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Identifying and Avoiding Internet Scams


Scams are increasingly sophisticated and rampant. Protect yourself by knowing the signs of a scam and exercising caution before sharing any personal or account information. Scammers often impersonate reputable companies through calls, emails, texts, social media messages, and even convincing pop-ups complete with official logos. They may concoct a fake problem or a too-good-to-be-true prize, and they often insist on immediate action. They'll specify how they want to be paid, usually in a manner that's untraceable.

Remember, a credible business or bank will never contact you out of the blue to report a computer issue, request your login details, instruct you to run computer scans, or ask for remote access to your computer. They won't direct you to call back through a pop-up or offer unsolicited refunds for services.

To protect yourself:

  • Be skeptical of offers or warnings that seem unexpected or too good to be true.
  • Never respond with personal or financial details to unsolicited requests.
  • Verify any message by contacting the company through a known and trusted number, not one provided in a suspicious message.
  • Don't be rushed by anyone pressuring you for immediate payment or decisions.
  • Be wary of requests for payment via gift cards or wire transfers.
  • Avoid depositing checks from unknown sources, especially if asked to send money back.
  • Consult with trusted friends or advisors if unsure about any request.
  • For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for guidance on tech support scams and avoiding scams.

When browsing online:

  • Only connect to trusted, well-known websites.
  • Look for the locked padlock icon in your browser to ensure a secure connection.
  • Regularly update your system with the latest security patches.
  • Never leave your laptop unattended and avoid checking it in with luggage or leaving it in plain sight.
  • Carry your laptop in nondescript bags to avoid drawing attention.
  • Record your laptop's serial number separately to assist police in case of theft.
  • Stay alert in public spaces to avoid "snatch and run" thefts.

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