There are plenty ‘phishes’ in the sea, so why should the best man try to kiss the bride at a wedding? Absurd right? If we all agree (and I’m sure we do) that the groom should not share his bride, why are we always quick to share our debit card PINs? Why do you share your personal payment details on websites that are not secure? Some things are better not shared! Every time you do that, you open yourself up to criminals and I’ll share a few of them and their gimmicks below.
Here are some identity theft scams to watch out for:
Phishing: This is where you receive an email, purportedly from a trusted source like a government agency, bank or retailer that asks you to supply or confirm account information, log-in IDs or passwords. These imposters are “fishing” for your personal information. Legitimate organizations never ask you to verify sensitive information through a non-secure means like email.
Smishing (for “Short Message Service”): Like phishing, only it uses text messages sent to your cellphone. Even if you don’t share any information, just by responding you’re verifying that your phone number is valid, which means it probably will be sold to others who will try to trick you into their own scams.
Vishing (voice phishing): Where live or automated callers direct you to call your bank under the pretext of clearing up a problem (like theft or overdraft accounts). You’ll be asked to share personal or account information. Keep a list of toll-free service numbers for all companies you use so you can call them directly without fearing you’ve been given bogus information. I also program these numbers – but not account numbers – into my cell phone in case I’m traveling.
A few tips for spotting risky emails and texts:
- Never give sensitive information by responding to an email/SMS. Remember, legitimate organizations never ask you to verify those through a non-secure means like email.
- Beware of subject lines and body copy that use ominous or threatening language (e.g., “Your credit card has been suspended”).
- Lack of a personalized salutation or closing details (e.g., “Dear Valued Customer”).
- Watch for typos, poor grammar, punctuation, capitalization consistency and other warning signs it’s not legitimate.
- Scroll your mouse over any embedded links before clicking to check for suspicious domain endings
- Verify that an alert or request for information is legitimate by looking up the company’s phone number and calling it yourself.
- Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are current.
For more tips protecting personal and account information and preventing online fraud, follow @Visa_ng on Instagram, and you could also stand a chance to win cool prizes!