Tag Archives: Hoaxes

U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Victims of fraud are increasing on a daily basis. Everyone is a target, but some people are more at risk than others. Elderly people, lonely people, and immigrants are often targets of fraudulent activity. Scams to get credit card and other financial information include email scams for moving large amounts of money, phone calls asking for financial information because a loved one is in trouble, and online matchmaking gone horribly wrong.

People have lost their livelihoods by falling victim to these scams and schemes. The United States Senate wants to put a stop to them and wants to help victims of fraud, especially elderly victims.  A new anti-fraud hotline has been unveiled to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and to receive assistance.

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FBI warns OS X Mac Users about Ransomware Purporting to be from FBI

A new version of ransomware is targeting OS X Mac users can claiming that it is coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is not malware and it appears as a webpage that uses JavaScript to load numerous windows. It requires that each frame be closed, but for that to happen a fee is requested thus the name ransomware has stuck.

A similar ransomware scam took place in May of 2012 also using the name of the FBI to lure in victims. The latest inception of ransomware uses “FBI.gov” within the URL in attempt to make the warning appear legitimate.

The scam is complicated. The warning that appears accuses victims of violating various U.S. laws, then locks up the victims computer. It claims that to unlock the computer and avoid legal issues, a fee of $300 needs to be paid via a prepaid Visa card. But the scam doesn’t end there. If a victim realizes that there is a scam taking place and attempts to close the windows, more windows (iframes) pop up with the warning.

The actual FBI website reports the simplest way to remove the ransomware’s iframes is to “click n the Safari menu, choose the “Reset Safari” option, making sure all check boxes are selected.” It also suggests holding down the Shift key while relaunching Safari to prevent reopening windows and tabs from the previous session.

“Ransomware messages are an attempt to extort money. If you have received a ransomware message, do not follow payment instructions. Be sure to file a complaint at www.IC3.gov,” says the FBI’s warning report.

All email and internet users should be warned of ransomware scams although the current version is only targeting OS X Mac users. The FBI encourages anyone who has been a victim of ransomware, e-scams, and phishing to contact the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

 

What in the Heck is Smishing?

You’ve probably heard of “phishing” – when hackers send bogus messages to your email, hoping that you’ll reply or click a link so that they can get their hands on your information. But there’s a new version of this scheme that’s gaining prevalence, and it targets your smartphone. This scam is called “smishing” as in “phishing via your SMS (text) messages.”IMG_1698

One of the most popular smishes takes the form of a “Congratulations! You’ve won X prize from X company! Reply to this message to receive your reward!” text message to your smartphone. Do not reply to messages like this! Even if you figure out that it’s a scam and you really want to reply with something like “Go blank! your blank! you scamming blank!” – don’t do it. Yes, it would be cathartic, but the act of replying will only affirm to the smishers that your phone number is active, and you’ll receive more of this type of message (plus you’ll probably just be replying to a robot anyway, and robots are unfazed by profanity).

These “congratulations” messages, if replied to, may also ask you for your credit card information to allegedly pay for the shipping and handling costs of your prize. Never give out this information in a situation like this. Many messages like these have claimed to be from Walmart or Target. The Walmart messages have been used by smishers so frequently that at one point the company issued a statement saying that they absolutely never send consumers messages asking for sensitive information via text.

Another smish is one that will claim to be from your bank or another seemingly credible or important institution. The message will claim to be urgent and will request a reply. If you receive a text like this, do not reply via text message. Instead, look up the phone number for the bank or company and call them directly.

Other tips related to smishing prevention:

  • If a text message comes from the number 5000, it’s a smish. It’s safest to delete it without even opening it.
  • You may want to set up a text alias with your provider. This will allow you to receive and send texts, but the texts that you send will show up under your “alias” rather than your real number. It’s like having a secret phone number. Then you can block incoming texts to your “real” number and give family and friends your alias. Ask your service provider about how a text alias works.
  • Never give any sensitive information (your social security number, bank account information, etc) to anyone that you don’t absolutely trust.

Don’t let yourself get smished! If you’re receiving any messages that might be from smishers, report them to your service provider. You may also want to report suspicious messages to the Federal Trade Commission.

Sources:

http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/smishing-text-messages-seek-your-credit-card-info-947348

http://netsecurity.about.com/od/secureyouremail/a/Protect-Yourself-From-Smishing-Attacks.htm

http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/family-1/avoid-the-dangers-of-smishing/

Investigator Alert: Microsoft email and telephone hoaxes resurface

It’s an “oldie” but apparently it is still a “goody” as the Microsoft technical support hoax resurfaces in an effort to trick Microsoft customers into releasing private, personal and credit card information.

There are several different methods used to gain your trust and your information.  But all of them are fakes and frauds.   Here are a few that Microsoft wants to make sure that their customers know about:

  1. Microsoft does not call customers to fix your computer.
  2. You have not won a Microsoft lottery.
  3. Credit card information is not required to verify your Microsoft account.
  4. Unsolicited email messages containing so called security updates do not come from Microsoft.
Official notifications regarding your security can be found on the Microsoft website.  But that’s not all.  There are currently 14 different updates planned to occur this week, several which are labeled “critical.”  These updates are designed to patch “holes” in the security of popular programs like Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer.  Internet Explorer will soon be updated every month instead of every other month. Security professionals seem to like this idea, “It looks like IE will be the story every month now,” said Storms, who noted there seems to be no shortage of IE vulnerabilities. “I don’t think they’re proving a point, that they’re patching just because they said they can every month, but because they have to.”
IT professionals will be happy to hear of patches to Exchange and SQL Server, “Those are two of the three things that are most important to IT in enterprises,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. “Thank goodness SharePoint’s not included. But Microsoft is hitting two out of three in just one month.”
If all else fails when it comes to fighting hackers, Microsoft may take the “if you can’t beat them hire them” attitude that they have had in the past.  After all if they are good enough to get into the system, then they are good enough to protect it.
Have you encountered any of these types of scams here is where Microsoft would  like for you to report it.

 

Five Tips for Knowing that the “Forward this to your friends and get a free (fill in the blank)” E-mail is a Fake

If your email message offering a free laptop or any other product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Find out how you can tell the fakes from the real thing in emails and giveaways.

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Facebook, Twitter and Me: Under Attack by Scams and Phishing

It’s been a busy week for me, between work, home, two sick children and the upcoming summer break from school for my older children. But what made it even more busy was the need for more vigilance as my Facebook, Twitter and email accounts came under attack of phishing schemes and scams. Find out how my week went and scams you should know about if you use these social networking sites.

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What is Mortgage Fraud through Identity Theft?

This begins a two part series on what is mortgage fraud; how it occurs and what can be done about it: such as how to protect yourself and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft and mortgage fraud.

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