Cybersecurity and fraud: are you tired of us yet?
If not for the risk of you eventually blocking our emails, we would send out this reminder via email every week. In the past several months, at least three clients have fallen victim to cyber thefts. Aside from the dollar cost, these crimes are an assault against our dignity. Victims replay the events countless times, and there’s virtually nothing that law enforcement can do.
To help protect you against a cyber-criminal act, here are a few more suggestions on do’s and don’ts1,2. We strongly urge you to take heed and share these comments with those you love.
- Protect yourself from phishing emails: Pay attention to any email claiming to be a bill or a security alert. If anything looks odd such as misspelled words, your name not appearing on the email, links that don’t appear to go to the right place, requests for you to “verify” your account or personal information, delete the message…
- Recognize pressure tactics: Fraudsters will create a false sense of urgency to get you to act. Don’t fall for it.
- Go to the source: Trust your gut. If you’re questioning the person who called you, texted you, or sent you an e-mail, hang up and call the phone number on the back of your (credit) card (or other financial statement).
- Be a smart sender: Never send money to someone you don’t know in real life, especially through third-party services such as Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App. Don’t send payment with gift cards. Legitimate businesses will never request a gift card to satisfy a bill.
- Use strong passwords: Traditional passwords aren’t secure enough. Use the strongest authentication options provided, and don’t share or save these details on public devices.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited messages. Ignore and delete random texts and emails that ask you to click a link or provide personal information. Don’t ever click links from untrusted sources.
- Enable multifactor authentication: Set up two-factor authentication on any account that allows it.
- Be careful what you share online: Scammers often use personal or common information, such as pet names, schools you attended, links to family members, and your birthday to send phishing emails, guess your password or answer your security questions.
- Think before downloading: Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
- Verify email addresses: Carefully examine the email address, URL address, and spelling used in any emails or text messages. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eyes and gain your trust.
- Compare the From address to the Reply-To address: Scammers are sometimes able to spoof a legitimate email address. Before sending a reply, confirm that the reply-to email address is accurate.
Bottom line: If you feel pressured, uncertain, or stressed about an email, phone call, or pop-up on your computer, the best thing you can do is STOP. There is virtually nothing so urgent that it can’t wait until you call a relative, best friend, or financial advisor to get a second opinion. Scammers are very good at what they do, which is why they continue to do these sorts of things. But they can only succeed with your help. If you hang up, turn off the computer, or fail to respond, they’re forced to move on to the next victim.
1 “Tips to Be Cyber Smart.” USAA, 16 Nov. 2022.
2 “Schwab: Cybersecurity News.” Charles Schwab, 30 Nov. 2022.