Within our Yampa Valley communities and even our own families there are people who are vulnerable to fraud. And with no end in sight, our best bet is to spread awareness, become educated, and take precautions. In the previous “Focus on Fraud” articles we outlined some basic rules for avoiding fraud, gave advice on how to deal with its aftermath, and exposed today’s popular scams and how to spot them. Those articles, plus additional resources are available in our Education Center. Now we’ll discuss fraud prevention measures, which are particularly important for those of us who spend time online.
We all know someone who uses variations of the same password for everything: online banking, social media, email and shopping. That kind of behavior may have been okay in the early dotcom days, but fraudsters are now making a fortune on it. You need a unique and strong password for every site or app, but there are tools to make this task more manageable. Try Keeper, Zoho or BitWarden, which PCMag vouches for as the best password managers of 2022. Unfortunately, there have already been a number of large-scale data breaches in which millions of passwords were stolen. To find out if your passwords were compromised, input your email address at haveibeenpwned.com. Or try using Chrome, the Google web browser, which has a built-in password manager and breach identifier.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):
This requires that you confirm an additional passcode sent by text, email, or app. With the help of modern technology this step takes mere seconds, but can save you hours of hassle. Enable MFA wherever possible since it blocks 99.9% of email and app hacks.
Safe Web Surfing:
If you are using a public wifi network, like at a cafe or airport, don’t access online banking because your activity may be intercepted by hackers. Generally, if you are inputting passwords or other sensitive info, stick to sites that start with HTTPS (S stands for secure) or those with a small lock icon, because they encrypt anything you type.
There are specific precautions you should take to ensure your operations aren’t undermined by cyber attacks. First off, use a spam / malware filtering service in conjunction with email–which should never be from a free online provider like gmail or yahoo. If your email becomes compromised, those services are not always able to recover your data. Second, all staff members should learn to recognize phishing emails and web threats, especially those targeted at your industry. Your email filtering service will likely provide training for this. Finally, encrypting sensitive information that is sent or stored online is always the best practice. Jon Quinn, President of Northwest Data Services, warns: “If you believe that the added security is too much of a hassle, just wait till you have to recover your data or customer communications from a hacker.”
Protecting the Vulnerable:
Some people need extra help staying out of fraud's shady clutches. Those who are more trusting and less experienced with the internet–generally the youngest and oldest among us–are more easily duped. And since children and seniors sometimes have no concept of today’s scams, it's imperative we give them basic tips to avoid fraud (see article one of this series). Also, if we simply check on one another and are open to talking about fraud, that could change the fraudsters' playing field substantially.
Anyone can be scammed, so that means we all should take precautions, become educated on current scams, and raise awareness. Never let anyone threaten or pressure you into a quick decision. If you’re having trouble deciding if something is legitimate, lean on friends and family, or turn to an expert in a related field, like your friendly banker at Yampa Valley Bank.
LEARN MORE IN OUR EDUCATION CENTER