These days it’s commonplace….
You receive a text, “You are approved. Reply within 24 hours and complete your application.”
Or a voicemail, “This is the IRS calling you about a seriously overdue account. Please reply immediately to avoid penalties.”
Or, “This is Amazon. There has been a security breach to your account, and your account is now inactive. Please call immediately to reactivate.”
These are just a few of the thousands of scams going around. Some are fairly easy to debunk — there are many more insidious or undetectable scams. In this modern era of identity theft and data fraud, cyber security has become something we all need to be aware of in order to protect our personal and financial assets from scams.
The threat of cyber scams is persistent and ongoing. Hackers usually target specific demographics and select vulnerable targets. The entities behind the scams may be collecting data about you and are using the information to enhance the con. For instance, if you are shopping for a mortgage loan, you may notice an influx of dubious emails or text messages relating to interest rates, loans, or credit ratings.
At WebSight Design (WSD),our client account security is paramount. This includes your website information, all transactions and communication with WSD, and also your personal identity and security.
Here are a few guidelines and tips to help you avoid falling for cyber scams.
If the text or email comes from an unfamiliar source or looks suspicious, DO NOT CLICK THE LINK! When you see a red flag, the best thing you can do is pause and research. Often a simple search will reveal information about potential scams. There is an ongoing fraudulent IRS call scam going around. The perpetrator says you must call and pay immediately to avoid further action.
Don't Complete a Monetary Transaction
This includes providing any information about your identity, bank accounts, investments, assets, debts, credit cards, etc. Only tell people about yourself once you have verified who they are from several credible third party-sources.
As noted, many scammers have personal information on you, and they know exactly how to hook you in. If the source is legitimate, they will not demand immediate action or make threats. And certainly, if you find yourself pulling out a bank card, writing a check, or setting up a wire, stop there. Take your time, and check it out. If it turns out to be legitimate, it can wait until tomorrow.
Do Your Research
You are trying to book a vacation rental but can’t find a physical address for the “broker” you are working with? When a verifiable physical address is missing, that is a warning sign.
Verify the business before proceeding. Search for reviews, and talk to friends. It is often the case that these scams are widely known and published on the web. And remember, these scams often shapeshift, changing names, numbers, addresses, etc., making it is more difficult to call them out. Don’t be fooled.
Use Common Sense and Trust Your Intuition
Get rich quick, get money back, pay now, provide your account info, strange email addresses, businesses in foreign countries… avoid all of that unless you can 100% verify that the business is legitimate and can be trusted. And even then, going with a known, trusted, above-board company is best.
Change Your Passwords
It is a good practice to rotate through all your password-protected accounts and change them periodically. And use a different password for everything. Do not email your passwords, social security numbers, bank account, or other personal information. We recommend keeping your account information on a spreadsheet on a thumb drive or some external storage drive not connected to the internet.
We are cyber security experts. Please call us for information about keeping your website, accounts, and personal information secure.