Updates from March, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , e-skimming, ,   

    FBI warning about shopping scam 

    FBI warning about shopping scam

    With many of us staying home these days while practicing social distancing, a lot of us will be ordering items online so we can avoid the crowds at stores. As can be expected, scammers are trying to take advantage of this situation too. The most concerning part is that this particular scam can affect legitimate retail sites and gives no indication that your information is at risk. This is why the FBI is warning consumers to keep an eye on their billing statements to make sure there are no unwarranted charges on your statements.

    According to the FBI, in an attack known as e-skimming, cybercriminals are injecting code into the websites of retailers. This code then allows the scammers to copy the information on your credit or debit card. With the way e-skimming works, neither the retailer not the customer will know that they’ve been scammed until it’s too late. The scammers will then sell the card information online to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, there is no way to detect if the retail site you’re using has been infected by the e-skimming code.

    While these types of attacks are usually caught by retailers within a few days there are steps you can take to protect your information. One of the ways is only using a credit card online as credit cards have better fraud protection than most debit cards. Your bank may also be able to provide you with temporary one-time card numbers that you can use once and won’t work when copied. If your bank does not provide this service there are legitimate online platforms that can provide this service.

    While the odds of e-skimming happening to you are small, they’re not zero. It’s better to have the protection and not need it than needing it and not having it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Beware of scammers bearing checks 

    Beware of scammers bearing checks

    Currently, the Federal Government is considering sending economic relief checks to many Americans due to the effect the current pandemic has had on the economy. It is unclear just who will be eligible for those checks and how much the checks will be for. Senator Mitt Romney has stated that the government should send $1,000 checks to all Americans. Meanwhile, other reports have stated that the checks could potentially only go out to those whose employment has been affected by the pandemic. This consideration is still in its early stages and it’s important to keep in mind that no affirmative plans have been put into action at the time of this post.

    This hasn’t stopped scammers from trying to take advantage of the economic situation. Before the plan has even been finalized, scammers have been taking to the phones promising people a quick delivery of their relief checks, for a fee of course. According to the Better Business Bureaus of North Dakota and Minnesota, scammers have already been calling people promising them that they can receive their checks immediately. The scammers will then ask for your personal and financial information which they will use to either steal your identity, clean out your bank account, or both.

    If and when these stimulus checks go out, you will never have to pay a fee to receive them. The government is the last organization that would need your identifying information since they have it already. So if someone is asking for Social Security number or any other identifying information then they’re probably not with the government. The government will also never ask you to pay a fee in order to receive a payment.

    While we are currently living in uncertain times, it’s always best to have a good head on your shoulders and to not give in to panic and fear as these can be used against you by those looking to take advantage of you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus puts new twist on old scams 

    Coronavirus puts new twist on old scams

    As with any time of crisis, there is no shortage of scammers during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re not just talking about people buying insane amounts of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and trying to sell them with enormous markups. A number of scams that are preying upon covid-19 fears are just age-old scams dressed up in a coronavirus suit. Here are some more coronavirus scams to look out for.

    Johns Hopkins University has a very useful real-time map showing the spread of the coronavirus. The map from Johns Hopkins is safe as can be. However, there are malicious sites out there that have similar looking maps but are injecting malware into the user’s device that is designed to steal passwords. This malware can then spread to other devices and continue the process. If you think your device may be infected, run an antimalware application like Malwarebytes to remove the malware.

    Scammers are continuing to call people promising at home coronavirus tests. In at least one case, scammers are promising Medicare recipients a coronavirus testing kit. This is similar to many scams that prey upon Medicare patients by offering them a free medical item such as a back brace. As in other cases, the scammers are trying to get the victim’s personal information such as their Social Security number and other identifying information for potential identity theft. Please keep in mind that at the time of this posting there is no home test kit for covid-19. Testing can only be done at approved medical facilities and clinics. If you think you may have covid-19 symptoms, please call your doctor and they’ll advise you on how to get tested.

