New iTunes version of Grandma Scam

iTunes gift cards used in “Grandma, it’s me!” scam

Scammers pulling off the Grandparent scam have found a new way to get their money. A Charlotte-area senior recently reported paying $26,000 to grandparent scammers using Apple iTunes gift cards, suppo​​sedly to bail a grandchild out of jail on DWI charges.

At the scammer’s direction, the grandparent purchased 52 Apple iTunes gift cards over three days, each card loaded with $500. The scammer, still masquerading as the grandchild, got the grandparent to read off the numbers on the back of the cards over the telephone and made off with the money.

Scammers are constantly looking for new methods to update old cons. Traditionally, the grandparent scam asks victims to wire money via Western Union or Moneygram. Now, some scammers have started demanding payment via prepaid credit card, reloadable debit card or gift card

To protect yourself from the grandparent scam and similar frauds:

·         Hang up on calls from “grandchildren” or others who claim to be loved ones in trouble. For quick confirmation that everything is OK, immediately call the person on a phone number you know is really theirs, such as their cell phone.

·         Be deeply suspicious whenever someone contacts you and demands that you send money quickly, whether they request payment by reloadable debit card, prepaid credit card, or wire service.

·         If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Ransomware – take care and protect yourself!

From Lawyer’s Mutual of North Carolina.  This information was sent for law firms, but can affect everyone, so I’m posting sections of it in hopes that at least one person might be helped!

“You’ve heard of malware which is software intended to damage or disable computers. Ransomware is software designed to block access to a computer system (hold your client files hostage) until a sum of money is paid. If the money isn’t paid, your files stay encrypted forever.  A recent episode of “The Good Wife” used ransomware as part of the storyline – doug.

Many malicious computer attacks require that the user click on something. However, the most recent versions have been using digitally signed certificates to appear authentic to security programs. Then, the ransomware is embedded within advertisements on websites. This has allowed them to evade detection by most anti-virus products while requiring little or no action by the user in order for the virus to be downloaded.

In fact, in some cases, a user visited a legitimate website and an infected advertisement on that website began automatically running, which downloaded the virus.

What you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Make regular backups of your data system and do not have them accessible through your network. Some options include daily or real-time cloud-based backups or nightly serial backups onto an external drive that is disconnected when not backing up the system.
  • Install an ad blocker plug-in on your web browser such as Adblock Plus.
  • Keep your web browser up to date.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
  • Enable the “Click to Play” feature on your internet browser and for any plug-ins.
  • Be vigilant about the websites you visit.
  • Think before you click – some viruses are disguised as security alerts such as telling you there is a virus on your computer, exploiting your desire to click on the window quickly to get rid of it…only to then find that it was a trap.
  • Do not click on advertisements – rather go to the company’s page by typing in its normal web address URL.
  • Avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails.

Do not download attachments unless you are sure of their source and content.

If you are a victim, the FBI’s recommended course of action from 11/8/2013 is to “scrub your hard drive and restore encrypted files from a backup” (http://www.fbi.gov/washingtondc/news-and-outreach/stories/cryptolocker-ransomware-encrypts-users-files). It is also recommended that you file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at  www.ic3.gov.”

Scam alert

We occasionally hear that some of our clients are approached with various scams.  The following is an alert from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper:

Phony Card Cancellation Notices Arrive Via Phone

Consumers in North Carolina are receiving automated telephone calls saying that their credit or debit card has been canceled or deactivated. The message offers recipients a way to get their card back into service. The calls are coming from a variety of numbers. Sometimes Caller ID displays only a partial number, or a number with no area code. The company or financial institution that issued the card is not named in the message.

Some recipient are instructed to “Press 1” (or 2), while others are given a telephone number to call. Regardless of the approach, eventually they will be asked to enter their credit or debit card number, or other confidential information.

Consumers are getting better about recognizing these scams and fortunately none of the many consumers who have reported to our office in the last 24 hours have fallen for it. One was glad to have been warned about these kinds of scams because “in the past I would have immediately called them back.”

Text or voicemail messages warning of problems with your account and offering a “fix” if you enter your account information are always phony. A legitimate company might use a message to let you know of a problem, but only if you have previously provided your number and specifically asked to be notified in that manner. But they will never ask you to supply information.

If you believe that you‘ve been scammed, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

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