Tuesday 25th January 2022

Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money or personal details.
The Marshall Police Department says be alert and protect yourself from being scammed and offers several tips.
Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels. There’s no one group of people more likely to become a victim of a scam. Everybody may be vulnerable to a scam at some time.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Scammers are getting smarter and taking advantage of new technology, new products or services and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal details.
Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by mail, e-mail, in person or on a social-networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Know with whom you’re dealing. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them. If a message or e-mail comes from a friend- and it seems unusual or out of character for them- contact your friend directly to check that it was really them who sent it.
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in e-mails – delete them. If you are unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source- such as a phone book or online search. Don’t use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
Don’t respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access. Hang up – even if they mention a well-known company like Microsoft or Hewlett Packard. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus that will give them your passwords and personal details.
Keep your personal details secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social-media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or target you with a scam.
Keep your mobile devices and computers secure. Always use password protection; don’t share access with others (including remotely); and update security software and back-up content. Protect your Wi-Fi network with a password, and avoid using public computers or Wi-Fi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.
Choose your passwords carefully.
Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile; and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Review your privacy and security settings on social media. If you use social-networking sites, such as Facebook, be careful who you connect with and learn how to use your privacy and security settings to ensure you stay safe. If you recognize suspicious behavior- clicked on spam or have been scammed online- take steps to secure your account and be sure to report it.
Beware of any requests for your details or money. Never send money or give credit-card details, online-account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offense.
Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
Be careful when shopping online.
Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Think twice before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) – they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it.
Documents are easily faked.
Some will look just like the real thing, but others might have warning signs, such as:
– Generic rather than personal greeting names of organizations that don’t exist;
– Poorer quality presentation;
– Poorer quality grammar and spelling; and
– Overly official or forced language.
Documents such as flight itineraries and bank statements have simple, uncomplicated layouts even when they are legitimate because such businesses allow their customers to print online statements. This means scammers can easily create fake documents by using information available online such as company logos and graphics from websites.
Scammers can easily fake an official-looking e-mail, using the same logo and design as the real company.
Often your guard is down when you receive an e-mail from a company you’ve dealt with before, such as FedEx, UPS or an online shopping site you use. If you’re not expecting an e-mail, always be alert to a fake before clicking on any links or opening any attachments.
Scammers will often try to take advantage when you’re feeling vulnerable and try to extract more money from you through a follow-up scam.
Some common follow up scams include:
– Offers from a law-enforcement agency to investigate your scam and retrieve your money for a fee. Law-enforcement agencies do not charge for their services.
– A doctor calling you to alert you that the scammer urgently needs medical bills to be paid or they might die.
– A woman contacting you to explain she is the scammer’s wife and wants to escape him but needs money to do so.
These are only a few of the follow-up approaches scammers may use to try to get more money from you. New approaches could be quite different from the original scam and could come quickly or sometime later. Scammers may have passed your details to other scammers who use entirely different methods and the new approach may seem totally unrelated to the original scam.
If you have questions or concerns, contact your local law-enforcement agency.