Cyber Security – How to protect yourself

Guaranty Bank & Trust

August 24, 2021

Keep your personal information safe online

Keeping your personal information safe by maintaining vigilant cyber security is more important than ever. Scammers are always coming up with new ways to hack into your personal computer, phone, tablet or internet accounts to gain access to your personal information. There are several common strategies used by scammers so it is important to learn about them so you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Below are just a few tactics scammers take to get a hold of your personal information.

Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are when a scammer creates a fake email or web page that is designed to look like it’s from a legitimate person or organization. Typically, the email or web page will ask for personal information like your bank account information, Social Security number or password. If you receive a suspicious email, check the email address and review the content of the email for grammar, misspellings, or design issues. If it looks off, it probably is. Make sure to report it to your email provider, or employer immediately and delete the email.

Ransomware
Ransomware is a type of malware used by cybercriminals. Typically, it is used to freeze a computer, phone or tablet in order to steal important data while demanding that a ransom be paid. To avoid ransomware, don’t click on links or attachments in emails from email addresses you don’t recognize. Your best defense against these attacks is to keep your software up to date on all of your devices.

Charity Scams
Supporting organizations that help others is a great thing to do, but unfortunately, fraudsters have been known to take advantage of well-meaning people who are trying to support others. They may send fraudulent emails or set up donation pages that mimic a legitimate charity, or sound like they could be a legitimate charity. Before donating your hard-earned money, make sure to research the organization to make sure they are legitimate, and that they’re using the money in the way you want them to.

Bank/FDIC Scams
Unfortunately scammers sometimes also pretend to be bank employees. They may call you or get in touch via email or social media and falsely claim that they are making changes to your bank account. A legitimate bank representative will never call you to share this type of information. If you are suspicious of the person you’re talking to, reach out to your bank or financial institution right away.

Investment Scams
Many people invest in the stock market in order to get a return on their money. While historically, money often sees a return over a long period of time, there are scammers out there who make promises about helping you make a lot of money quickly. Investing in the stock market involves risk and returns are not guaranteed. You should be skeptical of anyone who promises big returns. Do not share personal information or access to your accounts with anyone who is not a trusted and legitimate advisor.

COVID-19 Scams
Unfortunately, since the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, scammers have found new ways to scam people including offering fake treatments, fake test kits, medical supplies that don’t exist and more. Scammers have also attempted to go after the stimulus payments that many Americans received from the government. When it comes to COVID-19 information, make sure to get information from legitimate sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your state’s website.

To keep up with the latest scams that have been reported, you can visit StaySafeOnline.org for updates and information about how to keep your personal details safe on the internet. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also a great source of information. They highlight the scam reports that they receive throughout the year so you can stay up to date on the latest tactics.

If you receive a suspicious email or if you suspect that you have been the victim of a scam, contact your financial institutions right away so you can begin to discuss a recovery plan. You can also contact the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to freeze your credit. You can also sign up for credit or identity monitoring services that can alert you if you have become the victim of a scam.