Holiday e-cardIf you get a surprise e-card from someone who says they're a friend but you're not sure, think twice before opening it.

Officials say reports about scam e-cards are increasing. They're supposed to send "Season's Greetings," but actually they install viruses and malware that can cause a number of problems with a home computer -- some severe, like personal information and identity theft.One way to spot a bogus greeting? Writing and spelling mistakes. Cybercriminals often operate from other countries where English is not the main language.

If you don't recognize the name of the sender, don't open the card. If you do, avoid clicking on a link. Criminals will often use logos from recognized brands and companies in order to appear legitimate.

Report suspicious e-mails to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Here are some additional tips from Microsoft:

  • Never download or click anything from an unknown source.
  • Be wary of an e-mail message or file attachment from someone you don't know or that seems suspicious.
  • Preview a link's Web address before you click it. If the link doesn't show an address, move your mouse pointer over a link without clicking it to see where the link goes. (The address should appear on the bottom bar of your Web browser.)
  • Don't accept an end-user agreement without reading the fine print first; you might inadvertently agree to install spyware or something else you don't want.
  • Use established greeting card sites when sending e-cards.

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