    The impersonation scam, or grandparent scam, is also having a coronavirus layer attached to it. Usually, in this scam, someone will call an elderly person and tell them that one of their grandchildren are in some kind of trouble and need money to rectify the situation. In this new version of the scam, people are being told that a loved one is in the hospital with coronavirus and can’t be treated until a deposit is paid. As much as the US healthcare system revolves around money, no hospital is going to turn away a covid-19 patient for any reason.

    Fear is to scammers like blood in the water is to a shark. These times are stressful enough without having to worry about being scammed. Don’t allow fear to override your sensibilities and you’ll be able to get through this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Tech support scams could be on the rise 

    Tech support scams could be on the rise

    Yesterday, when we discussed phishing scams that could affect people working at home for the first time, we were remiss not to mention another scam that could be targeting new remote workers. The scam we’re referring to now is the tech support scam. This scam has been a known nuisance to home computer users for years now. This scam has also ended up costing its victims thousands of dollars apiece.

    The tech support scam usually works in one of two ways. The first and most ubiquitous way is when the victim sees a pop-up on their device that tells them their device has been infected with some kind of virus or malware. The pop-up then instructs the victim to call a number that claims to be some form of official tech support for that device. Other tech support scammers will just cold call people posing as a company like Microsoft or Apple telling their victims that they have a computer virus.

    In some cases, the tech support scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. With that access, they can do a number of malicious things. For example, a man in New York State was locked out of his computer by the scammers and was told to overnight cash while thinking he was paying to have his computer repaired remotely. In other cases, the scammers could inject malware into your system that logs your usernames and passwords. And in even more cases, scammers will just rummage through your computer looking for any information that they could find valuable.

    As far as the pop-ups go that say you have a virus, you should always ignore them and close the window where they appear. You should only be concerned by warnings that are given to you by whatever antivirus protection you already have installed on your device. As far as phone calls go, companies like Microsoft, Apple or Google will never call you to notify you that you have a virus. While these companies do have a global reach, they’re not monitoring your computer for viruses. If you receive one of these phone calls, just hang up. Don’t even engage with these scammers as your number could be shared with other scammers if they know someone will answer.

    Anytime some stranger is asking you online for money to fix your ‘virus’ problem, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Are new remote workers a security threat? 

    Are new remote workers a security threat?

    With the new coronavirus recommendations designed to try to prevent the virus from spreading any further, many companies are requiring their employees to work at home. For many, this will be the first time that they will be working remotely. All these new remote workers could also mean new security risks that their employers may not be prepared for.

    One of these threats is phishing attacks. We’ve discussed phishing attacks many times before and they’re nothing new for most companies. In short, hackers or scammers will send fake emails trying to get the recipient to click on a link or download an attachment. Usually, these links or attachments contain malware that can infect a corporation’s entire system. In the corporate world, these emails often look like legitimate emails from your employer. If you receive an email like this, hover your cursor over the link to make sure it goes someplace safe. If it has an attachment, verify the sender exists within your company and then verify with them that the attachment is legitimate.

    For example in the UK, an email was sent to all the employees of several healthcare organizations asking employees to click on a link so they could register for a coronavirus safety seminar. The link went to a website that appeared to be an Outlook Web App and when the user would enter their contact information that information would then be stolen.

    Another corporate phishing attack that has been on the rise is the impersonation scam. This when an employee receives an email from a company executive’s email address but wasn’t sent from the executive. Often this scam targets payroll or other financial employees. These emails will often ask for large sums of money to be wired or to change the bank account from where the money is normally held. If you receive one of these emails it never hurts to contact the executive directly by phone to verify the transaction being requested.

    While working at home can be distracting to some, take a moment to verify questionable emails. A few minutes out of your schedule is better than bring an entire company to a halt.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Phony coronavirus websites are on the rise 

    Phony coronavirus websites are on the rise

    Previously when we discussed coronavirus related phishing attacks, we mentioned that emails sent by scammers will try to disguise themselves as being from organizations like the CDC or WHO by using similar email addresses to the actual ones. For example, if the CDC were to send an email the address would be from cdc.gov. Scammers may try to use an address like CDC-gov.com. Not being satisfied with just posing as life-saving aid organizations, scammers are now registering coronavirus related domains in droves. These are the addresses that use to go to a website such as geebo.com.

