December 13, 2011

Christmas and New Year’s holidays are close. The year is almost over and feelings of love and goodwill start to go around as the end of the year approaches. It is also the time when online scammers make the most of it, taking advantage of the fact that people are less vigilant than usual. Feeling for trusting than usual perhaps, or maybe more lonely. Whatever the cause, law enforcement and private investigators agree that scams and fraud increase this time of year.
Remaining skeptical and cautious online can make this difference this season.

Internet users will be more active sending greeting cards and wishes to their friends and family by email and also getting in touch with family on the social networks, where Facebook and Twitter play a leading role, and scammers know this. The modus operandi this time is taking you by surprise by sharing links that will target your curiosity, supposedly shared by your friends: “You've got to check out this pic I've found of the two of us” or similar. You will click that link that brings you to a log page where of course your computer might start to download a virus, a key logger program or other malicious scripts. Or, you could be asked to reenter you login information to what appears to be Facebook or Twitter. Once the criminals have your login information, you’ve been a victim and there’s no turning back. And it can all happen in the matter of seconds.

Phishing scams and hackers play the numbers game and out of the thousands of attempts, hundreds become victims. In fact, more than a million computers are infected with a virus on a daily basis, many of which originate from Eastern Europe and Russia. It is a busy time for hackers that will take every opportunity to send you links that seriously compromise your computer and even your mobile device. International private investigators and other security agencies around the world, and anti-virus software companies like Symantec are warning the public about the threat, but even with educated and careful computer users, there is a real risk.

When an email or Facebook or Twitter or message is from a friend or contact, and the email or message seems completely legit, why wouldn’t you click on the link? That, say experts, is exactly why the scams are so successful. Once that click is made, often it’s too late.

The “questionnaire survey” is also a big risk. Scammers will ask your name, address, and telephone number to build a large database to be sold to third parties. Sharing links is an important part of social media dynamic, but this time scammers are making their own to be able to access valuable information about users. That information they take will be used against you, putting your friends in serious danger as well by getting private information about you and your contacts that later on will be used against them. This is information theft and leads to identity theft.

The video above does a great job at showing the scams in action. Be safe, think before you click.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2011 S. Birch
Different Themes
Posted by the Investigators

This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, S. Birch, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as stated.