Tips to Avoid Scams

Just about every week, there’s a report in the news about a scam. There are thousands of new scams each year but you can avoid getting caught in one if you follow these tips:

* Be suspicious – scammers work hard at being trustworthy. Know who you are dealing with. Use google to investigate that ‘exciting opportunity’ and you’ll likely find out it’s a scam.

* Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize – maybe they’ll say you owe money or you’re in trouble with the government or there’s a problem with your account or you won a prize but need to pay a fee first. Never let anyone connect to your computer to “fix a virus” unless you know who you’re talking to. Be wary of out-of-the-blue calls.

* Resist demands to act quickly – legitimate callers will allow you time to consider your response. Scammers want you to panic and act quickly. Never give in to demands or threats. Hang up and check out their story.

* Protect your identify at all times – only provide information when you know and/or can trust the person you are talking to and don’t answer those ‘fun questions’ on social media that ask you personal questions about your favourite pet’s name or first car as that information can be used against you by scammers.

* Never send money/gift cards or provide credit card information to anyone you don’t know or trust. Scammers are specific in how they want you to send money – cash and gift cards are non-traceable and once you give them away, that money is gone.

* Be aware of text scams or spam email – never reply to spam, even if it appears to be from a source you know (look carefully at the email address) and be careful of the links you click on. Never provide your user ID or password if a link transfers you to an unknown website. Check the email/text for proper grammar and spelling.

* Use different passwords for logging in to online services – if some of your information is compromised, you won’t lose it all.

* Doublecheck your online purchase is secure before checking out – if the website doesn’t have HTTPS in the address (the S stands for secure) and there isn’t a small lock icon on the address bar, do not provide your credit card information.

* Keep your computer virus protection up to date – a good virus protection software will protect your computer and personal data. If you are not interested in purchasing virus protection software, at least enable Windows Defender – it’s already on your computer and it’s free.

* Say no – if you receive a suspicious email or text, delete it. If you question the legitimacy of a phone call, hang up. If you get something in the mail asking for personal information or credit card details, throw it away.

* Be cautious of social media – get a friend request from someone you’re already friends with? Scammers clone accounts to trick you into sending money or giving up personal information. Check for duplicate friends and be careful of cloned accounts.

If it feels off, don’t do anything and talk to someone you know. Trust your instincts – they could save you from becoming a victim of fraud.

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