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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Tis the season for internet fraud

Unfortunately... well into the season for internet fraud complaints and more than one type... email scams, online shopping fraud. 

Have you seen these emails?  I received an email this morning from someone who had "obtained my contact information from a local bar association" seeking to hire a lawyer to collect some bad debts.  Now, really!  I know my local bar doesn't handle referrals in this manner.  Yes, even lawyers are targets for these kinds of email scams!

Legal Aid has recently had reports that a Florida "business" was sending certified letters to individuals attempting to entice them into sending money to a claim prize money.  Then a few days later the "business" sends another certified letter, enclosing a letter purporting to be from the FBI stating that the business was real... go ahead and send your money in, folks!  Don't be tempted!
Othere online fraud examples? 
Holiday shopping season brings out the best in some of us and the worst in others. 
The FBI's IC3 web site reminds us that cyber criminals continue to pursue creative new ways to steal your money and your personal information.  Here are a few examples:
  • Fraudulent Classified Ads
  • Fraudulent Auction Sales
  • Gift Card Scams
  • Phishing and Smishing Schemes
Tips?  Glad you asked:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
  • Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.
  • Only open attachments from known senders-even then if possible, scan the attachments for viruses.
  • Do not fill out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
Always compare the link in the email to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.

Log on directly to the official web site for the business identified in the email, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited email.  If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.  But please, always be cautions, maybe even a bit skeptical.

If you're still in doubt, contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify if the email is genuine. 
Read the IC3 Intelligence Note for more information:

More information about Identity Theft and Financial Fraud on OKLaw