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Photo-Sharing Programs May Be Used to Spread Malware

Photo-Sharing Programs May Be Used to Spread Malware - The Beacon


By: Amanda

Photo-Sharing Programs May Be Used to Spread Malware

On May 30, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigations put out an alert which states that photo-sharing programs are being used by cyber criminals to “perpetrate scams and harm victims’ computers. According to the press release, these schemers are advertising vehicles for sale online; however, they do not post a picture of the vehicle telling the consumer that the picture may be sent on request. If you request the picture, it is sent either as an attachment or the schemer emails a link to an online photo gallery.

The attachment or gallery can contain malware and viruses that infect the consumer’s computer and/or will redirect the consumer to a website that looks very similar to the website the ad was posted on; however, the schemer has set up this website and runs all of the applications on it including technical and customer support. If the consumer sends the money to the schemer to complete the transaction, the schemer ceases all communication and the consumer never receives the vehicle.

In order to protect yourself while shopping online, the BBB offers you these tips:

[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]1. Protect your computer[/su_heading]

A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]2. Shop on trustworthy websites[/su_heading]

Shoppers should start at to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for the BBB logo and other widely-recognized seals on retailer websites, but make sure they are real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]3. Protect your personal information [/su_heading]

BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, take that as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true[/su_heading]

 Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]5. Beware of phishing[/su_heading]

 Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]6. Confirm your online purchase is secure[/su_heading]

Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]7. Pay with a credit card[/su_heading]

 It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item. You also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]8. Keep documentation of your order[/su_heading]

After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]9. Check your credit card statements often[/su_heading]

 Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online regularly.
[su_heading style=”flat-green” align=”left”]10. Know your rights[/su_heading]

 Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.


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Amanda is the Director of Bureau Affairs and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.