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Author Topic: How to Avoid the New Parking-Lot Scam  (Read 1169 times)

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How to Avoid the New Parking-Lot Scam
« on: 16. April 2009., 08:15:41 »

It used to be the easiest way for crooks to get personal financial information was to send out a flurry of e-mails that promised fantastic prescription drug discounts or dates with gorgeous overseas gals. The word "scam" even today conjures up pictures of a
senior citizen coaxed into parting with a lifetime of savings for fake charitable contributions or subscriptions.

Over the last few years, hackers have increased in both number and ingenuity. According to the April 2009 AARP Bulletin, their latest successful gig unleashes a computer virus that steals your identity from a very innocent spot: your favorite parking lot. Here's how it works.

You park your vehicle and leave to shop or enjoy a restaurant meal. When you return, you spot an official-looking parking ticket plastered to your windshield. This bogus ticket directs you to what looks like a legitimate website purporting to have photos of the violation cited.

If you're like most of us, you head straight for your computer when you get home to log on to this official-looking website. Bingo. Once you're there, you end up downloading a truly evil virus.

The AARP advises that Grand Forks, ND drivers recently discovered this type of ticket on vehicles they had parked at a hospital, supermarket, college campus and shopping mall. Once some of them accessed the website listed on the "ticket", their computers were immediately compromised.

What are all the potential dangers from this scam? As a starter, the website tells you to install a program in order to view photos of your vehicle. Once you do, you'll see a message advising that your computer has a virus. It then tries to get you to buy useless software for at least $50 in order to "fix" the problem.

The phony program can be deadly if you use online banking. It records your keystrokes in order to reveal your online account numbers and passwords. Scam artists all over the world can then wire funds from your accounts.

Once your computer has been taken over, crooks use it as a "bot" to remotely spread spam and get into other websites you frequent. Your only clue might be a decrease in speed of your computer.

While the parking ticket caper has thus far been limited to Grand Forks, computer security experts predict the new scam will certainly spread. One attribute that's different about it: you don't have to open a corrupted e-mail from a stranger for your computer to be hit. Instead, the program provides a path that takes you directly to the virus.

There are several steps to take to protect yourself against the parking-ticket scam:

1. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites. When you get an e-mail or letter from an unknown party, don't follow its instructions to visit a specific website. If you've already done so, however, make sure to avoid installing or downloading any programs shown there unless you recognize them as safe.

2. Avoid the dot-coms. If the website address on your parking ticket ends in ".com," don't access it. Sites for most law enforcement and other governmental agencies typically end in ".gov".

3. Add a security suite. For about $25 beyond what you pay for standard antivirus and antispyware software, you can add some of the recent extra-protection programs from McAfee and Norton.

4. Check out some online security sites, like You can report attempts to steal your identity to . If you receive e-mails or directions to visit websites that smack of a scam, report them to .

(Associated Content)

Samker's Computer Forum -

How to Avoid the New Parking-Lot Scam
« on: 16. April 2009., 08:15:41 »


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