Archive for the ‘Scam’ Category

Charity Scams

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There are people on the Internet waiting to exploit your generous nature. A little research can help your charity dollars reach those that you intend to assist.

Research is only the first step. Next there are a number of warning signs of fraudulent charities. Unless you have previously given your email address to a particular charitable group, assume that any email you receive from a charity is bogus. Clicking on a link enclosed in such an email could also create a pathway for malware to enter your computer.


Also, beware of “charities” that:

  • Won’t provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
  • Refuses to offer proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
  • Has a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
  • Thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
  • Uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
  • Asks for donations in cash or asks you to wire money, or offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
  • Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. By law, you never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.

So you’ve decided to make a donation to a particular charity. Your wariness shouldn’t end there, however.

Be certain the website of the charity you’ve chosen uses encryption technology before entering sensitive information such as credit-card numbers or bank draft information. Check the URL: http:// is not secure, while https:// is secure. There should also be a key or padlock symbol located in the corner of the web browser. If you’re uncertain, contact the charity by phone or email before donating.

Also investigate the group’s privacy policy, so that you know how your personal information is being handled.

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Stop the Unwanted Emails

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Stop unwanted email

In our last blog entry, we addressed ways to prevent unwanted email. Now we will explore methods to block and report spam that does make it to your private email address.

Most email providers have systems in place to block and report unwanted email. Following are directions for three of the biggest providers:

  • Gmail: Most unwanted email automatically gets detected and sent to a spam folder, and is deleted after 30 days. If you get a message that you feel is spam, check the box next to it and click the “Report Spam” button in the top tool bar. Conversely, if you find a message in your spam folder that you feel is legitimate, check it and click the “Not spam” button.
  • Yahoo!: Yahoo’s spam filter is strong and catches most unwanted email automatically. If you find a message you consider spam, check the box next to it and click the “Spam” button in the upper tool bar. You can use your Blocked list to stop senders and domains, but that’s likely to provide temporary relief, as spammers change addresses and domains regularly.
  • Outlook: Outlook’s Junk Filter is set to Low protection, which catches the obvious spam. You can increase the filter’s strength by clicking the Home tab, then Junk, then Junk Email Options. Under the Options tab, select the setting you want for your filter (each are describe there). Also a number of third-party spam blockers can be installed into Outlook, for advanced and updated filtering.

Reporting the spam can hit spammers where it hurts most: in the pocketbook.

Before deleting unwanted email, forward it to [email protected], the spam box for the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC investigates a suspect email, and if it is spam, the original sender can be charged $500 per email. The more email from the same spammer, the more likely that it will be investigated.

Another place to report unwanted e-mail is anti-spam groups such as Spamcop (, which tracks spam back to its ISP and reports it.


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Phishing – Don’t take the bait

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Fishing can be an enjoyable outdoor activity. Phishing is a computer tactic that can wipe you out financially. Phishing happens when fraudsters, either by email or text, impersonate a business to trick a consumer into giving out personal and financial information. Even if the organization listed is one you trust, remember that legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels, such as emails or texts. Phishing can take several forms. The message, which likely include a call for urgent action, may indicate that there’s an unauthorized transaction on your account, or that information must be verified, or that your account has been overcharged. These may seem like legit reasons, but it’s all a scam to grab your information for fraudulent purposes. The best way to deal with phishing scams is to eliminate any suspicious emails or texts. Also don’t click on any links or call any phone numbers provided, even if they have an appropriate area code. If you’re concerned that the message might be real, call the number on your statement or the back of your credit card. There are several steps you can take to head off a phishing attack:

  • Only use trusted security software, set to update automatically.
  • Don’t provide personal or financial information through non-secure channels such as email or texts.
  • Provide information only through an organization’s Web site if you typed in the web address yourself and you see a URL that begins https (the “s” stands for secure), though even that isn’t foolproof, as some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Check for unauthorized charges on credit-card and bank account statements. If statements are late by more than a couple of days, call to confirm billing addresses and account balances.
  • Attachments and downloadable files in emails may contain viruses or other malware, so be cautious before opening or downloading.


Phishing emails can be reported to [email protected], the organization impersonated in the email, or [email protected], which is the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a group of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies that uses these reports to fight phishing.

Stay safe!


Scam – Tech Support Call

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If tech support is calling you rather than the other way around, beware!

Phone Scam


Scam artists have a new tool that they will use to break into your computer – a phone. Someone will call; claiming to be a computer technician associated with well-known tech companies such as Microsoft, and will prey on your concerns about viruses or malware on your computer to fool you into giving him or her remote access or paying for unnecessary software.

Such a “tech” will dazzle you with a barrage of technical terms, and may even ask you to perform a series of tasks on your computer. After the “problem” has been “located,” this scammer may: 

  • ask you to give remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable;
  • try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program;
  • ask for credit card information so you will be billed for phony services — or services you could get elsewhere for free;
  • trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, such as user names and passwords;
  • direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information.

The upshot: the scammer is trying to make money, not fix your computer.

MS Phone Scam

Your best defense: hang up!

Other tips:

  • Don’t give control of your computer to an unsolicited third party.
  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller, as criminals spoof caller ID numbers.
  • Online search results, which can be manipulated, isn’t the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Instead, if you want tech support, give HCP a call at 207-848-9888 or visit our website and submit a support request. To locate company information, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
  • Never provide your credit card, financial information or passwords to someone who calls claiming to be from tech support.
  • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry (


If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, don’t panic. Instead:

  • Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer, and delete anything it identifies as a problem. 
  • Change any passwords that you gave out, especially if you use these passwords for other accounts.
  • Give HCP a call at 207-848-9888 or visit our website and submit a support request.
  • If you paid for bogus services with a credit card or see other charges on your statement that you didn’t make, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges.
  • If you think someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website ( You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.

Stay Safe