E-cards are a fun way to get and give greetings and well wishes for occasions such as birthdays, holidays, or for saying thank you, get well, congratulations, and many other things. The electronic greeting cards, sent via email, are often animated with short video clips or songs and are free as well as convenient.
However, some e-cards are actually infected with viruses, adware, and spyware and can wreak havoc on your computer if you’re not careful. These cards enter your inbox and look legitimate at first appearance, but they actually have attachments that load viruses.
Some of the more common viruses do such things as start displaying numerous pop-up ads or launch adult websites at the start-up of your computer, display pornographic images and pictures, or send e-cards (just like the one you opened) to people in your address book, infecting their computers with the same viruses and adware.
Other viruses are much trickier and can be more dangerous. For example, one virus takes you to the homepage of AOL and asks you to “update” your billing and address information by entering in your credit card information and address. This scam is a form of identity theft that can end up costing you a lot of time, money, and hassle.
In order to prevent this, the following are some tips to help you send and receive e-cards safely:
Most e-cards are harmless, so don’t automatically think you need to delete every one that comes into your inbox. Instead, look for the following indications that an e-card might not be legitimate:
•The message or card has obvious errors. If your name is misspelled, or words are spelled incorrectly, or there are obvious grammar errors, then there is a good chance it is spam or a virus.
•The e-card has an attachment. Most e-card companies that are legitimate don’t put their e-cards as attachments. Rather, they have a link you follow to the company’s website that takes you directly to the card. By downloading attachments, you can unknowingly be downloading a virus or other type of unwanted intrusion onto your computer.
•You are asked to update information. Some viruses will ask you for “billing” information or require you to enter personal information before you retrieve your e-card. No legitimate company will ask you to do this.
•The return name is vague. If you don’t recognize the sender’s name, go ahead and delete it. Or if it is vague, like “Someone has a crush on you!” or “Superman,” it is probably not a legitimate e-card.
•The card goes into your bulk folder. Many email services will recognize them as spam and send them directly to your junk email folder. These are also emails that you shouldn’t open.
Sending e-cards safely
If you like to send e-cards, be careful not to send anything with viruses to your friends and family members. In order to send e-cards safely:
•Use only legitimate sites. Websites such as Blue Mountain, Hallmark, and Yahoo Greetings are all reputable sites for sending e-cards.
•Do not forward e-cards. If you get a card that says, “send this to a friend!” don’t enter in your friends’ or family’s email addresses, or they could be infected with the same virus.
E-cards are great to give and receive, and the above tips will help you to do so safely.