When will scammers stop?

“Hello this is Microsoft, we got an alert that your computer is at risk of attack and needs to be updated …” Most of us would have just hung up by now. What if they said they were the IRS, or even distant relatives? What if they know your name or your family’s name?

Scammers are very resourceful and creative. They will do their best to convince you to part with your data or funds until the end of time. It’s in our best interest to stay informed about the current popular scams going around. They may come in the form of an email or phone call asking you to do something, send something, say something, etc. While most of these requests appear legitimate on the surface, it’s important to make sure. Is this how you would normally expect to receive this request? Some of these requests, such as those for technical support, would be made by you rather than someone else.

Microsoft is not calling people offering to install updates for free. The IRS will always make initial contact with you via postal mail, never demanding payment of a tax bill over the phone or via email. Recent examples include:

Scammers use dating sites to build trust and ask for money (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about romancescams)
Scammers pose as Microsoft technical support, tricking victims into giving them access (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/wdsi/threats/support-scams)
Scammers target the elderly (https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/senior-scam-alert)

What can you do?
Determine another method of contact (e.g., cell phone number or alternate email address) that is publicly available.
Check your computer and mobile devices regularly for malware.
Check for suspicious charges to your credit card. Question charges that do not correspond to products or services you purchased.
Don’t trust caller ID or email addresses. These can be spoofed, so it’s important to have another way to verify someone communicating with you. Callbacks are appropriate if you have a number for contacting them that was not provided to you from the scammer.
Be aware of scams that target the elderly, and make sure to check in with older friends and family.

PRO-TIP: If you weren’t expecting to receive an email or phone call, don’t answer it! Never trust the identity of somebody contacting you when you weren’t expecting them. Always turn to another source of verification by contacting someone through their published phone number or mailing address, and remember, caller ID and email addresses can be spoofed and are NOT a method of verification.

A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust