Hackers and scammers are pretending to be customer service personnel from some of the biggest names in business - including FedEx, UPS, and Wal-Mart. Hackers are impersonating well-known companies that do a lot of business this time of year - specifically retailers and shipping companies - in order to quickly earn recipients’ trust and gain access to computer drives, files and accounts to steal personal information such as Social Security, bank or credit card numbers.
“While most of the country is spreading peace and love this holiday season, cyber criminals are spreading computer viruses and stealing identities and information,” says Carrie A. Hurt, President and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas. “Hackers using email phishing messages are conning consumers by posing as trusted businesses such as Wal-Mart, FedEx and UPS this time of year to take advantage of the seasonal increase in online shopping and shipping of merchandise all across the country.”
Following are three phishing emails BBB has spotted, and that con artists are relying on this holiday season to take advantage of consumers:
Hackers have created phishing emails which pretend to be from shipping companies claiming that there is a problem with delivery of merchandise. Commonly, the email will include a hyperlink for recipients to click that will take them to another website that might solicit personal information or install malware, software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent. A message currently making the rounds has a subject line that looks like, “Subject: Tracking Number 13040065504.” The body of the message claims that a package couldn’t be delivered and advises the recipient, “To take your package back, you should print a copy of the invoice that is in the added file.” Of course, the attachment is actually a virus that will infect the computer if opened.
BBB advice: Instead of clicking on the link in the email, go directly to the shipper’s website or contact the company via phone in order to confirm whether there is a shipping problem with your package. Do not open attachments to unsolicited emails.
Surveys offering holiday cash
In an effort to take advantage of cash-strapped holiday shoppers, phishing emails are circulating pretending to be from retailers such as Wal-Mart. One email has a subject line that reads, “Online Survey from Wal-Mart Stores!!!” And the body of the message states, “This survey has been sent only to a few people from our random generator!”, and “You’ve been selected to take part in our quick and easy 9-question survey. In return we will credit $90.00 to your account - just for your time!” Ultimately, the email includes a link to a website where the recipient is supposed to take the survey, but in fact leads to a phishing site.
BBB advise: Do not respond to unsolicited emails that promise money for answering surveys. Spam emails that offer big rewards with little effort will almost invariably cost you in the end.