Top Ten Scams

August 12, 2009

It’s important for all of us to be aware of scams. Some scams are very clever and easy to fall victim to. Knowing about these scams helps us recognize them and avoid falling victim to them.

So, without further ado, Cyber Tek Computer Pros presents the top ten scams.

Number 10:

You get a message on a social networking site like Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. The message appears to be from one of your online friends saying they are in trouble and need money sent to a specified address.

What has happened is that someone has hacked into your friend’s account on one of the social networking sites like Facebook. The message you got was not really from your friend.

If you get a message like this, call your friend to make sure it’s really them before you send money.

Number 9:

You get an e-mail that predicts the result of a sports event like a football game. The next day, the prediction comes true. Over the next few weeks, you get similar e-mails correctly predicting the outcome of other football games. You then get an e-mail saying that you can purchase future predictions saying you can use the information to gamble and win a lot of money.

What has happened is statistics. These crooks send out e-mails to a large number of people with different results. Statistically, one of the e-mails will be right. Because of the massive amount of e-mails they send out, it still ends up being a good number of people who get the e-mails with the correct “predictions” in them. So they really aren’t accurately predicting the results.

Don’t answer, reply to, or send money in response to any e-mail and unless you are absolutely sure that e-mail is from someone you know and trust, or from a company you know and trust.

Number 8:

You receive an e-mail, phone call, or letter offering assistance through these hard economic times. The assistance comes in the form of mortgage foreclosure rescue, loans, debt consolidation loans, assistance with repossession, and offers to fix your credit rating.

Although there are legitimate companies who offer debt consolidation loans, most of these services are scams. Avoid them.

Number 7:

You get a phone call from someone saying that your granddaughter has been in a traffic accident. Cries for help can sometimes be heard in the background and the caller often screams as well stating that your granddaughter needs money sent immediately to cover the medical costs.

If someone you don’t know calls asking for money on behalf of one of your friends or relatives, verify before you do anything. Insist on talking to your relative or call other relatives to verify the story.

Number 6:

A customer wants to overpay using a cashier’s check and may ask  you to give the excess back in change. This type of scam is usually done for large purchases, not small ones.

What happens is that the cashier’s check turns out to be stolen or forged. Not only are you out the money for the product and the product itself, but the change you gave them as well.

If someone pays with a cashier’s check, make sure it’s for the exact amount they owe. If possible, wait to ship the product until you have money in hand.

Number 5:

You purchase a product or service either online, on the phone, or through the mail. What you thought was a one-time payment is charged to you every month. A related scam involves when you sign up for a limited trial and are required to give a credit card “for verification only”.

Basically, don’t give your credit card to any vendor without checking them out first. Type the name of the company into Google and see what you get back. There are lots of consumer sites on the internet.

Number 4:

You get a phone call from someone who says there has been a security risk on your account. The caller then conferences in your real bank whose representative asks you for sensitive information like pin number, account number, etc. The bank says everything is fine and the call is over.

What you didn’t know was that the personal who originally called was still on the phone and heard all of that sensitive information you gave your bank. Now the scammer has that information.

Number 3:

You get an e-mail with an attachment. The e-mail could say all sorts of different things. It could appear to be from a company or a friend. The e-mail may not even mention the attachment. You open the attachment and nothing happens. You go about your business.

When you opened the attachment, you infected your computer. Don’t open attachments to e-mails. Even if an attachment is a picture or video, it can be dangerous.

Number 2:

You purchase something on ebay or some other auction site. You use an escrow service which is supposed to make the transaction safer. Buyers send the money for the item to the escrow service who holds the money until the buyer receives the merchandise. Then the escrow service sends the money to the seller once they get the go ahead from the buyer. If the buyer does not receive the merchandise, or there is something wrong with the merchandise, the escrow service can return the money to the buyer, thus protecting the buyer from fraudulent sellers. There are many reputable escrow services, but some are not reputable. The fraudulent ones never send the money to the seller or return it to the buyer. These fake escrow services come and go quickly.

If you are going to use an escrow service, check them out carefully and make sure they have been in business for a while.

And the number 1 scam is:

You get an e-mail from a financial institution of some sort. These often tell you about a problem with your account, a security breach, password reset, or something like that. They provide a link to make it convenient for you to go to their website and fix the problem. You click on the link, login, provide the information asked for and you’re done.

However, the link that was in the e-mail didn’t go to your financial institution. It went to a website that was made to look just like your financial institution’s website. The login information and any other information you typed in is now in the hands of criminals who can use that information to steal the money you had in that financial institution, or use it for identity theft. This is called a phish.

To avoid this, do not click on any links in an e-mail, even if it appears to be from someone you do business with. When you get one of these e-mails, simply pull up your web browser and manually go to your financial institution’s website. Most likely you will find there is not problem with your account.

We hope this has been helpful to you.

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