AGTV: On the Record with Martha Coakley
Episode 1, Part 2 of 3
Attorney General Martha Coakley:
And in fact there has been recently a virus that actually infects your system and then tells you how to fix
it, and tries to get money from a debit card or credit card, and that’s another way that people need to be
aware that sometimes the infection itself then will create the problem itself then looking for a way to scam
you online to get money. We’ve seen that I think in Massachusetts and I assume around the country.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Ralph:
That’s right we have. The flip side of that though is just because you’re not seeing pop-ups doesn’t mean
that your computer isn’t infected. There are now different types of malware that actually go onto your
computer and make your computer run better, so that you don’t suspect that there’s anything wrong with
it. And it can then do a variety of things like transmit your personal information out to other computers
and otherwise harm your computer and you don’t know about it.
And again, common sense prevails but on some of these issues you may need technical help or you may
need someone to help you with it just as you would an automobile. And I think we want to encourage
people to keep up the maintenance of their computers so they don’t have these problems, as they can be
expensive to fix.
Let’s talk a little bit about what most people’s concern is, which is how to be online and either do
shopping or other business transactions and stay safe. And let me start with you Tom: is it safe to shop on
line with a credit card?
Yes, it is safe to shop online with a credit card.
And why is that?
It is safe to shop online with a credit card because essentially shopping online with a credit card is no
different than shopping at a store or shopping at a restaurant. You’re always going to run a risk that
someone along the line is going to take your information and do something bad with it. But, just because
there’s that risk doesn’t mean that the risk isn’t a reasonable one to take.
But consumers do need to take some common sense steps to prevent the harm from happening to them.
And just as you’re shopping at a restaurant or not online, the same rules apply when you’re shopping
online. You need to take a look at your bank statement, your credit card statement. Make sure that all the
charges that are on that are charges that you recognize, and obviously if there’s a charge that you don’t
recognize that should send up all sorts of red flags for you.
And before you get to that even you certainly want to take those precautions you want to make sure that
the company or the business that you’re dealing with is one that you recognize and that you’re familiar
John, can you talk a little bit about the scope of this problem from a national point of view in terms of
shopping online? How safe is it? What should people be aware of?
Special Agent John MacKinnon:
To reiterate what Tom said, it is safe to shop online. It is safe to use credit cards online purchasing. H
owever, we have seen many investigations where there’s organized groups around the world that are very
skilled at using the Internet and related technologies, and they are always trying to either con information
and con users into giving up things or giving up ways to get into computer systems the companies or
institution will run.
It’s a daily – it’s an annual battle by law enforcement to try to figure out trends. What we try to tell users
and relatives that in their normal course of using a computer is always try to take that extra step and when
you get online and you want to use your credit card, check your financial statements. Just be aware that
there’s a lot of people out there that we don’t have investigative authority to chase around the world. You
have to be careful. There’s a lot of articles in the newspapers about scams from West Africa and Eastern
Europe, and if you see electronic mail where English is not really used correctly, where there’s different
types of email addresses that look like their from around the world, then you should be careful.
Well. We can see that whenever there’s ability for people to scam there’s also organized business that
gets into it. I know we’ve already covered a lot of ground. When we come back shortly, Dave, we’re
going to want to talk about how you can tell if a transaction is really secure and if you can be certain
when you’re using a particular site that it is secure. So we’ll be back shortly.
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AGTV: On the Record with Martha Coakley
Episode 1, Part 2 of 3, continued
We’re back. I’m Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and you’re watching “AGTV: On the
Record with Martha Coakley.” Today we’re talking about cyber security and the steps people can take to
protect themselves when using the Internet.
My guests are Tom Ralph and Dave Papargiris from our office’s Cyber Crime Division, and John
MacKinnon, Supervisory Special Agent with Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Before the break we were discussing the various types of fraudulent activity commonly seen on the
Internet and steps that you can take to protect yourselves. Just before the break Dave, I asked you to think
about what it is people need to know about secure transactions. In other words, what do they look for on
their website to see that the site their on will be secure?
Director Dave Papargiris:
There are certain things on websites that an individual can check, that’s very easy for them to check and
we’ve created a screenshot to show our viewers, of the three things that they can check to see that the
transactions that they’re doing are secure and that it’s a real site.
On the screen right now they’re showing a website and up in the left hand corner the first thing that you’ll
notice is it says “h-t-t-p-s,” the “s” meaning for secure. That’s the first sign you’re looking for.
The second sign you want to look for is called the little golden lock. That can be up in the right hand
toolbar or it can be in the lower right hand toolbar, but you want to be able to see the gold lock on that
and if you click on the gold lock a little certificate is going to come up. It should say the same website
that you’re actually at.
And if you click on “view certificate” a certificate is going to come up that says that this site is a secure
site and that certificate will be issued to that website. So if you’re on a site and you’re shopping, and you
click on that certificate and it says it’s a different website that you’re actually on, it’s not a secure site to
Ok, so that’s a good tool for people to be using. Like checking the water mark on your dollar bill.
That’s right. Just three simple things that you can check and it will show you it’s a secure site.
And we talked earlier about phishing sites where they try to get your personal information. One of the
things that strikes out when you get a phishing web mail or an email to look at or a website that purports
to be a real site, you look up in the browser bar where it will say like “your bank dot com.” On a phishing
site it will say “your bank dot com” but it’s always going to have some numbers up there or some other
different characters, and that’s usually a telltale sign that it’s not the real bank.
And down in the bottom after you put your information in there’s going to be a submit button. If you just
roll your mouse icon over that, not press it, just roll over that, down in the bottom tray is going to come
up the real link of where that is going to go to. And it’s probably not going to be “your bank,” it’s going
to be “your bank” with those numbers again. So just by checking a couple of different things on the
website so that people can tell that it’s a good safe site to use, and if it’s a phishing site they can see that
“your bank dot com” is “your bank dot com.” But when you see “your bank dot com” with numbers and
different characters up there, that should be a telltale sign right off the bat.
Well, and let’s separate that out because I think we found that just as shopping online on a secure site is
okay, you can do your banking online right? But that’s a site that you found yourself. Do we all agree
that it’s totally appropriate and okay to do your banking online?