December – Scams & Hoaxes
The last month of 2014 has arrived. December is full of joy because the holidays’ spirit is around all month. There is a long break from classes and its Christmas time! Unfortunately, this is also the reason why it’s become scamming season as well. The generous nature of these holidays makes all of us the perfect target of scams and hoax.
From emails to ads and websites, there all kinds of scams and hoaxes infesting the Internet’s waters. Falling for any of them is as easy as one click away. The only way to stay safe is by being cautious whenever we navigate the Internet and by keeping updated about all the new scams and hoaxes that emerge. Scammers like to take advantage of the generous spirit of this giving season to trick us into clicking into malware, identity or personal information theft, fake gift cards, and all sorts of scams.
Helping you stay safe online is RIT Information Security Office´s responsibility, it’s a full-time job that we take very seriously, which is why during this whole month, including the break, we will be giving away information and security tips about scams and hoaxes through all of our social media gadgets. We encourage you to be extra cautious during this season, so that your joyful mood is not ruined for Christmas!
The following tips will help you prevent falling for cyber-traps:
- Be very suspicious of emails from people or businesses you don't know, especially those that promise money, good health or a solution to your problems.
- Remember that while banks never ask for confidential information via email, scam and hoax emails are intended to trick you into disclosing personal information such as bank account details, passwords or credit card numbers.
- Scammers put a lot of time and effort into making emails and websites look real. Be skeptical always and pay attention to anything that looks suspicious.
- Unless you applied for a “lottery” or are participating in any contest, -and even if you have-, it’s VERY unlikely that you won. Be careful with scams emails that claim you have been selected as a “WINNER”.
- Beware of shipping notification emails that contain attachments or links; it could be a scam, especially if you didn’t order anything.
- Never reply to an email or pop-up message that requests your personal or financial information, don’t click on the links in the message either, or paste them into your Web browser. Simply ignore and erase those messages.
- If you get a notice from an “official” from a foreign agency or government with an offer to transfer a commission into your bank account in exchange for assisting them with transferring a large sum of money, it is probably a scam.
- Scams don’t just appear in online forms, you must also be careful with bogus security products. Never let someone who calls you, mess with your computer.
- Some scammers send Online Extortions threatening the recipient to kill them if they don’t pay a large sum of money to the sender, who claims to be a hired assassin. The FBI advises against replying and recommends just deleting the email.
- Research any charities before donating to make sure it’s actually going where it says it is.
- There are many fake mystery shopping opportunities out there. A legitimate one will not ask you to pay an application fee or to deposit a check or wire money to someone else.
- There are some legitimate free e-book offers like Amazon’s free Kindle books, but there are also many free e-books out there filled with spam links and malware designed to catch your credit card information. Stick with e-book sellers and authors you already know, advises the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- During this giving season you will probably be doing a lot of online shopping. Check out our tips for safe online shopping and banking: http://www.rit.edu/security/content/safe-online-shopping-banking
- Keep updated with the latest Internet scams and email hoaxes so you don’t become a victem: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/latest-information.html
- Check McAfee’s 12 scams of the holidays http://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/12-scams-of-holidays
Follow us on all of our social media accounts for more tips and information: