Author Frank Baum began writing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1898 and finished the book in October of 1899. When he wrote of Dorothy’s adventure through Oz, he penned the phrase “Lion, Tigers, and Bears – oh my”. I can’t help but wonder, if he were writing today, if Dorothy would be more concerned with “Phishing, Hackers, and Scams – oh my”.
Most people know October as Breast Cancer Awareness month but it is also Cybersecurity Awareness month (Ok – quick sidenote: there are actually 71 different “October is something awareness month” subjects! This blew my mind. You can check them out here: https://www.liveabout.com/
Online security is something I am always concerned about. Whether it is keeping our (and your) information safe online, or trying to cyber-police what my kids are into online, it seems that we can never let our guard down when it comes to cyber safety. Now as October is coming to a close and the Holiday season rapidly approaching, I am already seeing articles pop up on my news feed about different online scams. Sometimes I am amazed at how easily some people are tricked; at other times I am not surprised at all.
I want to share with you two simple ideas that, I hope, may help you from being scammed online this holiday season: Common Sense and Passwords.
Most of us know the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. I don’t want all of us to turn into cynics over night; however, if presented with an unbelievable offer please just check it out first, preferably through a different source.
I was talking with a gentleman this summer who was telling me he was waiting on a large refund from the IRS. When I inquired further, he ensured me it was true because, in the email he received, there was a number which he called, and they told him it was so.
If you are unaware of the red flags in this interaction: first, the IRS will not email you. Second, if there is “contact information” in the email you receive, do not trust it to be true. It is easy enough to look up an organization’s phone number on your own if you need to call them.
The gentleman that was fooled by the IRS email is in his mid-70s. That makes sense, right? Because only older folks are susceptible to online scams… read on.
We all know, or most of us know, the importance of using a strong password. Many experts even encourage not using the same password for different sites. I feel one of the most important passwords you need is to your email account(s). Think about it, if I am able to break into your email account, I then have a lot of information at my access. There is probably an email from your bank. I can go to that bank’s site, click on “forgot password” and wait for the email to come.
This exact scenario just happened to someone I know only a few weeks ago. Someone had broken into his email, changed his bank login information as well as for other sites, and began withdrawing money from his account. He was fortunate that he got tipped off rather quickly that something was amiss and is now sorting it out with his bank. There was minimal financial damage, but it has been a really big pain sorting the mess out.
Here is an article to help you find out if your email was hacked: https://www.komando.com/
The person whose email was hacked is in his late 20s. I guess online problems aren’t just for older folks!
So please, remain vigilant with your online presence.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!