Wow, a dog that normally sells for at least a thousand bucks is being given away for free, and it’s young and healthy. Hmmm. The ad is on Facebook, too. Double hmmm.
In Lorain, Ohio, Jessica was that person who saw the Facebook ad—for a free English bulldog puppy. Free! But she had to pay shipping costs. Then she had to pay for shots and medical bills. Jessica ended up paying $6,500 for a free puppy. Amazingly, only e-mail was used for correspondence with the alleged puppy’s owner.
Would Jessica have had to spend this kind of money in a legitimate transaction for an English bulldog puppy? Maybe to some extent. Except in this case, she never got the puppy. And she never got her money back. She ended up in the doghouse.
How to Prevent These Scams
- Don’t pay for a puppy you’ve never held in your hands. Easier said than done, but there’s no breed out there that’s so rare that you can’t visit up close and personal. This way you can meet the owner, know that the puppy actually exists, and have a firmer grasp on the seller.
- Don’t be fooled by glorious photos of animals on websites. It’s so easy to lift photos from legitimate sources and put them up on a phony site that a third grader could do it.
- Be very careful about whom you send money to. Don’t wire it or use prepaid cards.
- An ad with misspellings and grammatical errors is suspect, but even a crook can have good writing skills. But if an ad is cluttered with poor English, this is a bright red flag since many pet scams come from overseas.
- Watch out for sob stories such as needing to find a home for “Roxie” because her owner is being deployed to a war zone.
- Make sure the puppy has “papers.” This means that the breeder can provide documentation that the puppy’s parents have been registered with the appropriate kennel club. This means that the dog is a legitimately pure-bred. And once you receive it, you should register it with the appropriate kennel club.
Your computer probably has a virus if you can answer “Yes” to any of the questions below:
Is your computer running quite slowly?
A virus often causes a computer to run slowly. But realize that this symptom can also mean that a computer needs more memory, or that the hard disk needs defragmenting. It can also mean spyware or adware is present.
Are programs automatically starting?
A virus may damage some programs. And in some cases programs might not start at all.
Are unexpected messages occurring?
A viral infection can make messages appear unexpectedly.
Does your Windows program suddenly shut down?
A virus can do this, too.
Is your hard disk or modem working overtime?
Ane-mail virus sends many duplicates of itself by e-mail. You can tell this might be happening if the activity light on your external modem or broadband is constantly lit. Another clue is that you can hear your computer’s hard disk constantly working.
These situations don’t always mean a virus, but they shouldn’t be ignored, especially if there are other problems occurring.
If you already have the latest version of a solid antivirus program, it should spot a virus that’s already in your computer and even a virus that’s about to be downloaded.
Antivirus software works best when it’s programmed to scan your computer at regularly timed intervals (this way you won’t have to remember to manually do it). The software should also automatically download updates to your computer for antivirus definitions.
A reputable antivirus software system should be able to detect a virus trying to get into your computer or one that’s already present. As viruses are always evolving, there may be an invader that your software does not yet recognize, but probably soon will, once an update occurs of a new virus definition.
When a reliable antivirus program spots a virus it will quarantine it. You’ll then be asked if you want to promptly delete it or set it aside. This is because there may be times when the antivirus software thinks that a legitimate program or file is a virus. You then get the opportunity to restore the program or file.Filed Under: viruses
OpenSSL vulnerabilities are sticking around for a while. In fact, recently two new ones were announced: One allows criminals to run an arbitrary code on a vulnerable computer/device, and the other allows man-in-the-middle attacks. A more famous openSSL vulnerability that made headlines earlier this year is the Heartbleed bug.
As reported in SC Magazine, Yes, says Hunton & Williams LLP. Cybersecurity insurance fixes the problems that these vulnerabilities cause—that technology alone can’t always mitigate.
Hunton & Williams LLP reports that GameOver Zeus malware infiltrated half a million to a million computers, resulting in gargantuan losses to businesses and consumers. The firm says that antivirus software just isn’t enough to prevent mass infection. The fact is, advances in malicious code have rendered antivirus software frightfully weak, continues the firm..While not everyone agrees on this point, Hunton & Williams recommends a proactive approach which includes assessment of risk transfer methods, e.g., insurance.
Laurie Mercer, from the security consulting company Contest Information Security, also believes in cybersecurity insurance. Mercer uses cars as an analogy. A car must stick to safety standards. The car gets serviced every so often. But the car also has various buttons and whatnots inside that can alert the driver of a problem.
Likewise, with cybersecurity, products can be certified with commercial product assurance accreditation. A website can get a regular security audit every so often. And like the interior buttons of a car, a website can have a response strategy to a cyber incident or some kind of detection for an attack. However, the car should still be insured.