    According to cybersecurity experts, scammers are registering domains such as coronavirusstatus[.]space, coronavirus[.]zone and survivecoronavirus[.]org just to name a few. A more comprehensive list can be found at this link. Scammers are registering these domain names either to use in phishing emails or to inject malware on your device. For the foreseeable future, if you get an email with a domain name that contains the word ‘coronavirus’ or other related terms, consider it to be harmful. Any links or attachments that these emails contain should not be clicked on as they could lead to malware which could potentially steal your personal or financial information. You could then unwittingly infect all devices connected to your network.

    And again, you should be on the lookout for other coronavirus scams as well. Like we’ve mentioned before, as of the time of this posting, there is no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Anyone promising you otherwise is trying to rip you off. Testing is limited in the US right now, anyone who is not a government agency or medical professional cannot test you for coronavirus and is either pushing snake oil or trying to steal your financial information.

    While the coronavirus, or covid-19 if you prefer, is a real danger and something we should be concerned about, don’t allow fear to get the better of you. In a crisis like this, panic helps no one. Look to your local media and state government about how the virus is affecting your area and heed those warnings. If we all work together, we can get through this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Idaho, ,   

    Scary scammer targets 10-year-old on TikTok 

    Scary scammer targets 10-year-old on TikTok

    Children love social media. If they’re not messaging their friends they’re either interacting with celebrities and personalities or even creating their own content. One of the most popular social media apps among children is TikTok. It allows its users to create short videos or they can follow and watch the videos of other creators. As with most social media, users can interact with each other through comments and messages. If these interactions are not monitored it could lead to inappropriate contact and other potentially dangerous situations.

    A 10-year-old girl from Idaho was on TikTok and was recently contacted by a stranger through the app. The person who contacted her said they were looking for a ‘sugar baby’ that they could spoil with gifts and money. While this sounds like the actions of an online predator’s attempt to groom a child, this interaction took a different turn. The person who approached the girl said that in order to ‘spoil’ the girl they would need her parents’ ATM and bank card information. Thankfully, the girl was smart enough to tell her parents about the messages who in turn called local police. However, the alleged scammer could be from anywhere and no apprehension has been made and the suspect may never be caught.

    While most children love apps like TokTok that doesn’t mean they should be on them unattended. Most platforms including TikTok set the minimum age of users to 13 in their terms of service. Even if children meet the minimum age requirement that still shouldn’t mean they can be left on any social platform without having some form of monitoring. A good rule in helping keep children safe online is to instill a no devices after bedtime rule. If your children are using iPhones or iPads, iOS has parental controls that you can learn to use here. If your children are on Android phones and tablets parental control instructions can be found here. You can also find tips and tricks to keep your children safe online at the US Attorney’s Office website and NetSmartz.org.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ice cream, misnformation, UNICEF   

    UNICEF victim of coronavirus misinformation campaign 

    UNICEF victim of coronavirus misinformation campaign

    We’re sort of sorry to bring you yet another scam related to the covid-19 coronavirus. However, since there is so much misinformation surrounding the virus we felt it was better to be repetitive than not inform our readers.

    As we’re sure most of you know, the United Nations Children’s Fund, more commonly known as UNICEF, is the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Much like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef has become the victim of a misinformation campaign about the coronavirus outbreak.

    Worldwide a fake message has been spreading around social media attributed to UNICEF. The message falsely states that ice cream and other cold foods should be avoided in order to prevent coronavirus. The message has been translated into many languages and spread around the globe. This may sound much like a harmless prank but these posts also contain other false information about the virus which can be seen below.

    False post attributed to UNICEF

    This is a prime example of how fast misinformation can spread and be seen as truth in our globally connected world. Do not rely on social media for vital health information. In times of crisis like this, it is best to always check with scientific experts and medical professionals. As always, we recommend closely watching the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization as they are the foremost authorities on epidemics like this.

