With the generally increased levels of anxiety many of us have right now, scammers are taking advantage. I’m hearing about a lot more of them from my customers lately.
Please don’t think you are immune. Scammers can be extremely convincing, finding out a lot of information to build your trust or to scare you. Including who you work with, names of family members, where you live, what bank you use, and more. Almost all of us have this information on the dark web or even publicly visible. Here is a list of things to watch for:
- Urgency. The more urgent something seems the more likely it is to be a scam.
- Caller ID or email address. Never trust Caller ID or the address an email came “from”. Scammers can change their caller ID or email address to appear to come from a trusted company, friend, or family member as easily as putting a fake return address on an envelope.
- Don’t trust their identity. Anyone who calls you and tells you they are from Apple, Microsoft, Google, your bank, local court or police department is almost certainly not unless you are expecting a call from them. It’s trivial to find out what devices you use, who you bank with, or what county you live in.
- Hacked account claims. Anyone who says they are from a trusted company claiming that a hacker is currently in your account is almost certainly lying about who they represent. Companies don’t call you asking you to take urgent action. It’s easier, faster, and safer for a company to simply lock your account until you contact them to resolve it.
- Gift cards or Bitcoin. Anyone asking you to send Bitcoin or to buy gift cards (iTunes cards, Google Play cards, etc.) is a scammer, even if it appears to be from someone you know. They can easily find out who you know or work with and pretend to be them. Gift cards are as good as cash, so once you give them the card numbers your money is gone.
- Exposed password. When someone tells you one of your passwords they are simply rattling your nerves. Yes, hackers have some of your passwords from one of the big data breaches. That’s true for everyone, and you should definitely change your password anywhere you use that password. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of what they tell you is true. Including how they obtained that password and what they intend to do.
- Don’t trust screenshots. Those are even easier to manipulate than photographs.
- Spelling and grammar. This isn’t a sure way to spot a scam, but if you receive a message with spelling errors, grammatical errors, or a strange choice of wording it’s worth a second look before clicking any links or responding in any way.
If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.
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