How NOT to Become a Victim of Holiday Phishing Scams

It’s the Holiday season and, like me, you’re probably getting more emails than ever. Holiday phishing scams are on the rise! In the past few days, we’ve received a number of calls from people wondering if an email was “real” or not.  In most cases, they were not. I think they send out so many of these messages in November and December because they know we are so overwhelmed between work and shopping and family that we’ll likely miss any clues.holiday phishing scams

Examples of Holiday Phishing Scams:

  • One person got an email from her “email provider” saying she needed to log in to her account right away because they claimed her mailbox had exceeded storage on her account. “Just click this link and you can log in!”
  • Another received an email from his “bank” claiming someone else tried to log into his account and he needed to click this link and log in right away to confirm his identity.
  • A third received a phone call from her “credit card company” saying there was fraudulent activity and she just needed to provide her birthday and last four of her social security number to confirm her identity.
  • A fourth received an email from a magazine he subscribes to. They wanted to let him know that his subscription was up for renewal and they were all set to charge his account on December 13th.  If he wanted to make any changes all he had to do was click the link.

Scammers have gotten better and better about making you believe that a particular email is from a real company and not from a scammer.

Other Scams:

And don’t forget about Social Media.  I think by now we’ve all received the private Facebook message that says “I can’t believe what you did! Check out the video!”, but when you click on the video you start spamming all of YOUR friends! But other private messages are more subtle. Always double-check with your friend to see if they really sent you the link.

Another recent scam is sending a link via a text message. I’ve been getting a lot of these recently. In fact, I received one just this morning! It was sent to 20 other people all with sequential cell phone numbers telling us to “Tap to load preview”

holiday phishing scams - text message

So that leads us to the question…

How do I protect myself from Holiday Phishing Scams?

First, be hyper-vigilant with your personal information.  When a company calls you and says they want to confirm it’s you by having you provide your birthday, address,  or the last four of your social, just say “NO!”. Tell them you’ll be happy to call them back at a number you already have for that company to take care of the issue.

Next, check to see that the email even makes sense.  Are you receiving a message from a bank you no longer do business with? Did you get an email from your girlfriend saying she is stranded in Athens, but you saw her just last night?

Next, carefully review your emails before clicking on any links. Even if the logos are correct and the color scheme is correct, it still might be a scam.  Is the message really from “Amazon.com” or is it from “Amaz0ne.com”?  (Notice the letter “o” became the number zero.)  Check the “from” address.  And check to see if the link is shortened to a bit.ly link or is it the company’s actual web address?

I’ve written some other blogs about staying safe onlin recently.  Check out:

Of course, you can sign up for our newsletter and receive our free report on how to protect yourself from phishing scams.

Conclusion:

Think before you click!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Please follow and like us:
error

6 Easy Steps to Delete Cookies from Your Browser

Not everyone knows that December 4th is National Cookie Day. And if you did know that, you’re probably thinking about the chocolate chip variety! At Geek For Hire, Inc., when someone says “cookie,” we think “Delete Cookies!” and of the little tracking code that is left behind when you visit most websites.

What Are Cookies?Delete Cookies

A cookie is a code that is stored on a file associated with your web browser on your computer. It is used to uniquely identify you without personally identifying you. Here is Chris’ explanation:

“I think of a cookie as a sticky note with a six on it.  A website will place that sticky note on your forehead. When you visit that website again, it looks at your sticky note and says, “Oh! You’re a six!” and will put a little checkmark to indicate you’ve revisited.”

How do Cookies work?

Cookies track your activity on a particular website.  Some websites collect and store a lot of information: others, just a little. For example, the Geek For Hire, Inc. website uses StatCounter to track the number of visitors to our site. When you visit our site, StatCounter places a cookie on your computer or phone. This helps us know how many visitors we’ve had, how many of those are repeat visitors, and what pages they looked at.  Cookies do not generally track personally identifiable information.

Should you Delete Cookies on your computer?

Absolutely.  When you leave cookies on your machine for months or years, the performance of your browser may be sluggish. (When there are more than 500 files in a folder, the file system becomes ineffective. The website you’re visiting will need to look at all the files in the folder to make sure it gets all the relevant data.  The more files you have, the longer it will take.)  When you delete cookies, your browser experience becomes much more efficient.

benefit to delete cookies

How do you Delete Cookies?

Follow these steps to delete cookies on your machine:

  1. Open your web browser
  2. Click on “Tools”.  If you don’t see a menu bar with “tools”, look on the far right side of your browser for a menu icon or three little dots.
  3. Click on “Options”
  4. Click on “Privacy and Security”
  5. Click on “Browsing History” or “Cookies”
  6. Select the cookies you want to delete.  Some browsers let you delete cookies for individual websites, others let you delete cookies for the past day.  You should also have the option to delete ALL cookies.
  7. If you use more than one browser, for example, Firefox and Chrome and Safari, you’ll need to repeat these steps for each browser.

WARNING: When you delete cookies from your browser history, the browser will have forgotten all of your login information for your bank, Amazon, Facebook, etc. You will need to log into different websites again. Make sure you know your passwords or are ready to change your passwords at the same time.

Check out this article about how to delete cookies on your iPhone.

Another Definition of Cookies:

I also like this definition from Thrillist:

“Simply put, “cookies” are actually small packets of data sent to your browser from websites you visit, containing information about your activity on the page, which your browser then saves as a small text file. That information can include your username and password, site preferences, or what you might’ve left in your Amazon shopping cart — the browser saves that stuff so you don’t have to re-enter it every time, which is nice.

“There are multiple different types of cookies which behave in different ways: Some are erased when you close the window, while others are stored on your hard drive until they expire (or you delete them).

“As for why they’re called cookies, there’s actually a straightforward explanation: It’s a play on “fortune cookies” (because they contain hidden information).”

Conclusion:

Just like changing the batteries on your smoke detector twice a year when the time changes, remember to delete all of your cookies on National Cookie Day.  (And maybe two or three other times per year too.)

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Please follow and like us:
error