So, this other day I get a forwarded message from a friend early in the morning. I thought it was the usual good morning message but it was not and read as follows:
“Adidas is giving away 3000 Free Pair of Shoes to celebrate its 93rd anniversary. Get your free shoes at <link>”
It didn’t take me long to deduce that this message was part of a scam – thanks to my profession. But, to other users (like my friend here), such messages may appear genuine. So, I told my friend that the message was fake and not to forward it any further. Later, I did these 3 things.
1) I checked the actual link
I copied the link and paste it to my ‘notes’ app. As you can see, on the outside, the link reads http://adidas.com but the actual URL is http://xn--adids-m11b.com/ – which, in any way, does not look like it is related to Adidas.
When I clicked on the link (in a safe environment), it took me to a page that was not loading and displayed an error message. But, it is safe to assume that the page was designed to steal personal information or bank details or drop a malware on the device.
2) I ran the link on https://www.scamadviser.com
Scamadvisor.com helps check if a website is safe or not. The result for my link was as I had expected:
• Hidden identity
3) I visited the official website of Adidas
As a rule of thumb, I visited www.adidas.com (co.in as well) to verify the offer advertised in the message. And for obvious reasons, I could not find anything related to it – because there was not any offer in the first place.
So, what do we take away from this post?
• Never act on messages that urge you to click on a link – especially when they talk about offers (discounts, contests, promotions, etc.)
• Follow the steps mentioned in this post to verify the source and authenticity of such messages.
• If you receive such messages from a friend, advise them not to act (click on a link or reply) and not to share them with their contacts.
• If you have received such a message from an unknown number, consider blocking it.
• Install a mobile antivirus app that can block your access to harmful websites and installation of infected apps.
WhatsApp Anti-Spam feature
Given the popularity of WhatsApp across the world, it is no wonder that scammers are trying to use this app to widen their kill zone. In-mid Jan 2018, news emerged that WhatsApp is testing a new anti-spam feature which will help users stay away from spam messages (like the ones discussed in this post). This feature will be developed for both iOS and Android. So, let’s hope the feature is rolled out soon and gives us a break from such pesky, unworldly scams!
You may read more about this anti-spam feature here
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