless emails, forward it to phishing@verizonwireless.com.

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 1, 2012 – Better Business Bureau scam

Phishing occurs when an identity thief lures you through a phony email that purports to be from a legitimate company to a bogus website that looks like the website of the legitimate company that the scammers pretend to be.  The website requries you to provide personal financial informaiton to verify your account.  This information innocently provided is used to make the person providing it a victim of identity theft.  One of the latest phishing scams now going on involves a phony email purporting to be from the Better Business Bureau that reads: “Dear Business Owner, we have obtained several complaints via the Better Buseinss Bureau online complaint center concerning several unauthorized transactions from a number of private bank accounts to your corporate account.   You can view the complaints in our online complaint center using the following link:”  A phony link is supplied in the email.  Clicking on the link can lead to you becoming a victim of identity theft.

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Always beware when an email is addressed to you as “business owner” without your exact name.  Never click on a link when you are not absolutely sure the source of the email.  It can lead to identity theft or the downloading of a keystroke logging malware program that can read everything in your computer and provide this information to the scam artist.  When in doubt, call the real legitimate organization at a phone number that you know is correct to identify if the email is legitimate.

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 25, 2012 – Botnets

Recently the Federal Trade Commission announced a new effort to combat botnets.  Botnets occur when a scammer is able to install malware on your computer turning it into a robot that can steal your information or use your computer to send out spam emails or spread viruses and other malware.  The malware that turns your computer into a botnet is installed on your computer when you unwittingly download the malware.

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Never click on links for “free” music or games from a source that you are not absolutely sure is secure.  This is a common source of the malware that turns your computer into a botnet.  Keep your security software up to date, use strong passwords, never turn off your firewall and be very cautious when using thumbdrives.  This is another area where infections occur.