How to Avoid 9/11 Scams

How to Avoid 9/11 Scams

News of Osama bin Laden’s death wasn’t a day old before hackers moved in.

They flooded social networking sites like Facebook with spam—links that promised images of the al-Qaeda leader but that led to corrupted Flash plug-ins that disrupted Google search results.

This week’s 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will be no different. The Department of Homeland Security recently warned consumers to be on the lookout for email scams related to Hurricane Irene and 9/11. Already, there have been reports of a commemorative 9/11 coin scam.

So we can all expect to see a bump in junk mail this week, but we’ll also see links and advertisements for anything and everything related to the attacks. That includes bin Laden footage, secret videos, conspiracy theories—especially on our social network pages. These links will only lead to spam, viruses and malware.

Play it safe by following these tips:

  1. For news and video content related to the anniversary, stick to major news sources such as CNN or the BBC.
  2. Never download software to watch videos or view pictures. If you’ve bought your computer in the last 10 years, odds are you have everything you need to view multimedia content.
  3. Set your social network privacy settings as tight as possible. You want to be the only person who can post content to your page.
  4. Research 9/11 charities before donating to them. Don’t make PayPal cash payments to the first group that emails you. Many of these emails are scams and they’ll be prevalent during this anniversary week.
  5. Make sure your computer is up-to-date with the latest security patches. In Mac, run a Software Update. In Windows, run a Windows Update. These programs will also update your Web browser—to make sure it can play video and display pictures.
  6. Download antivirus software like FreeAVG and an antimalware program like MalwareBytes. At the first sign of your computer slowing down, acting sluggish, or just acting funny, do a complete scan.