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Alert Center:

Did you get a call from area code (876)?
08/01/2014 14:10:58
Did you get a call from area code (876)?

Ring, ring… you get a call from a number starting with area code (876). They call to say you’ve won the “Mega Millions” Jamaican lottery, and you could even win a car! All you have to do is pay a few thousand bucks in taxes or fees, and the big jackpot is yours.

That’s great news, right? Wrong.

Don’t send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you. Odds are good that it’s a scam. And just so you know, playing a foreign lottery is against federal law.

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A new twist: scammers are asking people to pay “taxes and fees” with prepaid cards. They tell you to go to the nearest pharmacy or a big retail store, buy a card, and call them back to read them the number. Whether you use a prepaid card or a wire transfer — once you send your money, you can’t get it back. So keep card and account numbers to yourself. Scammers use this information to hustle even more money out of you — and your accounts.

We get complaints from people who have lost A LOT of money to foreign lottery scams. Some folks have told us that they’ve been threatened with physical harm if they don’t pay the fees.

If you get a call about a foreign lottery, we recommend that you hang up. And before you do, you might want to tell the caller:

  • I never entered a foreign lottery, so I couldn’t have won
  • I never send money to someone who calls me
  • My phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry, so you shouldn’t be calling me — and I’m reporting your number

Have you gotten a call like this? We want to hear about it. Submit a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. 

Timeshare Resellers and Quick-Money Promises
07/24/2014 11:02:34
Timeshare Resellers and Quick-Money Promises

Con artists are adept at selling — or selling you on — just about anything. When it comes to timeshare resale services, they may claim to have a buyer for your property. Or that they can sell your place quickly and for a good price. But first, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee.

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As part of an international crackdown on timeshare resale scams, the FTC and state law enforcement officials are going after timeshare resellers who took thousands of dollars in upfront fees from consumers after falsely claiming they could sell or rent the timeshares quickly. Today, the FTC announced settlements with Universal Timeshare, Resort Property Depot, and Resort Resolution Trust.

These companies violated the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule by making false claims about their services in telephone pitches to timeshare owners. Universal Timeshare also called people whose phone numbers were on the Do Not Call Registry. Some consumers paid as much as $4,000 in so-called taxes, closing costs, and processing fees to these companies — and got nothing in return.

Before you allow someone to sell your timeshare:

  1. Check them out before you agree to pay them any money. See if the state Attorney General, local consumer protection agencies, or the Better Business Bureau in the company’s home state have complaints about them on file. Then, search online by entering the company name and the word “complaints” or “scam.”
  1. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers or agents. Check with the Real Estate Commission in the state where your timeshare is located to make sure the company has a current license.
  1. Get all terms in writing before you agree to anything. That includes services the company will perform; timing of the sale; fees and commissions; and cancellation and refund policies. If a company says you have to act now or you might miss out on a buyer, it’s not a company you want to do business with.
  1. Consider doing business only with a company that gets paid after the timeshare is sold. And don’t wire money or pay in cash.
  1. Be alert to a repeat scam. If a company offers to help get your money back from a timeshare resale scam but wants you to pay them before they do anything for you, walk away. This is a classic setup for another scam.
The Business Directory Scam Strikes Again
07/18/2014 15:14:55

The Business Directory Scam Strikes Again

You work at a small business, nonprofit, church or local government agency, and you get a call: Someone wants you to confirm your contact information for a directory. Sure, no problem.

But there is a problem: Soon, you’re opening an invoice for hundreds of dollars for a listing in an online business directory — something you never asked for or wanted.

The FTC is alleging that three telemarketing agencies in Canada, which did business under names like Your Yellow Pages and OnlineYellowPagesToday, used that very m.o. to target small offices in the U.S.

