Are you scam street smart, whether you’re at work or home? These tips will help you spot a cyber con from a mile off and dodge the nasty tricks of the trade.
The scamming pied piper will use phishing to lure you into giving out your personal details. They’ll email, call, text you (“smishing” is when you’re SMS’d) or even reach out on social media (yes Facebook hacks happen often). They could ask for your birthdate, bank or credit card numbers, passwords or simply want to “verify your details”. It’s usually so they can steal money.
If your message is ticking a few of these boxes, it may not be a happy coincidence:
- Are you unfamiliar with the sender’s address?
- Does the address look just like one you already know, but not quite right?
- Is the message full of bad grammar/spelling and doesn’t use your name correctly?
- Are there strange links, email addresses and formatting?
- Is there an urgent call to action about a legal or banking matter?
- Are you being offered prizes for completing a survey?
- Is the sender asking for personal and financial information?
- Are you being asked to fork out cash for software, an unpaid fine or mystery bill?
- Does it seem like the answer to a question you didn’t ask (e.g. “re: re:” in the subject line)?
Pharming is when you’re attacked by evil malware and redirected to a bogus website. It may look just like the official page you’re trying to visit, with logos, branding and all!
- Pharming can happen regardless of whether you clicked on a saved bookmark or typed the proper address in your web browser.
- Malware can be downloaded accidentally when you click on a dodgy attachment. It records your keystrokes, stealing passwords and other important data.
Whaling and spear phishing
Scammers can dangle a carrot of specific details about your business they found elsewhere. If you’re running a business be wary giving out confidential data to anyone, especially through a phony website. It can be misused to commit fraud or cyber crime in your name!
- Being “too busy to look” can cost you a lot! Check the characters in the company email are exactly what they should be. If the email is wanting urgent action, especially about a customer complaint or legal issue, be very suspicious!
- Know how to spot a secure website? Keep an eye out for “https://” at the start of the website address, a closed padlock or an unbroken key icon at the bottom right of your web browser. This means your details should be encrypted when you enter them.
- How did a sneaky scammer get your info? It was probably publicly posted somewhere, so always watch what you write on social media and networking websites. Shred important documents before throwing them out too!
Need more assistance protecting yourself from cyber crime? Our Computer Support heroes are ready to rumble.