Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with top industry experts to bring you the most relevant and timely updates about threats to your personal data security. One group, Scam Detector, combined with their local Better Business Bureau, produces a top ten list of threats each week, ones that are either new or gaining in popularity. Take a look at their top three scams or fraud attempts for the past week.
#1 – Vacation Deal Call Scam
It’s that time of year again, the time when the dreariness of what feels like a never-ending winter can start to get to all of us. And that’s why scammers know their victims may be tempted to fall for a phony vacation offer. In this scam, which can occur via phone call or email, you’re offered a free stay at a Hilton Hotel (or other similar high end property) due to your loyalty to the company in the past. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never stayed in a Hilton, since Hilton Hotels have nothing to do with this scam.
The purpose of this one is simply to nab your personal information—which the scammer will get by requiring your to answer a lot of personal questions in order to verify your identity—and by getting you to pay a small transaction fee for your resort vacation. Please… please… don’t fall for this one! Remember that vacation companies are not going to give you an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation for doing nothing.
#2 – Facebook Notifications
Since Facebook users sign up for an account with their emails, it’s not uncommon to receive legitimate emails informing you of activity on your account (you might actually get so many of these emails that you want to turn off the Notifications in your Facebook settings). Unfortunately, scammers know that, and have been sending out emails claiming to be from Facebook with subject lines such as, “All unread messages will be deleted.”
If you receive an email from Facebook that states there are messages in your inbox that are about to expire, there’s a simple solution: head on over to Facebook and check your inbox for yourself! Since it’s not likely that this is a legitimate message, and since it’s incredibly likely that the conveniently provided link in the scammer’s email is going to install malicious software on your computer, delete the message immediately. If you’re still unsure, again… just go check it out for yourself, but be sure to delete that email.
#3 – Infected Pop Up Messages
If you only share one piece of news today, make this one the message you share. It’s unfathomable how many people a year fall victim to pop up ads on their computers which “warn” them that their computers are infected. These little boxes have scary terminology and ominous design themes, and it’s easy to see why someone might be tempted to click, especially when the pop ups promise to clean the computer. These can include warnings that the computer has a virus, that the internet is running slowly, and more.
First of all, if you have solid antivirus software and an updated subscription on your computer, you won’t have to worry about viruses, real or imagined. You probably also won’t see these little pop ups, since the ads themselves are a form of malicious software that you accidentally downloaded. But more importantly, clicking on the ads themselves actually INSTALLS malicious software like viruses! If you receive these messages or have reason to believe your computer is infected, go get a recognized antivirus tool to clean it out instead of falling for this scam.
For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit Scam-Detector.com or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.