There seem to be stories of almost constant intrusion into systems by hackers and scammers, looking to either steal or sabotage information – assuming they don’t do both. Your files and resources are far too important to allow some two-bit scammer to mess with you. But are you able to recognize the warning signs that the person on the other side of your communication isn’t concerned with your best interests, maybe even having nefarious motives?
Unfortunately, there are a large variety of issues that an intruder may cause within a system – assuming, of course, that they can get into the system in the first place. In order to do so, it is not uncommon for scammers to call on the phone and try to con their targets. There are some warning signs to watch out for when you suspect you’re dealing with a scammer.
- Misspelled/Grammatically incorrect emails: For the record, this doesn’t mean the innocent typo here or there – this is in reference to those lengthy emails that feature fewer words spelled correctly than otherwise, and that feature grammar errors so egregious that they’re almost sickening to read. The likelihood that these emails are legitimately from the companies hackers so often claim to represent is essentially negligible – would you keep someone on if that’s how you were to be represented?
- Lack of a name in the dedication: Another point referring to the legitimacy of the claims that the “representative” is working for a particular company – if they truly were from that company, wouldn’t they use your name while contacting you, at the very least utilizing a rereplacer? Of course they would, and therefore you should be immediately suspicious of any message that refers to you as “dear,” “account-holder,” or any other such neutral identifier.
- Easily needled, inconsistent representatives: If you are contacted by phone or live chat by someone seeking unsolicited remote access to your computer, don’t be afraid to be a little difficult while speaking with them (assuming you allow the conversation to get that far). Ask them the same questions multiple times and pay attention to their answers – if they are vague or evasive, you’ve probably found a scammer. The same goes for those representatives who clearly lose their temper and lose all sense of customer service by suddenly becoming aggressive or sarcastic when challenged. A legitimate customer service rep would never do that, assuming they valued their job. Don’t be fooled by a fraud trying to intimidate you.
The unfortunate thing about these scams, especially those that utilize remote-access tools, is that victims often don’t distinguish between the developers who create the program and the hackers who abuse it. Italian remote-tool developers Nanosystems recently have had to field complaints from victims who don’t understand the relationship (or lack thereof) between developers and scammers, after scammers utilized Nanosystems’ remote access program Supremo to hijack their victims’ systems.
So what can one do if they are unfortunate enough to be approached by a scammer? Most importantly, break contact as soon as possible without sharing any personal information or data. If you suspect you are being targeted by a scammer claiming to be affiliated with a legitimate company or organization, reach out to that company separately and report your suspicions.
However, if your information has already been shared (we’ll call it a lapse in judgement) you will have to do some damage control. As soon as possible, you need to contact your bank, credit card supplier, and a credit bureau to mitigate any truly serious issues if caught quickly enough. Additionally, review your personal and credit statements for any discrepancies after a suspected breach takes place.
By following these practices, you may equip yourself to defend against most scams you may encounter. For more security tips, check out our other blogs, or give us a call at (610) 828- 5500.