- Real Estate
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Aug. 11, 2020
This paid piece is sponsored by Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith PC.
By Alexis Warner, attorney
As COVID continues to impact our world, the risk of scams, fraud and identity theft has steadily increased. Preying on virus-related fears, scammers have systematically infiltrated both our personal and work lives.
For example, scammers have attempted to steal federal stimulus payments by sending out fake calls or phishing emails aimed at accessing personal information. Scammers also have targeted those working remotely by sending fake Zoom invitations in an attempt to steal passwords. Although our economy and “life as we know it” is still hanging in the balance, the following steps can help ensure your identity is better protected.
One of the best ways to help protect your identity is to stay up to date on the status of your financial accounts. For your bank and credit card accounts, sign up for email or text message notifications with your financial institutions so you receive alerts when a charge is made. If you identify any concerning charges, even ones in small amounts, contact the financial institution immediately.
With many services moving to online apps, your personal information is now stored on more platforms than ever before. These applications provide additional opportunities for scammers to access your information. To combat this problem, frequently change your online passwords, and set up strong ones for each individual account you create. The following are a few passwords tips:
As of Aug. 5, the Federal Trade Commission tallied over 80,000 fraud reports and over $98 million in fraud losses. Of those totals, over half were scams related to online shopping at $13.9 million and travel/vacation at $33.9 million.
To avoid becoming one of these statistics:
Malicious attempts to access online networks are on the rise, and efforts using false impersonations have increased by over 30 percent from January to April. Phishing emails are becoming more sophisticated and often use authentic logos and other tactics to appear legitimate. Additionally, the FBI has noted an increase in phishing emails asking consumers to make donations to local hospitals and charities that are fake.
The following is a list of questions you should ask yourself before opening a “phishy” email:
The more information scammers can glean by simply looking at your social media accounts, the easier it may be for them to steal your identity. Either remove or keep private all personal identifying information such as your mailing address, email address, phone number, employer and birth date.
If you suspect you have been a victim of a scam, online fraud or identity theft, you may want to consider contacting an attorney to help you sort through the personal and financial implications. For additional information, contact Alexis Warner or visit woodsfuller.com.
COVID isn’t the only virus lurking out there. Be extra cautious online to make sure you don’t become a victim of scams, identity theft and other bad actors.