Mother’s Day is today and once again we must be vigilant about not falling prey to scams related to this holiday. Anything popular with the public will always be popular with scammers. Although for many of us Mother’s Day is an opportunity to show our mothers how much we love and appreciate them, for scammers it is yet another opportunity to scam people. One common Mother’s Day scam involves an email that you get offering Mother’s Day gifts such as flowers, jewelry, shoes or clothing at tremendously discounted prices. All you need to do is to click on a link to order online. The problem is that many of these offers are indeed scams. If you click on the link, one of two things can happen and both are bad. Sometimes the link will take you to an order form where you provide your credit card information, but never get anything in return. Instead your credit card information is used to make you a victim of identity theft. Even worse is the other possibility which is by clicking on the link, you will unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the personal information stored on your computer and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft. Be careful when making online purchases. Merely because a website offering great prices may be highly listed on Google or other search engines does not mean that it is legitimate. All it means is that the scammers know how to manipulate the positioning of their website in a Google search. Check out any company with which you may not be familiar with the Better Business Bureau or even Google the company’s name with the word “scam” added to the search and see what you come up with. Even if you are dealing with a legitimate online company, make sure that your communications are encrypted when you send personal information or credit card information. The easy way to do this is to look to see if the the web address of the company changes when you go to the page to input this information from “http” to “https” indicating that your data is being encrypted. And of course, don’t use your debit card for retail purchases either online or in a brick and mortar store because you have less protection from fraud with a debit card than a credit card.
Finally, another Mother’s Day scam involves e-cards which are great, particularly for those of us who forget to get a Mother’s Day card until the last minute. However, identity thieves will send emails purporting to contain a link to an electronic Mother’s Day card, but instead download that dangerous keystroke logging malware that I described above.
It is always dangerous to buy anything online from any store or company with which you are not familiar. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission or just do a Google search to see if the company is legitimate. Even then you are better off going directly to the company’s website rather than dealing with a company through an email that may just be a forgery of an email from a legitimate company. As always, if the offer you receive sounds too good to be true, it usually is. As for e-cards, never open an e card unless it specifically indicates who sent the card. Phony e cards will not indicate the name of the sender.
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