Panama City Beach – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of a new string of phishing e-mails making the rounds this holiday season. Scammers are posing as well-known companies that do a lot of business this time of year, attempting to steal personal information such as Social Security or credit card numbers, according to a BBB news release.
“While most of the country is spreading peace and love this holiday season, criminals are spreading computer viruses and stealing identities,” said Norman Wright, president/CEO of the Bureau serving northwest Florida. “Hackers pose as trusted businesses to take advantage of the seasonal increase in online shopping and shipping.”
Following are three phishing e-mails BBB has spotted this holiday season:
Claiming to be from a legitimate shipping business such as FedEx or UPS, one phishing e-mail alleges a problem with delivery. It may include a link to a Web site that installs malware or solicits personal information. A recent message has a subject line of “Subject: Tracking Number 13040065504.” It advises, “To take your package back you should print the copy of invoice that is in the added file.” Of course, the attachment is a computer virus.
BBB ADVICE: Don’t click on a link in the e-mail; instead go directly to the shipper’s Web site or call the business (do not use a phone number provided in the e-mail) to ask if there is a shipping problem. Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails.
Surveys offering holiday spending cash
Targeting cash-strapped holiday shoppers, other phishing e-mails pretend to be from retailers such as Wal-Mart. One has the subject, “Online Survey from Wal-Mart Stores!!!” The message says, “You’ve been selected to take part in our quick and easy 9 questions survey. In return we will credit $90.00 to your account – Just for your time!” The e-mail includes a link to a Web site to “take the survey,” but actually leads to a phishing site.
BBB ADVICE: Don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails promising money for answering surveys. E-mails offering big rewards for minimal effort usually cost you in the end.
E-cards are a popular and inexpensive way to deliver season’s greetings. Legitimate e-cards typically send an e-mail with a hyperlink to a Web site hosting the e-card. Unfortunately, it’s easy for hackers to disguise their phishing e-mails and direct users to Web sites that install viruses and malware.
BBB ADVICE: Phishing e-mails posing as e-cards can be difficult to spot. Be wary of e-mails with spelling and grammatical mistakes and don’t follow links in an e-card if you don’t recognize the sender. Consumers should report suspicious e-mails to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
For additional information go to www.bbb.org