A scam artist among us
A scam artist warning hit our private closed Facebook group for house cleaners this week. We share residential cleaning tips, cleaning blogs, commercial cleaning articles and cleaning product reviews. We troubleshoot problems about cleaning clients, and offer peer-to-peer support. We also raise awareness for scam artists targeting our own. “Beware of Peter. His info firstname.lastname@example.org, #719-629-xxxx, he’s trying to scam housekeepers & maids. I am always wary when I see the area code 719, since I have received a couple of text msg. from that area with the same story. Short story they are trying to get your personal info…” Hang on, hang on. 719 is the area code for Colorado Springs, Colorado. Let’s not block all messages coming from Colorado Springs just yet.
As a rule of thumb – when someone calls you for the first time, they will not show up as one of your contacts. So your caller ID will show an “unknown” number.
At the end of that call, right click on the (i) for information and “create a new contact”. Type in a name or some notes about your call. This way you can keep your legitimate contacts organized. If they ever call you back again, your caller ID will show the name of the person calling.
If it is a bogus or unwanted telemarketing call – and you block it, they won’t get through when they call again from that number.
TRIGGERS: If anyone CALLS YOU and asks for any personal information, DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM. This could be a credit card number, social security number, address, birthday etc. It doesn’t matter who they say they are or what company they say they represent.
If you are the one who initiates the call – the company you are calling (bank, vendor, tech support etc.) can look up your account with a pin, your name, or a secret questions you have set up for the account. Then they will have the information they need to have a conversation with you. Still don’t give them your personal data.
Protect yourself from an email scam artist
Pay attention to emails you receive that have links or attachments. If you do not remember subscribing to the email, see if there is an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom. Businesses marketing through email are required to have an unsubscribe button at the bottom. You can simply hit that button and “opt out.”
If the email content interests you, but you still don’t recognize the email sender, hit REPLY ALL. Send a quick note asking “Hey what’s this all about?” or “thanks for sharing” email. If it is legitimate – you’ll get a legitimate response. If it is fake, it will bounce within a couple of seconds and you can delete the email.
DO NOT click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
Scammers can fake emails, company logos and sound quite convincing.
You can also verify validity of an email sender by typing in the email address in the Google search bar. The email, if valid will link you to all sorts of webpages affiliated with the company. Every social media profile they have opened using that email will show up in the search. This is a really interesting exercise. Try it. Type your own email address in a Google Search bar and see what comes up. See? Stuff connects.
If nothing pops up, as it did in this case with Peter Mchpherson you know it’s a scam.
- Also note the spelling. How many Mchpherson’s do you know who spell their name that way? (Hint: none)
- Misspelled words or poor grammar.
- Claiming to represent a company – but don’t have the company.com at the end of their email.
- Unfamiliar – have you ever heard of the company or person sending the email?
- If you type their name or company name in Google does anything come up?
- Are they asking for any sensitive information? (Email, birthday, social security number etc.)
- Are they asking for money?
- Is it from a foreign country?
- If it came from a company say eBay – did it reference your “handle” or screen name? Generic hacks and scams won’t have access to that information.
- Did it come from your own email address? (Yes, hackers can spam you with your own email address.)
- Is it a friend that is in trouble? Been mugged or asking for money? Beware. (Shoot the friend a quick text and ask.)
- Has this friend ever asked you for money before?
- Are you the person this friend would contact if they were in a bind?
- Do you have a “red flag” intuition? If you have ANY suspicion, SLOW DOWN. Any quick decisions are not likely to be wise. Stop and think about why you have a “red flag” feeling.
- Is the email from a free account (hotmail, gmail, yahoo?) Beware.
And if you are unsure, but you know the company sending the email – contact them via the spoof address on their website and ask them to verify.
I got a suspicious email the other day from PayPal with whom I have an account. I got the “red flag” intuition. I went to PayPal and looked up the email address for spoofs and hoaxes. I was able to forward the email on to them. And they verified that it was in fact a scam.
Don’t let a scam artist drain your bank account, or crash your computer system with a virus because you didn’t know any better. Now you do.
Is there a red flag I forgot to mention? Something that triggers a scam in your mind?
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