ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When is a holiday greeting not a holiday greeting?
Several companies that specialize in ecards have been telling customers to beware of fraudulent messages that contain dangerous links.
Hallmark has warned about emails claiming to have a link to an ecard from a family member or friend that unleashes a computer virus if you follow the instructions and click.
The company advises that if you receive an email with a Hallmark-looking header but it doesn’t appear to be from Hallmark, delete without opening it.
If you have any uncertainty, do not click on the link and take the following steps to open the card:
• Locate the confirmation number in the email.
• An ecard can be picked up by going to http://www.hallmarkecards.com/pickup/ecard.
• Enter your email address and the confirmation number.
• Click “View ECard.”
Keep in mind that generally, ecards do not include attachments. If you receive a card that has one, delete it and then delete it some more by emptying your trash. Ecards will not require a recipient to enter a username, password or any other personal information to retrieve a card.
For Hallmark, you can tell a card is legitimate because the email notification will come from the sender’s email address, not Hallmarkecards.com. The sender’s first and last names will appear in the subject line, the company says.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network advises that general tip-offs are not knowing the sender, not being familiar with the purported e-card company and spotting misspellings.
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Reminder to watch for the ubiquitous fake Amazon emails asking you to update your account by clicking on a link. In the latest version, there are two quick ways you can tell it’s a scam. One is if the sender is “email@example.com,” and the other is if you’re treated to the following ungrammatical message: “Some informations on your account appears to be missing or incorrect.”
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Beware the free laptop.
A new scam is using brands such as VISA, Mastercard and AmEx to offer the freebie as part of a promotional effort.
This one can be tricky because major credit card companies sometimes offer points or cash as a way to get people to sign up.
In the latest version, the emailer or caller is hawking a new credit card with a $20,000 limit, according to Scam Detector. If you sign up, they tell you, you will get the free laptop.
The catch, as you might have guessed, is that you must pay an upfront fee of $250. Some people fall for it because they think the fee is worth it when taking into account the value of a laptop.
There is, however, no laptop and there is no credit card.
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Here’s a word of advice when it comes to free-trial offers, “whether the promise is wrinkle-free skin or earning easy money working from home,” according to AARP.
The cancellation window with some of these offers starts at the moment the order is placed, not when you receive it. So in those cases, “scam vendors may purposely delay the initial shipment so you can’t cancel in time,” AARP says.
In addition, such offers might have disclosures in small print or pre-checked boxes “through which you agree to receive other products, often at outrageous costs and without free trials.”
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A new version of the Netflix email scam that is “relatively well-designed” has been targeting some of the streaming service’s 110 million subscribers.
The emails tell people their Netflix billing information needs to be updated, and it takes them to a fake Netflix website, where they are asked to log in and enter information that includes credit card numbers.
“Of course, this website is completely bogus and is just a mechanism for the scammers to steal the victim’s identity and credit card information,” cyber security firm MailGuard said in a blog post.
Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.