The Better Business Bureau is warning Internet users and consumers alike to watch out for scams related to the death of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Within hours of Jobs’ death last week, scammers began announcing that companies were giving away free Apple products 'in memory of Steve Jobs', and it’s just the beginning, warns the BBB.
"This scam and others like it are being used as bait,” said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “Scammers will phish in big ponds and smaller ones to hook the unsuspecting.”
In a recent Facebook scam the announcement read, “In memory of Steve, our company is giving away 50 iPads. R.I.P. Steve Jobs”. The ad instructed people to click on a link to get their free iPad. After clicking on the link, users were asked to complete an online survey that required personal information, an action that often leads to identity theft.
Since Facebook has millions of users, scammers will ply their trade here and use more traditional ploys. A free iPad is a tempting offer that has lured hundreds, even thousands of entries, making this type of offer ripe to hook millions of victims.
Scammers use fake product offers to get you to click on the links they contain for several purposes:
1. To infect your computer with malware to obtain your personal information to steal your identity.
2. To drive traffic to certain websites that pay the scammer a commission for every survey completed, every product purchased, and/or every account compromised.
As CNN recently reported, Steve Jobs’ biography will be released later this month.
“With his celebrity status, past experience tells us that con artists will invent more Steve Jobs offers, capitalizing with fraudulent memorabilia, phony autograph items and the like,” added Polino. “Consumers should take every precaution before they click an entry form or charge their credit cards to honor Jobs.”
BBB offers this advice to keep safe online:
• Do not click on links in emails, messages, wall posts or advertisements offering free products.
• Do not complete online surveys that require giving financial or personal information including your name, birth date and home address.
• Do not give your credit card number to pay 'shipping fees' for 'free' products.
If you’re interested in buying items to remind you of Steve Jobs’ legacy, the BBB offers the following advice:
Do your Research. Collectors need to research the value of items before they begin purchasing them, especially if they want pieces with the potential for substantial appreciation in value. Think about whether you are buying it as an investment or a keepsake.
Confirm authenticity. Autographs can be verified by a third party, but for other items, the collector should ask the seller questions, including how the seller came to own it. If the seller can’t answer simple questions, the collector should walk away.
Make purchases with a credit card. Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card when shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
Be Suspicious. If you’re purchasing items from an individual on eBay or Craigslist, research the seller’s track record by reading buyer reviews and never wire money as payment.
Don’t be fooled. Empty advertising claims can hook the cautious. Just because the seller claims the item is of limited edition, it doesn’t mean there weren’t millions made. If the item is being widely advertised, chances are it’s too common to actually gain much value over the years.
The BBB reminds consumers that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. For more about online safety and Internet scams, please visit bbb.org.