There seems to be no end to the many different ways bad actors try to scam us. Perhaps it is to get us to click on a link that will take us to some website that will attempt to capture personal information or put some virus or malware or ransomware on our phone or tablet or computer. Perhaps it is a phone call from someone who claims they need remote access to our device to fix something. They are getting better at it all the time, making it harder and harder for even the smartest and most diligent among us to not be scammed.
Here are just a few of the many scams around at this time.
A Package Delivery Problem
One of the most popular ones right now are the texts and emails claiming to be from USPS or Fedex or UPS or other carriers. The message typically claims there is a problem either with a package you sent or one that is supposedly coming. A link is provided. Look very closely at who the sender is (text number, email address) and at the link (probably not to that carrier’s actual web address). Do not click on that link. If you do, you have most likely provided valuable information to the scammer before you are even asked to provide more personal information. You’ve just confirmed that your cell number or email address is real and a live person is associated with it. Congratulations. You are now marked as a target and your information will probably be shared with other scammers. Don’t click on the link. If you are expecting a package or have sent a package, contact the carrier directly to determine if there actually is a problem. Note that the same advice applies if you get a phone call claiming to be from a carrier. In that case, ask them for the package number and what carrier they are calling from and say thank you for the information and that you will call the main number of the carrier to research further and hang up. You can then look up the legitimate number of the carrier and call them to determine if there is really a problem with a package or if someone is trying to scam you.
Answering Calls From Numbers You Don’t Recognize
This is another one that keeps on happening and frustrates me a lot - because I have been giving this advice to everyone I know for many years. Pay attention. If you don’t recognize the phone number, don't answer. Answering can lead to all kinds of problems. Never, ever, answer a call if you do not recognize the number as belonging to a friend or relative or doctor or someone you actually know. If it looks sorta like a number you might know but is not exactly a number you know, don't answer.
Here Are A Couple Of Scams:
The person at the other end says they are calling about a problem on your computer. They claim to be from Microsoft or Norton or some other company. They claim they can prove to you that there is a problem and instruct you to get onto your computer and type something that displays something they claim is proof of the problem. Then they say they can fix it and need you to give them remote access in order to fix it. Don’t do it. Hang up. Never give a stranger who calls you remote access to your computer. They can do damage to your computer. They can steal information from your computer. They can demand money from you to fix the problem that they created on your computer and possibly harass you to pay. If you unwittingly pay, they then have your checking information or credit card information and can try to get money directly from your account if you don’t continue paying or maybe even do damage to your credit rating.
A friend or relative is supposedly stranded and needs money wired to them.
This one might also come in the form of an email or text. One of the most popular ones is targeted at seniors who might not really know that the person at the other end of the call or email is not really their grandchild (for example). Please do not fall for this scam. You will be asked either to wire money or for your banking information, which can result in your money suddenly disappearing from your account. If this is an email or text, try to actually reach this person by calling them or their parents, for example, to see if they are OK. If you've unfortunately answered a call from an unknown number, ask for all the details. Ask your supposed grandchild their name and age and where they are or other questions only your grandchild or niece or whoever should know. Unless that person has already been hacked and the scammers have that information, they won’t be able to provide the right answers. Put them on hold and try calling their phone to see if they answer or call their parents to see where they might actually be. There is the rare occurrence that someone you know is really in need, but unfortunately there are many more instances that this is a scam – so be careful.
Do Not Answer The Phone If You Do Not Recognize The Phone Number
This bears repeating: Do not answer the phone if you do not recognize the phone number. Unlike in the past when we all had “dumb” phones that only made and received calls and had no display, nowadays just about everyone has a phone, whether it be a cell phone or a home phone, that displays what is supposedly the ID of the person calling. If it is not the number of a friend or relative or your doctor or some other number you recognize, do not answer. If it is a legitimate call they will leave a voice message. Well, even if it’s a con they might still leave a message or it may be a robocall, and you hopefully will figure that out and not call them back if they are not someone you actually know or were expecting a call from.
Some phone carriers/internet service providers are providing some free assistance in helping to reduce scams getting to you, but the scammers are always multiple steps ahead, so you need to be vigilant.
If you have phone service bundled with your cable service, for example, your provider probably offers NoMoRoBo for free. This is a service that will monitor your incoming calls and, if the calling number is in their database as a robocall or scam call, your phone will ring one time and then stop – and you will know that they stopped that call from getting through. I recommend enabling this free service if it is available.
Most cell companies are not yet offering NoMoRoBo or similar services for free. There are a variety of apps that claim to flag scam calls and some cell phone service providers provide some level of alert for incoming calls that are suspected spam.
The best advice is to not answer any calls from unknown numbers. Do not click on links – even if they appear to have been sent from someone you know – if they are even the least bit suspect. Check directly with the sender, if they are someone you know, to confirm that they sent the link before actually clicking on it.
The scams just keep on coming. Please be careful.
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