scams

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

Contest VS Scam

Seeing that this is about attempts to fool people I though I’d post this on April 1st.

A few days back I was tinkering with my older computer when I got this call from Florida.

When I picked up and said hello I heard nothing. No voice, no recording. So of course I dismissed it as a telemarketing call, from one of those rude telemarketers that use computerized devices that put people on hold while the staff pitch their products and services to someone else.

After hanging up I Googled the phone number, (813) 948-2768, and comments about a credit card scam came up so I decided to jot the number down where I could remember it.

A few minutes later I got another call.

This time the same phone number appeared for a few seconds and then was relabeled as “Unknown Caller“.

Whoops !

I was again put on hold and was subjected to about a minute or so of dead air, that I spent voicing some choice words in the hopes of being recorded by the telemarketer. But in the middle of my rant I was interrupted by a woman, who suddenly called me by name.

Well, apparently I had won something – A Universal Cruise.

Oh Wow ! Enter Gospel music here !

Isn’t it interesting how I’ve managed to win something I didn’t enter ? Something I had no interest in, what-so-ever, because it would require me to waste my time and money getting a passport ?

But of course this didn’t deter the telemarketer, who apparently thought that because she had my birth date that I could be fooled into believing I had entered this contest, regardless of my concerns about the passport issue and general disinterest in the prize.

Annoyed that she had somehow managed to obtain my birth date I then pressed her for details about the contest. I asked her where I had allegedly entered the contest.

Her response was that she was just some telemarketer that was hired to contact potential winners and that all she knew was that I had allegedly filled up a contest entry form on one of the social networking sites, mentioning AOL, Yahoo and Facebook by name.

This was all rather vague so I then asked who the sponsor of the contest was, a reasonable question that she apparently didn’t have a response for because she then proceeded to ask me to confirm my details again for my “prize package”.

By then I had decided that if she was unable to provide real answers that her supervisor could, so I asked to speak to him. But of course customer service appeared to be secondary to getting me to confirm my address and marital status.

Hmm !

So I asked again to speak to her supervisor, stating that I could easily file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner, whose office happens to be in the city I lived in.

That particular piece of information of course resulted in a prompt disconnection.

Goodbye telemarketer !

Apparently this telemarketing company had not considered that a large percentage of Ottawa residents are in the public service industry and may be employed by the the following or may now someone who is employed by the following :

I am a regular reader of RedFlagDeal’s contest forum so I enter contests frequently. But even I keep track of the contests I enter and having won numerous contests I know the following :

  • The sponsor or sponsors of contests contact winners directly, usually via their public relations department, legal department or department assigned to contests.
  • This representative knows where you have entered the contest because he or she has to know whether you agreed to comply with the rules of the contest (or not) and answered a skill testing question correctly (or not).
  • Contests are for publicity so no sponsor would ever ask their identity to be concealed. It would be counterproductive and they couldn’t write the contest off as an advertising expense with Revenue Canada or the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Prizes are NOT taxed in Canada or subject to any fees. In the province of Quebec the publicity contests fees are paid by the sponsor in advance in exchange for the right to advertise the contest in that province.
  • There are NO legal fees incurred in awarding a prize. Whatever expenses the sponsor incurred in running the contest is written off as a promotional expense because contests are promotional. These expenses include delivery (shipping & handling) and any customs fees & duties paid by the sponsor, if any.
  • You are NOT required to pay customs fees on prizes to the sponsor or sponsor’s representative. It is Canada Post or the courier (Fed-Ex/UPS) that collects and processes customs fees on Revenue Canada’s behalf, if any, when the prize is physically received by you from a foreign address.
  • The sponsor or representative should be able to provide a link to the rules and regulations that you had allegedly read online as a condition to enter their contest, upon request. These rules and regulations need to comply to our Federal, Provincial and Municipal laws to be valid.

Basically if the caller is loud, obnoxious, argumentative, dismissive and/or cheap, I tend to suspect he or she is a con artist.

And BTW, just after the call I had found out that my Facebook profile privacy settings had been changed allowing everyone to view my birth date. Check your settings !