Holidays are fast approaching, which means online shopping and scams are going to be on the rise. Here are a few ways to stay as safe as possible.
1. Know the red flags.
The most common types of scams will target you through fake emails (a technique known as phishing), text messages (SMSishing or smishing) voice calls (vishing), letters or even someone who shows up at your front door unexpectedly. No matter which technique the criminal uses these are the common things they try:
- Pressure you to send money
- Threaten you with law enforcement action
- Tell you to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment
- Ask you to cash a check for them or send money via wire transfer
- Ask you to deposit a check that overpays for something you're selling, and then send the difference elsewhere
2. Don’t provide account or personal information via email or text.
Your bank will never email, or text and ask for this information. If this happens call your banking institute and make them aware of the situation. They may ask you to forward the email you received.
3. Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
Cybercriminals may pose as an employee of a large telecommunications company or a technical support provider to tell you that your computer is experiencing technical problems. They will ask for remote access to solve the problem before demanding that you buy software or pay a fee to fix the computer.
4. Don’t click on unsolicited links or attachments sent via email or text.
This tactic is used to trick you into giving your personal information. They may even look like an official communication. If in doubt, call the number off one of your bills or on the back of your credit card and speak to someone in Customer Service. Never call the number that is listed in the email or text.
5. If you feel pressured to act immediately, it’s not a legitimate correspondence.
Criminals that use this tactic will try and demand that you respond or make payment immediately or face possible legal action. This is to scare you. Banks and credit card companies will typically give you a due by date. Even Debt Collectors will schedule a call with you to discuss payment options. If you feel uncomfortable or are told not to offer particulars to others or your bank, don’t act in the moment. Call your bank or the number for Customer service on your bill. Asking for help is always your best course of action to stay safe.
You are your own best judge of a situation. Even if it turns out to be true, it is always better to be safe than sorry.