It seems that every day criminals find new ways to separate victims from their money. However, most of these tricks can be avoid with three simple rules.
Assume all email is junk mail until proven otherwise
Email is the easiest way to scam people. It takes little effort to send out thousands of messages, and scammers win if even a small percentage of people act on their messages.
Don’t click on links. If you believe the email to be from a reputable source, go directly to their website instead of using the email link
Don’t open attachments. This is particularly true for unsolicited Microsoft Office documents such as Word and Excel, but equally important for any other attachment. If you believe the attachment to be valid, contact the sender by phone and confirm they sent it.
Contact the sender directly. If you get a message claiming to be from someone important in your organization and asking you to do something that seems odd, contact the person and verify authenticity.
Assume all phone calls are spam
Suspect local numbers. If a caller claims to be from your credit card company or the IRS, but their phone number is from your area, it’s a scam.
Ignore callers from India. Does the speaker have an Indian accent? It’s a scam. The overwhelming majority of spam calls originate from call centers in India.
Caller can’t provide you with information. Does the caller know your name, address, account number, or other information? If not, are they really your bank? I doubt it.
Avoid entering data in unencrypted sites
Check for the secure icon in your browser. If the web site you’re visiting isn’t encrypted, be skeptical. Particularly if they’re asking you to enter personal information. Never, under any circumstances, enter your credit card information in a non-secure site.
The simple answer for security in the modern age can be summed up “trust no one”. Assume everyone is out to scam you, and you’re probably not far from the truth. If you want to conduct business with an entity, go to their web page directly or contact them on the phone. Always assume the incoming solicitations you receive are from people trying to cheat you and you will likely avoid most scammers.