Scams & Fraud
TIPS TO AVOID SCAMS, FRAUD & CYBERCRIME
SCAMS, FRAUD & CYBERCRIME ALERT
Everyone should take time to educate themselves to avoid becoming a victim of crime and fraud. It is important to safeguard personal information at all times and be especially mindful of potential scams.
A first line of defense is to be cautious when giving out social security numbers, credit or debit card numbers, bank account numbers or any other financial information, especially to unknown persons who contact you by phone or e-mail.
Cybercrime has now become the biggest risk in scams and fraud because of the number of people connected to the Internet and the devices they use such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets. Knowing how to protect your devices from intrusion is more important than ever.
No matter what the situation, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If you are uncomfortable, if you feel pressured, if you are unfamiliar with the caller or the sender or their company or if you feel victimized in any way, simply do one of the following:
- Say "no thank you" and hang up the phone.
- Delete the suspicious or unfamiliar e-mail.
- Do not follow any links or download information from unfamiliar websites.
- Take your time and never respond to an offer you don't understand thoroughly.
Senior citizens should be especially award of fraud schemes because their "nest egg", excellent credit, polite and trusting nature and general likelihood of not reporting an incident make them attractive to con artists.
Being award can help you avoid putting yourself at risk and save you a great deal of time and trouble.
CURRENT SCAMS & FRAUD
ONLINE SALES FRAUD
Both sellers and buyers need to be aware and use caution when selling or purchasing items online. Sellers should always clear the check before shipping and avoid instances where the buyer asks you to cash a check that is for more than the amount of the sale and provide the cash back to them or to a 3rd party. Buyers should take care to know about the seller. You may want to pick up items to assure you get what you think you purchased. In purchasing online, be mindful you are on a legitimate site and not a "mimic" site that could steal and later sell your credit card information.
Avoid situations where you are buying products or services from unknown callers. Warning signs of telemarketing fraud include being told you must act immediately or that you've won a free gift and must supply a credit card for shipping or other incidentals. If you hear that, just hang up.
REMOTE PC REPAIR SCAM
Victims are contacted by a phone call from scam artists claiming to represent a high-tech computer firm. The callers says your computer has the potential for a virus and encourages the victim to go online and let them troubleshoot the computer. If you follow the instructions they will download a virus damaging your operating system and force you to pay them for costly repairs to your computer potentially also compromising your credit card information. Never give an unknown person remote access to your computer.
The FBI website is a source of information on new and recurring scams and how to protect yourself and your family. Visit www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud.
EXAMPLES OF CYBERCRIME
- Phishing - The victim gets an e-mail from what looks like a legitimate site with a link to a hostile site. When the link is clicked the PC may become infected with a virus.
- Trojan Horse - The victim unknowingly downloads a "Trojan horse virus" that installs a keystroke logger that allows a hacker to log keystrokes and ultimately steal private data.
- Hacking - Hackers take advantage of flaws in the victim's web browser or antivirus software and download a virus or work through the system to steal data or personal information.
- Cyberstalking - This is online stalking where the Internet is used to stalk or harass the victim resulting in the risk of false accusations, defamation, libel, slander, monitoring, identity theft and a full array of threats. Cyberstalking often starts in chat rooms and can come through e-mails, texts, instant messaging, phone calls and other forms of communication and also via social media.
PROTECT YOUR DEVICES
You need to be alert to keep your devices protected. Here are some key steps.
- Maintain vigilance over access to computers, tablets and Internet-enabled mobile phones.
- Keep the firewall turned on.
- Keep antivirus and antispyware software updated.
- Install security updates and patches regularly.
- Be careful what you download.
- Practice good password management.
- Turn off your computer when not in use.
The FBI website has more information about cybercrime and about how to protect your devices. Visit www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/computer_protect.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING SCAMS, FRAUD & CYBERCRIME
Do yourself a favor and be smart and be prepared. Getting educated and taking a few basic steps may keep you from becoming a victim of crime and fraud - and save you a great deal of time and trouble. High-pressure tactics used by fraudsters continue to evolve. These can be by telephone, e-mail, regular mail or even people coming to your door. Become familiar with these tips and stay protected. County Bank posts updates on scams, fraud and cybercrime at www.yourcountybank.com/you_should_know.
- Do not respond to unsolicited e-mail and do not click on links contained in unsolicited e-mails or e-mails from unknown senders. Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
- Only open attachments from known senders and virus scan attachments if possible.
- Avoid filling our forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
- Check the legitimacy of organizations that send you unsolicited telephone or e-mail appeals. Always verify the group's existence and nonprofit status before responding.
- Do not give personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions. This may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- Practice good computer management and security including keeping updates and virus protection current, managing passwords and controlling access to your Web-connected devices.
HOW TO REPORT SCAMS, FRAUD & CYBERCRIME
You can report suspicious activity in several ways.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency if you feel you are in immediate danger.
- Contact you bank or credit card company if you believe your credit or a bank account has been compromised.
- If you receive unsolicited e-mail offers or spam, you can forward the messages to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Report Internet crimes and complaints including suspected cybercrimes to the FBI's Internet Crime Compaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
- The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Iowa Attorney General is a source of information about fraud and identity theft. They may be contacted at:
- County Bank's brochure on Identity Theft offers information about how to recognize these crimes, ways to protect yourself and steps to follow if you believe you are a victim. Visit www.yourcountybank.com/you_should_know/scams_fraud.