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 Chat Scams

 

Text and online messaging is a prime place for scammers to try and con you out of personal information.

 

We often make the mistake of believing that if someone has our number we either should know them, or our number was given to them for a good reason.

 

Scammers take advantage of this assumption and have grown increasingly sophisticated about the way they exploit people. They will often pretend to be a acquaintance or a reputable institution like a bank.

 

 

Stay skeptical to avoid chat scams:

 

  • Verify the message via a different source 

    If a friend, family member, bank or any other business ask you for personal information or money, validate the request by calling the
    company or person making the request.



  • Beware of unknown or strange numbers 

    Chances are, you already have a friend or family member stored in your phone under a familiar name

    .

  • Notice poor grammar 

    If the text or chat is not using proper grammar,
    this is often a tip off that it’s a bot or a scammer operating from a foreign locale.



  • Don’t respond 

    In the end, the safest response is no response at all. If the request is crucial the company or acquaintance will attempt to contact you in multiple different ways.




Computer Scams

 

If you spend any time online, you’ve probably been the target of a phishing attack. 

This is when a scammer pretends to be from a reputable company in order to get you to reveal personal information they can use. 

 

Phishing is a technique that’s often deployed through emails. Web site pop-ups, and even mobile apps.

 

 

Common phishing scams:

The CEO/Executive

The scam appears as an email from a leader in your organization, asking for highly sensitive information like company accounts, employee salaries, Social Security numbers, and client information.

File sharing & DocuSign

Phony requests to access files in Dropbox and DocuSign accounts are on the rise, tricking workers into clicking on dangerous links.

The romance scam

This one can happen completely online, over the phone, or in person once contact is established. But the romance scam always starts with someone supposedly looking for love. The scammer often puts a phony ad online, or poses as a friend-of-a-friend on social media and contacts you directly. But what starts as the promise of love or partnership, often leads to requests for money or pricey gifts. The lure here is simple-love and acceptance.

The mobile phish

Scammers distribute fake mobile apps that gathers your personal information in the background or send text messages containing dangerous links. 

Surveys

You get a request to take a survey for for a social issue you may care about.  When you click that link, you could be getting infected with malware. 

The urgent email attachment

Phishing emails try to trick you into downloading a dangerous attachment giving a bad actor access to your computer. Such emails ask you to download attachments confirming a package delivery, trip itinerary, or prize.

 

   General questions to ask

   yourself to avoid computer

   scams: 

 

  • Is this asking for too much information? 

    Be wary of anyone who asks for more information than they need, even if you are talking to a company or bank you do business with.


  • Do I know you? 

    Ask this simple question before responding to a message.  First check to see if you recognize the sender’s name and email address. 


  • Is that a legitimate link?  

    Before clicking on a link, hover over it to see if the
    URL address looks legitimate. 

     

  • Am I on the web page I think I’m on? 

    Before logging into an online account, make sure the web address is correct.  Phishers often forge legitimate websites, like online storage accounts, hoping to trick you into entering your login details.

     

  • Is it too good to be true?  

    Avoid “free” offers or deals that sound too good to
    be true.

     

  • Is my security software active?

    Always use comprehensive security software to protect your devices and information from malware and other threats that might result from a phishing scam. 

     


Phone Scams

 

Phone scams come in many forms. Some act friendly while others try and use intimidation.  

In all cases, the goal is to get personal information and money. 

 

 

Common phone scams:

Credit repair scams

Give them some money and they promise to “fix” or “remove” your debt.

Charity scams 

You need to give money today to help these people in need.

Extended car warranties 

They access public purchase records to try and sell you overpriced or worthless car warranties.

 

    How to protect yourself: 

 

  • Hang up  

    Don’t let them know they reached a responsive
    phone number.  By pressing buttons or trying to
    talk to an operator, you may be in for even more robocalls.

     

  • Use call blocking 

    You phone carrier may provide a service to block known phone spam numbers or at least ID them for you when your phone rings.

     

  • Don’t rely on caller ID as proof

    Phone scams have gotten better at making you think
    it is a legitimate number by “spoofing” an ID and displaying some type of official name. Some even report it shows their own number calling them.

     


Web Scams

 

Scammers defraud many people using internet services and software. 

 

The goal of these scams is to trick you into sending money or personal information. 

 

 

Types of web scams:

Fake commerce sites

Fake product sites used to sell products that are not worth the price paid or not delivered at all. 

Credit card fraud 

Asking for credit card information to proceed on a web site. 

Malware

Software designed to disable your computer system for the scammers personal use or to simply  damage it. Also a general term used for viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, and more.

 

    Avoiding web scams: 

 

  • Keep your computer software updated.  Your operating system, web browsers and apps are constantly updating to adjust to the scammers’
    new tricks.  This includes keeping your McAfee subscription updated as well. 

     

  • Buy from trusted sources. Do some research if
    you are not sure.  McAfee Web Advisor is a great resource for helping identify some unsafe sites
    when you attempt to visit them. 

     

  • Talk to your kids.  Make sure they are educated
    on the dangers of online scams.   

     


Online Scams

 

Like many of these other scams, online scams exploit those in need or looking for a deal.

 

 

Look out for:

 

Prize scams

You’ll be notified that you just “won” a nice prize like money, jewelry or a vacation. These scams will ask you to pay something upfront.

Crowdfunding scams

Creators of the crowdsourced request promise a return for your small investment in their project but end up pocketing the money instead. 

 

    Avoiding web scams: 

 

  • If a prize you won is too good to be true, it probably is.  Do your research about the contest with a browser search. Many times
    you will find stories of others that have
    already been taken.

     

  • Never send money or gift cards to a person
    you have not met in person. 

     

  • Research any crowdfunding campaigns to see feedback from others and if they have not delivered on their promises.
 
  • Always look for the security lock on sites
    asking for personal information.  

     


Email Scams

 

The most common email scams involve phishing. 

 

Phishing schemes take on the appearance of a legitimate email, they may even appear to be from a company you’re familiar with, in order to exploit your trust and gain personal or financial information.   

 

Types of email scams you may see:

Foreign lottery scam

You just won a big prize, often in a foreign country, but you must pay a small amount upfront to gain the larger reward. 

Survey scam

You get a request to take a survey for for a social issue you may care about. When you click the link, you get infected with malware.

Banking scam

You receive an email saying there is something wrong with your bank or PayPal account that needs your attention.  You’re then directed to a fake site where you to attempt to log-in so they can steal your user name and password for the actual site.  

 

    Tips for avoiding email

    scams: 

 

  • If you don’t do business or haven’t requested information from a particular company, don’t click on any links or take any surveys. 

     

  • Look at the sender’s email address.  Does it match the content of the email?  If not, stay away.
  • Avoid communications without personalization.  “Dear valued customer” is a good tip to stay away. 
  • Does the link in the email look odd?  Most of the time you can move your mouse over the link to see the link address.  If it looks wrong, stay away.