At a recent SC Congress London, Sarah Stephens from Aon EMEA pointed out that cyber insurance is rising in popularity. But Andrew Rose, a security analyst with Forrester, noted that many threats can be resolved with adequate plans in place.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.Filed Under: cybersecurity
Data breaches need not be launched maliciously in order to be very troublesome, as was the case involving about 3,700 Medicare Advantage members. Freedom Blue and Security Blue members received risk assessment results that actually belonged to other individuals. The addresses, birthdates, member ID numbers and medical information of some members ended up in the hands of other members.
And how? An innocent mistake committed by a mailroom employee. Though there was no evidence of malicious use of this personal information, it just goes to show you how easily a person’s private information can end up in a stranger’s hands. Imagine receiving a stranger’s medical information in your mailbox. It would make you think twice about trusting the company with your personal information in the future.
Members were notified of this error after the insurer spent a month exploring how it happened. Though the unintended recipients received information about other members’ scores on mood tests, medications and results of frailty tests, at least the Social Security numbers weren’t revealed.
If a breach affects more than 500 people, law requires that the health industry alert the Health and Human Services Department, which will then launch an investigation. The affected consumers, and local news outlets, are also required to be notified.
Highmark Inc., the health insurance company whose members were affected by the mailroom breach, changed the member ID numbers of the affected members or those who might have been affected. Sixty-three members received forms pertaining to other people, and 233 never received a mailing, suggesting that their forms possibly went to other members.
As for the bumbling employee, that person was fired. The other employees are being retrained, and Highmark will implement a bar code system on all mailings, which is one proper way to track breach notification letter mailings to ensure the right pieces of mail end up in the right hands and avoid over-stuffing or mis-stuffing of envelopes..
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.
Filed Under: Data Breaches
Somewhere out there is a dictionary that when you look up the term wire money, the definition says scam! Even though legitimate money-transfer businesses exist like Western Union, a request to wire money for that new car or vacation package is most probably a rip-off.
And the crooks behind these rackets are figuring out ways to overcome the increased awareness of consumers to the money-wiring scams. They’ve come up with yet another way to steal your money. Thieves are requesting reloadable prepaid cards.
Would you hand a well-fed-looking masked man on the street your wallet? (Let’s pretend for a moment he’s not pointing a gun at you and is simply asking for your money). Of course you wouldn’t give it to him.
But this is what people essentially do when wiring money or sending in the prepaid cards.
Here’s how it works: The thief makes a request to load your cash onto your card (to pay for whatever), and then send over the card number and PIN. This way, the crook can put your money onto their own cards. They then can go to an ATM and take out cash or spend your money at a store. Meanwhile you never receive the item you thought you were purchasing, like that adorable pedigree puppy you saw online.
But the scams don’t stop at buying puppies, vacation packages, cars or other common items. They can also come in the form of a notice that you won a prize, and that you need to send in a prepaid card to pay a processing fee. Sometimes the scam comes in the form of a utility company payment or even government payment.
Bottom line: Don’t send anyone prepaid cards!
In that same dictionary after the term prepaid cards is scam!Filed Under: Credit Card Fraud
A few bungling burglars will be paying lots of time for their crime: one in prison and one six feet under.
It all began in St. Louis’s Bevo Mill neighborhood when a 17-year-old girl was outside to retrieve something from her car. Two gunmen ordered her back into her house. It didn’t occur to them that inside might be two bears: a papa bear and mama bear, ready to grab their guns and fire.
The girl’s father fetched his gun and fired several rounds, hitting 31-year-old Terrell Johnson, killing him at the scene. The other man, Cortez McClinton, 33, got away with wounds to his chest and upper legs, but was taken to a hospital by his brother.
McClinton has been charged with second-degree murder for Johnson’s death. That’s because if a suspect dies while a felony is being committed, the accomplice can be charged with murder: felony murder, it’s called. Of course, McClinton has been charged also with first-degree burglary, plus kidnapping and armed criminal action.
The homeowner and his daughter were not harmed. The girl’s mother had also taken some shots at the gunmen, but missed. The parents are not being charged.
Much of this can be avoided by being proactive and investing in home security.
- Hide valuables such as jewelry, preferably in a safe.
- Lock all entries to your home even if you’re away for only a few minutes.
- Leaving an outside light on constantly, tells burglars you may not be home. Use an automatic timer instead.
- Get a home security system.
If you think that retailers are the biggest target for cyber criminals, you have it more than a wee bit wrong. Hackers are really going after the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. In fact, “Will Healthcare Be the Next Retail?” is the name of a recent report released by BitSight Technologies, a security ratings firm.
The report claims that not all victims of healthcare hacking report breaches, so figuring out the total number of these attacks is difficult. However, the Ponemon Institute released a report stating that hacking into healthcare and insurance companies has jumped 100 percent since 2010.
Why such a jump? It could be due to the fact that healthcare-type enterprises have gotten onto the BYOD (bring your own device) bandwagon. This is almost analogous to an employee infected with a stomach virus coming into the building and spreading the sickness.
Another dynamic: as more doctors use technology to stay connected to their patients, it won’t be surprising to see breaches become more common in the healthcare sector.
What distinguishes healthcare-industry hacking from retail hacking is that the retail hacker simply wants a credit card number. But the crook who cracks into medical records—that’s your patients’ individual profile chockfull of personal medical information.
Healthcare hackers may want to steal your patients’ identities to commit insurance fraud, so your records should be diligently monitored.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.Filed Under: healthcare
“You have won!” Yippeeee! NOT! Let’s see if you’re in that percentage of the population who will fall for this lottery scam. The alert can be an e-mail, snail mail or phone call, claiming you won a bundle of money. But keep this alert a secret due to some “mix-up in names” and you must contact a “claims agent.” You then must pay “processing charges” or “transfer fees.” You then wait. And wait. And wait.
The latest con is to tell someone they won a Powerball jackpot while planning on stealing their identity. This happened to Jim Shella, a newsman from Indianapolis. From a random number he received several texts mentioning his name and saying he won.
Deputy Attorney General Terry Tolliver knew this was a scam. A text requested Shella’s Facebook screen name for confirmation. The requests for personal information, in these scams, will escalate. Shella texted back asking for identification. The answer: “This is Agent Paul, the delivery consultant for Powerball.” When Shella said he had no winning ticket, Agent Paul said that none were necessary to collect the $26,500.
Shella said he was a reporter and asked Agent Paul if he wanted to be in a story. Agent Paul asked if Shella wanted his winnings. Tolliver warns that these scammers will attempt to suck enough information out of you to steal your identity. Though Shella was playing head games with the crook, it’s best to delete the first text message you get like this and never respond.
How to recognize a lottery scam
- You can’t win without a ticket. Period. So if someone claims you won, and you didn’t buy a ticket, it’s a scam.
- You must pay a fee. Legitimate operations subtract fees and taxes from the winnings rather than demand you pay an amount in order to collect the prize.
- Scams almost always originate from free e-mail accounts like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail.
It’s August which for parents (and kids) means it is back to school time. It can be easy to reminisce about your school days—passing notes to the cute girl or boy in class, late-night study sessions with friends, or playing tag on the playground.
But your kids’ school experience is way different from when you were in school. Snapchat, Facebook, and text messaging have replaced those folded handwritten notes. Educational apps have replaced flash cards. A lot of your kids have their own smartphone or are probably asking for them.
Your kids are growing up as digital natives, with technology playing a part in almost every aspect of their lives. In a study conducted earlier this year, McAfee found that 54% of teens and tweens spend more than 10 hours online per week and over 60% use either Snapchat, YouTube or Instagram on a daily basis.
And while our kids may be digitally savvy, McAfee found that while 90% of tweens and teens believe their parents trust them to do what is right online, almost half (45%) would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching. So it’s critical that we stay one step ahead of our kids.
With all this technology available, there comes new responsibilities for us as parents. It’s important that we take the time to teach our children how to safely navigate the digital world. Here’s some ways to protect your kids online:
- Turn off GPS services. Encourage your child to disable this option to keep their location invisible to strangers.
- Enable privacy settings. This is something we should all do and the McAfee study found that over 1/3 of youth did not use these on their social networking profiles.
- Discuss the reality of cyberbullying. In the McAfee study, 87% of kids have witnessed cyberbullying and 24% said they would not know what to do if they were cyberbullied.
- Teach them what is appropriate to share. 50% of tweens and teens share their email address, while 30% post their phone number and a whopping 14% posted their home address.
To help keep our kids safe online, McAfee and HP have teamed together to promote online safety during the Back to School season —and give you a chance to win prizes. To learn more, go to www.BTStips.com to enter to win!
Cheers to a safe, fun school year!
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.Filed Under: online safety
The Better Business Bureau says beware of big summertime scams: five in particular.
“Wow, it’s a steal!” No, that’s not necessarily from the customer; it’s from the crook who entices the consumer with an irresistible deal involving airfare and room and board. If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, do an online search of the associated phone number and address, whatever it takes to confirm legitimacy.
Seasonal jobs. Con artists like to target high school and college students especially. Be careful about job ads stating that no experience is needed, though these can be legit. However, be extra cautious if the company requires you to pay for training or to pay for a background check.
Concert tickets. Con artists will attempt to resell the same ticket over and over, as the ticket can be printed out when a concert venue sells it directly from their website. Be suspicious of someone giving you a sob story for why they must sell their ticket. Be leery of those who will take only a cash payment.
Movers. Planning on moving this summer? Beware of whom you hire, and take a second look at a price that seems like an outrageously good deal. A cost that’s quoted online or over the phone isn’t always carved out in stone. Don’t just hire without first checking them out, even if they were recommended by friends or a service person you recently hired and were pleased with.
Door to door sales. Don’t be swayed by someone at your door. Get everything in writing before you hire someone, be it for landscaping or a security system. Never sign a contract that lacks a start and finish date.Filed Under: scams