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West Bank offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

West Bank offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

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Spooky Scams and the Ghouls that Run Them

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

This October is the 20th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As cyberattacks become more common, the first step in keeping yourself safe is remaining vigilant and staying up-to-date on current cybersecurity trends. Being informed on how scammers have been accessing information and infiltrating networks gives you the edge in identifying them. Here are a few scams that have been circling around lately.

Scam One: Phishing Texts

Phishing is not an activity exclusive to email. Scammers also send text messages to try to obtain your personal information. These texts from unrecognized numbers may promise you a free prize or gift, make credit card offers that seem irresistible or claim they will help you pay off student debt. Others will say they have noticed suspicious activity on your account, claim there is an issue with your package delivery or ask you to confirm an invoice for a purchase you never made.

These messages ask for your personal information such as credit card numbers or bank information in order to claim your prize or resolve the issue. If you receive a text message from an unknown number, do not click any links provided or give away your information. Instead, go into your phone settings to see if you can report or block the number. If the promise is too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam Two: Tech Support Scam

Tech support scammers will often call you directly and pretend to be a representative of a reputable tech company. They will work to convince you of a serious problem with your computer or device that it does not actually have by claiming you have a software malfunction or a computer virus. They will often ask you to install an application on your computer and give them remote access to “fix” it.

If you get an unexpected phone call from someone saying there is an issue with your computer, hang up. One way to know a scammer is on the other end is to evaluate how they are asking for payment. Scammers will often ask you for payment for their services in untraditional forms: money wiring, sending a preloaded gift card, exchanging cryptocurrency or requesting to use a money transfer app.

Scam Three: QR Code Scam

Odds are, you have probably come across a QR code today, maybe even multiple. They have become popular as an easy way to share and access website links. While many can be trusted, some QR codes have been used for malicious activity. QR codes have the ability to take you to sketchy websites to get your bank account and personal information.

Just as you should not click on any suspicious links in emails or texts, you should be cautious about what you scan. With the advancement of smartphone technology, most devices will allow you to preview the URL the QR code will direct you to. If it looks suspicious, walk away from scanning it, especially if it was placed in a questionable location.

What do I do now?

As you continue to learn about current scams and the people behind them, here are some practical tips to keep in mind:

  1. Think twice. If something feels suspicious, trust your gut instinct. If an unknown phone number or email address contacts you, think twice before clicking on any links or divulging your personal information.

  2. Ask a friend. If you still are not sure whether or not something seems safe to click on or if contact you have received is reliable, ask a friend for their advice. Getting an outside opinion can be very helpful.

Consider these two pieces of advice the next time you come across a suspicious text message, receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a tech support specialist or scan a QR code.

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