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Three Email Scams That Trap the Unwary
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren, Dallas Morning News / Creators Syndicate Columnists
Dec. 8, 2011
we budget for the holidays and wonder whatever possessed our children
to think we could pay for their recession-proof wish lists, the con
artists hope we can fill their stockings, too. Here are three new and
returning scams we’ve found in our in-boxes lately, and how to
1. Bogus messages from LinkedIn.
With more than 100 million users, LinkedIn offers plenty of geese for
scammers to pluck. To its credit, the network uses a simple email
template, light on graphics and easy to read. Unfortunately, this also
makes it easy to “spoof,” or counterfeit.
The trap often masquerades as a notice that the recipient’s
account has been closed, or an invitation to join a stranger’s
network. Many friendly souls routinely accept Facebook friend requests
from strangers, so why not LinkedIn, too? Alas, clicking on the link
infects their system with malware.
Being lazy, scammers like “oldies but goodies” – con
games that have worked before, and can be brought back with little
effort to snare a fresh batch of rabbits. These
“evergreens” are often seen in the work-at-home arena, with
rebate-processor and data-entry schemes. LinkedIn phishing emails, too,
appeared last year, and will surely be with us in 2012.
To spot them, mouse over the “LinkedIn” links in the email.
They should match the links displayed at the bottom of your email
window as you move your mouse. If you’re still unsure of the
message’s legitimacy, just log in to your LinkedIn account and
check for messages.
2. Bogus messages from the IRS.
As the year winds to a close, consumers have been hit once again with a
blizzard of phony IRS emails. Messages are baited with subject lines
such as “Federal tax transfer returned” and “Rejected
federal tax payment.”
Messages include the IRS logo and a “tax transaction ID.”
The alarming text tells you that your recent tax transaction was
returned or rejected by your financial institution. A link to a
“Tax Transaction Report,” with the details, purports to be
a PDF file. If you mouse over the link, however, you’ll see the
real destination where the con artist hopes you’ll go.
These and similar emails have become so prevalent that the IRS has
created a detailed page of warnings and instructions on how to report
them. For more, go to the IRS site here.
3. Bogus messages from Twitter.
With traffic-monitor Compete.com reporting 37 million unique visitors
to its site in October, and everyone from grandparents to Elmo signing
on, Twitter offers rich rewards to hackers and spammers alike.
The spam often purports to be a message from one of the target’s
followers. Since many Twitter users have follower lists numbering in
the thousands and beyond (Elmo himself has 23,000, Lady Gaga 17
million), it’s easy to see why recipients might not know if a
given message was fake.
When in doubt, just log on to your Twitter account and click on
“Messages.” If you find nothing new, move your finger to
the consumer’s authentic friend in the Information Age –
the delete button.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM