It’s International Fraud Awareness Week! Lucky for you, P2CM is here to remind you of the things you can do to protect yourself from scams. No matter who you are or how smart you are, scammers will come for you. They have a good chance of succeeding if you’re not vigilant, and the consequences may be exponentially more devastating if you are connected to your company’s network when it happens.
Here’s What You Need to Do to Avoid Being Scammed:
- Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. The quickest way is through a simple Google search. If that doesn’t clear things up, you can dig further. Also, if a message or email comes from a friend and it seems unusual or out of character for them, contact your friend directly to check that it was really them that sent it.
- Do not open suspicious emails, texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them. If unsure, check to verify through an online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Do not respond to phone calls asking for remote access to your computer – hang up. Even if they mention a well-known company, scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus which will give them your passwords and personal details. If you are calling in to your IT provider to resolve an issue, that is a different story. The biggest difference is YOU CALLED THEM.
- Keep your personal details secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place (you may opt for a free password manager such as Last Pass or LogMeOnce). Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
- Keep your mobile devices and computers secure. Always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your WiFi network with a password and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.
- Choose your passwords carefully. Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone. This is another way a password manager can be useful.
- Review your privacy and security settings on social media. If you use social networking sites, such as Facebook, be careful who you connect with and learn how to use your privacy and security settings to ensure you stay safe. If you recognize suspicious behavior, clicked on spam or have been scammed online, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report it.
Especially When it Comes to Money…
- Beware of any requests for your details or money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.
- Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
- Be careful when shopping online. Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Think twice before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) – they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it.
Of course, you know all this. A scammer would never win with you because you are so intelligent. –Except one could. It only takes one moment of thoughtlessness, and it could be devastating.
Is your IT acting suspiciously? We can assist after you’ve experienced a scam event. Reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 939-8240.