Beware holiday-season scams

Published on November 28, 2017

It’s not unusual during the holiday season to see an uptick in digital scams, fraudulent phone calls, and “phishing” attacks by con artists and others looking to take advantage of individuals or gain access to personal and credit card information.

We have been notified by some AVMA members who recently received phone calls from a solicitor claiming to represent the AVMA or the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). The caller claimed that the members needed to confirm some information in order to continue receiving their journal subscription.

"Please do not share any information with these callers, and remember to stay ever vigilant in safeguarding all your private and financial information."Be aware, these phone calls are not coming from the AVMA, nor from any of our entities. It is a common tactic used by scammers to impersonate a familiar or trusted company or organization – like the AVMA – to convince you to share personal information. Please do not share any information with these callers, and remember to stay ever vigilant in safeguarding all your private and financial information such as bank accounts and Social Security numbers.

As a reminder, AVMA policy strictly prohibits the sharing, renting or selling of our members’ email addresses or phone numbers.

Here are additional steps we take to protect your identity and private information:

  • AVMA uses up-to-date technology to keep any information you provide as secure as possible.
  • Our online member directory, which contains personal and professional information provided by you, is only available to other AVMA members.
  • Our vendor contracts include privacy-protection controls designed to safeguard your personal information against unauthorized access or disclosure.

Visit AVMA’s privacy policy page to learn more about our online safety and security measures.

Steps you can take

Here are some steps you can take to help safeguard your personal and financial information.

General Security Safeguards:

  • Keep all software current.
  • USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Opening Email:

  • Don’t take any email at face value, even if it looks like it came from someone you know or from whom you expect to receive messages. Be especially wary if it uses odd words or phrases, has a generic subject line (e.g., "Hi, this is great"), contains obvious grammatical or spelling errors, or does not use the normal tone you would expect from that sender.
  • Be suspicious of messages that ask you to open an attachment or click on a link. Never open an attachment with any of these file extensions:
    • .exe
    • .com
    • .bat
  • Be aware of any discrepancies in links that look mostly but not entirely familiar, such as “Amaz0n” instead of Amazon.
  • Use your mouse to hover over links without clicking on them to see the actual URL of the hyperlink. If a link looks suspicious, delete the email.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it. You can always write and send a separate email to the purported sender, letting them know that you deleted what looked like a suspicious email.

Shopping Online:

  • Look for a secure website address, indicated by a URL beginning https://
  • Use credit cards for payment rather than debit cards.
  • Avoid public wi-fi networks when purchasing.

For additional information on protecting yourself:

The Federal Trade Commission’s website has tips to help you recognize phone scams and avoid falling victim to one. The National Cyber Security Alliance’s website offers advice to protect yourself when shopping online.


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