What a wonderful time of year. Sadly along with the holiday spirit that we look forward to all year, comes a huge spike in online scams.
‘I never fall for this, ‘ I downloaded a security app’ are common refrains but online scams remind me of Whack-A-Mole: Just when we think we fixed it, a whole new scam pops up.
WHAT IS IT, WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE, AND HOW TO AVOID BEING HOOKED:
- Vishing: Phishing over the phone
- Phishing: Phishing via email
- Smishing: Phishing via Text
- Spear-phishing: Targeting a specific person or group and often will include information known to be of interest to the target, such as current events or financial documents.
- Whaling: Highly targeted phishing attack – aimed at senior executives – masquerading as a legitimate email.
The most common form of online scam and the one most easily identified…… if you know what to look for. Major warning signs in an email are:
- An unfamiliar greeting
- Grammar errors and misspelled words
- Email addresses and domain names that don’t match:
- Unusual content or request – these often involve a transfer of funds or requests for login credentials
- Urgency – ACT NOW, IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED
- Threats – LAST WARNING, ACCOUNT SUSPENSION PENDING
- Suspicious attachments
HOW TO AVOID BEING HOOKED:
- NEVER leave an envelope with a check in it hanging out of your mailbox waiting for your postperson to pick it up. Anyone can drive around, take the envelope and use your account info and your signature to forge a check.
- NEVER give any information over the phone. If you’re being asked for personal or account info, hang up and call the company back directly.
- NEVER click on a link in a text unless you are certain that you are dealing with the company.
- NEVER send money via ZELLE, Venmo, or any paying app unless you can confirm the ID of the person you are sending it to.
- And if you do click on an email and are directed to a website, look at the address bar at the top:
- Look for https://www…… the ‘s’ in https means it’s a secure site. If the ‘s’ is missing skip it.
- Look for the lock to the left of the web address.