Avoiding Cyber Fraud Scams
Anyone can be the victim of cyber fraud. It is not reserved for the elderly, but in fact, more Millennials are falling prey to fraudulent activity than Baby Boomers. But just because you are not a member of these two groups, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t at risk of being scammed.
There are numerous online scams that are being used every day to commit fraud. They include: email scams; pop-up advertising; texts; links or attachments in emails. There is also fraud committed through social media platforms like: Facebook; Tinder; LinkedIn, Instagram; and a variety of other social networking sites.
Everybody must remain diligent.
Do not open emails from people you don’t know. Emails like these that request you send money, or accept products on behalf of someone else, are scams. Do not click on links in these emails, and do not even respond to them. In this way, you will not fall victim to a scammer who is only after your money or your personal information.
Refrain from opening emails from businesses that you have never heard of before. These businesses are in all likelihood, not real businesses and should you open a conversation with them, they may find ways to convince you to purchase something from them that probably doesn’t exist.
If you are running a business, use a burner email. A burner email is one that does not allow users to actually know what your true email is. For example: K & E Professional Accounting Services, uses firstname.lastname@example.org . This protects their real email addresses from fraudulent activity.
Use a physical book to store your usernames and passwords for various sites. If you have a personal or business safe, it is recommended that you store the book there. Never give out your usernames or passwords to anyone.
Change your passwords regularly, at least once a year. Some banks prompt you to change your password, which is great, but for those websites that don’t prompt you, it’s recommended that you change them once a year and make sure your password is made up of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols. This will provide you with the greatest security. Your username and password book can also be used for this by adding a date column to it and writing down the last date that you changed your password. Also, avoid using one password for multiple accounts.
Be careful how much personal information and how many photos you share on social media. Scammers can and will take your personal information and create profiles on multiple social media platforms to scam other people. There was a video on YouTube recently that exposed scammers who had stolen one man’s identity online and used it to create over 30,000 new identities in order for them to scam people. Meanwhile, the fellow involved had been totally unaware of it, until he was contacted by people who had been scammed.
Review your settings on your social media platforms. If you are running a business and rely on social media to promote your business, you probably shouldn’t make your posts private, as you are dependent upon them for marketing your company. However, for personal accounts on social media, it is recommended that you keep those private, so that scammers cannot access a multitude of your photos and your personal information. Keep your business account professional by only including pictures that are business related.
Ignore requests for personal information or money. Almost everyone has received at least one email saying that you are about to be the recipient of an estate from a distant relative. They ask for you to send them your full name, address, phone number, email address and could even ask for your social insurance number. Or they may say that you have to pay a fee in order to process the estate. Do not fall for either of these scams. Some scammers even request that you pay them in Bitcoin, as it is not as easily traced as real cash and is also not insured against theft.
If shopping online, only buy from reputable websites. There are many fake websites out there. Should you want to buy from a website that you haven’t purchased from before, make sure you Google them. Read what other information is available about that particular site. Also, check the contact information on the site. It should include a mailing address/location, a phone number, and an email address.
To prevent losses make sure your business has the following virus precautions: limit use of administrator accounts, automated virus scanner updates and cyber insurance. If you would like to learn more about cyber insurance, watch for our blog post next month.
K & E Professional Accounting Services is pleased to provide you with this valuable information. Please stay safe online.