Spring 2017 Fraud News

Fraudulent Coupons on Facebook

If you’re a Facebook user, you’ve probably seen coupons or giveaways in your newsfeed—from large retailers like Target or Walmart or from brands like Southwest Airlines. Some of these can be very tempting; many of them are fake. And while it might seem harmless to share or “like” those fake ads, you might actually regret it pretty quickly. Here is what you need to know.

Scammers often create the fake coupons as a way to get personal info from victims. If you click in to the ad, the scammer takes you to a trumped-up website that will install malware on your computer. The most common malware will steal your information like bank or credit card log-in credentials. Or the fraudster will install ransomware, which locks your computer until you pay an online “ransom” to regain access.

Sometimes, con artists will create posts that promise a giveaway (like a gift card, a computer, or even an exotic vacation) in return for your sharing or liking the post or completing a survey. Unfortunately, sharing or liking can expose your circle of friends to the trickery. And the fraudster’s survey will be simply a waste of time—usually, you wind up in a cycle that either reveals your personal information or makes the con artist money because he or she can get paid for each completed survey.

You can stay safe only by clicking on trusted coupons or promotions. Here are a few ways to verify whether the post is valid.

  • If the retailer posts the ad or promotion on its official Facebook page, it’s legitimate. You can tell if the page is a verified retailer account by the blue checkmark next to the retailer’s name. Alternatively, you can click to the retailer’s Facebook page through its official website—that way, you know you’re on an official page.
  • If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should think about skipping it.
  • If the URL shown isn’t linked directly to the retailer’s site, don’t click. Watch out for retailer URLs that end in something other than .com, .net, or .org. Although other endings might be valid, they are also a clue that a fraudster is involved.
  • Facebook’s contest policy says that retailers can’t make customers jump through hoops (“liking,” sharing, or downloading software) to receive an offer. Don’t click or share one of those ads “just in case it’s real”—you might wind up sorry you did.

If you find yourself the victim of a scam, take immediate steps to protect your personal information. Visit identitytheft.gov for the most up-to-date advice.

This article was written by an independent author and Bellco assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of its content.

Beware of Angler Phishing Scams

These days, more and more people are turning to Facebook and Twitter for their customer service needs. Instead of emailing or calling in a question, customers will tweet at a company or leave a comment on its Facebook page. However, if that’s your chosen method to resolve issues, beware: scammers have developed a new way to lure you into giving up your information.

The new scam is called “angler phishing,” named after the anglerfish, which dangles a bright light to lure its prey. With angler phishing, a con artist sets up a fake social media customer service account that looks remarkably like the real thing, with a convincing handle and the company’s logo as an avatar. The scammer then monitors the business’s social media pages, and responds to questions or complaints that pop up. Because social media users are accustomed to businesses having quick-response teams on Facebook and Twitter, they don’t question a fast answer from the fake customer service rep.

Unfortunately, what happens next is that the scammer will ask the victim to follow a link and sign in with their usual credentials. The link will seem legitimate—the fraudster will have created a landing page that mirrors the company the victim is querying. However, this fake site is designed to capture the victim’s log-in info and sometimes even more. What makes it worse is that some victims use the same user name and password combo on other sites, so the con artist now can access their personal data elsewhere as well.

The best way to avoid this scam is to be mindful. First, be sure the social media service rep is legitimate—check other responses on the business’s social site and compare the handles. If your responder’s handle is different from others, odds are it’s fake. Also, don’t click on a shortened link that doesn’t show the destination you’re being directed to. (For example, avoid tinyurl or bit.ly links.) Finally, if you find that you’ve been a victim of the scam, be sure to immediately contact the credit bureaus to let them know your ID has been compromised and update all of your account log-ins.

This article was written by an independent author and Bellco assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of its content.