Holiday gift-giving doesn’t need to drain your bank account. According to Deloitte, 37% of American households say their financial situation is worse than last year. Despite the economic pressures and rise of inflation, the holiday spirit remains intact. The American people are finding creative ways to give meaningful gifts and stay within their budget. Check out our top six tips to help you get started.
Category Archives: Identity Protection
How to Make to Secure Offline Payments
With recent global conflicts threatening cybersecurity, it’s more important than ever to keep yourself and your finances protected. In addition to overarching internet fraud, cyberattackers will frequently target online payment systems. Cryptocurrency in particular has been the talk of potential scams and overseas cybercrime.
6 Secure Online Banking Practices to Start Now
More people are opting to bank online. Banking online is convenient because you can quickly access your financial information from your phone or computer.Continue reading
Everything You Need to Know About Job Hunting Service Scams
By: Jurissa Ayala
What is a job hunting service scam — and how does it harm both employers and employees? Job hunting service scams operate like recruitment or staffing agencies, claiming to place job seekers with prospective employers. Occasionally job hunting services may actually be able to arrange interviews and even procure a job for a job hunter, but it will always come at a considerable and unnecessary cost.
America, You’ve Been Chipped
By MJ Plaster
Internet Security : Creating Secure Passwords
By Jurissa Ayala
In our day and age, we have the amazing ability to be hooked up to the Internet and perform our business, our banking, schooling and communication from anywhere we want. However, our security online depends greatly on our ability to protect our personal accounts from unauthorized access, as malicious users try to break into other people’s accounts thousands of times every day. Passwords are the linchpin in our security, and it is vital that we create strong passwords to protect our accounts and our identities.
The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Hackers
By MJ Plaster
You know the line from King Henry the Sixth even if you’ve never read a word of Shakespeare: “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Here we’re talking about black hat hackers, the ones that wreak havoc with computer networks and Internet sites around the world. I’m probably next on their list after that headline, but how else can I tempt you to read vital information that could save your business?
Is Facebook Making you more Vulnerable to a Grandparent Scam?
The grandparent scam has been around a few years, according to the FBI, but numbers have increased dramatically as seniors become more active online and with social media. A typical grandparent scheme involves a phone or email; someone identifying themselves as one of your grandkids will claim to be in trouble and need immediate financial help. Continue reading
How Much Does The Internet Know About You?
Our society relies heavily on the Internet for information, commerce, communication and entertainment. Increasingly, though, logging on comes with a distinct Big Brother-style unease. Many people are worried how much the Internet knows about them and would like to limit this information, but can’t find the right answers. Well, here they are. Below we’ve outlined some of the most salient questions Internet users have, as well as the best ways to protect yourself. Continue reading
Phishing for Dollars: Internet Scamsters Gone Wild
By M.J. Plaster
Phishing for dollars—it’s an old game that predates the Internet, but it’s more lucrative today thanks to the speed of Internet travel. Internet scams are a growth industry, with innocent people losing $800,000,000 in one decade. The best way to beat the scamsters is to come to the game armed with knowledge, so let’s get to it.
Top Five Internet Scams
1. The 419 Scam
Named for the section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud, the 419 scam has more juice than the Energizer bunny. The details vary, but generally the email comes from an alleged Nigerian prince, princess, dignitary, etc., who wants to gift you several million dollars to help bring money into the U.S.
The catch? You’ll need to divulge banking information, make a ‘small’ payment and/or make a trip to Africa on your dime to get the goods.
The scam is so prevalent that several dedicated groups have gone on the offensive. The Wall Street Journal reports that scambaiters turn the tables by baiting the scamsters and “eating up their time” to keep them away from naïve victims. While the counteroffensives make for hilarious reading, the scambaiters were born without the fear gene, the same gene that prompts you to delete the Nigerian scam email without answering it.
2. Phishing Expeditions
I almost fell for this one when I opened an email that appeared to be from Comcast. Without thinking, I started to respond and verify some information. All of a sudden, the odd sentence structure and misspelled words set off my radar alerting me that English was not the sender’s native tongue. I realized it was a phishing expedition for identity information, and I trashed my response just in the nick of time.
Today, the scamsters have reached new depths—they send emails that say your bill is overdue and you’re going to be arrested if you don’t pay immediately with a gift or debit card that can’t be tracked. Comcast cannot arrest you for a bill in arrears. Bank, utility, and IRS email scams follow the same pattern.
3. Microsoft/Software Company Scams
If you run Windows, you might not suspect anything if Microsoft were to contact you about a problem with your computer, right? Wrong! Unless you have some relationship with the company or an employee or have made prior contact with a support team member, you won’t receive a legitimate email from Microsoft.
The scam email alerts you to some grave computer danger and contains an attachment—a program to allow a ‘Microsoft technicians’ to take control of your computer and ‘fix’ it. Once installed, the scamsters steal every piece of information they can get their hands on.
A slight twist of the scam involves a keylogger attachment that, when clicked, installs a program to record and report to the sender every keystroke you make—bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.
These two scams can appear to come from any software company—and not just through email. You might receive a popup while browsing the Internet with similar instructions and a link to malware.
4. Work From Home Scams
Talk about an equal opportunity employer—this scam targets everyone—college kids, retirees, work-at-home moms and dads and the self-employed. The fraudsters use two methods—push and pull: They will email you, or you will respond to an ad. Either way, the result is the same. There are two variations on the money chase:
- Direct deposit – Once you turn over your bank information, it’s out there. Unless you’ve done your homework and you know you’re working with a credible organization, never give out your bank information. Insist on payment through PayPal or other third-party processor.
- Paid by check – You receive a check for more than you’re supposed to receive, and you’re directed to return the overage. Your bank “pre-clears” the check. When the bank discovers the check is a counterfeit, it comes after the person most likely to cough up the dough—unfortunately that’s you.
5. Craigslist Buyer Scams
The Craigslist buyer scam is a spin on the “Work From Home” scam. The only difference is that you’re the seller instead of the email recipient. The buyer sends a counterfeit check in an amount greater than the sale price and asks you to refund the difference.
Staying Safe in a 24/7-Connected World
- Delete any message from yourself without opening it. It’s called spoofing. Just like the crooks can spoof your phone number (that’ll shock you the first time it happens), they can also spoof your email address.
- Never open an unexpected attachment. It could be a malicious program or child pornography—good luck explaining that in court.
- If you receive an official-looking email, check the address [@company name] against the name of the company. Don’t open it unless it matches.
- If there’s a link in an email, hover your mouse over it before clicking it. If the URL isn’t a site you recognize, don’t open it.
- When you spot syntax errors and multiple misspellings (not to be confused with text-message speak from your kids), delete the email.
- When you receive an official-looking email without a proper salutation, delete it.
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission when in doubt and/or sign up to receive scam alerts by email.
Identity theft can haunt you the rest of your life; so can losing your life’s savings. From college kids to senior citizens, to small-business owners, we’ve all got a bullseye on our backs. Help spread the word to everyone you know, especially to senior citizens. If you’ve been caught in an Internet scam, and who hasn’t, please share the details. For a moment of embarrassment, you could save someone from a lifetime of misery.