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Google Calendar & Drive scams return, how to avoid getting caught

There’s no letting up in the things scammers will try, but if you get a sudden invite to click on a random calendar entry or a random file shared to your drive, don’t click.

No matter how much of a grip you think you might have on scammers, they’ll still try and get their hooks into you, your wallet, your identity and life, so being aware of the tricks they have is important all the time.

Security software can sure help, but it can’t always prevent an attempt being made. Typically focused on downloads and security attacks focused through email, the web browser, and other things you might download, there are some things it won’t make a dent on, such as when you receive a dodgy SMS with a link baiting you to click, or if you get a phone call that hangs up immediately, waiting for you to return the call and be charged a fortune for the privilege.

One other type of scam security software is often powerless to make a dent on is the calendar scam, a concept that basically take advantage of the good nature of email solutions from the likes of Google, and automatically adds a calendar entry from an email, even if that email was spam to begin with.

What is the Google Calendar scam?

You won’t necessarily realise it, but all of a sudden, you may find yourself on a calendar written in a foreign language, invited by someone you don’t know and have no idea of. Often arriving in Russian or another Slavic language, this type of scam is known as the “Google Calendar scam”, and basically infiltrates your calendar with a link to a dodgy document or PDF, adding itself your day every day for the foreseeable future. Google is getting better at dealing with these, but they still might pop up, so be aware.

“As we’ve become accustomed to seeing phishing scams delivered through SMS or emails, a calendar invite could very easily take advantage of an unsuspecting consumer,” said Alex Merton-McCann, Cyber Safety Advocate at McAfee for Australia and New Zealand.

How do you steer clear of the Google Calendar scam?

Google Calendar scams are frustrating because platforms like Google Mail will just deal with the link and add it to your calendar without realising it’s a trick, even if the email is spam meant to be thrown away.

If you use an Android device, you’ll see a notification about it pop up in your dropdown bar, while if you have an iPad or Mac Calendar app connected to your Google accounts, it may turn up in your Calendar waiting for you to click.

Fortunately, this scam is just annoying and not altogether harmful, and it’s fairly easy to deal with.

“While it may be frustrating and confusing to see random calendar invites clogging up your schedule, don’t be too hasty to click on the meeting details, or your curiosity could put your personal information at risk of being compromised,” said McCann. “In fact, interacting with the invite in any way could be dangerous, so instead of ‘rejecting’ the invitation it is best to simply delete them.”

Delete files shared to your Google Drive, too

Google Drive PDF scam

Google Drive scams are also still a thing, and while it might seem interesting to click on a document shared to your Drive, the best thing to do is remove the access, deleting the share from your account.

Similar to Google Calendar scams, the Google Drive scams typically provides a link to a file written in another language, often suggesting or promising something, and asking for money. Bank account details can be found on the file, and the idea of this scam is that you’re convinced by what you see and hand over money.

While it’s not the heaviest of scams out there, it is one that could get annoying, so delete the files shared to you if you don’t know who they’re from.

Use some common sense and delete what you don’t know

Like with most things, the best advice is to be sensible and only click on what you know.

If a calendar entry pops up all of a sudden that you don’t know, remove yourself from the entry so it doesn’t bother you. There’s a solid chance Google wil eventually clear it for you, but until it does, it might just sit there tempting you to click. Don’t.

The same goes for those Google Drive scams, because while they may be largely harmless, it’s your curiosity that could pay them a click, and leave you slightly in the lurch.

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