Chances are you have probably either sent or received an e-card at some point. E-cards, or electronic greeting cards, are greeting cards sent to your email that are usually interactive or musical. Most e-cards are free, and they are a convenient way to send greetings, birthday wishes, or other holiday sentiments to family and friends.
However, e-cards aren’t always full of well-wishes or sentiments. E-card scams have increased lately, making it so opening up e-cards isn’t always safe for your computer. The e-card looks like a normal card, but it is in fact a virus, so when you open the card, it invades your computer.
Some of the damage caused by e-cards is minimal, such as hacking into your Microsoft Outlook contacts and sending spam to those on your email lists. Other times, it can be much more serious, deleting files and crashing your hard drive. Many e-card viruses download spyware or adware onto your computer, tricking you by allowing the download when you accept to the terms and agreements of what you think is the e-card company.
Protecting yourself against viruses
Because of this, it’s important to protect yourself against viruses when opening e-cards. The following are some tips to help you keep viruses away from your computer while still enjoying the e-cards sent to you by your friends and family members.
•Make sure you have anti-virus software installed. Use an anti-virus software, such as Norton, and keep it up to date. This can help protect you from viruses before they cause any real damage.
•Use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Most viruses gain access through Internet Explorer, the most widely used. As a result, using Firefox as your Internet browser is much more secure. However, it still isn’t completely secure, so make sure you keep your Firefox updated and continue to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
•Don’t open attachments. Most legitimate e-cards aren’t attachments; instead, they are links to the company’s website that allow you to go directly to your card. Avoid attachments and don’t download anything from a source you don’t recognize.
•Know what to look for. While most e-card scams actually look legitimate, there are actually some tell-tale signs that can help you determine whether a card is really legitimate or not. Some things to look for include misspelled words or names, not knowing who sent you the card, a fake name (such as Secret Admirer, Joe Cool, etc.), and an odd URL.
•Always read fine print before accepting any terms. Most people simply click I Accept and then ok, which is why these e-card scams are so successful. Make sure you actually read the fine print before agreeing to anything. Some e-card scams, for example, list in their terms that they can send spam to everyone in your address book. So make sure you know what you are agreeing to before accepting terms.
•When in doubt, delete. If something looks off, such as the name of the sender or vague subject lines, just delete the card. It’s better to do that than take the risk of viruses.
E-cards are a fun and inexpensive way to let someone know you are thinking about them, and they are nice to get as well. By keeping alert and knowing what to look for, you can protect yourself from e-card viruses and still enjoy the legitimate ones.