Be Scam-Aware

Published April 9, 2020

In these unprecedented times, it’s heartwarming to see citizens and corporations pull together to make the best of the current situation we all face. Companies are thinking outside of the box, being creative, and repurposing. It certainly gives a sense of team.

While most of us are working together, the cold truth is that there are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Instead of using their talents to support society, these individuals create unnecessary challenges. This is particularly obvious when it comes to phishing scams.

Phishing scams come in so many forms. From mail, to email, to phone calls and more, scammers work hard to dupe unsuspecting citizens. Many websites like norton.com, ftc.gov and aarp.org have offered tips on what to watch for. No doubt you’ve heard many of these suggestions before, but they are all worth repeating:

Do not provide personal information. Whether you’re on the phone or working online, you should not provide passwords, social security information, account numbers, etc., especially if the call came to you unsolicited.

If you receive a questionable email that contains a link, the general rule of thumb is not to click on it. Sometimes it’s obvious that the web address is not legitimate, just by hovering your mouse over the URL. In general, though, you’re better off not clicking.

If you’re looking at a written message, are there spelling or grammar mistakes? Obvious spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors are often the sign of a bogus email.

Generic greetings like “Dear Sir” may likely be the sign of a scam. If you have an account with a company, a legitimate greeting is likely to be personalized.

Emails or phone calls that create a sense of urgency to act are not often legitimate. If a message is trying to get you to act now, don’t trust it.

If something looks a little strange, research it. Do a google search and check it out before proceeding. You might consider typing in words like “complaint” or “scam”, along with the company’s name, when you conduct the search.

If you fear you may have been victim to a scam, ftc.gov has some advice. Whether it’s your social security, credit card or bank account number, visit identitytheft.gov for specific steps to take based on the information that you fear has been compromised. You should also run a scan on your computer if you fear you accidentally opened a viral link. Keeping your computer’s software current will aid this process.

If you feel you’ve stumbled across a scam, the Federal Trade Commission encourages you to report your findings at ftc.gov/complaint. If you’d like to educate and arm yourself with tips, advice, and current scams to avoid getting duped, visit ftc.gov/scams. You can also always check etczone.com/news for some of the latest scams that ETC customers have reported directly to us.

In these trying times, it’s important to keep your guard up, to stay positive, and to “keep the faith”, as my dad reminds me daily. After all, we’re all in this together, and together we’re one day closer to getting through it.