THE BLOG'S THREE MAIN OBJECTIVES:
~*Revealing and Getting Rid of Scams | Creating Honest Sustainable Wealth | Offering Happiness, Safety and Legitimacy*~

Sunday, 30 December 2007

'Tis the Season for Scams

By Catherine Holahan

Ah, the holidays -- that most wonderful time of year when the Web is aflutter with e-mailed season's greetings, online shopping offers and cyber criminals. The scams run the gamut, from fraudulent e-mails purporting to be alerts about online transactions to scam gift offers. "There is always an effort by the criminal underground to separate victims from their money this time of year," says Paul Ferguson, an advanced threat researcher with Trend Micro, a security software provider.

Cybercriminals know it's easier to get people to fall for scams related to online shopping when they have shopping on the brain. It also doesn't hurt that the legitimate act of online shopping often involves visits to comparison-shopping sites and strange discount sites. So it's little surprise that some of those destinations turn out to be fake. "People are particularly vulnerable this time of year because they are looking for bargains," says Bill Loesch, chief technical officer and co-founder of GuardID, the maker of a device, similar to a USB memory stick, that stores account information and verifies the identity of financial sites.

The rising popularity of online shopping makes for a target-rich environment. Consumers have spent about $25 billion online since Nov. 1, according to a Dec. 20 comScore (NasdaqGM:SCOR - News) study. That's a 19% increase from last year. Security firms expect a similar increase in the amount of online fraud, bringing the total amount lost online to $3.6 billion this year, according to a November survey by CyberSource (NasdaqGM:CYBS - News), an electronic payment and risk management firm.

So what can consumers do to protect themselves from unwittingly buying someone else's holiday gifts this season? For starters, they can keep an eye out for the following common holiday scams:

Phishing

You've probably heard the one about the Nigerian bank manager who needs your "confidential" help opening a U.S. account to transfer millions in oil-related profits. But those "dear friend" e-mails are fairly primitive compared with some of the devious phishing techniques criminals have come up with to trick consumers into handing over account information.

In fact, phishing attacks have become more successful in recent years. According to a survey by research firm Gartner, released Dec. 17, more than 3.6 million adults lost money as a result of phishing in the 12 months ending in August, 2007. That's up from 2.3 million people in 2006.

One reason for the increase is the ingenuity of the scams themselves, which can look identical to legitimate notices from financial institutions such as Citibank (NYSE:C - News) and PayPal, the leading online payment service from eBay (NasdaqGS:EBAY - News). Many of these e-mails open with warnings of imminent account cancellations or detection of fraudulent activity, which can make consumers more likely to click a link in hopes of rectifying the problem.

But the link typically directs to a fraudulent copycat site or downloads malware -- software that scoops up account and other information -- onto the computer, says Shane Keats, a research analyst with McAfee (NYSE:MFE - News), a security software provider. "At some point this season you will get an e-mail saying that your auction account has been hacked and you must respond now," says Keats. "Don't panic. It is not real. The auction sites and the banks don't send that information by e-mail."

For instance, phishing e-mails purporting to be from PayPal often begin with "Dear PayPal user" or "Dear PayPal member." On its Web site, PayPal says it uses first and last names of customers when sending them e-mails; anything without the full name is a scam. PayPal also has an e-mail address, spoof@paypal.com, where users can report notices they suspect are fraudulent.

The key to avoiding these scams is to avoid clicking on such e-mail links altogether. For consumers who do open such links, Keats says that if the URL is unusually long or consists of all numbers, it likely isn't legitimate. Misspellings on the site and grammatical errors are also giveaways.

Even sites without such obvious mistakes can be fraudulent. "Honestly, it is very hard to tell," says Keats. Not surprisingly, he and other experts from security outfits say the best way to avoid such sites is to download their security software. Many security companies, including McAfee, offer basic security software, or at least limited-time trials, for free online.

Gift-Card Scams

Gift cards are a wildly popular way for many retailers to take advantage of the desire to purchase a present rather than buy an item someone will only want to return. In recent years, they have also become a favorite means for criminals to launder money, says David Gilles, director of the anti-money laundering group of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services.

Here's how it works: A criminal uses cash earned by illicit means to buys a number of stored-value cards, such as phone cards or gift cards, to condense the funds and make it easier to hide the source of income. He can then use the cards for transactions under the guise of redeeming a gift from some legally employed friend. More often than not, however, the criminal sells the cards to other people, often at a slight loss. This allows criminals to obtain a more legitimate source of funds, such as a personal check or online bank transfer, which can be used to open a bank account. Consumers who buy the cards, often through online auction sites, believe they are getting a deal.

Online gift-card buyers also risk purchasing cards that someone else has access to. Thieves can rip off the gift-card number while it sits in a store display and when the proper owner uses the compromised card, the funds have often already been spent. One way around this is to avoid buying gift cards off the rack where other people clearly may have had access to them. Gift cards for major retailers are typically not on display.

Fraudulent Charities

It seems particularly heartless for criminals to take advantage of the increased generosity many exhibit during the holidays. But if criminals had big hearts, they wouldn't be trying to steal your money, right? "What you will see is stuff (such as e-mails) from your favorite charity, or a charity that you may not have even heard of but it sounds very compelling," says McAfee's Keats. The e-mails typically link to a fraudulent charity site where visitors can submit their account information or credit-card numbers in order to give funds.