    Knowledge is power and right now it’s a power that could potentially save your life.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus scams are having real-world effects 

    Coronavirus scams are having real-world effects

    Previously, when we discussed scams related to the coronavirus outbreak they were mostly theoretical. Now, many of these scams have taken root in the real world and have cost their victims large sums of money. Here are some of the scams that you should avoid.

    We realize that not everybody is going to be happy with us calling some ‘alternative’ medicines a scam but if we can help one person from ingesting potentially dangerous toxins then we feel like we’ve done our job. There are several supposed cures for coronavirus that are being touted online from garlic to miracle minerals and colloidal silver. While garlic is mostly harmless it doesn’t affect coronavirus in any way. However, so-called miracle minerals contain very toxic chlorine dioxide. Colloidal silver is equally as toxic and can damage your kidneys, cause seizures and even turn your skin blue.

    In British Columbia, Canada scammers are calling residents offering them phony coronavirus testing kits for a cost. Canada has free healthcare for its citizens and actual testing is being done at provincial health offices. In the US, while tests are in short supply, they are only available through medical professionals. Anyone offering a testing kit over the phone or online is merely trying to scam you.

    In Maine, US Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, is warning her constituents about fraudsters who are pressuring their victims into buying a non-existent coronavirus vaccine. The scammers will tell the people they talk to that if they don’t pay for the phony vaccine now they won’t be able to receive treatment from their primary care doctor on any vaccine clinic. Again, as of this writing, no vaccine or cure for the Covid-19 coronavirus has been developed yet.

    In the United Kingdom, scammers have taken close to $1 million in surgical mask schemes. Victims have paid high dollar amounts for surgical masks that were never delivered. As has been stated before, while these masks have been hard to find they do not prevent the wearer from contracting Covid-19 or any other virus. The masks are only effective when worn by someone who already has a respiratory virus. Medical professionals are worried that the fear and misinformation over the virus may cause a shortage of masks in medical facilities worldwide. So unless you’re already infected, wearing a mask will do nothing to stop the spread of the virus.

    If more people started acting rationally instead of giving in to fear and misinformation we could weather this outbreak in a much more effective manner.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: airport, , , huntsville, Huntsville International Airport, ,   

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking 

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking

    Whenever we discuss the modeling scam we usually talk about how it could lead the victim into spending a lot of money that they don’t need to. For example, a number of online and radio ads for modeling jobs are actually just sales pitches for overpriced classes or photo packages. However, there is a much darker side to the modeling scam that can have grave consequences for the victims involved and that is human trafficking. Traffickers often pose as modeling or talent agents in order to find victims and a recent story shows what lengths they will go to find their victims.

    In Huntsville, Alabama it’s believed a 21-year-old woman almost fell victim to human traffickers posing as a modeling agency. If it wasn’t for her mother losing her car in the airport parking lot the woman might have never been seen again. When an airport employee saw the woman frantically looking for her car the employee stopped to help the woman. As they got to talking the woman said she had just dropped off her daughter at the terminal and that her daughter was leaving for a modeling offer in Phoenix. The mother told the employee that the agency even bought her daughter the ticket to fly to Phoenix. Thankfully, the airport employee had been trained on how to recognize human trafficking.

    Thankfully, they were able to find the woman before she boarded the plane. The employee was able to convince the woman that the modeling offer may not be on the up and up and arranged to have a police officer escort her at her destination. The employee then called the ‘agency’ to tell them that the woman would be escorted by police. It was shortly thereafter when the woman received texts from the fake modeling agency saying her flight had been canceled. Both Homeland Security and the TSA have said that the phony agency has been linked to other instances of human trafficking.

    If you or a family member has ambitions of getting into modeling, have realistic expectations of what can be achieved in such a field crowded with treachery at every turn. Always do as much research as you can into any offer or opportunity you might find. Not everyone can be a model but these scammers, predators, and traffickers target victims who believe they have a shot in the modeling or entertainment industry and take advantage of their dreams. The Federal Trade Commission website has some tips on how not to get scammed by modeling ads.

     
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