As you may remember from last year’s post on online shopping, the Internet is a fantastic resource but one that must be used carefully. This is particularly true when one is using email and social media sites such as Facebook. Although Facebook and email have transformed the way that we communicate with each other, they also leave us vulnerable to phishing and other acts designed to steal private information from unwitting consumers. Below is a list of common Internet scams that you should watch out for when using email or social media.
Phishing: Emails appear to come from trusted sources and request account information for personal bank accounts or other forms of personally identifying information. Examples include emails with messages like:
“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”
“During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn’t verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information.”
“Our records indicate that your account was overcharged. You must call us within 7 days to receive your refund.”
Funeral Notification Scam: Scammers are sending bogus emails with the subject line “funeral notification.” The message from the “funeral home” offers condolences and offers a link for more information about the upcoming funeral. The link downloads malware onto the your computer.
The Fake Friend Scam: When a Facebook friend request is sent from someone you already think was your friend, and you accept without realizing, your Facebook information becomes available to a scammer who may either (1) recommend sketchy websites that download malware to your computer; (2) use your account to gather information about your other friends; or (3) suck you into a romance scam, which occurs when you develop an online relationship with someone who is not who they portray themselves to be. This is also called catfishing. These scammers may try to obtain credit card or other financial information that may lead to identity theft or otherwise attempt to expose you to viruses.
There are steps you can take to prevent your information from being stolen!
(1) Delete emails and text messages that ask you to provide personal information that are not from trusted sources.
(2) Do NOT click on links from emails unless you trust the sender AND have verified with the sender that they actually sent the message.
(3) Call the bank or business that appears to have sent you the message by using the phone number on the back of your credit card or the financial statements that you’ve received from that organization.
(4) Keep your security software updated.
(5) Use a pop-up blocker and don’t click on any links that pop-up.
Think before you click to protect your personal information, your financial information, and your friends and email contacts from potential scammers!