CHICAGO, IL – October 23, 2012 - October is the time of
year for ghosts, goblins and ghouls. Generally, you will find them haunting
houses, and graveyards. However, today you can also find them on the internet.
The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) urges consumers
to be alert while doing business or shopping online and in particular to
inspect online solicitations with the same attention as candy collected while
trick or treating.
Many online scams or
viruses can be disguised in virtual costumes, hiding their true identity. It is
important to be aware of the different signs of foul play to avoid the
“While most consumers
are concerned with buying candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters this month,
cyber criminals may be spreading computer viruses, stealing identities and
ruining the spirit of Halloween for all,” said Steve J. Bernas, president &
CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “As
always it is important to keep personal information private whether the scammer
rings your doorbell or knocks on your cyber-door.”
The BBB offers the
following “online treats” to consumers:
Don’t trust “candy from strangers”. Finding something on the Internet
does not always make it true or good for you. Before accepting the statement or
advertisement as fact, verify that the source is reliable. If it’s a business,
check it out first with the BBB at www.bbb.org. Since
many scam artists “spoof” email addresses to appear they’re coming from a
financial institution or an online payment service, be wary of any email
requesting account verification information. Also, never open attachments or
respond to requests for personal or financial information from someone unknown.
Don’t be “tricked” into falling for an offer that is too good to be true. Many
emails promise outlandish rewards or monetary gifts. Here’s the trick: You
can’t win a sweepstakes you didn’t enter and there are not wealthy strangers
desperate to send you their money. These emails are phishing for your personal
account information. Beware of pop-ups advertising free downloadable software –
they may be disguising spyware or malware.
Don’t advertise that you’re away from home. Some email accounts,
especially within an organization, offer an auto responder that allows you to
create a message if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Instead,
use phrases such as “I will not have access to email between [date] and
[date].” If possible, restrict recipients of this message to people within your
organization or in your address book. If the away message replies to spam, it
may increase the amount you already receive.
Don’t leave “treats” out in the open. Take steps to protect your
personal and financial data by locking your computer when you step away; using
firewalls, anti-virus software and strong passwords; installing appropriate
software updates; and taking precautions when browsing or using email.
Attackers and viruses are constantly scanning the Internet for available
computers to target. To play it safe, whenever not online, disable your Wi-Fi
connection, turn off your computer or modem, or even disconnect cables.
Don’t throw caution to the wind. Information on your computer is
vulnerable – but if you make regular backups, all is not lost in the event of
an equipment malfunction, an error or a cyber attack.
more information on being safe online, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the
purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace.
BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation
and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices
and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses
and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or
charity before making a purchase or donation.