Watch out for Hurricane Irene Scams and Phishing Attacks on Facebook and Twitter
By on August 28th, 2011

Any major event that occurs will certainly draw people’s attention on the Internet. We had seen a huge chaos when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death came in. When such events occur, scammers take advantage of users’ curiosity and create scam messages (including phishing attacks), and post them across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or send phishing emails.

When the  Osama Bin Laden’s death news came in, people were curious to know if there were any leaked images or videos posted on the Internet. Scammers took advantage of this curiosity and created scam messages like – “Osama Bin Laden’s Leaked Death Video” and “Pics of Osama Bin Laden Are Finally Released“, and posted them on Facebook and Twitter. These scams spread through the Internet within minutes targeting user accounts by stealing their login credentials.

As the Hurricane Irene barrels up the East Coast, users on the Internet should lookout for scam messages and phishing attacks related to the storm news. It is likely that scammers will create phishing attacks and other malicious activity, and publish them across the Internet.

Facebook Scams

Newsworthy events, like in this case – Hurricane Irene, usually trigger malicious links and phishing attacks that spread across Facebook. Users on Facebook should stay observant of links promising them to show leakedvideos, pictures and other information related to Hurricane Irene.Hurricane Irene

Facebook users are tricked very easily. When users click on scam links, they will be taken to bogus websites where they will be asked to complete online surveys or download malicious programs, such as a codec to watch a video. These malware programs are designed to gather user information including email ids,  user names, passwords and credit card details. Sometimes these malicious programs are downloaded automatically where users are blindly infected.

I suggest all users on Facebook to be cautious, and do not blindly click on links that promise you to show videos or pictures, including those which are posted by your friends. This implies to users on Twitter as well. Watch out for re-tweets and DMs with links that lead to fake (clone) login pages where you will be asked to re-enter your username and password, causing a potential threat to your account.

Here’s an article that will help you Prevent Your Facebook Account from Getting Hacked.  We constantly report scams and hoax messages that are spreading on Facebook. You can always stay updated by bookmarking this link –  Techie-Buzz.com/scams

Charity Scams

Watch where you donate! There are thousands of fake charity websites that are created, which attempt to collect donations to help hurricane victims. Do a research before making any donations and make sure that you’re donating to the right charity.

If you’re making any donations, then make sure that you avoid third party sites and organizations, and head straight to the charity’s main website that you want to reach out to.

The FBI has issued warnings about Hurricane Irene charity scams, and has offered some excellent tips  to protect you against charity scammers:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by

  • Telephone at (866) 720-5721,
  • Fax at (225) 334-4707, or
  • E-mail at  disaster@leo.gov

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at  www.IC3.gov.

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Author: Joel Fernandes Google Profile for Joel Fernandes
Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

Joel Fernandes has written and can be contacted at joel@techie-buzz.com.

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