‘Tis the season! Watch out for these scams!

Scams aren’t new; they’ve been around for decades. With technological advances and the rise of the Internet, scams have gotten more elaborate and convincing. They are used to con the most unsuspecting and vulnerable among us.

Most of us have heard of the more common cons out there, such as claims of false inheritances as well as IRS and social security scams. However, new scams are on the rise and they are not always as easy to spot! We have compiled a list with some of the current cons out there! The best way to combat scammers is to be aware of the scams, making you less likely to fall for them! Here’s what to look for so you don’t become a victim.


Free WiFi scams:
Free WiFi scams have become increasingly common, as most of us tend to jump on WiFi when we’re not at home or at the office, as we work to preserve our allotted cellular data for the month. The next time you’re looking for a wireless hotspot and locate one called Free WiFi, beware! These WiFi scams enable hackers to access personal information, emails, usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. This can happen anywhere you try to connect to the internet while on the go, but it is especially prevalent at airports.

Social Media Q&A Scams:
Sometimes on Facebook, people may share “viral” posts which include questions such as: “What was your first car?” or “Who was your best friend as a child?”. If you’ve noticed the most common security questions on Apple or your bank’s website, you’ll notice that these are very much the same. Don’t ever answer them on a public forum such as Facebook or Instagram! If people can get one or two answers like this, they can get into your accounts claiming they’ve forgotten your password.

Utility Scams:
Fraudsters have been taking advantage of rising utility bills to prey on consumers and steal personal and financial information. There are two common types of utility scams—the phone call from a fake representative of your utility company and the more brazen door-to-door promotional pricing or product scam. These scams are particularly prevalent in California with scammers pretending to represent SCE, PG&E and other local utility companies. For example, customers have been notified through phone calls and emails of overdue bills that appear to be sent form PG&E and need to be paid for immediately. Other times, the companies ask for deposits due to new changes in policies, etc.

If you believe you have been scammed or believe someone has attempted to defraud you, be sure and tell the FTC. Your reports help the FTC and law enforcement partners stop scammers. We hope you found this information useful and hope you share your newfound knowledge with your loved ones to help protect them from the long-term damage financial crimes can do.

Please keep in mind that Race will never ask for any personal information through email and all official communication will come from a race.com domain and late notices are always sent on official Race letterhead. Our company does not seek out deposits to fund our fiber deployment nor do we require payments via money orders or gift cards.  

If you’re ever in doubt about someone who claims to represent Race, be sure to ask for their company badge as it is required for all our employees to have proper identification when interacting with customers.

ALERT: Router Malware with destructive capabilities – check to see if you’re at risk!

A new threat which targets a range of routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices is capable of knocking out infected devices by rendering them unusable. Customers who have a Race router can rest easy – their devices are not affected by this threat.  However, if you do not own a Race provided router, you may want to take a look at the list below to see if you may be at risk.

To date, VPNFilter is known to be capable of infecting enterprise and small office/home office routers from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link, as well as QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices. These include:

  • Linksys E1200
  • Linksys E2500
  • Linksys WRVS4400N
  • Mikrotik RouterOS for Cloud Core Routers: Versions 1016, 1036, and 1072
  • Netgear DGN2200
  • Netgear R6400
  • Netgear R7000
  • Netgear R8000
  • Netgear WNR1000
  • Netgear WNR2000
  • QNAP TS251
  • QNAP TS439 Pro
  • Other QNAP NAS devices running QTS software
  • TP-Link R600VPN

What should you do if you own an infected device?

The FBI recommends that users of affected devices  reboot them immediately. If the device is infected with VPNFilter, rebooting will remove Stage 2 and any Stage 3 elements present on the device. This will temporarily remove the destructive component of VPNFilter. However, if infected, the continuing presence of Stage 1 means that Stages 2 and 3 can be reinstalled by the attackers.

You should then apply the latest available patches to affected devices and ensure that none use default credentials.

“Phishing” – How to protect yourself.

Ads, ads, ads – the Internet is full of them!

Whether companies are vying for your attention through a flash sale or a targeted Facebook ad, digital advertising has taken the Internet by storm. Digital advertising has become more powerful than advertising because we consider it information rather than marketing.

But with every innovation, comes a dark side.

We’ve all seen the “WIN A FREE iPad” ad, but how many of those ads are actually real? And how many of those ads are a product of “Phishing”.

Phishing scams are typically fraudulent emails or ads appearing to come from legitimate enterprises. Once clicked, the ad is designed to direct you to a fake website to try and get you to enter personal information. If successful, the private information is usually used to charge your accounts for fraudulent payments, commit identity theft or worse, sold on the Black Market.

“Typically, people will use different means to present themselves as a source everyone knows. They use legitimate websites, logos and make every attempt for you to login with your personal information,” says Carlos Alcantar, Chief Technology Officer of Race Communications.

So think of it like this. You get an email or you see an ad from a notable establishment. The ad may state you’ve won a prize and that you must follow the link provided to redeem it. When you click the link or follow the ad, you have to enter your personal information to retrieve it. Don’t. Stop right there.

Once you enter your information, it becomes very hard, if not impossible, to retract.

We saw an example of phishing just last week, when hackers created a Google Doc phishing scam that affected millions of Gmail inboxes.  So what can you do to protect yourself?

“Never click on things that are suspicious,” says Alcantar. “If your gut tells you something isn’t right, listen to it.”

  • If you suspect something is a scam, go directly to the site and check for the promotion on the site. If it is legitimate, enter your information from there.
  • Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic.
  • Always communicate personal information over the phone or through a secure website. (you can identify a secure site if https:// precedes the website address,
  • Never use email to share personal information such as credit card information or social security numbers. Even if you know the recipient of the email, unauthorized users maybe able to gain access to you or the recipient’s account.
  • If possible, avoid using your email on public computers. Information from an email is temporarily stored on a computer’s local disk and can be retrieved by another user if it is not deleted properly.
  • Do not click any buttons or links in pop-up windows. If your browser has a pop-up blocker, make sure it is enabled at all times. Don’t have a pop-up blocker? Get one!
  • Check your credit report and financial records regularly. This may not seem directly related, but checking your accounts for fraudulent activity will help you identify any changes immediately.