Nobody wants to be the victim of a scam, so it's important to know the ways scammers work (online and off) and how to minimize or prevent a scamming opportunity from occuring.
First, it's helpful to know what types of scams there are so that you could - potentially - be aware if one is targeted at you. On April 27, 2023, the three state legislators for the Town of Cheshire, along with the Attorney General for the State were present to host a discussion around common scams and what you can do to prepare and/or react if you become a target.
The content they discussed - and more - is in a PDF they published which you can find at https://rebrand.ly/Scams2023 I recommend reviewing this document periodically just to stay fresh on what to look for and how to be prepared.
And, although that is a great resource, there are other ways to be proactive in preventing fraud and potential loss through digital means.
- Ensure that ALL your software is up-to-date and that you're running the most recent version. This includes making sure your Mac, Windows, Apple iOS and Android versions are all have the most recent security patches. If your device can't support the most recent security software or operating system, you may want to consider an upgrade or replacement. (Most of the problems I've seen with my clients are related to those that are running an outdated and unsupported Mac OS)
- Use Two-factor Authentication (2FA) anywhere you can. Ideally, using a separate authentication software like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator. SMS is a fallback option, but SMS is not secure and is a distant second place in security vs. a dedicated authentication tool.
- Do not use the same password on every website. If a hacker gets ahold of your email and password on one site, they'll likely try many others using the same ID/password combination.
- Related to the above, you can easily and securely manage your passwords using a password manager. Although many modern browsers have this built in, an even more secure method is to use a dedicated program specifically for that purpose. One to consider would be DashLane which - unlike others such as LastPass and 1Password - has never been (to date) hacked or suffered an intrusion.
- Use security software on ALL your devices. The old days of anti-virus software has evolved into a modern, multi-tiered prevention system. Instead of just finding a virus once it's already in place, good security software will help prevent exposing you to the threat in the first place. A program like BitDefender Total Security can be installed on any device, with any operating system, and minimizes threats not only through websites and links, but even SMS messages. (Newegg regularly has sales on this product as well). If you need protection on more than 5 devices, the family plan covers up to 15.
- Don't use your service provider's Domain Name Server (DNS). A domain name server takes the URL that you type in to your browser, such as http://www.amazon.com and then goes to the DNS to find out what "computer" has the domain you're looking for, and routes you there. Instead of using the DNS that your host (Cox Cable, Comcast, etc) provides, you could use a "curated" DNS that categorizes each domain into categories, and blocks domains that are known to host malware or scams. OpenDNS is one such provider. They have a free service, or you can subscribe for a small fee if you feel you need more customization. These services are also great for families who want to block adult and other sites from younger web surfers.
If you do find or suspect that you may have been compromised or hacked, refer to this page on the FTC website for actions you should take.
These are just a few ways to help keep your risks at bay and keep you safer online. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please let me know!
(Note: none of the links above are affiliate links or compensate us in any way)