What are e-cards?
E-cards, the shortened version of electronic greeting cards, are a popular way for people to send birthday, Thinking of You, Thank You, holiday, and other wishes. Most e-cards are free, so they are convenient and fun to send. Most e-cards are also interactive, and include video clips or music with them, so they are not just an average card.
Many companies online have e-card services, including Hallmark, Blue Mountain, and Yahoo. These services are typically free. You simply go to a website, pick out a card, fill in a sentiment, and email it to the person you are sending it to.
How can e-cards be dangerous?
In recent years, e-cards have been the means for spreading viruses, downloading spyware and adware, and hacking into computer email lists.
E-card scams look like legitimate e-cards. You open them and it takes you to an actual, legitimate looking site, where you are either asked to download your “card” as an attachment or click OK on what you think is the site’s user agreement.
In doing so, you may have unknowingly downloaded a virus or spyware. What does this mean? How your computer is affected depends on the virus itself. Some of these will make it so you are bombarded with obscene images or advertisements for porn sites whenever you turn your computer on. Or, you may experience almost constant pop-up ads. Others may hack into your email address books and send embarrassing spam emails to everyone on your contact lists. More serious viruses can compromise your hard drive, causing crashes.
E-card safety tips
There are many ways you can tell if an e-card is spam or a virus or not. The following are some tips to keep you safe from viruses and other computer threats from e-cards:
Use an anti-virus program. There are many anti-virus programs on the market that can protect your computer from threats. Make sure you get one and keep it updated as well. In addition, you may also want to consider using an anti ad and spyware software too, since many e-card scams will download adware or spyware onto your computer.
Avoid opening attachments on cards. Legitimate e-cards don’t come in the form of attachments. These attachments you see will most likely be a virus, so make sure you don’t open or download any attachments to your computer.
Don’t open anything from someone you don’t know. If you don’t recognize the sender’s name, or if it is a name like “Your Secret Admirer” or “A Friend,” don’t open it. Legitimate e-cards will have the sender’s name. Plus, why would someone you don’t know be sending you an e-card anyway?
Read Terms of Service before agreeing to them. Most of the time people will just click OK and not bother reading the fine print. However, it’s important to know what you’re agreeing to — for all you know, you could be giving permission to have spyware downloaded on your computer.
While most of the e-cards you get from your family members and friends are legitimate, it always pays to be careful. Keep your anti-virus software updated, and make sure you don’t open any attachments. Remember, if it looks suspicious or if you doubt it’s legitimacy in any way, it is best to just delete the card and not take the chance.