Hallmark warning: Beware of fake seasonal e-cards

E-greeting cards should be a pleasant thing that family and friends send to each other to spread holiday cheer.

Unfortunately, something that’s so innocent has been corrupted and you’ve got to be on your guard…

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Fake Christmas e-cards warning

Hallmark recently restated its seasonal warning about fake e-greeting scams.

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Just seeing the Hallmark logo on an e-card is not enough proof of validity to protect you from the scammers!

Hallmark’s e-cards come from the sender’s email address, not Hallmark’s e-card site. So you should always look for the sender’s first and last name in the subject line.

If you have any questions at all, the best thing to do is to play it safe by taking the following steps:

1. Each Hallmark e-greeting has a confirmation number in the email. Be sure to find it.

2. Once you have the confirmation number, go to Hallmark’s e-card site. Then you can enter your email address and the confirmation number.

3. Finally, click “view e-card.”

Remember, you should never have to enter your username, password or any other personal information to retrieve a card.

Here’s another thing to know: E-cards in general don’t come with attachments. So if one does, delete it immediately. You may want to take the additional step of emptying your trash or recycle bin to really remove it from your computer or phone.

Other warning signs that you might be about to open a fake e-card include:

  • You don’t know the sender
  • You’ve never heard of the e-card company your holiday greeting is supposed to be from
  • The card contains misspellings or questionable grammar

Beware of keyloggers in bogus e-cards

The real danger with fake e-cards is that they contain keyloggers. A keylogger is a malicious program tracks every keystroke you make on the computer — including usernames and passwords for bank, brokerage or mutual fund accounts.

Under the law, you are protected if money is stolen from your bank account, but not from your brokerage or mutual fund account. Select brokers have issued their own policies that allow for customer protection. But the bottom line is that you must run anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer.

Some good free options that money expert Clark Howard has long recommended include Spybot Search and Destroy, Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware. All three offer free downloads that eliminate keyloggers and other spyware on your system once you’re infected.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. That’s why you should run a good anti-virus protection program, do periodic scans for spyware and avoid clicking on suspicious email links or sites.

You can check out no-cost options like Avast Free Antivirus, AVG Free Antivirus and Microsoft Security Essentials on that front.

One final note: Pick just one of these to help protect your computer from infection before the fact. Running more than one at a time will cause conflicts and reduce the level of protection offered.

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