Would you be able to recognize a fraudulent email or text if you saw one? Most of us would like to think so, but that’s not always the case.
The truth is scammers are getting smarter. Every time a scam is exposed, a new, more sophisticated one comes along, which means you have to be on constant alert.
The people who are most likely to fall victim are those who are trusting, sympathetic or don’t know any better. And unfortunately, all too often, seniors fall prey because many are simply unfamiliar with the ins and outs of these scams, making them vulnerable.
However, it’s not just seniors who can be duped by text and email scams. All it takes is a momentary lapse in judgment or clicking a link out of habit.
So how can you learn to spot these scams?
Understanding Phishing and Smishing
Phishing or ‘data mining’ scams primarily come in the guise of emails, while smishing refers to the same practice by text message. Through phishing and smishing, scammers attempt to steal your private information, such as your bank account number, passwords or Social Security number. Sometimes it’s easy to recognize them – like those with garbled text, poor grammar and suspicious-looking links. But sometimes it’s not.
Identifying Phishing and Smishing Scams
You’ll be better equipped to recognize these scams if you learn some common tricks scammers use. Here are a few:
- Fear and Uncertainty – These types of scams can play on fear and uncertainty to prompt hasty decisions. A fear inducing email or text may mention your account has been hacked or credit card has been compromised. If you are required to take an immediate action, be sure to pause and think things through. It’s natural to have poor judgment when scared, and that’s what many scammers rely on.
- Familiar Sender – Some scammers put a lot of effort into crafting legitimate-looking messages, often making them appear as if sent from businesses you recognize. Keep in mind, just because an email or text looks as if it is from a valid source, doesn’t mean it actually is.
- You’re a Winner – At times, scammers trick their targets into clicking malicious links or providing personal information with promises of prizes or money.
To learn more about email and text scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website. And as always, you can count on Chariton Valley to pass along helpful tips and important information about scams on our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.