The horrible events at yesterday’s Boston Marathon where two bombs were detonated, killing and maiming innocent people is bad enough, but now scammers will be taking advantage of the curiosity of people about the event to make them victims of identity theft. Every disaster, whether it is a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina or the Japanese Tsunami or unnatural horrible events such as the shootings in Newtown Connecticut bring out the scammers who will be looking to take advantage of both the public’s curiosity and its generosity to turn them into victims of identity theft and scams. You can expect emails and Facebook messages that promise links to unique video footage of the events that will come laden with keystroke logging malware that can steal all of the information contained in your computer that will, in turn, make you a victim of identity theft. Even if the emails or Facebook messages appear to come from someone you know, you can never be confident that someone has not merely hacked into your friend’s email account or Facebook account. Phony charities will also be springing up to help the victims and once again, you can be sure that the scammers will be setting up many of these charities to play on your heartstrings and steal your money.
Never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate and even then, your friends and family may be unwittingly passing on links and attachments tainted with malware. If you have any doubts as to the source of an email or a Facebook message, contact that person at a telephone number that you know is accurate to inquire if indeed they actually contacted you as well as to check on the source of the material that they, in turn, are passing on to you. When it comes to videos of newsworthy events, stick with well established, legitimate websites. You can’t trust the other material found on the Internet. As for charities, never give to a charity unless you have confirmed both that it is a legitimate charity and that it does not use too much of its contributions for payment of salaries of executives within the charities and fund raising activities. You can find this critical information at http://www.charitynavigator.org.