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It’s important to always be vigilant about fraud and phishing attempts from scammers.  At Private Ocean, we provide cybersecurity training for our employees on everything from how to recognize fake emails, how to properly block spam, and how to protect personal data.

Here are a few actual scams we’re come across in recent months, and it illustrates how creative scammers have become in 2018.

  1. The mysterious credit card device. Recently a client contacted us about a small device that he received in the mail allegedly from his credit card company that would supposedly allow him to make easy payments by attaching the device to his phone. A call to his credit card company verified that the device was never authorized.
  2. Forgery of documents. There are still old-fashioned John Hancock imitators on the loose, as forgers obtain signed checks and alter the payee and/or dollar amount using, of all things, nail polish remover. This “washes away” the ink and allows for alterations. To avoid this problem, always use a gel pen for your checks.
  3. Gift card scams. There are many varieties of scams related to gift cards, but this one came right to employees. An email from an unknown address but signed by one of our management team went to certain people, asking them to “procure” gift cards to be sent to a certain address. Luckily our IT department caught this immediately.
  4. Shady tech support. At home and in the workplace, scammers call you directly, claiming to be representatives of a software firm – sometimes going as far as spoofing a caller ID so that your phone displays the name of your trusted company. They may ask you to install applications that give them access to your computer. Just remember that these companies don’t make unsolicited calls to you and would certainly not ask for this information.

Although these types of scams may not seem common, be wary during this season when we’re more likely to make purchases online, accept and give gift cards, and transfer money. A helpful rule of thumb: if something seems out of the ordinary, use your intuition and ask questions before engaging with an unknown party or vendor.