Monday, March 16, 2015

Fake versions of companies you trust a real problem


Qantas is fighting back after a fake Facebook account in their name promised free flights if people shared their post. PMQ Pizza Magazine was even under attack last week with a spearphishing campaign that sent a fake email with a virus out to millions of people last week. You can't go a day without a new headline about a new scam. People want to trick you and it is an unfortunate aspect to the online and real world. But you don't have to be the victim to every scam. Sure, we all know not to give our social security to just any Nigerian prince who emails us about our unclaimed millions, but when companies are attacked so the spammer can look legit, it is harder to catch ourselves from falling in the trap.

But there are some tips to recognize a scam:
- Trust your gut. If you get a mysterious email with an attachment from someone you don't know, don't open the attachment. If you feel it may be an honest email, then reply back that you would like more detail first. More often than not, the person's email has been hacked or in the case of PMQ, hijacked and never even sent from them at all but from a fake account made to look like theirs. Bonus: Don't feel the need to cuss as a reply as most likely the person you are yelling at is also a victim.
- Don't easily give out your personal data to any email or website requesting it.
- If it appears too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful before retweeting or sharing a social media post. Make sure the information is true. Don't rely on the fact others have shared it to claim it is true. Verify information by doing some research. If not sure, then don't share. CNN reported in October on the top social media hoaxes on Facebook now.
- Companies like the Internal Revenue Service are heavily hit this time of year with fake emails, calls and letters trying to pry information off of you. The IRS provides numerous tips to know when dealing with the real company.
- If you run a page or company, be on the alert on social media that there is not a duplicate version of yourself. If there is, report it.

It is not just online we have to worry. Here is an article from 2014 from WiseBread on other scams to be weary of when out in the real world.