"Win a Free Gift" Sites

Keats calls these sites "breakage" sites. There actually may be a prize at the end, such as a free iPod, but 99% of consumers will close their Web browser before they ever get close to the prize. Owners of such sites make sure that they have included enough hurdles to jump through, such as signing up to receive weekly astrology e-mails or a free trial magazine subscription, to frustrate most consumers.

While not technically a scam -- there is, after all, a prize at the end -- such sites are designed to ensure that users provide their personal information to spammers and other unknown sources for little chance of a payoff.

Keylogging Programs

Programs that monitor the letters and numbers that people type into Web sites are a particular threat during the holidays. Typically, such programs are unwittingly downloaded by PC users who visit virus-ridden Web sites, open an infected e-mail attachment, or even click on a compromised ad with an embedded virus. Web surfers are not necessarily any more likely to download such programs during the holidays, but they are more likely to be entering financial information into myriad shopping sites. "It's not what you catch today, it's what you caught in September that can hurt you now," says David Perry, Trend Micro's global director of security education.

The best advice to avoid many of these scams, of course, is to exercise common sense. "The Web is the same as real life," says Keats. "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This photo is very immpressive, you are good photographer

Anonymous said...

[url=http://ivlkrwnnz.com]KdOgrbDaxRRgV[/url] , ulLqxjSDFyRQoZ - http://yuxeflk.com

Anonymous said...

Ѕupеrb, whаt a ωeblog іt іs!

Τhis blog provides valuаble ԁata tο uѕ, keеp it up.


Му web blog - just click the following internet page

Anonymous said...

Stunning quеѕt thеre. What оccurгeԁ after?
Thanks!

My рage; Read the Full Report
My web site: kostenlos spielen ohne anmeldung

Anonymous said...

Tomb Raider, Mega Moolah, Mermaid's Millions, and Blackjack are some of the new Android game apps that have been released from Microgaming's
partner, Spin 3. Naturally the ideal situation is to be able to lose weight really fast with a little amount of discomfort.
The reason for this rather strange feature is that, as described above,
apps in the Android Market are listed as they are submitted, without any
testing.

my website: youtube downloader online

Anonymous said...

Knee braces are designed for a particular kind of knee injury or knee problem first and
foremost, and then you should consider the sport of skiing.
Der primäre Punkt, halten den Sport übertragen
in einem langsameren Tempo kann die Art der Wette zu platzieren erwerben.
Many Thai sellers sell it on e - Bay and ecrater though, so if you're interested in trying some it shouldn't be
too difficult to get.

My site http://cin.ufpe.br/~if669/index.php?title=implijer:lenoraher
my web page: 5 kg abnehmen in 1 monaten

Anonymous said...

It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

my web site :: linked web-site

Anonymous said...

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made available to communities literature
which provides guidance and technical information educating communities
on how to become disaster resistant in the face of
natural disasters. Remove other nearby wireless devices, such as a cordless or cellular telephone and make sure the mouse is at least eight inches away from a wireless keyboard.
While the older 17 inch Mac - Book Pros lack the benefits of the unibody design,
they do have the added feature of user-replaceable batteries.


Take a look at my page; gratis spiele
my web site :: internet radio

Anonymous said...

The most important thing to know when you are selling an
account is where you are going to sell. Each program will have a box with a
checkmark, find the programs you'd like to uninstall and uncheck that box. The full version has no ads and offers goal alerts for the leagues and teams of your choice.

Also visit my web site :: radio sender

Anonymous said...

If there is a change in the search engine algorithms, it
is also up to the service provider to keep a
watch on such activities. This means you tend to be copying it through file sharing
websites like rapidshare, megaupload, hotfile, etcetera.
The more doors you have the more chances of people finding it.
SEO (search engine optimization) and keyword density are terms that scare many a writer who want to write
for the internet. If you simply copy the original manufacturer's description, you don't add value to your product and you certainly don't add your personal touch that can make you stand out from your competitors. There are so many good blogs out there, and if you're
one of those writers, you definitely know how important it is that
your site gets heard through all of the noise. Domain Authority is influenced by:.
Having realized that it is practically not possible to combat with SEO Next
in terms of services and offerings at this point
of time, rivals have started thinking of an easier alternative of being successful in their mission.
Isn't that something you and your business should be a part of. Over the years, web promotion has made a mark in the industry and has helped numerous entrepreneurs to build large business return through web. Use SEM experts to recognize duplicate content as part of your website, and act immediately to have it settled. ), watching movie trailers or other people's funny animal videos.
Effective SEO techniques for Bloggers aren't any different. You can find several internet marketing companies across the world. Create a general, high-level category in which you want to manage all phrases'for
example 'global,' 'online,' 'channel,' and so on.

As of now, Thomas Lenarz has helped many people
get the information on reputed SEO companies.

Today, it is necessary that you scout the market for the best SEO Host that can help
you achieve this. When a person enters a keyword into the search box
of a particular search engine such as Google, there will be scores of results showing out which are a
result of a search engine algorithm devised by that particular search engine.
And make the work flow smoothly, using good grammar at all times.
Image Optimization is also a part of SEO services in
Pune.

Also visit my website; ukmigrantvisas.com

Goldman Sachs Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts