Be wary of 12 cyber scams

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The V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has put out "The Twelve Cyber Scams of Christmas" to make the public aware of common Internet scams used to rob people during the holidays.

- Charity phishing - During the holiday season, hackers send emails that appear to be from charitable organizations. However, the emails link to fake web sites designed to steal donations, credit card information and the identities of donors.

- Fake invoices from delivery services - Fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to be from Federal Express, UPS or the U.S. Customs Service are often sent out by criminals. They email consumers asking for credit card information or require the person to open an online invoice to receive a package. Once that is done, the person's information is stolen or malware is automatically installed on their computer.

- Social networking friend requests - Consumers should be aware of authentic looking friend requests from various social networking sites that contain links that can automatically install malware on a computer and steal personal information.

- Holiday jewelry - A new holiday campaign leads shoppers to malware-ridden sites claiming to offer discounted luxury gifts from Cartier, Gucci and Tag Heuer. Cybercriminals use legitimate logos to trick shoppers into buying products they never receive.

- Online identity theft - Consumers should be cautious about using free wireless networks at local cafes. In some cases, hackers can spy on consumers' activity and steal their personal information.

- Phony websites - Hackers create websites for persons searching for holiday-related wallpaper, Christmas carol lyrics or festive screen savers. Downloading these holiday-themed files can infect a computer with spyware, adware or other malware.

- Job-related email rip-offs - Scam artists prey on desperate job seekers, with the promise of high-paying jobs and work from home money-making opportunities. Once information is submitted and the user pays a set-up fee, hackers steal their money instead of following through on the promised employment opportunity.

- Auction site fraud - Scammers often lurk on auction sites. Buyers should beware of auction deals that appear too good to be true, because often the purchases never reach their new owner.

- Password robbery - Low-cost tools to uncover a person's password are used by thieves who send out malware to record keystrokes. Once criminals have access to one or more passwords, they can gain entry to consumers' bank and credit card details. They also commonly send out spam from a user's account to their contacts.

- Email banking - Official-looking emails from financial institutions are sent out by cybercriminals asking users to confirm their account information, such as user name and password, with a warning that their account will become invalid if they do not comply.

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