Sorry to report once again on the scams that are increasing since this crises began. Let’s just hit it straight on.
1) Do not click on any link within an email. If the email contains some sort of notice or warning, call the vendor being cited (generally it’s a bank or finance company) directly — use a number that you have from a different source or statement from the organization. DO NOT use any number cited in the email;
2) Ignore texts if you are absolutely certain they are not from a known source. Both iOS and Android phones have settings that allow you to block unknown senders;
3) Let unknown numbers go to voice mail. In general, if the caller is not someone you legitimately wants to contact you, they will not leave voice mail. Even if they do, pay close attention to the message to determine if it could be real. If the message purports to come from a bank, financial organization or the government, do not call the number they leave back directly. Look up the number the caller claims to be from independently and return the call to that number;
4) No one from a bank, financial organization or the government will use fear or intimidation to create urgency or try and force you to take some action — this is a red flag. Again, leave the call and independently verify the number to call back and report the interaction;
5) With the stimulus program recently passed by the federal government, there are a lot of scammers trying to use this to get you to give out your bank account or social security number. DO NOT ever do this. The government stimulus checks are being sent automatically to income tax filers with 2018 or 2019 returns either directly to a know bank account the IRS has on file for you or directly mailed. The IRS will not call you. Do not be fooled by appeals related to this COVID19 situation;
6) Do not click on any attachment to open or download it, if you are not 100% certain of the sender. There are ways for sender email addresses to be harvested by criminals from various sources, then returned to you posing as a legitimate email from someone you know.
7) Keep the versions of software you use up to date. This includes your operating system and application software. Most updates include security improvements to protect the users of software from being the unwitting victims of hackers and phishers. Install and keep virus and malware software on your desktops, laptops, and cell phone up to date;
8) Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Use complex passwords for banking, financial, or government accounts. Use a password manager, like 1 Password or Last Pass, to store your passwords for all of your accounts. Avoid using the password save options offered by your internet browsers;
9) Be aware that robocallers can contact you on your landline or cell phone using numbers that are generated randomly and calls made using the internet. Many times the caller ID numbers will look like they are from your own area code and may even be familiar. If you keep your contact list on your phone, a call from someone you know will show that contacts’ name. If you do receive a bogus call, both iOS and Android had filters that allow you to block calls from that number in the future. Some carriers even have sophisticated software that will identify incoming scam calls. If you seem to be getting a lot of scam calls, contact your carrier and ask that they “bump” up the filters for your incoming calls — it is not full proof, but these methods do cut down on the scam calls that get through.