The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently issued a new warning about an old scam that I have been warning you about for years. The scam is the phony invoice scam and in the version about which the FTC is warning people, you receive an email that purports to be from a popular tech company with which many of us do business that indicates that you owe them a significant payment. You are provided a link to click on if you dispute the bill. Two things can happen if you click on the link and both of them are dangerous. In one version of the scam, you are taken to a page where you are prompted to provide personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft. In the second and even more dangerous version of the scam, merely by clicking on the link, you will download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that will steal data from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
Never click on a link unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate and unfortunately, whenever you receive an email or a text message with a link, you cannot be sure that the message is legitimate.  Many times you will receive emails or texts purporting to be from companies that you do not even do business with and you obviously can ignore these.  But if you have any thoughts that the email might be legitimate, you still shouldn’t click on the link.  Instead you should call the particular agency or company at a telephone number that you know is accurate to inquire as to whether the email or text message was legitimate.  Chances are that you will find out that it is a scam.  Once, I received a large invoice from a company with which I do business for goods I did not order, but rather than click on the link provided in the email, I went directly to the company’s website to question the invoice.  When the website came up, the first thing I saw was a large announcement that the invoice was a scam and that many people had received these phony invoices.  If I had clicked on the link, I would have become a victim of identity theft.
It is also important to maintain the security software on your computer, smart phone or other portable devices and make sure it is updated with the latest security patches.  However, don’t rely totally on the security software to bail you out because security software is generally effective only 5% of the time against the latest viruses.  It takes the security software companies about a month to catch up to the latest threats and provide updates that you should install.
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