Protect Yourself from Scams, Internet Fraud and Phishing

Protect Yourself from Scams, Internet Fraud and Phishing

This is a reminder to stay vigilant in protecting yourself against scams through the internet, by phone or email. We all need a reminder periodically to be aware of clicking on links that may turn out to be malware.

Recently I saw what I thought was an email from USPS, indicating an overnight envelope I sent was being returned, and clicked the link! However, if I took a moment to look at the email instead of panicking that my package wouldn’t arrive on time, I would have seen the “from” email address wasn’t the post office. How did the scammers know I sent an envelope the day before? I have no idea, but it preyed upon my fear, and I quickly realized it wasn’t right.

If you’re ever in a similar situation and clicked on a suspicious link, take these steps immediately since malware, like viruses, spyware or ransomware may have been installed.

  1. Disconnect from the internet or Wi-Fi immediately. If your computer is infected, disconnecting could prevent other devices on your network from being infected as well.
  2. Back up your files on an external hard drive or thumb drive. Use this valuable time to save your sensitive or irreplaceable data in case anything gets erased, or you lose access to your computer.
  3. Scan your computer for malware. You should be able to run the scan without reconnecting to the internet.
  4. Change all your online credentials and create strong passwords. Make sure your usernames and passwords are not the same for multiple sites.
  5. Put a free fraud alert on your credit report for all three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Check your credit reports to watch for suspicious activity, although a freeze on your credit would prevent new accounts from being opened.

At some point, we’ll all click on a strange link accidentally. My anti-virus program scanned my computer, and all is well, but in the meantime, we can use my unfortunate mishap as a reminder to not only watch for phishing emails but also know what to do if we click on a suspicious link.

Cynthia Flannigan
Cynthia Flannigan

Cynthia made the shift to financial planning to guide clients through making good financial decisions through both grim and exciting changes in life. More than anything, she thrives on helping people. She obtained her CFP designation in 2008 and completed a masters in financial planning and taxation at Golden Gate University.

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