Ding. Ah, checking an incoming notification often leads to anticipation, wondering who among family and friends has left an insightful message. The text says, “For having a great driving record, we’d like to send you a check for $1,597.59. Please click the link; you only have today to claim the money.” Of course, the message plays upon two human desires, greed and fear. While you would like to benefit from the unexpected cash flow, acting fast would provide a feeling of relief. Ask yourself, “Is it too good to be true?” Absolutely! Most messages call for urgency, promise substantial cash within a short timeframe and claim to have confidential or insider information. Take the time to notice the source of the text. Too often, con artists will use a peculiar name, not a business. The only action is to click the box marked “block.” Never fear; it won’t be the last time someone attempts to lure you. The goal is to identify the trap before you make a regrettable decision!
What is Phishing?
The “phishing” line has a recognizable company, whether from a bank, credit card company, website, social media site or online payment. The bait often includes a story to trick you into opening the attachment.
A few tricks may include statements, such as:
We’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts.
- There’s a problem with your account or payment information.
- Please confirm your personal information.
- Please click on a link to make a payment.
- You are eligible for a refund.
The solution is to log in through an official website or call the company to find out the truth; then, protect your computer or phone by using security software to update automatically, creating the ultimate defense against threats.
More Phone Scams
It may be easy to trust a phone call, especially when individuals introduce themselves and the business they represent. Immediately, when a problem arises, our first reaction is to listen closely and help. For example, we may learn of a compromised account quickly resolved by revealing the primary account holder’s Social Security number. Wait! Anyone who asks for your vital information, especially a Social Security number or password, and does not reveal the specific card or account is a scammer. If the person cannot answer your questions, hang up immediately and call the company yourself.
Five Circulating Scams
Through your online marketplace account, scammers will seek to validate whether you are a scammer. By requesting you return a verification code from Google Voice, the ploy allows them to establish a Google Voice account in your name while hiding their identity from law enforcement. Fortunately, you can reclaim the fraudulent account by contacting the “Google Voice Help Center.”
Other scams circulating today are:
- QR codes: Invented as a machine-readable optical label that contains data to a website or application, the QR code has gained popularity as a touchless option. Be wary of scammers prompting you to make a purchase, especially on look-alike websites.
- The Zelle App: Con artists pretending to work for your bank or credit union’s fraud department use a peer-to-peer payment app to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the scam transfers money from your “Zelle” account to theirs.
- Romance Scams: Dating or social media sites continue to connect scammers to trusting victims. Unfortunately, a believable story of needing money or a promise of a profitable return continues to be an effective trick. Fake accounts often have low numbers of followers or friends. Be mindful of the signs, such as stock photos or excuses of why they cannot meet in person.
- Rental Assistance: As more people relocate to North Carolina, a housing shortage opens the door for individuals impersonating government or nonprofit employees seeking money to cover application fees. Unfortunately, today, trust requires research; consider using the site cfpb.gov to locate legitimate programs.
Basic security measures can help protect you from fraud. If you suspect a spam call, don’t respond or press a button; the safest option is to ignore the call or hang up. Another precaution is registering for free credit monitoring. Many banks already have a service for their customers; however, you can determine how other companies, such as credit card companies, handle fraud by calling today. Validating information may take time, but it’s a vital step in protecting your identity and savings.