This holiday season, take special care:
"Scammers are out to get your money or your good name . . ."
Many emails look legitimate, seemingly from your bank, your boss, family/friends or your favorite online store, but are really an attack, attempting to pressure or trick you into taking an action you should not take, such as . . .
- opening an infected email attachment,
- sharing your password, or
- transferring money.
The challenge is, the more savy we become at spotting and stopping these email attacks, the more cyber criminals try other ways of contacting and scamming us.
Here are the most common clues that a message you just received or a post you just read may be an attack:
Urgency: The message has a sense of urgency that demands "immediate action" before something bad happens, like threatening to close your account or send you to jail. The attacker wants to rush you into making a mistake.
No, the Social Security Administration or the IRS is not taking action against you!
Curiosity: The message invokes a strong sense of curiosity or promises something that is too good to be true.
No, you did not just win the lottery.
Sensitive: The message includes a request for highly sensitive information, such as your credit card number or password, or any information that you're just not comfortable sharing. Legitimate companies will already have your card number and will NEVER ask for your password.
Don't ever reply with your private identity information!
Official: The message says it comes from an official organization, but has poor grammar or spelling. Most government organizations will not use social media for official communications directly with you. If you are not sure if the message is legitimate, call the organization back, but use a trusted phone number, such as one from their website.
Look at the sender's e-mail address. If it doesn't match the bank or organization's name, that's a big clue!
Impersonation: You receive a message from a friend or co-worker, but the tone or wording just does not sound like them. If you are suspicious, call the sender on the phone to verify they sent the message. It is easy for a cyber attacker to create messages that appear to be from someone you know. In some cases, they can take over one of your friend's accounts and then pretend to be your friend and reach out to you. Be particularly aware of text messages, Twitter, and other short message formats, where it is more difficult to get a sense of the sender's personality.
No, your friend or family member has not lost their wallet and needing you to send them money to get back home (or out of jail).
You are still your own best defense against scams, cons, and attacks. If a message seems odd or suspicious, simply ignore or delete it. If it appears to be from someone you personally know, call the person on the phone to confirm if they really sent it.
TRIO wishes you a cyber-safe holiday season.