Mark Mandell, Esq.
For everyone that read our last post on avoiding the holiday shopping scams and protecting your financial information, I strongly encourage you to read this Detroit Free Press article on the most recent trend for fraudsters: impersonating big name stores like WalMart, Target, Home Depot, and others.
Here is a link to the article: http://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2014/12/18/email-holiday-scams-target-irs-susan-tompor/20554361/
If your credit card was compromised during the recent data breaches at those big name retailers, your credit card number has probably changed by now. However, such cyber-attacks have left consumers emails, and potentially phone numbers, susceptible to hackers.
And those emails and phone numbers probably have not changed since the data breaches. (You don’t have to change your email, but changing your password every once and a while can help avoid hacks).
These hackers may already know where you shop, and if you shop online with a work email, they probably can figure out where you work, too. This information allows the scams to sound more legitimate – the Better Business Bureau has even received reports of fraudulent emails sent by scammers impersonating big names like WalMart Target, Home Depot, Costco, and Amazon.
One recent example from last month was the “pizza scam,” in which hackers sent an email under the guise of Pizza Hut asking consumers to take a survey. However, when the “survey” link was clicked, malware was downloaded that wreaks havoc on unsuspecting customers’ computers.
Businesses should be especially careful. If one employee opens up a malicious email or link in a scam email, the whole computer network can be infiltrated with a virus.
One helpful tip to avoid getting bit by one of these viruses is to ignore the “pay now” and/or “you need to act now” emails. If you have purchased something online from a big name like WalMart or Target, they would not be demanding immediate payment via email – especially when you probably already paid at the online checkout.
In the case of receiving “order update” or “shipping update” emails, if you suspect it could be a scam, call the customer service line first – do not open the email. Talk to a real person, find out where your package is and when it will arrive. If it arrives safely, go and delete the potentially fraudulent email without ever opening it.
In today’s world, cyber-attacks are a rather common occurrence. Sometimes the best way to shield yourself is to do nothing at all, i.e. don’t open the emails or click on the links. But especially in the holiday frenzy of buying gifts, and then returning or exchanging them afterwards, the best advice is to slow down, don’t hurriedly click on anything suspicious, and verify that the emails you are receiving are truly legitimate.
That may entail – and this can be rare these days – actually picking up the phone and speaking with the good ole’ customer service reps.
If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or you have questions, you can contact Attorney Mark Mandell. Or, have you been convicted of retail or return fraud? Arrested for drunk driving after a holiday party? Give Mark Mandell a call and you will get an attorney who knows how to aggressively protect your rights. Call today at (248) 380-0000.