GRAPPLING WITH FINANCIAL SHAMS
Financial shams are everywhere and inevitable. A country contends with piles of fraudulent activities year after year. But in the advent of uncertainty, we can do something to avoid the most common scams.
Never give your financial information. Whether they reach out to you via telephone, text, or email, never disclose sensitive financial details to an individual or business you do not know. Fraudsters will pretend to be a legitimate entity and say your account has been compromised or needs to be updated. This is called phishing. Always remember your bank or credit card company will never ask for your personal information since they already have it in the first place. In case you receive a suspicious call or email about your account, call the bank or credit card firm directly.
Never use simple passwords. Thanks to technology, hackers can easily decipher simple passwords. Create passwords that are at least eight characters long with some lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters. The more complicated, the better. Also, use a different password for each website you visit. Of course, you won’t be able to remember 20 several complex passwords. So, write down all your passwords in a notebook, or use a password program such as LastPass or RoboForm.
Never click hyperlinks in emails. Delete the email immediately if it requires you to click the link or open an attachment, and then enter your details. Even if it comes from your bank or credit card company, this is more likely a scam called pharming. It is best to ignore and delete such emails.
Never wire money to a stranger. We often receive emails from "wealthy individuals" which go like this: his loved ones died, left a huge amount of money, and needs help in transferring millions of dollars from a US account due to his distinct status in a foreign country. In exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you need to send a small amount of money. Although this is a classic scam, some people still fall for this deceitful act. Anyhow, when we were still young, our moms used to tell us not to talk to strangers. The same rule applies to this situation.
Never give out Social Security number. If you visit a website or receive an email asking for your Social Security number, just don’t. Chances are it is a scam. Legal entities rarely ask for such information, unless stated otherwise.
Never shop with unknown online shops. Do transactions with familiar companies when shopping online. If you are interested in buying a product from an unfamiliar retailer, research about that seller to ensure the business is legit and trustworthy. Search online for consumer feedback and/or complaints, or double-check it with the Better Business Bureau.
Never download software from pop-up windows. Be wary of windows that pop every time you go online. Such windows have malicious software called malware, which could damage your operating system when you click the "system" scan or some other program.
Install antivirus and spyware protection. Shield your important details by installing antivirus, firewall, and spyware protection. Update it automatically to ensure the program is up-to-date.
Ensure the websites you visit are safe. Double-check the site’s privacy rules before you provide your financial details on any website. Also, make sure it uses encryption, normally symbolized by a lock to the left of the web address. When you see that icon, it means the details you enter is safely encrypted and secured against hackers.
Donate to Known Institutions. Do your own diligence before you donate a particular amount of money to a charity. Some of them create bogus institutions to steal credit card information. You can visit the IRS website to check the legitimacy of the organization.
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