Banking

December – Scams & Hoaxes

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:

Facebook: RIT Information Security / Twitter: @RIT_InfoSec / Google+: RIT Information Security Pinterest: RIT InfoSec Instagram: @RIT_infosec 

Safe Online Shopping & Banking

Safe Online Shopping & Banking

Use a Secure Computer

Make sure your computer meets the RIT Desktop & Portable Computer Standard before getting online. In addition to up-to-date anti-virus, make sure that your operating system and your web browser have the latest security patches installed.

Don't use public computers to send private information over the Internet. You cannot be sure what security measures are in place and other people may have altered settings or installed malware without your knowledge.

Research the Company/Website

Investigate any bank or retailer you are considering using. How trustworthy are they?

Use the FDIC Bank Find page to make sure the bank is insured by the FDIC.

Check the company's privacy policy. Some companies may sell your e-mail address and/or other contact information to third parties, leading to more spam in your inbox (if there is no privacy policy, you're better off avoiding that site).

Plug the website name into a search engine. What kinds of consumer reviews are returned?

If you're shopping at an auction site, check out the seller's feedback. Have other people had good experiences with them? What forms of payment will they accept?

Research the Product/Service

Learn more about the product or service you are considering. Are you getting exactly what you want? Look for fine print-are there hidden fees or terms?

Are the prices too good to be true? Insane deals are sometimes used to disguise malicious links. They may also be an indication that the product is actually a counterfeit.

What is the seller's return/exchange policy? Do they cover damaged goods?

What is the bank's policy on fraud? How much protection do they offer? Will they reimburse fraudulent transactions?

What about shipping costs? Is there a minimum purchase amount? Tip: If you're making several purchases, try to combine them on the same order when possible. Not only does it reduce the number of transactions you have to make, but you might save a bundle on shipping costs too!

Use Strong Passwords

Use a strong, unique password or pass phrase where allowed. Most online banks (and some retail websites) offer an additional layer of security such as:

Using an on-screen keyboard to enter in passwords (this protects against keyloggers).

Requiring an additional password or personal identification number.

Requiring you to answer a challenge-response question each time you login (e.g., what is your grandmother's maiden name?).

Smart cards or tokens that generate a single-use password (meaning you cannot access your account without this physical device).

Select an online banking service that uses one of the above methods or some other type of additional security protection.

Make Sure the Website Uses Encryption

When you're ready to submit your information, look for the following indicators that the website is secure:

The address bar should begin with either shttp or https (not just "http") and there must be a padlock in your web browser (the location varies by browser, it usually appears in the address bar or the status bar at the bottom).

Never submit your login information by e-mail. Scammers go to great lengths to make e-mails appear genuine, but no legitimate bank or retailer will ever ask you to submit private information by e-mail.

Use a Secure Payment Method

When shopping through an online retailer or through an auction site, make sure you use a secure payment method.

Credit cards are one of the safer options. Federal law limits your liability in the event of credit card fraud to only $50. MasterCard and Visa also offer zero liability for most debit card transactions as well.

See if your bank or credit card issuer offers one-time use or "virtual" card numbers. These are card numbers that you can sign up for and activate for a limited time period. They still link to your regular card/account, however the number is completely different. This means your active account number doesn't have to be transmitted over the Internet at all.

Never give out a bank account number to anyone, and be wary of anyone who insists upon cash or wire transfer only.

Monitor Your Accounts

Keep track of all your purchases/account history from start to finish and beyond.

Print out all your orders and receipts, as well as e-mail confirmations and product descriptions. If possible, request that your bank mail you a monthly account statement and compare it to your online statements.

Follow up your purchases by closely watching your bank account and/or credit card statements to monitor for any unauthorized transactions.

You may also want to check your credit report annually (check for free at www.annualcreditreport.com).

Problems and Complaints

Online Banking Complaints

There are several different organizations that regulate financial institutions in the United States. The links below provide additional information on safe online banking as well as instructions for filing a complaint:

FDIC - Safe Internet Banking
http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/online/safe.html

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - Online Brokerage Accounts: What You Can Do to Safeguard Your Money and Your Personal Information
http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/onlinebrokerage.htm

New York Fed - Tips for Safe Banking Over the Internet
http://www.newyorkfed.org/education/addpub/safeinternet.pdf

Online Shopping Complaints

If you think you have been a victim of online shopping fraud and/or cannot resolve a problem with the seller, contact the following agencies:

Better Business Bureau
https://odr.bbb.org/odrweb/public/GetStarted.aspx

Additional Links

Online Shopping Tips

http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ocs/

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/happy-holiday-shopping

http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/protect-your-personal-information/online-shopping

http://www.safeshopping.org

Online Banking

FDIC Bank Find:
http://www2.fdic.gov/idasp/main_bankfind.asp

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