Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Evolution of E-Skimming


Thank you for visiting! As a Puppeteer, Journalist, and Blogger, I strive to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention tips in a fun way. If you haven't already, please visit my website to sign up for my FREE e-newsletter at

Cyber attackers are coming up with new sophisticated ways every day to steal personal information and money from unsuspecting victims all over the world.

This is evident in their tactics of e-skimming. Have you ever heard of that?

Well, not too long ago, scammers planted a fraudulent device similar to the one in the picture above, at ATMS, gas pumps, and other terminals to gain access to sensitive data.

Overtime, more and more consumers became aware of these ploys and learned not to fall for them.

So, with the emergence of online banking, bad actors diverted their attacks to the bank institutions and retail corporations to harvest consumers account information.

They do this by infiltrating a company's server and contaminating the system with malware. Malware enables computer criminals to hijack personal information and the credit card and debit card numbers of consumers doing business with a company.

Usually online shoppers find out about the breach in one of two ways.

  • The company learns of the breach and informers customers. 
  • Customers find out when seeing suspicious charges on financial statements. 

Do you have an idea about what e-skimming is now?

Yeah, I know it sucks. You could utilize the best of safeguards and still fall victim to a fraudster.

But the Better Business Bureau recommends we implement these practices too be better aware of what's happening in our accounts.

  • Check banking statements regularly
  • Use Credit Card for Online purchases (in event of a hack, it will be easier and quicker to get reimbursement rather than from a debit card)
  • Ask banking institution about a virtual credit card (A reported questionable transaction can stop further use of your normal account which is tied to it). 
Here is a video I created about online shopping safety.

My puppets shared an experience about ransomware in an episode of my web series, "Cyber Brats".

You can learn more about e-skimming at

If you haven't already, please visit my website to sign up for my FREE e-newsletter at

PS You can check out reported scams and law enforcement advisories from AARP website at   With this tool and resource, you can report scams and stay informed!

My web series has an updated intro...


Stay Safe and Stay Secure

Ken Harris
Puppeteer/Digital Fraud Fighter

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Email and Phishing Scams

Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at

I just released a funny adult puppet video about a prize scam! Be sure to check it out below!

Email and Phishing Scams

Last year in the U.S alone, an estimated 16 million victims lost 17 billion dollars to identity theft. That’s just one type of scam. 

I’m sure if AARP, the Better Business Bureau, and other organizations intended to protect the financials security of Americans, combined all their figures from reported swindles, the final tally would be mind-blowing. 

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic creating fear and uncertainty everywhere, con artists are conjuring up new ways to squander people’s finances and personal information. 

This gives them motivation to reach out with offers too good to be true and the impersonation of government agencies to steal personal information. 

Email and phishing cons are just some of the tactics these criminals apply. Cyber attackers send thousands, if not millions of emails daily. They are not sure who get these messages; but their objective is to trick a victim into some call of action. It includes the following.

  •  Clicking on a link
  • Opening an attachment
  • Completing a form

A harmless action can get you tangled. 

Since scammers are attempting to “phish” as many victims as possible, their messages are usually directed to “Dear Customer” or other generic greeting. 

The bad guys creates a strong sense of urgency or curiosity to the receiver. They pretend be an official organization like a bank or may impersonate a local, state, or federal agency. 

Generally, these fake senders will have grammar or spelling mistakes in the content of these email messages. Another clue to look out for is if the email originated from a personal email account such as an address. Also, by looking at the top left, the “From Email Address” line may appear like it generated from an official organization. But the “Reply-To-Address” is someone’s personal email account. 

Here are some other clues that should raise red flags.

  • Messages requesting highly sensitive information like credit card number or password.
  • You receive a message from someone you know but the tone or message does not sound like him or her. 

It is easy for a scammer to create an email that appears to be from a friend or coworker. If the message includes a clickable link, you can hover your mouse cursor over it to reveal the link’s true destination. 

Make this a common practice to confirm if you being directed to a legitimate website. Even on many mobile devices, pressing to hold the link will also show the true destination. Instead of clicking on a link, you can type the website address directly into your browser. 

Why respond directly to a suspicious email claiming to be your bank when you can use the browser? 

I wouldn’t open any attachments I wasn’t expecting. The last thing I want is opening an infected attachment and subjecting my computer to malware. Not all antivirus can detect malware. 

Take care to not expose sensitive information when using email or messaging. Email features, such as auto complete, make it easy for you to mistakenly email the wrong person. 

Once you send an email out, you cannot retract it. Also, be careful with the “Email Reply-All Feature” thread as you may not want to respond to an entire group of people who received the same email. 

Learn more about scam prevention with my use of puppets at

My Youtube channel has many more videos on cyber security awareness and scams at 

PS If you haven't already check out AARP's  Scam Tracking map at to checking on existing scams in your area. Vigilance is key!

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