Let’s look at the top 10 scams (random order).
- A fraudster claims to represent a charitable organization.
- Such scams can operate ring-style, such as one out in Colorado some years ago in which women wearing crisp white dresses that resembled the dresses nurses used to wear, and also wearing white caps (like a nurse), solicited motorists for money by walking around at stoplights holding out tin cans that had a label on them like “Help Fight Drugs.” Many people were fooled by the white outfits and labeled cans.
- Check out the legitimacy of the organization at bbb.org or charitynavigator.org.
- You receive an e-mail that seems to be from a legitimate company, like your bank, the IRS, UPS, etc. In the message is a link that you click. You just downloaded a virus.
- Never click links inside e-mails. Contact the company by phone.
- Your cell phone rings once. You don’t recognize the number. You call back. You then get charged about $20. Whatever happens after a connection is made, you’ll also be charged a high fee per minute.
- Ignore one-ring calls. If it’s important they’ll call back.
Credit Card Fraud
- Ever see a tiny charge on your credit card but have no idea what it was for? It’s probably by a crook.
- Always report even the smallest charges if they’re unfamiliar.
- You get an e-mail that seems to be from someone you know. They’re overseas, got mugged, sob sob…and need you to wire them money.
- Don’t send them a penny; it’s a scam.
Sweepstakes and Lottery
- “You’ve Won!” shouts your new e-mail. So you click the link in the e-mail to claim your prize—which is a nice fat virus that infects your computer.
- Run like the wind if the message tells you that you need to pay a fee to claim your winnings.
- Your phone rings. You answer. The caller tells you that you’ll be subject to fines because you didn’t show up for jury duty. But relax, you can avoid the fines by providing personal information or paying a fee.
- Courts have better things to do than to call people who missed jury duty (do you realize how many calls that would be?!).
- Though failing to report for jury duty does have consequences, the action is never initiated via phone.
- You turn on your computer and see a message stating the device is locked.
- To unlock it, you’re told to provide sensitive information.
- Contact your security software provider or a local geek.
- You connect to free WiFi thinking your secure. But waiting in the wings is a hacker to sniff out your data.
- Always use a VPN such as Hotspot Shield to encrypt your data over free WiFi.
- Someone appears at your door wearing a workman’s outfit and offers to do a job for a dirt cheap fee. They want the money upfront and will return later to do the work, or some variant of this.
- Stick with bonded, insured, reputable companies. Refer to Angie’s List or the BBB.
- Someone calls you offering to help you sign up for health care.
- Hang up; it’s a crook because government officials don’t do this.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.