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Popular scams using Microsoft, part 2 of 2

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Five of the most popular internet scams are those that fraudulently use the name of the Microsoft Corporation. Part 1 discussed the first two. What are the other three? Are there more? And how can you protect yourself against them?

The third “Microsoft scam” comes via a contact saying you’ve won the “Microsoft Lottery.” They’re looking for your bank account numbers and information under the guise they must directly deposit your winnings. There’s never been (nor ever will be) any such thing.

With the fourth scam, unsuspecting victims are contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of the Microsoft Corporation. They say the company needs your credit card information in order to validate your copy of “Windows.” Don’t give it to them.

The last of these scams is unsolicited (and fake) email messages, supposedly from Microsoft. They look real with excellent counterfeit logos and markings, and they claim to contain attached security updates. Answering these phony emails puts your private information into the hands of crooks. Report them as illegal hoaxes and delete them.

Scare-ware” is the name of another profitable technique. It frightens potential victims into purchasing and downloading “security” software. These are tricky because they appear to be legitimate, useful, and necessary.

Unfortunately, these products give thieves access to everything on your computer plus your financial information when you purchase. Some examples of the bad ones are XP Antivirus 2009, Adware Punisher, Total Secure, and Spy Sheriff.

One way to defend against these criminal acts is to report them. Your server most likely has an email address or site for this. You can also use Microsoft's tools like Internet explorer and Outlook.

Get good security services from trusted anti-virus and anti-spyware names like Kapersky, McAfee, Panda, and Norton Symantec. Find the company and/or product ratings from the Better Business Bureau, other business associations, or similar reliable outfits.

Use secure sites to purchase items online. Normal sites begin with the letters, “http.” A safe, encrypted one starts with “https.” That extra “s” (plus a typical icon like a padlock) in the browser tells you the site is more protected from hackers’ invasions.

It’s vitally important to shelter yourself against the dangers that lurk around almost every corner. These scams are designed to break you and make your life miserable. Knowing what they are and how to guard against them is your best defense.

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