Be Aware of Those Who Go Phishing!

It seems that the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago has encouraged retailers, banks, restaurants and other businesses to develop a mobile app, or to otherwise make it very easy and convenient to do business online.  Online shopping and banking are being utilized more and more as people seek to stay safe from the effects of COVID-19.  The apps have become a convenience to be enjoyed, however, they do come with a certain amount of risk. 

There are those individuals who have devised ways of creating emails and texts which look like they come from your bank or favorite retailer, but they are actually designed to lure you to click on a link and provide sensitive information.  Once the cyber thief has your information, they can access your account and wreak total havoc with your finances.  We cannot be too vigilant when receiving a text purporting to be from your bank, asking you to authorize a transaction.  It is wise to check your online bank statement, if there is even the slightest possibility that this is a fraudulent communication.  Sometimes it is obvious – perhaps it came from a bank you do not do business with, or a retailer that you did not make a purchase from.  Sometimes it is addressed using a name that is not yours.  Often the communication has errors in spelling or grammar that are obviously incorrect.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands.  Even if it looks like a legitimate “text alert” from your bank or a merchant you regularly do business with, take a couple of minutes to be sure.  It will be time well spent. 

Another common tactic is for someone to mimic one of your contacts and generate an email asking for financial assistance.  This should definitely cause a red flag to go up and bells and whistles go off in your head – especially if the request is for gift cards!  This email might appear to come from a company that you do business with or a professional colleague.  Oftentimes the email address of the sender is obviously not the email address of the person you know.  The little bit of extra time that you take to examine your texts and emails, can save a lot of time later in trying to sort out the effects caused by responding to a fraudulent text or email. 

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