Trout fishing seasons begins soon in Pennsylvania. It’s a great time to get outdoors and enjoy nature and it’s a sure sign that warmer temperatures are on the way.
But while trout fishing season has its season, computer phishing season has no limits, or schedule. E-mails that look very official, or phone calls that sound very promising, can turn out to be financial disasters that could ruin your finances.
We get too many emotionally difficult bankruptcy cases at Steidl and Steinberg. It is especially troubling when people find themselves taken advantage of unscrupulous people who cheat them out of their life savings. Their good nature and trusting spirit, or the promise of wealth by just giving their personal information, has led to financial ruin.
Bankruptcy has enabled our clients to recover, financially, from the debts they incur when they are scammed by scoundrels behind get rich quick schemes or non-existent charity organizations. But it’s a good idea to be diligent and follow one very old but true rule.
If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
Keep These Tips in Mind
Here are some ways to prevent from being caught in a scam that could ruin your finances.
- It’s OK to have doubts. Be cautious about the e-mails and attachments that you open, or phone calls you may receive, that request personal information. If you are contacted by a bank or credit card company, hang up and call them back using the customer service number on the back of your card. Ask them if they have called you and, if not, tell them what happened so the company can document it and conduct an investigation. No legitimate source, such as the IRS or a bank, will ask you for personal information.
- It is safer to enter a web link in a browser than clicking a link on an e-mail. There was a recent scam taking place using an apparent University of Buffalo e-mail address that took unsuspecting people to a website that looked like the University of Buffalo log-in page and requested a university name and password. By entering that information, Buffalo students or staff members downloaded a virus that infected and controlled their computer and hijacked passwords, credit card and debit card information and Social Security numbers.
- Make your passwords strong and change them regularly. Use different passwords for different accounts so, if someone discovers a password, only one account is affected. Never share any passwords with anyone.
- When in doubt, delete it. If you see an e-mail with a sense of urgency, or it appears suspicious or offers an incredible deal, send it to straight to the trash. If someone said you won a lottery, or can claim an inheritance, it’s bogus. Get rid of it. Be very suspicious of anything that is written in broken or stilted English.
- Be careful with social media. If you are going on vacation, don’t put it on Facebook for the world to see. Don’t advertise to thieves that you are going to be away. The personal information you share could come back to target, and haunt you.
And remember, if it’s too good to be true. . . .