Buy me chicken nuggets?
On a trip out of town where I didn’t know a soul, I’d just checked into my hotel when a text popped into my phone from an unknown number. It was short: “Hey can you pick me up some chicken nuggets? I’ll pay you back.”
It sounded folksy, like sisters talking to each other. Without thinking, I opened it, and immediately realized I shouldn’t have. Nothing happened. Or at least nothing I could see. To tell you the truth, I didn’t give it much more thought after that. Then a couple of weeks later, I got a message from my computer security company telling me that my email password had been exposed earlier that month, about the time of the mystery message.
I followed the security company’s directions and changed my email password. In the end, I got off easy, mainly because I never use my phone to do any banking or make purchases online or enter any other sensitive information. If I did, this could’ve been far worse.
Learn from my mistake and don’t respond to or open a random message asking for chicken nuggets or anything else.
Here’s another scam that keeps popping up. It’s a brief, sincere-sounding email message:
Dear valued customer: Your online banking security has been generated to prevent on-going online banking fraud. Download and run attached file to secure your online banking.
FNB Online Banking Team
Test Your Fraud Knowledge
Log onto this site that lets you check just how much you know about how to spot a scam. It’s a Canadian site, but except for one mention of the Canadian Revenue Agency (instead of the IRS) the information is the same. Protect Seniors Online (http://www.protectseniorsonline.ca/)
The questions are simple, but might reveal a few things you didn’t know. Here’s a sample:
Question: You receive an email from your granddaughter with the subject line “So cute” and it contains an attachment but no message. The attachment’s file name does not offer any clues as to what the file contains. You assume she just didn’t have time to write a message because she’s always busy. Should you open the attachment to see what is “so cute”?
Answer: You should NOT open the attachment without verifying from the sender.
- The email contained no personal note from the sender.
- You have no indication of what the attachment contains.
What to do:
- You can contact your granddaughter and ask if she recently sent you an email attachment. If not, it is best to delete the email and tell your granddaughter to change the password on her email account immediately. Scammers can pose as people you know by hacking into their accounts. Just because an email is from an email address you recognize doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe, especially if the contents look suspicious to you.
- If any of your contacts have a habit of emailing you links or attachments without messages, you can ask them to include a personal note in the future so it’s easier for you to determine whether the message is safe or not.
The full test consists of several questions and may point out a few things you weren’t aware of. Well worth the time and an easy way to brush up your fraud fighting skills.
Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.