02 Mar Smart people fall victim to scams too
Individuals and organizations spend a small fortune purchasing technology and security services, but their computers and confidential information could still remain vulnerable to old-fashioned human manipulation, i.e. scams.
Smart people fall victim to scams every day. Scams succeed because they look like the real thing or try to take advantage of a busy individual or an active business environment. Even when only a small percentage of targets are deceived, scamming is still a billion dollar industry.
Email scams have been going on for years and remain effective because both individuals and businesses rely heavily on email and instant message tools.
Scammers take advantage of the good names of reputable online companies and spoof their email addresses, logos, and links. It’s easy to copy letterheads, names and logos to make them look real, and it’s simple to create phony websites, use fake credit cards or checks and obtain business details such as your name and address through public listings or from your website.
The most common scamming technique is to send an email to thousands of online users asking them to re-enter or update their personal information under the pretext that their “account is about to expire” or “multiple log-ins have been detected” or they’ve “just won the lottery.” Would you fall for any of the following scams?
- A shipping company asks you to pay before shipping an item previously ordered
- A police officer calls to say you’ve been photographed breaking the speed limit
- A financial planner sends you an email with link to a hot stock tip
- You click on a bogus link displayed in a list of results you received from an Internet search
- Your county clerk calls to say there’s a warrant out for your arrest because you didn’t show up for jury duty
- You receive a text message that appears to have come from your bank asking you to verify your account
If our antennas aren’t up, we might rush or be tricked into a making a mistake. Human error is a big reason why these scams proliferate.
How to protect yourself
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with a particular company or individual, or if you feel pressured to take action immediately, maybe you shouldn’t. Formal awareness education can help you protect your business and yourself from becoming a victim. The single most important key to avoid being taken advantage of is to not give sensitive information to anyone unless you can verify that they are who they claim to be and that they have a legitimate need for access to the information.
If you think you’ve become a victim of a scam, contact the company being impersonated and ask them to open an investigation. Also file a complaint with the following:
- The Federal Trade Commission
- Your state Attorney General
- Your county or state consumer protection agency. Look under “Where to File a Complaint.”
- The Better Business Bureau
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