A Tale of Two Scams

Internet scams have taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks. The following are two true stories. Please take this article to your friends and warn them of the dangers of trusting Internet emails.

The first story happened to "Sue". Sue received an email that claimed to be from "Hotmail". It stated that they were having "technical" problems with her email account. "Please go to this website (link provided) and "verify" your account information." It seemed ok so she did. At the website she gave thieves her Hotmail password! This is a common scam or "phishing" designed to fool you into volunteering personal and private information. Once the thieves had her email password they signed on to her Hotmail account. First they changed her password then they proceeded to read all her emails and copy all her contact information. Now she couldn't get into her own emails! They learned a lot about her from reading her emails. They learned that she often traveled on Missions trips for her church. Soon all her friends received an email from her. "Please help! I am on a Mission trip in Africa and I lost my purse! Now I have no money and no passport! I am also feeling sick and need medicine! Please wire money to this address!" You can imagine her friends concern when they got this email from her. I wonder how many wired money to the thieves. Remember: once you wire money you cannot get it back! What else did they learn from reading her emails; bank account information, credit card information, personal identity information such as drivers license or SSN? These days it doesn't take much information to fool a government office into revealing more. Sue now has to put a stop on all her bank, credit card and other financial accounts! She must contact all credit bureaus and put a "credit watch" on her information. And the burden of proof is on her. She must get there before the thieves! It took her hours to convince Hotmail that she was the owner of the email and have them shut it down!

Tale number two is even worse! In the last few weeks folks have been getting emails that claim that the sender has kidnapped one of their children! To prove it they have attached a digital picture of the child to the email! This is a complete lie; the picture is really a virus! You can imagine a parent's panic clouding all judgment and the quick clicking of the picture. The virus immediately searches the entire computer for all personal information such as SSN, credit card numbers, bank accounts, passwords, etc.

Quick Tip-Bit: The key message here is Education and Thinking. Educate yourself and friends about Internet scams and "Don't Panic!" Verify all requests for private information before giving any web-site personal data. Banks, stores, governments & businesses never request private information via email. They only ask after you have requested a new account or asked to edit your information. You came to them first not the other way around. If you have any questions please call Dean Hancy at PC Bits. 763-360-2163.

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