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 – August 26, 2012 – Apple ID password scam

For many years, Apple product owners felt somewhat secure that they were less apt to be the target of computer scams than  owners of PCs where most scammers and identity thieves had been focusing their attention.  However, as exemplified by a new scam designed to obtain Apple users’ IDs, this is no longer the case.  The new scam is a phishing scam by which you receive a phony email that informs you that there is a problem with your Apple ID.  These emails look quite similar to the email you would get when you reset your Apple ID password and look legitimate.  They are not.  The link in the email will take you to a phony website that will solicit information from you that can make you a victim of identity theft as well as download malware on your computer that can steal personal information from your computer.

TIPS

Never click on a link from a source you are not absolutely sure is accurate.  If you receive such an email as described above and believe there is a possibility that it might be legitimate, contact Apple at an email address or telephone number that you know is accurate to find out if the communication sent to you is accurate.  You will find that it is not.  Some more advanced browsers will allow you to hold your mouse over the link on the phony email and the real URL that you will be taken to will be shown.  If it shows a different URL than that of the link or does not name the legitimate company, you can be sure that it is a scam.  Of course, make sure that you do NOT click on the link as to do so will put you at great danger of identity theft.

Scam of the day – August 4, 2012 – Online job scams

The convenience of looking for a job online is somewhat balanced by the ease with which scammers can exploit this process to steal money from you or make you a victim of identity theft.  Merely because you find a job listing on a legitimate job site, such as Monster.com does not meant that the company is legitimate.  Despite the best efforts of employment websites, scammers do get through.

TIPS

If a company doesn’t even list its name, don’t even bother to respond to the advertisement.  Real companies are not afraid of using their names in their ads.  Stick to legitimate sites, such as Monster.com  which at least make an effort to try to weed out the scammers.  The key to identity theft is your Social Security number so do not provide your Social Security number on any initial job application.   A problem, however, is that companies may do a background check on prospective employees and to do that effectively they will need your Social Security number.  If you get to that point in the process call the HR department of the company at a telephone number that you know is accurate to confirm that indeed the job offer is a legitimate one and not just someone posing as that company.  Finally, whenever you provide personal information online, make sure that the URL begins with “https” rather than just “http.”  That letter “s” indicates that the information is being encrypted

Scam of the day – June 6, 2012 – US Airways Phishing scam

Airlines provide great convenience with email confirmations and even e tickets for your air travel.  However, recently the Internet Crime Complaint Center is warning people about a phishing email scam in which people are receiving emails that purport to be from US Airways.  The email contains a phony itinerary for a phony flight that the person receiving the email never booked.  The email looks quite official and carries a forgery of the US Airways logo.  The email has a link to click on for further details.  If you click on the link you will download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from your computer.

TIPS

The phony emails do not have your name on them.  Although most emails from US Airways will contain your name and other personal information, which the phony emails do not, US Airways legitimate check-in emails will have a valid confirmation code and describe specifically your trip.  Do not click on the link in these phony emails.  You can confirm that the link is a phony by hovering your mouse pointer over the link without clicking on the link.  This will allow you to identify the real URL of the link, which will not be the correct www.usairways.com.