Avoiding Scams: #StaySecure

Posted on Dec 27th, 2017

Technology is progressing at a rapid rate which makes our everyday lives a little bit easier. But with this comes added security threats that are evolving at an equally rapid pace. Today’s thieves are smart and very good at exploiting your honesty and natural cooperation. They can make phone calls describing issues with your online accounts, send an email that looks like it came from a family member, or hijack your best friend’s social network account. These tactics are known as social engineering. Fortunately there are ways to protect yourself from today’s threats.


Don’t immediately trust phone calls or text messages from unknown origins requesting anything remotely personal. Thieves can research your purchases or donations and then pose as a business or charity you trust. Or, they may pose as law enforcement or other trusted figures. Even if they have pieces of information that seem authentic, it doesn’t mean they are legitimate.

Thieves can even go so far as hacking email and social network accounts. Don’t respond to any email or social network message that requests any account numbers or confidential information. Even if the message is asking for less confidential and more personal information, don’t trust it, as today many establishments require personal questions, unique to you, for entry to accounts.


If someone on the phone, or a message in your inbox, is telling you there is a problem with your online banking account, online auction account or credit card account, don’t give them additional information to “fix” the problem. Instead, hang up the phone or delete the email, then check those accounts directly by logging in normally or calling a published customer service number.


It’s important to be conscious of what can be learned about you. Many kinds of online accounts, including online banking, use challenge questions as part of their security. Make sure you don’t choose responses that can be found online. For example, don’t use your mother’s maiden name if it is mentioned on a social network profile; or the model of your first car if you discussed it on a forum. Thieves are very good at digging out those details from online searches.


Remember, even the most innocent email attachments can be infected with computer malware. Common files like PDFs, JPGs and spreadsheets can provide a platform for installing viruses or malware on your computer. Often times, these emails and links can look very official. If you aren’t certain the file came from a legitimate business, charity or person, don’t open it without verifying. Call them and ask if they sent an email with an attachment. But again, don’t just click the link.

Don’t let your good nature become your downfall. Protect yourself from social engineering and be cautious as different threats develop.

For more expert tips to protect yourself and secure your information, please visit our Money Matters Series today.