Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office issues online holiday scam alert
by Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
November 29, 2012
Rock Springs - The holidays are here. Unfortunately, so are the scammers who take advantage of the season with a wide range of Internet ripoffs.
Sheriff Rich Haskell and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office have issued a Holiday Scam Alert that provides a list of recommendations to help people avoid being victimized by Internet cybercriminals
Phony Gift Cards
Be wary of emails you receive from third parties offering special deals on gift cards. Gift cards are a great idea for Christmas presents, but should you buy a bogus card, not only do you find yourself ripped off, but your credit card information winds up in the hands of crooks. Buying gift cards locally eliminates that risk.
Emails soliciting funds for fake charities are common around the holidays. Cynical crooks count on the generosity of good people to make this scam work - restrict your donations to organizations you know to be legitimate and always think twice before donating to any groups you’re not familiar with.
Holiday Spam and/or Phishing
There is always a rise in holiday-themed spam and phishing emails at this time of year offering wonderful deals on everything from Rolex watches to pharmaceuticals. Exercise extreme caution with such communications; crooks who are "phishing" are after information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Remember, anyone legitimately selling valuable merchandise doesn’t need to send out hundreds of thousands of emails to do business.
Social Media Scams
Cybercriminals learned very quickly that social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are rich hunting grounds featuring endless numbers of potential victims. They use social media just they also use email and websites to scam consumers. Be wary of "wonderful deals" you encounter on social media just as you would with suspicious emails and websites.
Holiday Gift Scams
Scammers take full advantage of crazes for popular "must have" items like the iPhone 5, Ipad Mini, etc., creating bogus contests and surveys offering free iPads and other too-good-to-be-true deals, while they are phishing away the whole time, trolling for credit card numbers and passwords.
SmiShing is nothing more than phishing via text messages. The scammers want your financial information: don’t give it to them.
Those who plan to travel during the holidays, whether it’s for a special trip or a visit to distant relatives, look for hotel and flight deals on the Internet. Cybercrooks are fully aware of that, and often set up bogus travel sites offering incredible deals at rock-bottom prices. Be very careful before you submit your personal and financial information online and check out the company thoroughly before you book.
Bogus Classified Ads
Online classified ad sites for wonderful gift ideas and even part-time jobs to raise money for Christmas presents may seem like a good idea, but are often used by scammers. When you are asked for too much personal information or requested to wire funds via Western Union, you are almost certainly dealing with a scam.
Phony "New Neighbor" Calls
Haskell said the Sheriff’s Office has recently received reports of telephone calls from persons who announce themselves as "your new neighbor." The caller chats amiably for a few moments, then begins requesting personal information, such as email addresses. These calls, of course, are just clumsy "phishing" - authorities recommend simply hanging up.
"Con artists and scammers depend on everyone’s holiday spirit," Haskell cautioned. "They are counting on people’s generosity and good will. Given the chance, they will twist it to their own criminal ends. Don’t let them. Be cautious, be wary, and remember always - What was true long before there was an Internet or even home computers continues to be true: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Haskell recommended the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud as an excellent source of information to help people protect themselves against fraud and scams of all kinds.