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Online Safety

Security Awareness

2018 looks to be another busy year for fraudsters attempting to compromise consumer accounts.  According the Federal Trade Commission’s 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, consumers reported losing $905 million to fraud in 2017. With returns that high, fraudsters are continuing their efforts to trick innocent people using a myriad of scam techniques.

As a consumer, you are constantly bombarded by scammers in all aspects of your daily life.  Consider the following scam attempts:

  • Emails received out of the blue informing you of your claim to a large inheritance from a distant relative or acquaintance;
  • Text messages indicating that you’ve won an all-inclusive vacation;
  • Phone calls from a popular software company’s Tech Support department to inform you that your computer is infected and offering to sell you software/services to fix it;
  • You receive strong romantic overtures from someone you’ve just met on Social Media or a dating app/website.  Now they want you help them with a financial transaction. 

You or one of your family members have likely been the target of one or more of these types of attempted scams.  So, how do you protect yourself?  Here are a few tips to help keep you safe:

  • Does the email or phone call pass the “Smell Test”:  Is this opportunity too good to be true?  Am I doing business with this person/company?  If the opportunity seems to come out of nowhere, you should be wary of it.  Try to independently verify the claims that the emailer/caller are making by contacting the company directly via a separate phone call. 
  • Get a second opinion:  Ask a trusted friend/family member to review a potential offer that you are unsure about.  Getting an independent opinion will often confirm doubts that you are having about the situation.
  • Don’t give out personal information:  Do not disclose your account number to anyone who calls you, even for verification purposes.  Hang up and call the company directly to ensure that you are speaking with an authorized individual before disclosing any of your personal information.
  • Protect your login information:  Never give someone access to your username/password to log into your banking accounts.  Scammers use your account to commit fraud on other accounts in the financial system.  You could be liable for any fraudulent action that occurs using your account, even if were not the party committing the fraudulent act.

Here are a few scam/fraud related websites that can be used to help you determine if the offer you’ve received is legitimate or a scam:

FTC Scam Website:  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

USA.gov Scams and Frauds Website:  https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

If you are looking to raise your overall security awareness level, we recommend the OUCH Newsletters, published by SANS:

SANS OUCH Newsletters:  https://www.sans.org/security-awareness-training/ouch-newsletter