How to Get a Free Credit Score, Without Getting Conned

“Free credit scores” are effective bait. Just ask any of the 200,000 consumers who complained to the Federal Trade Commission about one recent online scheme that lured them with “free” access to their credit scores … then snagged them with a common switch: billing $30 a month for credit monitoring services they never ordered. The good news: Some 145,000 of those victims are getting refunds. Within 60 days, the FTC will mail checks — $20 million worth — in varying …

Why You Should Know About ‘Ransomware’

I stood at the locked door of my family’s favorite neighborhood restaurant and peered in the window. How could it not be open on a Friday evening, I wondered. Then I saw the sign in the window, which explained it: The restaurant would remain closed all week because their computer system had fallen victim to a “ransomware” attack. Like many people, my daughters had never heard the term “ransomware” and had no idea what it meant. Unfortunately, for computer security …

The Common Typo That Can Steal Your Computer

The latest ploy cybercrooks are using to spread ransomware and other types of computer malware to provide them with remote access to PCs and Macs or to steal log-in credentials: After buying domain names with a missing or misplaced letter in website addresses belonging to well-known companies, they simply wait for you to make a typo. The biggest threat results in the most common typos — either a misplaced or missing “c” (such as typing amazonc.om or amazon.om) so a …

Top Phishing Scams on Social Media

Phishing attempts on social media have more than doubled over the past year as scammers find new ways to trick people into providing personal and financial information. During the first quarter of 2016, ploys to glean log-in credentials, credit card and other ID-worthy information soared 150 percent over the same period in 2015, according to Proofpoint, which provides social media security services to leading companies and nearly 225 million of their individual followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and …

New Threats in Ransomware

Ransomware is on a rampage, seizing control of personal computers and institution-wide networks and encrypting files to make them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to release them. In just the first three months of 2016, reported attacks have increased tenfold over all of 2015, when the FBI received about 2,500 ransomware complaints about incidents that cost victims $24 million. And the $209 million paid to cybercrooks from January to March is likely only a fraction of actual losses, as …

Tax Day Isn’t Relax Day: New Post-Filing Ploys Emerge

The end of tax season doesn’t mean an end to tax scams; rather, a new wave starts with the deadline for filing tax returns (typically April 15 but this year extended three days so Emancipation Day can be celebrated today). Now come the emails, phone calls and text messages supposedly from the IRS or other tax collectors that usually tout refunds, warn of audits or incomplete filings, or seek to verify personal information. Most phish for identity theft intel, but …