The FBI is warning consumers of an email scam that targets car shoppers.
"There are some bad guys out there putting out, advertising cars for sale," Paul Daymond with Birmingham's FBI office said.
Daymond says the new cyber scam will send out an email offering a great deal. They won't send a picture prompting the interested party to respond, requesting one. Daymond says that's when the consumer makes their computer and personal information vulnerable to a malware attack.
"When [the cyber criminals] send the picture in either an attachment or maybe a link to a website that ends up being malicious malware," Daymond said.
Daymond says through one simple click thieves can obtain all of your information.
As with any big purchase you make Daymond stresses the importance of doing your homework before you buy.
"Know who you're dealing with. Don't do business with fly by night companies. If you're not certain check them out. Call the Better Business Bureau. Make some phone calls and make sure that who you're talking to is actually who you think you're talking to," Daymond said.
A spokesperson for birmingham car dealer association says in most cases a legitimate car dealer will not send you their deals unless you have done business with them or are on their mailing list.
The FBI urges consumers to protect themselves when shopping online. Here are a few tips for staying safe:
• Be cautious if you lose an online auction but the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through.
• Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. Use only well-known escrow services.
• Research to determine if a car dealership is real and how long it has been in business.
• Be wary if the price for the item you'd like to buy is severely undervalued; if it is, the item is likely fraudulent.
• Scan files before downloading them to your computer.
• Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches.
• Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current—they can help prevent malware infections.
If you have fallen victim to this type of scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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