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Staying Safe from Scams, Hacks, and Other Cybercrime

Staying Safe from Scams, Hacks, and Other Cybercrime

Online and telephone crimes such as hacks, phishing, and scams are becoming more popular and tougher to combat. Cyber criminals know how to create look-alike websites, get your information over the phone, and get access to your accounts and steal your money. These criminals can affect any one, and Sandia Area is doing our best to educate our members on how to stay safe when online, and ways to protect yourself against these fraudulent acts.  

What You Should Know

Cybercriminals and scammers consistently prey on people’s vulnerabilities because they ultimately want to take advantage of you. They usually want you to “help” them in some type of way, such as sending or giving full access to money.  They will make themselves as familiar with you as possible by researching you on social media, by trying to find out family member’s names, where you work and other things about you that may give them enough information to convince you they are legitimate. A criminal knowing such information can lead to a fraudulent phone call, with the cybercriminal claiming a relative of yours is in trouble, and urging you to send money so the issue can be resolved. Never trust unsolicited phone calls, or calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize.

Always be aware of fraudulent emails. It is quite common for a cybercriminal to mask their email by using the name of someone that’s an executive of the company they are pretending to be from. Pretending to be a c-suite executive makes the email seem more legitimate, because the association between the executive and company can appear to be real. The fraudulent email usually contains some type of link or attachment the cybercriminals want you to open in order for a malicious code to be put into your device (which is used to gather personal information and important data).

Many cybercriminals set up fraudulent websites. These websites will almost exactly mimic a large company or brand. Remember, only do business with companies you know, trust, or have previously done business with. Making purchases off of a fraudulent website is very common, because the websites are purposefully built to trick you. Make sure to be cautious when shopping online and making purchases, and use search engines instead of links to visit these websites.

They Target Companies Too

Cybercriminals don’t just target individuals, they also target companies of all sizes. It is becoming more common for businesses to receive fraudulent phone calls. Many times the caller states they are a customer or current employee of the business and need something done over the phone. In some cases, if they say they are a “customer”, they may demand some sort of refund, discount or other option to receive money over the phone. For financial institutions, a “customer” may call to try and get changes made to “their” account. Employees of Sandia Area are trained to recognize scams and fake calls and to take action to prevent such cases of fraud from occurring.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Sandia Area proactively protects our members, and we want you to be able to protect yourself as well. There are a few simple things you can do to help prevent being a victim of a scam, hack, or other fraudulent act. Always choose strong, secure passwords. Use something unique, not similar to your corresponding username, and make sure the password is longer than six characters and includes special characters (such as #, $, !, @). Using these elements in your passwords makes them harder for a cybercriminal to crack. Always be aware of who you’re talking to on the phone or computer, and be sure to never give out personal information to them. With the help of Sandia Area employees and our members we can minimize the threat and amount of fraudulent activity that occurs.

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