Stay alert for scams during holiday season - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Stay alert for scams during holiday season

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County officials say it is important for consumers to stay alert for electronic scams during the holiday season.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer in Union County stated in a news release that tight budgets and financial concerns make people vulnerable to email or “phishing” attacks.

The office recommends the following guidelines to help avoid common electronic scams:

Financial Institutions/Charities:

  • Don’t click links in email or text messages or open email attachments that claim to be from a financial institution or charity. Instead, log in directly to their official websites to access information or make payments.
  • Phishing attempts can be very convincing. Don’t be fooled by official sounding subject lines such as “Late Payment,” “Account Over Limit” or “IRS Audit.”
  • If you aren’t sure about a particular charity, consult the FTC Charity Checklist.
  • Review online or paper statements from banks and credit cards carefully after making online purchases.

Software:

  • Never download anything you didn’t go looking for on your own. A lot of malware masquerades as updates to software that turn out to be bogus.
  • Be careful when downloading free games, screensavers or other software. Even if they are legitimate, they often include adware or other scams.
  • There are a lot of good, free antivirus programs for home use but do some research or talk to a professional before installing anything claiming to be “security” software.
  • Avoid sending or opening electronic greetings cards as you may unwittingly be downloading malicious software and spreading it to friends and family.

Computers/Networks:

  • Be cautious of where you do your online shopping. Public computers or computers belonging to others could be compromised without your knowledge.
  • There are certain risks inherent to using wireless networks in public places, motels, etc. Be cautious when using such networks to do anything that involves your private and/or personal information while traveling during the holidays.

For more information about holiday season phishing scams and malware campaigns, please click here. Also, you can click here to view the FTC charity checklist.

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