Con artists marking Starbucks anniversary, too

For Starbucks fans — or even just fans of a good deal — beware of the Starbucks gift card scam that purports to celebrate the coffee chain’s 50th anniversary.

While it is, in fact, Starbucks’ 50th anniversary, the $100 gift cards making the rounds on Facebook are completely bogus, according to Scam Detector.

The post making this offer contains a link, which will direct you to a “poorly designed page” that asks you for your email address, Scam Detector says. Also, you will have to create a password and pay a $1.25 fee for what is referred to as a tax. To do that, you must submit your credit card information.

The poorly written page provides red flags about this fake offer and others common in many gift card scams.

For one, it is poorly written and has grammatical and factual mistakes, such as noting that Starbucks is having its 60th anniversary rather than 50th.

Also, the domain has a strange jumble of characters and ends in “.cn,” which stands for China.

***

In a similar vein, beware the Costco raffle scam, which arrives as a text message and might include your name to appear more legitimate.

It says that a code printed from one of your past Costco receipts was chosen as a first-place winner, entitling you to a free iPad or iPhone.

The link that you’re told to open is another of those character mishmashes and in no way looks like “costco.com.”

***

A new study reveals the interesting finding that login credentials (user name, password) are more valuable to crooks than Social Security numbers.

Digital Shadows, which provides digital risk prevention services, reports that the cost of a Social Security number on the dark web is $2, while it costs thieves as much as $120,000 for an email administrator’s login credentials. Email administrators monitor a business’ or government’s electronic mail system, with access to personal information of consumers and other individuals.

Also more valuable to hackers than Social Security numbers are a hacked Gmail account ($80) and a hacked Facebook account ($65).

Login credentials are valuable to identity thieves because they can be used to hit businesses with ransomware attacks “and phishing schemes that rely on poor consumer behaviors,” according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Cyberattacks that use logins and passwords to gain access to corporate networks require less effort than traditional data breaches that rely on stealing personal information, the resource center says.

Ransomware payouts cost businesses more than $1.8 billion in 2020, according to the FBI.

Obviously, it’s still important to protect Social Security numbers and other personal information to protect against identity theft.

But here’s how to also practice good “cyber-hygiene” habits, the resource center advises:

  • Use multifactor authentication on all accounts. This is an additional step of having to enter, for example, a code texted to your phone before you can gain access.
  • Use a different password for each account, making sure to use at least 12 characters so that it’s harder for a thief to crack. Making sure that each is unique will keep a thief from gaining entry to all accounts if one of them is attacked.
  • Keep software updated. Enable “automatic updates” on your devices so that security patches and software updates are automatically applied.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com 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 1-888-255-9210 or file a complaint at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.


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