I really haven’t paid attention to the idea of scammers for a while. Phishing. Smishing. Phone scams. Everybody knows about that, right? Do we have to still think about it? Apparently the answer is yes.
I have elderly parents. And last week they received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft. The man on the phone said he knew that my folks had been having trouble with their computer and he wanted to help. My father, who always struggles with his computer (I blame Windows 8), was ready to listen. Luckily my father never gave out his credit card information (which is how this scam usually ends), but he did direct his computer to several websites. I haven’t been able to get to their house to examine the damage yet, but I’m fairly certain that viruses and malware have been released. I have my folks carefully checking their credit card activity every day to watch for fraudulent charges, as I know they have used their card for online purchases and that number is likely stored in their computer’s memory somewhere.
So fraud is out there. I guess it always will be. How do you protect yourself against it?
Here are some things you SHOULD do:
- Check your banking/credit card statements regularly to make sure every transaction is one you remember making.
- Check your credit report at least once a year (http://www.annualcreditreport.com).
- Change your online passwords regularly—to something complicated that includes letters, numbers, and symbols.
Here are some things you SHOULD NEVER do:
- Give your credit card number out on a telephone call that you did not initiate
- Click on a link in an email or text from someone you don’t know/trust
- Email sensitive information such as your Social Security number
- Call back the number of a missed call from someone you don’t know who did not leave a message identifying themselves
- Wire money to a stranger (yes….people still do this!!!)
I could probably go on and on. But instead I’ll leave you with this helpful information from the Federal Trade Commission.
Watch yourself! Scammers are still out there, and likely always will be.