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Holidays increase Risk of Online Scams

The holidays mean a surge in online purchases done with laptops, cell phones, tablets and desktops.

4DOne way to be scammed is via pop-ups (on legitimate sites, but that are not connected to the site) that ask for a survey. After you complete it, you’re offered what seems like a free product. You then unknowingly set yourself up to be enrolled in a program to purchase more products—after giving your credit card information.

It’s easy to get sidetracked by pop-ups, says iovation’s Jon Karl, VP of Corporate Development in Portland. But he asks: “Who is that business on the other end of the line; do you know them? Because there’s lots of opportunities to spend your money with somebody you don’t know.” iovation is one of the biggest online fraud protection companies in the world.

“You have to be really careful when you’re clicking on offers that are coming to you,” he adds. Shoppers should be skeptical and limit how much personal information they give out. “You really should only have to give them the data that’s necessary to get a product to you. So, your name, your address and the information for your credit card.”

Avoid doing business with any retailer that requests your Social Security number or even birthdate.

Another tip from Karl is to online shop only with a credit card (not debit card or electronic check), as this offers protection for purchases gone awry.

More Tips

  • Do business only with companies you’re familiar with.
  • If you’re not sure about a company, seek out some reviews.
  • Ignore pop-up advertisements.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247

Black Money Washing Scam Plagues Naïve

Get ready to cringe. The Nigerians really have cornered the market on scamming the unsuspecting. In business, if they were to have a niche’ their clientele are the extremely naïve, very gullible and stupidly vulnerable.

Florida seems to be their stop off point in the US as many “419” scams begin and end in Florida. I think part of the reason is the immense elder population. And when you have millions of older people with connections to the Internet, something bad is bound to happen due to their inexperience with the medium.

“In March the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Highway Interdiction Unit conducted a routine traffic stop and found $20,800 in cash, black construction paper the size of dollar bills, several bottles of commonly known substances and a list of ingredients necessary to complete the “Black Wash/ Money Washing” scam.”

Honestly, I’d never heard of this one until recently, which would make me a target too!

Here’s the scam:

Scammers send thousands of phish emails regarding an unknown inheritance. Ok right there should be a red flag. But, for many who think their ship has come in, it’s opportunity. Unfortunately.

Once engaged the victim is told of the mass amounts of money needing to be snuck in/out of the country and it is dyed black to avoid detection by custom officials. OMG.

Once a meeting is arranged the victim is shown a trunk full of dyed black money, then to whet the appetite of the victims a few of the bills are pulled out and a magic solution cleans off a few nice crisp $100.00 bills. The victim now frothing at the mouth wants more.

The ruse is to get the victim to buy thousands of dollars of this magic cleaning solution for the promise of making hundreds of thousands of dollars. WOW.

Like a bait and switch shell game or 3 cards Monte, there is a bit of entertainment value in this scam and anyone who enjoys watching a stupid show like the Bachelor can get taken. Beware.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch.

Tsunami Scam Warnings Keep Coming In

In light of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent tsunami warnings in Hawaii and on the US West Coast, McAfee is warning consumers about a number of online scams that have appeared within hours of these devastating events.

Sadly, scammers seem to come out of the woodwork during a natural disaster to catch consumers when they’re in a panic, looking for answers, and when they’re most vulnerable.  People should not click on links or respond to phishing e-mails for relief donations that ask for credit card numbers or other personal information.  In addition, be wary of tiny URLs on social media services and posts on social networking sites. Hundreds of domains that could be related to the disaster have been registered so far today, including a scam site that appeared within just two hours of the earthquake.

Follow these guidelines to ensure that donations to victim relief efforts are sent through legitimate sites:

.Org domains are cheap.  Registering does not indicate charitable status in any way.  Verify that the organization is actually a registered charity by typing the URL directly into a web browser.

Domain solicitations that arrive by unsolicited email, especially those sounding overly urgent or desperate, are very likely to be scams.

Be aware that donation requests made via advertising banners can also be scams.

If you’d like to help, support one of the major international organizations that have a “most in need” fund such as the Red Cross.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing how to protect yourself from identity theft on CounterIdentityTheft.com. (Disclosures)

Holiday Shopping: Beware of Unethical Online Merchants

We have all encountered a sales clerk who was rude, a customer service representative who was incompetent and an online purchase that went south. Even I’ve been scammed out of an entire order and spent dozens of hours trying to get a return on another.

But when it comes to outrageous and shocking, including threats of violence and outright fraud, this story takes the cake.  An online merchant based in Brooklyn New York retailing designer sunglasses, some counterfeit and some real, thrives on bad customer service, over charging, making threats, stalking and abusing clients into giving up the fight over what’s right.

The merchant prides himself on getting negative feedback on consumer advocacy and review sites such as Get Satisfaction, ComplaintsBoard.comConsumerAffairs.com, RipoffReport.com, Yelp and Epinions.

