scammers

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.

Suspended Membership Phishing/Hacking Scam

There appears to be a new Netflix scareware scam going around and I thought I’d inform you as to how it works.

Basically victims are sent a fake email directing victims to a fake Netflix site where members are asked to enter their email address and password.

Once entered this information is captured by the criminals and victims are then forwarded to another fake page claiming their account had been suspended.

This fake page then urges victims to call an 800 number to reinstate their membership which actually directs individuals to a call center in India, where fake Netflix technicians are waiting to continue their con.

When victims call this 800 number they are told that their computers have been taken over by hackers and are asked to download software to remove the hackers and/or clear their computers of viruses.

This software enables the fake Netflix technicians to access your computer and all the sensitive information found on this computer’s hard drive. But access to Netflix and your sensitive information is not the only objectives of this scam.

Victims who have gone through this process are also asked to pay for the privilege of being violated.

They are asked to pay for the clean-up, a five year membership for an anti-virus program and a five year membership for a firewall.

In exchange for payment by credit card the fake technicians offer a coupon code for a discount on Netflix membership. But not only do they request credit card information for payment but also ask their victims to send photo identification to them.

This information of course enables them to steal identities, as well as to defraud their victims through their credit card. And Netflix members will not likely be the only target because it can be adapted to target any online membership.

The best defense against this scam is to ignore the links and phone numbers provided in these emails and contact a company directly via their web site.

If there are real issues with your account at a particular company their customer service department should be able to help you.

I bookmark the sites I access the most in my internet browser and use those links instead. And using spam filters on your email also helps because some filters will keep these phishing attempts out of your inbox if enough people label it as spam.

Most webmail sites have spam filters and you can install free spam filters for your PC by clicking on the following logo :

Award-winning anti spam filter

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.

Update to “Scammers On The Prowl”

In June 2011 I had posted a somewhat off-topic warning about a security issue I had been encountering for months.

I had been receiving unsolicited calls from individuals with thick Indian accents claiming to be “Software Maintenance Department of Online PC Care” asking me to give them access to my computer because of some alleged virus infection.

This was of course a common con by that time, which also involved individuals claiming to represent Microsoft calling random numbers in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Basically they gained access, altered settings without the user’s knowledge and then proceeded to extort $49 to $450 from the user to “repair” the damage they had caused.

The Federal Trade Commission in the United States have taken legal actions against these fraudsters yesterday, freezing their assets and demanding a halt to this activity.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission have also penalized the companies involved in this tech support scam in respect to Canada’s no call list legislation.

If you have received a call of this nature, please file a complaint with the CRTC via this form.

Scammers On The Prowl

Warning – If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the “Software Maintenance Department of Online PC Care“, do not give them any information and do not give them access to your computer.

I’ve been receiving calls from these India based scam artists and identity thieves for a while now. And the routine is generally the same.

They call you at random from an VOIP site based in the states and with an Indian accent claim to be calling people in your city in regards to software that is alledgely downloading material without your knowledge or consent.

They ask you for five minutes of your time and ask to gain access to your computer remotely to correct the alledged issue. Then they proceed to install malicious software on your machine, in essence creating the issue they claim to be correcting whilst gaining access to sensitive financial and/or personal information on your hard drive.

Basically they peddle anti-virus software that they first ask you to install and then later demand renewal fees for, which is usually upwards of $150. And they can claim you consented to all of this nonsense because they’ve recorded you, if they happen to have charged your credit card using information they got from your hard drive.

An online version of this scareware scam can also be found at certain sites, that install software through your internet browser. But of course there are plenty of more reasonably priced anti-virus programs out there, some of which i’ve listed under “Consumer Security” on my Consumer Links page.

Not only do these programs address the issue alledged by the con artists but Microsoft itself issues patches against these problems via their web site. And no, Microsoft does not call people over these issues.

They will of course alter their pitch at will in their attempts to gain access to your computer. But in the end the results are the same if you allow these people access ; An infected computer and a large credit card bill, at least.

Meanwile, you can address any concern in regards to any infection by using Microsoft Safety Scanner, which costs nothing and does not conflict with your existing anti-virus software.