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Avoiding Spyware and E-Card Fraud – How to Safely Send and Receive E-Cards

E-cards (or electronic greeting cards) have become a popular, convenient and inexpensive method of sending greetings to friends, family and business associates for many computer users. Currently, there are thousands of e-card companies. E-card companies are becoming increasingly creative with many including options to add audio, video or animations to your messages. With e-cards increasing in popularity, they are now being heavily to download spyware and perpetuate Internet fraud on unsuspecting users.

A legitimate looking e-card, once clicked on and/or downloaded could actually contain spyware, spam or a computer virus. Some examples of this include: displays of obscene images, pop-up ads, launching of adult websites or spoofing of your email address to send e-cards to others (making them appear as if they came from you).

Below are some signs of a fake e-card:

o Spelling errors, or misspellings of your own name.

o Errors within the message of the card.

o You don’t recognize the card’s sender.

o The sender has a bogus name like: Joe Cool or Secret Admirer.

o It comes from a bizarre looking URL.

Ways to avoid fake e-cards:

o If there is any doubt, don’t open it.

o Never click on links or open attachments from an unknown source.

o Never accept the terms of any End User License Agreement without first reading the terms in fine print.

o Use antivirus software, like StopSign Internet Security and keep it up to date.

o Use an alternative browser, like Mozilla Firefox. Many scams exploit security holes in Internet Explorer.

o Whichever browser you use, make sure you download all new security updates.

o Don’t open any cards with attachments.

There are still many legitimate e-card companies out there and sending e-cards can be fun. Below are a few well-established, reputable e-card companies:

o Blue Mountain-http://www.bluemountain.com

o Hallmark-http://www.hallmark.com

o Egreeting-http://www.egreetings.com

If you have already accidentally opened a suspicious looking e-card, there are several things you can do:

o Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, by calling one of the three main credit reporting agencies, Equifax (1-800-525-6285), Experian (1-888-397-3742) and TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). If you file a report, it helps minimize the damage an online criminal can do.

o Monitor your financial statements closely. Look for small unexplained charges around the $25 or $30 mark.

o File a police report if you suspect your personal information has been stolen.

o Cancel any credit cards or bank accounts you fear may have been compromised.

Like any popular activity pursued on the Internet, e-cards can be a potential source of spyware and/or Internet fraud. However, by following a few common sense tips and being aware of the warning signs, you can help protect yourself from this new trend in computer crime.

Source by Jason Dick

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