Fa La La or Fraud? Sneakiest Holiday Scams

The toppers to scams that prey on holiday shoppers: Watch out for these sneaky seasonal ploys that continue to prove their success at getting a quick buck or sneaking malware onto devices for longer-lasting fraud. Bogus Charities The season of giving is a peak time for taking. Top cons aimed at older donors allege help for police, firefighters, veterans and children, so be on guard for phone calls with heartstring-pulling scripts. Also beware of sound-alike organizations of well-recognized legitimate charities, such as …

Beware of Free Pizza (and Other No-Cost Cons)

You’ve heard it before: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Yet in recent weeks cybercrooks have tested that claim, with impressive success, in a new email campaign that promises a coupon for a free pizza allegedly sent by Pizza Hut. Don’t bite. It’s the latest false freebie trick to install malware — in this case by clicking on a link to supposedly access a coupon for a free pie in celebration of the chain’s 55th anniversary. (It’s actually 58 years old.) What’s …

10 Dumbest Things to Do Online

Trying to get scammed? Engage in these stupid but common online practices and the smart money is that you likely will. 1. Falling for emotional bait. Online and otherwise, scammers line their pockets on your emotions — greed, fear, curiosity — and often fuel each with “Act Now!” urgency. Offers of easy money and threats of negative consequences phish for your money and/or personal information. Promises of forbidden photos or links, especially with terse “Check this out!” messages, are used to install …

Dangerous Search Terms Beyond ‘Jimmy Kimmel’

Jimmy Kimmel got laughs last week after being named 2014’s Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity. According to online security firm McAfee, one in five searches of Kimmel’s name landed Internet surfers on pages that “tested positive” for online malware threats. What’s no joke: Once again, cybercrooks have proved that people’s appetite for entertainment feeds their chances at hacking success. Why? “Celebrity names, coupled with the terms ‘video’ and ‘picture,’ are some of the most-searched terms on the Internet,” explains McAfee chief privacy officer Michelle …

E-ZPass to ID Theft?

Perfectly timed to the busy travel season, scammers are behind phony emails supposedly sent by the “E-ZPass Service Center” or “E-ZPass Collection Agency.” So beware. Whether or not you have an E-ZPass account, the bogus message may make its way into your inbox, prompting you to click a link.   Don’t take the bait. Not only will you be asked to provide sensitive personal and financial information, but clicking that link may also install malware onto your computer that could …