According to the FTC, the scam didn’t always stop with the invoice. When people disputed the invoices, the companies pointed to recordings of their initial calls — sometimes using edited or altered versions — to “prove” that employees had okayed the charges. Businesses or organizations that still refused to pay got harassing calls telling them they’d owe interest and legal fees and would be reported to credit reporting agencies. Sometimes, the FTC alleged, the scammers went even further, pretending to be debt collection companies, getting people to pay for a promise that they wouldn’t call again. In the face of threats, many people just paid.

So what can you do to protect your business or organization from this kind of fraud?

  1. Train your staff. Educate your employees about how these scams work. In fact, send them a link to this blog post and article.
  1. Inspect your invoices. Depending on the size and nature of your business, consider implementing a purchase order system to make sure you’re paying only legitimate expenses. At a minimum, designate a small group of employees with authority to approve purchases and pay the bills.
  1. Verify to clarify. Check a company out for free at bbb.org, and read the BBB’s report on them. Also try doing an online search using the company name and words like “complaint” or “scam.”
  1. File a complaint. If you’re getting bogus bills, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and with the BBB. Complaints help shape the FTC’s law enforcement agenda, so it’s important to sound off when you spot a scam. Concerned about business directory fraudsters’ threats to tarnish your credit if you don’t pay? Many will simply drop the matter — and may even provide a refund — if they know you’ve complained. If the scheme involved the U.S. mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You also can alert your state Attorney General.
Typical Email Scam
07/14/2014 15:16:03

Typical Email Scam One of Our Staff Received

The Senders Name is Known to the Receiver!

Subject: Need your help!!

I just arrived in Cyprus, I'm in a fix and I need your help. Can I get a loan of $2,000? You 'll have it as soon as I get home next week. I lost my cell phone and my bank card, I can't access the cash machine as planned. I 'll appreciate what you can give if not all. It 's really urgent, please get back to me asap, I 'll advise on how to send it.

Hiding in Plain Sight?
07/02/2014 12:07:51
Hiding in Plain Sight?

Could your mobile carrier be hiding third-party charges on your phone bill that you never authorized? The FTC has alleged that T-Mobile has done just that.

The agency says that T-Mobile charged consumers not only for regular phone services, but also for third party content – including monthly subscriptions for ringtones, wallpaper, horoscope texts, flirting tips, and celebrity gossip – that consumers neither knew about nor agreed to.

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According to the FTC, here’s how it happened: On the first page of the bill, T-Mobile deceptively lumped third-party charges under a general line item that also included charges for their services like texting. The obscure breakouts of each charge were on the pages toward the end of the bill.

More surprising? The company continued to charge consumers, pocketing up to 40 percent of those third-party charges, even after some consumers caught on, complaints piled up, and industry auditors put T-Mobile on notice that the charges were unauthorized.

Here’s how to reduce the chances of paying charges crammed onto your bill without your knowledge or permission:

  • Read your mobile phone bill each month – line by line, and page by page. Don’t ignore the billing statement you get in the mail or through an automated online payment system. You should know your baseline monthly bill. Taking time to read every page of your statements can help you detect potentially fraudulent charges, keep surprise charges to a minimum, and save you money.
  • Consider a block on third-party charges. Many phone carriers already offer third-party blocking service for free. You just have to ask.
  • Ask your mobile phone carrier for its policy on refunds for fraudulent charges. Some carriers have a 60-day period for refund requests, and many have a policy of partial refunds for fraudulent charges you detect – no matter how long the cramming charges have occurred.
  • If you have a prepaid phone plan, check that you’re not losing pre-paid minutes to pay for unauthorized third-party charges. Stay on top of how many calling minutes you have, and make sure that minutes don’t go missing due to deductions unrelated to your regular phone calls. Check your accounts online or call the number your carrier gives you for account access.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of cramming, contact your phone carrier first about the charges, then file a complaint with the FTC.

The Hazards of Hoteling
07/01/2014 12:01:06
The Hazards of Hoteling

Booking a hotel stay for a summer vacation? Before you check in, check out how scammers try to take advantage of travelers.

