Holiday Season Scammers

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Holiday Season Scammers

You’ve never heard of a fraudster involved in a shoot-out of the “Come and get me, copper!” sort. Or of some con artist needing helicopter gunships brought to him. No, subtle-mongers do it with the smile, the promise, the hint. And we have one great ally: greed. And make no mistake. Greed is everywhere, like weather.” 
― Jonathan Gash, British physician and crime writer, Gash is the pen name for John Grant.

We are entering a “season” in America – the annual holiday season.  It is, to paraphrase Dickens yet again, the best of times and the worst of times.  Some can hardly wait for the perfect memories, and the perfect cookies, smells and music.  Others just try to get through it – as they have challenges and losses that are at the top of their list of concerns.

This busy and emotional time makes each of us very vulnerable to rushing past something that we should be noticing.  Business woman extraordinaire, Pam Holland, who owns the company “Tech-Moxie” talks about cyber-fraud being rampant during the holiday season.  Here is what she wrote:

Cyber-criminals get extra creative during the holidays. We especially worry about our friends who are new to the online world or have cognitive impairment.
Watch out for emails that appear to come from:

  • Delivery companies (e.g., FedEx or UPS) stating you missed a delivery.  This is a favorite of fraudsters this time of year as people may think they missed a gift delivery.
  • Social Media Accounts (e.g, Facebook) with any type of information about your account. These are perhaps the most difficult to distinguish from legitimate notifications. (And for this reason, we recommend turning off email notifications in your social media accounts. That way you will know that any emails you receive are likely fraudulent.)
  • Financial institutions (e.g., bank, PayPal, credit card company) asking you to click on a link in an email.  Financial institutions will never ask you to click on a link in an email. If you have a question about your account, call the company, or log on to your account directly through the banks website if you already do online banking.
  • Friends.  It is easy for fraudsters to create an email that looks like it is from someone you know.  If there is a link in such a message, do not click on it.  Find a way to ask your friend if they sent you an e-mail with a link to open.   Watch out for emails with links and non-specific messages with links.

One trick to determine whether an email is fraudulent is to click on the sender’s “name” to reveal the actual email address that it was sent from.   If you notice that the e-mail address really has nothing to do with your friend, delete that message and do not open any of its links.

The scammers are NOT dumb.  They know that during the busy holiday season, we will not have time to give careful attention to every e-mail notification we received.  In that way, they “get” us.  Be careful, and don’t let down your guard.

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