Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beware this Travel-related Email Scam

OVID, NEW YORK—Attorney Steven Getman is warning consumers to be aware of a scam involving unlawfully accessed email accounts from web-based email providers.

According to Getman, potential victims report receiving an urgent email from an account known to them. The email includes an urgent plea for money, recounting a false claim that the email sender was traveling abroad and was mugged or robbed of all cash and property. The email also requests that funds to be wired via Western Union to help cover expenses during the interim period, with a promise to repay the loan. The same email is sent to nearly every email address listed in the sender’s address book.

This scam relies on the fact the potential victim will act swiftly because of the urgency of the message coming from a trusted source – often the account of a friend, relative, or colleague. This scam has multiple victims — the people who receive this email as well as the sender, whose email account is compromised and used for the scam. The perpetrators often gain unauthorized access to the email account used for the scam through an earlier “phishing” (identity theft) scam, whereby the email account holder is tricked into revealing his or her password information.

Because the scammers have access to all of the saved emails in the compromised email accounts, they may learn a significant amount of personal information about the email account holders and be able to convince skeptical recipients of these emails that the scammer is, in fact, the actual friend, relative, or colleague associated with the email account.

According to Getman, since the vast majority of these scams originate on other continents, the best way to combat this newest type of e-mail scam is simple: education. Getman suggests some tips to avoid becoming a victim of this and similar email schemes:
• Avoid immediately responding to information provided via email until you have first verified the source. Confirm the information contained in an email by speaking directly with the parties in question.
• Be skeptical of any request for money made via email, particularly if accompanied by claims of urgency or necessity.
• Do not respond to unsolicited email such as “spam,” since these emails may potentially contain software that is harmful to your computer and which may be designed to compromise your passwords and other personal identifying information.
• Be extremely cautious about sending any personal identifying information, banking information, or any other sensitive information in response to email requests. Unless you are expecting such a request, or you have initiated them yourself, in most instances you should not be sending this information to anybody.
• Be cautious about any emails which appear to come from financial institutions. Many scams involve emails that appear to be legitimate bank communications and even provide links to the financial institution’s web site. These links may look exactly like the actual bank’s web site, but in reality, may be capturing the login and password information that you provide.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Drunk Driving Laws Take Effect in August

Attorney Steven Getman is reminding New Yorkers that new penalties for drunken driving take effect next month.

“The state’s new DWI law takes effect August 15,” Getman said. “This law forces anyone convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, even first-time offenders, to equip their vehicles with ignition locks.”

These locks, Getman explained, are intended to make it impossible for anyone to drive drunk.

Drivers will need to blow into a nozzle when starting their cars, Getman said.

Blowing more than a .025 percent blood-alcohol content will lock the car’s ignition. Some models will also sound an audible alarm.

According to Getman, the new law requires the devices in even in the family cars of convicted drivers, meaning that family members will have to submit to the same tests in order to use the vehicles.

The interlock devices are estimated to cost up to $100 to install and then another $70 to $110 a month -- paid for by the defendant -- for a minimum of six months.

“The punishments for those convicted of DWI are severe,” Getman noted. “In addition to fines and jail, the convicted drunk driver can lose both their ability to drive and, in some cases, the ability to travel to and from employment.”

According to Getman, any person accused of Driving While Intoxicated should retain the counsel of a legal professional to insure that they are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law.