Online Gift Card Scam

Editor's Note - It's that time of year again.  This year's holiday season will like bring record online shopping and with it a level of risk. In addition to all that we write and report about making sure your computers and networks are secure, there now are dubious online "retailers" who continue to find new ways to scam consumers.  Here's a report from the Better Business Bureau.

This holiday shopping season, be on the lookout for a new scam technique. As shoppers become wary of paying by wire transfer and pre-paid debit card, scammers are trying something new. They are requesting victims purchase and pay with gift cards. 

 How the Scam Works:

You are shopping online and discover a website that sells flat screen TVs, computers, cameras and other big ticket items for deeply discounted prices. You do some research, and find a few reviews from satisfied customers. The price is so great, you decide to give it a try.

During checkout, the site instructs you to purchase an Amazon gift card and use the gift card information as payment. The site may claim that this unorthodox form of payment helps you save paying sales tax. 

No matter what the website says, don't do it! The site -- and the good reviews -- are all fake. Paying by gift card is just like wiring money, using a pre-paid debit card, or paying cash; it's untraceable. You will be out the money spent on the gift card, and the item you purchased will never arrive.  


New Credit/Debit Card Scam

Our friends at the Better Business Bureau have recently spotted a scam involving the new chip based credit/debit cards.  It caught our eye because we've just updated our credit card equipment at The Computing Center to accept chip cards as well as ApplePay and other mobile payment systems.  It's actually a very simple scam, but with all the information in the media, from our banks and credit card companies, it's an easy one to fall for.

Many banks are issuing new debit and credit cards with an embedded chip for additional security. The new chips are meant to reduce fraud, but the hype around the new cards is having an unintended side effect... fodder for scams. 

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email saying that your new credit or debit card with the chip is on the way. But first you need to update your account. The message seems to be from your bank or credit card issuer. It may have the company's logo and even the reply email address.


New Scams Target Businesses

Editors Note: We have heard from several local clients that attempts have been made to have them create wire transfers and ACH transfers to fake supplier accounts.  If your not sure, call your supplier or contractor.

A sophisticated new scam is targeting business and personal email addresses. Scammers create email accounts nearly identical to an existing account and use that new account to initiate wire transfers. 

How the Scam Works:

You are working for a business that deals with contractors or suppliers. One day, you receive an email that comes from your contractor, requesting to be paid by wire transfer. This is unusual, but you have a long standing relationship with this contractor, so you initiate the transfer.


Managing Physical & Digital Security While Traveling

Whether you're traveling for business or leisure this summer, chances are that as a small business owner or other professional, you'll be working on your trip. But with unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots and the potential for physical theft, among other risks, there are several steps you need to take to ensure security issues don't interrupt your productivity.


Securing USB Flash Drives

You may have noticed growing reports in the media about the dangers of using USB memory sticks. It is true, they are susceptible to being exploited like everything else, however, and these exploits aren't terribly easy to carry out by hackers. Mostly because an attacker needs physical access to your computer in order to infect it.

What Can a "Bad" USB Stick Do?

A malicious device can install malware such as backdoor Trojans, information stealers and much more. They can install browser hijackers that will redirect you to the hacker's website of choice, which could host more malware, or inject adware, spyware or greyware onto your computer. While the ramifications of these threats can range from annoying to devastating, you can stay protected from these threats.


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