The late night call from the front desk

You think you’re getting a late-night call from the front desk telling you there’s a problem with your credit card, and they need to verify the number, so you read it to them over the phone. But it’s really a scammer on the line. If a hotel really had an issue with your card, they would ask you to come to the front desk.

The pizza delivery deal

In another scam, you find a pizza delivery flyer slipped under your hotel door. You call to order, and they take your credit card number over the phone. But the flyer is a fake, and a scammer now has your info. Before you order, make sure you check out the business, or get recommendations from the front desk.

The fake Wi-Fi network

You search for Wi-Fi networks and find one with the hotel’s name. But it turns out it’s only a sound-alike and has nothing to do with the hotel. By using it, you could give a scammer access to your information. Check with the hotel to make sure you’re using the authorized network before you connect. Read more tips on using public Wi-Fi networks.

Haven’t booked your trip yet? If you’re thinking of getting a vacation rental, take a moment to read up about rental listing scams. And check out these travel tips, including tell-tale signs that a travel offer or prize might be a scam.

Beware: Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams
06/26/2014 07:52:25
Beware: Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

Scholarships and financial aid do not require upfront fees. While there are legitimate companies who will help guide you through the financial aid and college application process for a fee, disreputable companies may ask you for money up front and provide nothing in return. Red flags to watch out for include the following:

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  • A “money-back guarantee” to secure a scholarship. Don’t believe it. Unscrupulous companies attach conditions that make it impossible to get the refund.

  • "Secret scholarships." If a company claims to have inside knowledge of scholarship money, they’re lying. Information on scholarships is available freely to the public. Ask your librarian or school counselor.

  • Telling students they’ve been selected as “finalists” for awards. If they ask for an up-front fee, head for the nearest exit.

  • Asking for a student’s checking account to “confirm eligibility.” If they want bank account information or your credit card number to confirm or reserve a scholarship, it’s a scam.

  • Quoting a relatively small “monthly” or “weekly” fee. Then asking for authorization to debit your checking account for an unspecified length of time. Ongoing fees are a sure sign of a scam.

  • Unsolicited offers. Whether it’s an e-mail, phone call, or it arrived in your mailbox, if you didn’t request the information, ignore the offer.

Some Bee Pollen Weight Loss Products Are a Dangerous Scam
06/19/2014 15:51:31
Some Bee Pollen Weight Loss Products Are a Dangerous Scam

Products labeled to contain bee pollen that promise to help you lose weight or reshape your body could actually harm you, warns the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bee pollen is the pollen that bees collect from flowers; it is the food that nourishes bee larvae. But it’s not a miracle ingredient, says Gary Coody, R.Ph., FDA’s national health fraud coordinator. 

Some bee pollen products marketed for weight loss have been found to contain hidden and potentially dangerous ingredients that may be harmful for people who have conditions such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and bipolar disorders (a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood), says Coody.

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FDA recently warned consumers to immediately stop using one of these products—Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen—because it contains at least one potentially harmful ingredient that is not listed on the product’s label. 

Zi Xiu Tang is just one of several bee pollen products that the FDA has found to contain undeclared sibutramine and/or phenolphthalein. Others include Ultimate Formula, Fat Zero, Bella Vi Amp’d Up, Insane Amp’d Up, Slim Trim U, Infinity, Perfect Body Solution, Asset Extreme, Asset Extreme Plus, Asset Bold and Asset Bee Pollen. All these products marketed for weight loss included bee pollen in the list of ingredients. 

The agency has received from consumers and health care professionals more than 50 adverse event reports associated with the use of tainted bee pollen weight loss products. The reports include at least one death, serious cardiac issues, chest pain, heart palpitations, tachycardia (increased heart rate), increased blood pressure, seizures, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, insomnia and diarrhea. 

In addition, many bee pollen weight loss products are marketed as dietary supplements with claims to treat or prevent a variety of diseases and signs or symptoms of disease, including obesity, allergies, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. By law, dietary supplements may not claim to treat or prevent a disease. 

“When people buy these tainted bee pollen weight loss products, they are unknowingly taking one or more hidden drugs that have been banned from the market,” Coody warns.

The case of Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen illustrates the potential dangers posed by unscrupulous promoters of quick health fixes. 

A Dangerous Concoction

FDA labs have analyzed 15 different Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen samples from various distributors with a variety of expiration dates and lot numbers. All products tested, including those that claim to be “genuine” and “anti-counterfeit,” had undeclared drug ingredients: sibutramine and/or phenolphthalein.

Sibutramine is a controlled substance that was removed from the market in October 2010 after clinical data indicated that it posed an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Sibutramine substantially increases the blood pressure and/or pulse in some people and can be risky for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias or stroke, says Jason Humbert, a senior regulatory manager with FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs.

Phenolphthalein, a laxative and a suspected cancer-causing agent, isn’t approved in the United States. FDA has classified phenolphthalein as not generally recognized as safe and effective.

“They will tell you you’re going to get thirsty and need to drink more water. They won’t tell you that’s a side effect of sibutramine,” Coody says of the vendors of tainted supplements. “They’ll tell you that you may not feel well because you’re detoxifying your body. Well, you’re not feeling well because of the side effects of sibutramine.”

The product conveys an image of authenticity, fitness and health, Coody says. “These folks are very savvy in how they market the product. They are going to make you think that it’s not only exotic but also all natural,” he adds.

FDA is also investigating other bee pollen weight loss products suspected to contain hidden drugs. “But we cannot test every product,” Coody says.

An Elaborate Marketing Scheme

Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen is sold in health stores, fitness centers and spas. It’s even touted by some health care practitioners.

Manufacturers and distributors of Zi Xiu Tang have created an anti-counterfeit system to persuade consumers that their product is “authentic” and that not all bee pollen products are the same (“That theirs is the real thing – the good stuff,” Humbert says). The ruse includes a 16-digit code on the package that consumers can use to go online and “validate” whether the product is “genuine” or counterfeit.

There are also legitimate-looking websites and a huge social media presence, especially on Facebook and YouTube, to market the product. “It’s a very elaborate and sophisticated scheme,” says Humbert. “It preys on people’s weaknesses. They want the product to work.”

Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen was placed on Import Alert to prevent it from being shipped into the United States. But the product is still entering the country illegally, Coody says. FDA is investigating and may issue additional warning letters or take enforcement action, such as issuing an administrative detention order against products with undeclared drugs, bringing a seizure action in federal court, or seeking an injunction or criminal prosecution against the firm or responsible individuals.

Protect Yourself From Text Message Spam
06/19/2014 09:48:35
Protect Yourself From Text Message Spam

Spam text messages can be annoying, but did you know they are illegal? Some common scams use text message spam to lure you into revealing personal information in exchange for a “free gift” like a gift card or vacation package.

How it works: In order to collect your gift, the message will instruct you to reply to the text with your personal information such as a bank account or your social security number. The spammer may charge your bank account so you can claim your “free gift” that you will probably never receive.

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In certain situations, spammers then sell your personal information to outside parties, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft.

Take these step to limited your chances of getting scammed:

  • Register your number on the Do Not Call List.

  • Delete spam messages.

  • Never click on links provided in spam messages. Links often carry malware or send you to fake websites.

  • Never reply to these text messages or give out your personal information.

  • Report the text spam to your cell phone carrier by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).

  • Report any unwanted commercial text messages to the FTC.


Learn more about protecting yourself from text message spam.

Hackers Score a Goal with World Cup Scams
06/18/2014 17:24:51

Hackers Score a Goal with World Cup Scams

Last Thursday, the world jumped into the World Cup—the premier celebration of soccer (or football, depending on where you call home). It’s an exciting time for sports fans, but it’s also a perfect time for criminals to peek into the pockets, both virtual and otherwise, of vulnerable spectators.

Large sporting events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl and, of course, the World Cup, tend to draw a lot of money for security. But most of that money is spent beefing up the physical security in and around the games. Some sporting events, such as the Olympics, try to protect visitors from both political and financial attacks, but there’s little event organizers can do when strangers to a new country do what they do best—wander.

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And it’s that wandering that hackers hope for. A destination sporting event can easily be ruined when travelers connect to a malicious network at a nearby pub or coffee shop, access a compromised automated teller machine (ATM), or try to take advantage of fantastic online deals for an event—only to find out it was a scam. And be careful performing an online search for Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi—two of the most popular soccer players in the world. They top our list of the riskiest soccer/football players on the web, meaning that their names are commonly used by hackers to draw fans to malicious websites.

For tourists and sports travelers, especially those currently at the World Cup, the burden of digital security at large events falls on you, the visitor.

So what can you do to stay protected when you attend or attempt to live stream the World Cup? Well you’ve got a few options:

  • Be leery of “free.” When you see links, emails, or online ads offering free game highlights, free streaming bundles, and free athlete-tracking software, you could be signing up for free malware. Hackers turn to this tried and true method to trick their victims into downloading malicious software onto their computers. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid logging into sensitive websites over public Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi both at home and abroad, as it’s typically insecure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, avoid logging into any sensitive accounts such as your bank. You should also avoid conducting any online transactions where your credit card information must be entered. Hackers may be monitoring networks in an effort to snatch your credentials out of the air.
  • Protect your devices with comprehensive security software. The best way to protect yourself in any location is to use a security program that’s built to protect you.

 

It’s Game Over for Gameover Zeus
06/18/2014 08:54:15

It’s Game Over for Gameover Zeus

The Department of Justice recently announced a multinational law enforcement effort to disrupt the Gameover Zeus Botnet.

What is it and why care about it? Gameover Zeus is malware designed to steal banking and other credentials from home and business computers. Once infected with this malware, a computer becomes part of a global network of compromised computers known as a “botnet.” Criminals use botnets to carry out illegal activity — like sending spam and spreading malware.

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Security researchers estimate that between 500,000 and 1 million computers worldwide are infected with Gameover Zeus, and that about 25 percent of them are in the US. The FBI estimates that Gameover Zeus is responsible for more than $100 million in losses. U.S. and international law enforcement disabled Gameover Zeus and brought charges against one of the people responsible.

If your computer has been infected, you’ll need to take a few steps to remove the malware and secure your accounts:

  1. Install and run security software. Here are examples that can find and remove Gameover Zeus from your system.
  2. If your security software finds malware, remove it, and restart your computer. Then, change the passwords for your important accounts like your bank and email accounts.
  3. Finally, make sure your operating system and internet browsers are up-to-date, and set them to update automatically.

If your computer was infected with Gameover Zeus, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may contact you to remove the malware. If your ISP calls you, they won’t ask for personal or financial information, and they won’t charge you any money.

Don’t confuse a call from your ISP with a tech support scam. If the caller pressures you to send money or to give up control of your computer, it may be a scam. If you’re not 100 percent sure that the person on the phone is from your ISP, hang up and call your ISP directly.

Watch out for cell phone ‘credit muling’
06/11/2014 11:13:28

Whoa there! Watch out for cell phone ‘credit muling’

Scammers have found yet another way to exploit people who need money fast, including cash-strapped college students: Pay them to open wireless contracts that include new smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices. The scammers target people to act as “credit mules.” That’s when a scammer uses someone else's identity, personal information and credit to get something of value. In this case, it’s a wireless device.

Here’s how it works: A scammer — also known as a “recruiter” — asks the targets — also known as mules — to buy a number of phones under separate contracts. The recruiter pays the mules and reminds them to cancel the contracts within the allotted time — typically 15 to 30 days. The recruiter then takes the phones, unlocks them, and sells them for profit. Stay with me here: A lock is a software code that the manufacturer puts on the phone as required by the carrier that sells the device. The lock ensures that the phone can be used only with that carrier’s network until a different code is used to unlock the device. A single unlocked phone with no contract can be sold on the street in the U.S. for hundreds of dollars — and overseas, for thousands.

