You didn’t win the lottery.
There is no Nigerian fortune.
You didn’t win a cruise.
You can’t get rich quick.
That miracle diet pill doesn’t work.
Your bank/credit card/the IRS does not need to verify your information via an email.
No, your employer does not need your email password.
When you see it written out this way, you probably shake your head and think, “Who would fall for that?”
But the reality is, these types of scams create financial havoc every day, earning scammers millions of dollars annually.
They use email, online ads, pop ups, and search results to trick you into sending them money and personal information.
Scams about winning prizes hope to find that small percentage of people willing to believe in such luck.
Scams in the form of pop ups, search results, and online ads are hoping you click on their links (often so they can use your computer’s IP address to send out spam).
But most scams come under the guise of companies you use, and they are trying to trick you into sharing personal information. (Here’s the latest, targeting Netflix users. http://yhoo.it/1kVaqu4)
How can you avoid them?
- Delete email and texts asking for this information. Legitimate companies won’t contact you this way.
- Don’t reply, don’t click on links, and don’t call phone numbers provided in the message! Scammers create spoof sites (ones that look legitimate) to trick you into providing your personal information, and they us that to run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
- If you’re concerned about your accounts after receiving an email or text, call the number printed on your bill or financial statement, NOT the number in the message.
- Be proactive. Use a trusted security software that updates automatically (Click here for a list of reputable free ones).
- Only provide personal or financial information through an organization’s website if YOU typed in the web address. Look for signals that the site is secure ( a URL that begins https – s stands for secure).
- Review your credit card and bank statements as soon as you get them.
- Make sure to do a credit check regularly, too.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, even from people you know.
- Report phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
What if you are tricked by a phishing scam?
- Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting help.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint
- Check out the FTC’s Identity Theft site – this is a very real possibility, and you need to minimize the risk. http://1.usa.gov/1fhb5T
What if you gave out your email or social media account information?
- If it’s a work site, contact your IT person immediately so they can do what needs to be done to protect the system.
- If it’s your personal information, update your security software and delete malware.
- Change your password!
- Check the account provider/site for advice on restoring your account.
- Check for anything different once you are back into your account – a forward on your email, a new friend on a social media site.
- Tell your friends you’ve been hacked so they won’t open any suspicious emails from you.
The bottom line? Don’t share your personal or financial information with anyone who solicits it online. And if it looks to good to be true, it is.
(Photo courtesy of Tabor at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)