It’s always important to be on the lookout for cyber criminals who hope to steal your personal information. Your best defense against these attackers is to be aware of what their scams may look like and where they may come from. Here are some tips.
These attacks come disguised as something of relevance to you, such as a discount offer to a store like Best Buy or Wal-Mart or a link to UPS tracking information. When you click on links in phishing messages, a virus downloads to your computer, allowing the scammer to access personal information in your e-mail and passwords to your online accounts.
How to stay safe: To protect yourself from phishing scams, take these precautions:
- Be suspicious of any commercial e-mails, especially those asking for personal information.
- Watch for grammatical errors and typos. These are a surefire sign that the e-mail is fraudulent.
- Keep your computer up to date with the latest antivirus software.
“Free” gift card offers
Some scammers attempt to dupe consumers into exchanging personal information for free gift cards. Although these offers may be made online through phishing e-mails, others come via phone calls.
How to stay safe: Never provide personal information online or over the phone unless you’re certain with whom you’re dealing. To verify whether a phone conversation regarding a free gift card is legitimate, simply ask for a number to call the solicitor back. Scammers will almost always give themselves away by resisting this request.
Remember to always be diligent in defending your assets. Cyber criminals are constantly devising new ways to break into their victims’ accounts.
How to stay safe: Create strong passwords for all of your online accounts. A strong password:
- Contains both upper- and lowercase characters
- Includes digits and punctuation, as well as letters
- Is at least eight characters long
- Is not a word in any language, slang, dialect, or jargon
- Is not based on personal information, names of family members, and so on
In addition, never write down or store passwords online; instead, create passwords that can be easily remembered. One idea is to base a password on a song title, affirmation, or other phrase. For example, the phrase might be “this may be one way to remember,” and the password could be TmB1w2R!, Tmb1W>r~, or some other variation.
What we’re doing to help
Rest assured that we’re also doing all we can to protect your information security. In addition to calling you to verify the authenticity of any suspicious e-mails, we are required to obtain a client signature whenever we receive a request for a third-party wire transfer of money.