He thrives on – for example “DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING FROM THIS COMPANY. This has been the most horrific experience EVER. I have extensive knowledge of website management and customer service, and they pretty much break every rule imagined. They are a total scam

The strategy of negativity gets this merchants website ranked high on search when listed with all the different opinion sites. Google and other search engines often rank a website to show on the first page of search based on how many links point to it from other prominent sites. So even though all the negative links are pointing to the unethical site from opinion sites, it still ranks on the first page of search helping its sales.

Beware of making purchases on any website based on how they rank in search. Even a first page organic hit can lead to a scammy company.

Learn from others bad experiences. ALWAYS search “Name Of Company” in Google before you make a purchase. The review sites almost always show on the first page of search when “Name Of Company” has been blacklisted.

More on THIS STORY.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch.

Phishing Scam: Using the U.S. General Commander in Iraq as Phish Food

Fishing of course is the sport of tossing a tasty wormy baited hook connected to a fishing line and patiently waiting for a fish to take the bait.

Phishing is the sport of tossing a wormy baited tasty lie connected to a wormy human and the degenerate patiently waits for a naïve victim to take the bait.

A phisher can send thousands of phish emails a day and eventually someone will get hooked.

Phishing is a $9 billion business. Unlike the ongoing depleting of the oceans fisheries, there are PLENTY of people out there to phish. Many of them today are from developing nations like India and China who are just getting a broadband connection to the internet and are considered fresh meat to the bad guy.

The New York Times reports “if you get an Internet appeal from Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, asking you to pay lots of money to get your son or daughter out of combat duty, don’t believe it. And certainly don’t send the $200,000. General Odierno acknowledged that he is but one more victim of a social networking scheme offering a big — but fake — benefit, if you send big amounts of real money.

“I’ve had several scam artists on Facebook use my Facebook page and then go out asking people for all kinds of money: ‘If you pay $200,000, your son can get sent home early,’” General Odierno said at a Pentagon news conference.

Criminals may seek out military families and target them one by one or send a blast to thousands at a time and use a ruse that pulls at the heart strings of unsuspecting families who simply want their loved-one back home.

The General posted a large warning on his social networking site. “I have this big thing on my Facebook that says, If anybody asks you for money in my name, don’t believe it,” he said. “But it’s a problem.”

Frankly, I don’t like the idea of an American General having a Facebook page. It weird’s me out. Hopefully the high commander isn’t uploading pictures of himself doing shots of tequila while driving a tank.

My guess is there is someone out there who has the money and is probably acutely unaware of this type of scam, then is probably capable of getting hooked.  But more than likely nobody will cough up $200,000. But the scammers know to start high and they will go low. They will take a $1000.00 when it comes down to it. But they also know that people won’t argue with a General and nobody will “discount” the value of their loved-ones life. So overall it’s a pretty good scam. Just don’t take the bait.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing Facebook scams on CNN. Disclosures.

Home Security: People Are Being Very Disappointing

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, I just need to point out some things and hope people will shake up their fellow man and gather some perspective. As a person of planet earth, I can tell you straight out I often get disappointed in my fellow humans. For example, a bunch of smart people who know how to suck oil out of the ocean floor are in the process of polluting that same ocean. Very disappointing.

In Boston, a 10 foot diameter water pipe broke and another pipe had to be used to divert water.  So while the water was in the temporary pipe officials suggested people boil their water for a minute to kill any potential bacteria. In response, people flocked to all the supermarkets and cleaned out all the water off the shelves. Some people punched each other and wrestled over the last case of water. Someone paid $100.00 for a case of water. Then the National Guard brought in cases of water to distribute and people lined up in their cars for miles to get a free case of water and chastised officials when it ran out.  I boiled water. It was easy. What did people do before water came in a bottle? Very disappointing.

In Georgia, more people seem to be fabricating tales of assaults and robberies these days, and police have become more aggressive in proving the lies and bringing the pretenders to justice.  People invent crimes for lots of reasons, like to hide spending from spouses or to keep embarrassing secrets. People invent crimes for lots of reasons, like to hide spending from spouses or to keep embarrassing secrets. Very disappointing.

Police across Western Washington are searching for four suspects wanted in a fatal home invasion robbery in Pierce County that started with a Craigslist posting. The homeowner was shot and killed, and his wife and sons were assaulted. Beyond very disappointing.

I’ve stopped using for this reason.  There are too many whackos and to many risks.

No matter what you are selling or buying you must know who you are dealing with on Craigslist. When we were young, our parents told us not to talk to strangers. Strangers are not yet part of our trusted circle. So don’t trust them!

Whenever possible, deal locally and meet in a populated area or even in front of the police department! People who cannot meet you in your town are more likely to be scammers. And even when you do meet in person, you should be wary.

Never engage in online transactions involving credit cards, cashier’s checks, money orders, personal checks, Western Union, MoneyGram or cash that require you to send money to a stranger in response to money they have sent you. This is an advance fee scam.

Home security tips: If you have to meet someone at your home consider keeping the meeting outside. If you have to meet inside then have someone standing next to the home security alarm ready to press the panic button or have a remote control for your wireless security alarm that will also ring the panic button.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.