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Scam Watch

July 22, 2007|David Colker

The pitch: Someone has sent you a greeting card!

The reality: Most online greeting cards contain sweet nothings. But some can leave a sour taste on your computer's hard drive. Greeting card hoaxes have been around since the late 1990s, but the FBI has released a warning about a new round of them that are circulating.

The scam: This card does not say "Happy Birthday" but its contents certainly are a surprise. The receiver of the e-mail is directed to click on a link to get the greeting. Instead, the link unleashes programs that can contain viruses, spyware and other harmful software.

Advice: Some of these bogus e-mails list neither your name nor that of anyone you know. That's a tip-off that the "card" might well be a fake. To be safe, don't open it. Unfortunately, some scammers target you by getting your name and e-mail address from someone you know and then personalizing the message. (This is usually done by electronically invading the address book of an acquaintance.) If you're suspicious, separately e-mail the friend to see if he or she has sent you a greeting.

-- David Colker

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