Welcome to the scamming season

Yes. It is that time of the year. Time to be extra vigilant with your personal information. There are a bunch of ways where your information can get into the wrong hands.

  • Phishing scams through email top the list with emails disguised as invoices or shipping notifications that are related to the season [i.e. you “bought” some items online]. Consumers are more likely to click on fraudulent links or open attachments during periods of high shopping activity.
  • So-called charities that are using the season to their advantage as people tend to give more at the time of the year. In particular, watch for slightly different spelling or maybe reworded different. An example would be “United Ways” instead of “United Way”. Any site can include a phony charity registration number.
  • Look out for Emails with unbelievable prices on items. For example Canada Goose Jackets for under $100 or even a license to Microsoft Office Professional for $75. [For a long time fake Canada Goose web sites were popping up in ads and then stopped last spring. They returned recently. Wonder why.] Both are way higher than that.
  • Watch for suspicious contests in social media sites especially when they ask for information they don’t need.
  • Using an ATM machine? Aside from hiding your PIN, make sure the machine looks real and has no attachments [or something that is out of place].
  • Received a call from someone claiming to be from your bank [or credit card] and there is a “problem” with your account? Ask for details only they would know if they are legitimate. For example, ask them for your birthday, your credit card number, etc. [Or just hang up and call you bank.]
  • Mobile applications are popular, but if the application requires too much access [don’t they all already?], be suspicious.
  • Fake travel deals are common enough. If you find the deal too good to be true, maybe it isn’t true.
  • Watch out for emails that include a link or attachments to “digital e-cards”. Consider it very suspicious if they don’t tell you who it is from before clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
  • Travel a lot? Considering encrypting your devices [which also means adding a password]. If you have a laptop, considering to make it only bootable from the hard disk and setting an administrator password in addition to encrypting the hard disk. [That way you can only boot off the hard disk (they can’t use the laptop with their own hard disk) and the data on the disk is encrypted.]
  • If you work at a large company, watch out for USB flash drives lying around before you enter the premises. Hackers do this so that if you insert the drive, malware could be installed which will have access to company data. Other times, it is just malware.

Of course if you follow the standard practices [don’t open Emails not addressed to you personally, place your mouse pointer over a link, bad styling or spelling in the email, etc.], then you should have little to worry about.


About ebraiter
computer guy

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