February 12, 2016 by The GLS Team
What Are Holiday Phishing Scams?
Holiday phishing scams are scams designed to steal your personal information or money. People behind these scams take advantage of any holiday season. Valentine's Day is a popular day for these individuals to prey on people’s loneliness, and these types of individuals also trick gift buyers as well. The criminals’ goals are to steal money, personal information and to wreak havoc on unsuspecting people.
What is a catfish scam? A catfish scam is when someone pretends to be someone he or she is not to connect with someone else who is looking for companionship or more specifically a “Valentine.” These individuals make fake profiles to attract anyone looking for love. These criminals often say everything a person hopes to hear to feel like there is or might be a connection. They lure people in with these sweet words, then bring up money requests. For example, the criminal may ask for money for plane tickets when the two individuals decide it is time to meet.
An unsuspecting and trusting person would wire their “love interest” the money and never hear from them again. The victim might not ever see that money again. In fact, if he or she tries to contact the criminal for an explanation, he or she may notice the profile was deleted.
Steps to Take If You Suspect You Are a Victim
Cut off all contact with the person. And contact the authorities right away, providing them with as many details as you can. Call your banking institutions to cancel your cards if needed, and you can also request that they monitor all of your banking and credit accounts.
Steps to Avoid Being a Catfish Victim
The first step to avoid this type of scam is to protect your computer from any intrusions by updating your security software on a regular basis. Some Internet providers even offer free security programs to their users.
Don’t click on email messages from people or companies you don’t know. If you did not sign up for a gift website or matchmaking website, do not view emails that claim to be from these types of sources. Even if you did sign up for notifications from these sites, sophisticated scams are posing as trusted organizations, so always be on guard. It is also important to avoid opening up package emails: if you did not buy or send anything, there is no reason to open those emails.
Avoid opening greeting card types of emails as well, which often require you to download software to view the card. Be wary of a potential increase in messages from different people interested in you around holidays like Valentine’s Day. So, if you see your inbox full on a dating website at this time of year, take it with a grain of salt. Scam artists love using dating websites to find new victims.
Only go to reputable websites if you are looking for romance. If you are unsure if the website is legitimate, look around to see what other people say about the company. Go to business rating websites for current reviews.
If you do end up talking to someone online, make sure you take careful steps to ensure that you are talking to someone who actually wants to be your partner or friend. If you hear financial woe stories, halt communication with the person. Dating is about finding someone to share your time with, not for someone to ask you for money. Furthermore, avoid going any further with someone who claims to love you without having met you yet, or even getting to know you for a while.
If the person you are talking to claims to be visiting another country, he or she might not even live in America. Also, if someone wants to move to phone calls or any other communication off of the dating website right away, it is usually a bad sign. Even if you two have been talking for some time, but have never actually met, don’t let he or she use Valentine’s Day to start asking for money for any reason. Be careful; some of these scammers are extremely good actors.
If you already have a partner, make sure you only shop for Valentine’s gifts at authentic websites, and avoid accepting every online coupon. If you want coupons, do your research to make sure you are going to a legitimate website. No coupon is worth losing your personal information or getting a nasty virus on your computer. If you are the romantic type, make sure you also avoid downloading Valentine's videos, music, themes, and pictures online. Unfortunately, criminals love to infect all of these online items during this time of year.
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