It happens every January. And no, I am not talking about New Year’s resolutions.
This seems to be the time of year when we are bombarded with scams in the form of emails, texts and social media messages.
We are sent receipts that are actually full of viruses. We are tagged in Facebook posts telling us that there has an accident or another terrible event, only to click on and have a virus infect our Facebook accounts.
We get emails offering to sell us products and services that don’t exist, or someone wants personal information or . . . something.
If I want a virus, I’ll not mask up on the bus or train. Then I’ll sit by the person with the loudest cough.
Ever heard of phishing? And no, that is not a spelling error.
Scammers use these emails or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal data. That data can help them access bank accounts, email and other personal information.
The viral attacks are launched daily, in overwhelming numbers. The messages often look as if they are from companies or people you trust. But what looks like a message about a utility bill or a credit card or a problem with a payment may be from a scammer.
“There is a problem with your account” is my personal favorite because those often come from places where I don’t have a bank or credit card account. I don’t use Netflix. My vehicle does not have an extended warranty.
A friend of mine had to change his email address after it was hacked, and his scamming doppelganger flooded our inboxes with messages. Click this, click that. Look at this picture of you! On and on it has gone.
I live with visual disabilities. I also can get into too much of a hurry. I have to be very careful and intentional with emails and messages. I’ve trained myself not to click on things, and I check email addresses very carefully.
There’s a lot of great information online about protecting oneself from phishing and scammers. One tip II share, share, share is to watch online games. Facebook is full of them. What would you be if you became a candy bar? What is your true color? Who will stand beside you as your best friend? These may be a little fun diversion but they also can be ways that scammers gather personal information about you and seek your passwords and other data.
Check things out before responding, and be safe.