You Can Always Send Me Flowers Or Chocolate
Beware of electronic valentines. It's certainly tempting to open any e-mails from any "secret admirer," but cybersecurity officials are warning that these messages may be anything but love notes. Instead, they could contain a nasty surprise from a cyber scam artist--an e-mail virus or spyware that can capture enough vital information to gain access to your financial accounts.
Cyber scamsters will prey on your curiosity, so there definitely will be some attempts to take advantage of Valentine's Day, said Purdue University's chief information security office Michael Carr. "It's human nature and exactly what the bad guy is counting on."
So what should you do? First, don't click on any attachments or links unless they are part of an expected e-mail or instant message from a reliable, known source, Carr said.
If you're in doubt and you get an electronic greeting from a known cardsite (like American Greetings or Hallmark), then go to that Web site on your own (don't click on the link in the e-mail), enter the reference number of your card and wait to receive the real thing.
"If you continue to have doubts about the e-mail or instant message, just delete the message. It's not worth the risk of being a victim," Carr said.
And if you moan the fact that you have to worry about phony Valentine wishes, just wait until tax day, when more citizens will be filing their returns electronically, Carr said. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of e-mails saying you're due a refund, but you first need to provide a bank account number. These will be from "phishing" scamsters who are trying to trick you into giving out valuable personal information.
"The IRS is not going to ask for this information over e-mail," Carr said. So do not even think about opening the message. "Just delete it."
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