fraud

Warning – Gift Card Scam

The Canada Revenue Agency does not accept or solicit iTunes gift cards as payment.

Apparently the scammers now ask for payments using iTunes gift cards, that they resell online using legitimate services.

If you receive a call instructing you to pay back taxes in gift cards, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or prepaid debit cards, hang up and call 1-888-495-8501 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday.

Gift Card Deals ?

Gift cards are a great last minute gift idea. And deals can be found on sites like cardswap.ca, which enables individuals to sell their gift cards. But it appears that some consumers have encountered several issues when they purchased gift cards from sites that promise deep discounts.

In November, the media outlets in my city were alerted to a local web site promising half priced Petro Canada gift cards, which were not received by some of customers that purchased them from the site. And this very site is again in the news this month for having been asked to stop using LCBO and M&M Meat Shop trademarks.

Some individuals purchasing discounted gift cards on public classified advertisement sites like Kijiji and Craig’s List have also had their gift card balances voided within days of their purchase because these gift cards had either been stolen or had originally been purchased with stolen credit cards.

Even legitimate gift card sellers on the public classified advertisement web sites have had their balances stolen by fraudsters, who use the information obtained from the sellers to make unauthorized online purchases.

Social media sites like Facebook are also having problems with spammers who promise free or discounted gift cards in order to gain control of a user’s accounts though the installation of an application.

Victims of this social media gift card scam are usually asked to fill up a survey for a gift card, only to have their account used to post advertisements every few minutes.

The best way to obtain gift cards/gift certificates is obviously through a retailer, who will send cards to you or the intended recipient, either physically or by email. But I do run into the occasional deal on iTunesicon music, book or app cards through my local pharmacies or grocery stores, that i’ve found in my local flyers. And individual retailers do occasionally offer discounts on gift cards via their mailing lists.

Keep Those Receipts !

A new virus has been detected by Seculert on point of sale terminals in the United States, Britain and Canada.

“Dexter” forwards information from debit and credit cards directly to fraudsters who can duplicate cards.

Seculert estimates that hundreds of terminals have been infected, in 40 nations, so it’s best to keep an eye out for odd transactions on your bank statements and credit card bills.

You should also consider enabling email and/or mobile alerts on your accounts, as an extra security measure.

Urgent Security Warning

Skype users be warned : Do not open any message whose subject line is “lol is this your new profile pic?” !

This message directs individuals to a malware infected file, using an URL shortener services like goo.gl, that in turn infects an individual’s computers.

This malware collects user names and passwords for numerous sites and services including Facebook, Twitter, Godaddy, Paypal, eBay, Netflix and Yahoo. It may also lock your system and send unsolicited messages to individuals in your contact lists, asking your contacts to download the infected file(s) to their computers.

Skype advises their users to refrain from clicking “on suspicious or unusual files and links, even if it’s coming from people you know”. They also suggest their users update their software, including their anti-virus software.

Security Warning

The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre has been reporting an unusually high number of Scareware cases in Canada.

Apparently numerous PC users have been victimized by con artists claiming to be RCMP and/or CSIS officers, who demanded payment to clean the victims’ computers of child pornography and/or terrorism related material.

Like most scareware incidents, these begin with an unsolicited pop up message containing a warning of an infection that requires immediate attention, which appears on a victim’s computer screen whilst the victim is browsing the internet.

In this case, the victim is told they must send $100 or $250 via Ukash to unlock and clean their computer of the aforementioned illicit material. But there is of course no illicit material to remove on the victim’s computer.

When the victim clicks on the pop-up message, his or her computer is infected with malware, disabling access to the computer. But this infection can be avoided.

If you encounter this or a similar pop-up message :

  1. Do not click on the pop-up window.
  2. Close the browser via Task Manager or shut down your computer.

Enabling a pop-up blocker and regularly updating anti-virus software will prevent future occurrences.

Pop-up blockers have been implemented in all of the following browsers :

Chrome / Firefox / Internet Explorer 7 or 8 / Opera /Safari