4 Lesser-known Scams to Watch Out For!

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Staying safe online sometimes seems like a full-time job.  It seems like every time you turn around there's some new data breach or malware attack making the news.  Unfortunately, for all of the threats that you hear about there are just as many that never make the headlines.  A number of online scams are this way, existing as threats to your online security but never quite becoming as well known as the major data breaches and virus outbreaks.

This doesn't mean that these scams are any less dangerous than the topics that make the news, of course; in some cases they're more dangerous since they have someone behind them who is specifically trying to steal your data.  Scammers don't create their online scams just to cause chaos or to prove that they can, they do it because they know somebody will fall for their tactics and they'll get access to that person's accounts and personal information. 
Fortunately, with just a little bit of knowledge you can fight back against these scammers.

Here are a few of the lesser-known scams that you might encounter online, along with how to identify them.  Once you know how to recognize these scams you can keep yourself from falling for them and you can tell your friends and family how to avoid them as well.

Fake Coupons: These show up in emails that claim to be promotions from websites like Groupon or similar discount sites.  The email explains that the site has an exclusive offer available and that information on the offer and how to redeem it has been included in an attachment on the message.  If you open the attachment then a Trojan or other malware is installed on your computer, mining your system for personal data or installing a keylogger to try and capture your online passwords.  Legitimate emails from discount sites don't include attachments and typically aren't sent to you at all unless you specifically subscribe to a deals newsletter.

Gaming Account Notifications: Another email scam, these show up with a warning that there's something wrong with your game account for games such as World of Warcraft or Diablo III.  Though they're just games, people actually pay a lot of money for powerful items and high-level accounts on eBay and similar sites; by tricking you with a fake email, scammers hope to get your account credentials so they can transfer your gear or sell your account outright.  Be sure to check the address that any alerts come from since the companies that run these games will use corporate email addresses to send any communications.  You should also remember that these companies will never ask you for your password... if you get an email that does, it's a scam.

Smishing:  Here's a phishing-related scam that uses your cell phone instead of your email inbox to try and steal your personal data.  An SMS text message informs you that there is a problem with your bank account and asks you to call a specific number to fix it.  Once you call the number or visit the website provided in the message you'll be asked for information such as your account number, Social Security number and other vital data.  In some cases, the website listed in the message may even download malware onto your smartphone.  Keep in mind that no real bank would ask for this information over the phone or Internet, especially all at once.  If you receive a text that claims to be from your bank, visit a bank branch in person or look up the main branch number and call it to confirm whether there actually is a problem with your account.

Vishing:  Another take on phishing, this one uses VoIP (Voice over IP) services to make calls with automated messages that say your credit card or bank account has been compromised.  As with smishing, you'll be given a phone number to call or a website to visit to clear the problem up.  Avoiding this type of scam is done in the same way as avoiding a smishing scam, you simply need to visit with your bank in person or call the main branch to confirm whether the message is real or fake.

Some of these scams are just new twists on the same old thing, trying to take advantage of you in ways that you're not expecting.  Remember that you never know when you're going to  be the target of scammers, especially with information that's available online; the more info you put on sites like Facebook or public profiles, the more likely a scammer is to try and use your email address or cell number to try and pull one over on you. Be vigilant and strive to protect yourself, and don't be afraid to be suspicious whenever you get a strange message out of the blue. As the National Cyber Security Alliance works to remind us; when you cross the street, you look both ways to make sure it's safe. Staying safe on the Internet is similar. Remember to take time to Stop. Think. Connect.

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I recent was scammed by a company in your state: American savings Club. They told me that all Seniors were entitled to this medical insurance and after asking me questions concerning my bank account they proceeded to take $474.34 out of my account. I did not realize what had happened until about 4 weeks later when my account was short. I live on a fixed income and my check is only for $600 a month so it would be crazy for me to okay that amount to be deducted from my account! I called several times and got no where. I did change my account number and I still call with no resolution in site. I saw where this business goes under several other names and has an "F" rating with the BBB. Is there anything I can do to try and get my money back. I am 81 years old and can't afford this to happen to me. Please help........(Dianna, daughter) for Evelyn

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