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How To Avoid Being a Scam Victim

By Ron Benvenisti. If you have been reading The Scoop you are surely aware of the numerous scams that have been posted lately. Here are some proven common sense methods on how you can avoid becoming a victim of these ever increasing threats with links to more detailed information:

How do you avoid being a victim?

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
  • Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
  • Don’t send sensitive information over the internet before checking a website’s security. (See Protecting Your Privacy for more information.)
  • Pay attention to the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Be particularly alert to misspellings such as account@walrnart.com.
  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic. (See Understanding Firewalls, Understanding Anti-Virus Software, and Reducing Spam for more information.)
  • Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.

What do you do if you think you are a victim? 

  • If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
  • If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
  • Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future.
  • Watch for other signs of identity theft. (See Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft for more information.)
  • Consider reporting the attack to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

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There are 1 Comments to "How To Avoid Being a Scam Victim"

  • Ron Benvenisti says:

    Footnote: Threat actors register a domain name similar to a legitimate entity’s domain name in order to fool users into believing they are visiting a legitimate, known website as in the above example.

    A deeper dive is a similar tactic known as a Punycode attack or “homograph attack.” Punycode is used to convert words that cannot be written in ASCII, such as those in Greek and Cyrillic, into ASCII characters that can be interpreted by the Domain Name System. The problem is that some systems will recognize the Punycode and display the URL using the original alphabet characters and some Roman alphabet characters look very similar to characters of other alphabets. A domain registered as xn-mxail5aa[.]com looks like the word “apple” when displayed using the Greek alphabet, leading users to believe they are visiting one website while being directed to another. Many web browsers are combating this tactic by alerting users when sites are suspected of exploiting Punycode and by providing the option to only view domains in Punycode. Threat actors are employing both URL hijacking and Punycode attacks in order to steal user account credentials or install malware onto targeted systems. Users should verify every URL for legitimacy prior to visiting the site or entering any account credentials. Users are encouraged to manually type the site’s URL into their web browser or using a search engine to navigate to the correct site, and exercise caution when choosing to click on links. contained within emails.

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