iPhone Giveaway: The Latest Apple Scams

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Apple's been in the news a lot lately.  Between the unveiling of the new iPhone 5 and the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs it seems that everybody's talking about the company and its products.  Unfortunately, whenever there's a topic that's getting a lot of discussion there's also going to be scammers and thieves trying to take advantage of the news.  This time around the scams started before the news even happened.

In the days prior to the official unveiling of the iPhone 5, emails started circulating about an early information release which featured an impressive-looking screenshot of the new Apple smartphone.

The email looked like an official message from Apple, but when the link within the email was clicked it directed the user to a site that would download malware onto the user's computer.  Not only did the message not come from Apple, but the picture wasn't even a picture of a real phone; it's a futuristic-looking rendering of what the ideal iPhone 5 might have looked like that's been making its way around the Internet for almost a year now.

Once the phone was actually unveiled, the typical preorder and "You've Won!" scams were able to begin.  Like most scams of this type, these require you to take surveys or fill out personal information to claim your prize or preorder the phone.  All of the messages like this are fake, of course, and generally exist only to earn money for the surveys the user fills out or to add the user's email address and personal information to spam lists.

The worst of the scams, though, are the ones that take advantage of the death of Steve Jobs.  Seen in emails and also on Facebook, the scam says that you can win an iPad "in memory of the Apple founder."  There is no iPad giveaway, of course; it's just another scam like the iPhone emails that want you to take surveys or give away your personal information.

If you run into any of these scams, here are a few things to keep in mind to identify them:

  • Apple has strict rules about giveaways and promotions using their products.  They're not going to let just anyone give away free Apple products, and certainly aren't going to let them do it by email.
  • Legitimate contests and giveaways don't require you to take unrelated surveys, and they do require you to enter them before you can win.  If you've never entered a contest and you suddenly hear that you've won it, it's not a real contest.
  • Any Apple giveaway or other promotion in memory of Steve Jobs would be done through the company website, not Facebook or email.  It's also unlikely that the company would give away free products in memory of its founder, since that seems more like a celebration of his death than the respectful way in which Apple has handled Jobs' passing.

Remember, it's National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Take the time to think about offers that sound too good to be true, and steer clear of the scammers who want to make a profit off of you or who want to infect your computer with malware.  Your first and best line of defense against online scammers is you. 
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