But when the mules try to cancel the contracts, they realize they’ve been duped. Regardless of what the recruiters told them, they can’t cancel the contracts without returning the phones. So the victims are not only on the hook to pay for the phones, but they also have to pay the monthly service fees for the length of the contracts. If they can’t pay, the accounts go to collection and their credit ratings suffer. Negative credit can affect their ability to get credit, insurance, a job, and even a place to live.

If you’ve been approached by someone offering you cash to sign a wireless contract — or already victimized by a “recruiter,” the FTC wants to hear about it. Your complaints help us stop rip-off artists, scammers, and fraudsters.

Fake USPS Emails Carry a Virus
06/06/2014 19:32:42
Scam Alert -- Fake USPS Emails Carry a Virus

The United States Postal Service is warning residents about fake emails using their name. The messages claim to be alerts about an undelivered package, but they really carry a virus.

June 06, 2014

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email message that appears to be a shipping notification. It says that the postal service has been unable to deliver your package. To claim it, you just need to download the attached confirmation form and take it to your local post office.  

But when you click on the file, you find that it isn't a receipt after all. It's really a virus! Typically, these viruses phish for personal and banking information on your machine. 

Like all scams, this one has many variations. Victims have reported receiving phone calls also claiming to alert you to an undelivered package. Instead of a virus, scammers try to phish for personal and banking information. The scam isn't even limited to the USPS; Canada Post was targeted by a similar scam. 

Tips to Avoid Email Scams:

Spot common email scams by following these tips: 

  1. Don't believe what you see. Scammers make emails appear to come from a reputable source. Just because it looks like an "@usps.com" address does not mean it's safe.
  2. Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in unfamiliar emails.
  3. Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they've originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that looks like an anti-virus software but warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.
  4. Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos.
  5. Immediate action is necessary. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don't fall for it. 
Scammers continuing to pose as IRS agents
05/29/2014 11:23:19

Scammers continuing to pose as IRS agents

May 29, 2014

Tax season may be over, but scammers posing as IRS officials continue to call, saying people owe taxes and better pay up. They threaten to arrest or deport people, revoke a license, or even shut down a business. How do they do it? By rigging caller ID information to appear as if the IRS is calling, and sometimes even making a follow-up call claiming to be the police or the DMV.

We posted about this last month, and got a tremendous response from readers. Lots of people wrote to tell us about variations of the scam: robocalls from “Heather” from the IRS, or calls claiming to be from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and mentioning IRS codes. But the scam always ends the same way: a demand for money loaded on a prepaid debit card, sent through a wire transfer, or paid by credit card.

If you get a call or email like this, report it. Here’s how:

  • File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. From the complaint homepage, select “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” In the notes, please include “IRS Telephone Scam.”
  • If it’s an email, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
  • If you owe — or think you owe — federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.

The IRS doesn’t ask people to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and doesn’t ask for credit card numbers over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they do it by postal mail, not by phone. Read Government Imposter Scams for more tips on avoiding a scam.

And what if you got a robocall from Heather or someone else? In addition to reporting it:

  • Hang up the phone. Don't press 1 to speak to a live operator and don't press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
What eBay users need to know.
05/21/2014 13:04:55

Once more into the breach: What eBay users need to know

May 21, 2014

As news about the eBay hack hits the media, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. First, change your eBay password. When you create your new password, keep these tips in mind.

If you used your eBay ID or password for other accounts, change them, too. Hackers sometimes try stolen IDs and passwords on different websites to gain control of other accounts. 

Don’t confirm or provide personal information in response to an email or text, and don’t click on links in unexpected messages. Legitimate companies won’t ask for bank or credit card information, Social Security numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information through unsecured channels. According to news reports, the eBay breach included customers' names, passwords, email and postal addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth. Crooks may use this stolen information to send you email or text messages that appear to be from people or sites you trust.

Review your credit card and bank account statements often. If you see charges that you don’t recognize, contact your bank or credit card provider right away. Speak to the fraud department.

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