Cyber Scam Prevention Tips

Cybercriminals use sophisticated techniques to appear legitimate in order to conduct identity theft, phishing schemes, credit card fraud and more. Fortunately, making safer and smarter decisions online can be as simple as following these tips:

  • Choose a password that means something to you and you only; use strong passwords that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Keep your mobile devices in your possession at all times and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you use social networking sites, be sure to limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
  • Most businesses or organizations don’t ask for your personal information over email. Beware of any requests to update or confirm your personal information.
  • Avoid opening attachments, clicking on links, or responding to email messages from unknown senders or companies that ask for your personal information.
  • Regularly update programs on your computer and phone, such as the operating system and anti-virus software.
  • Beware of “free” gifts or prizes. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Resist pressure to act immediately.  Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision - anyone who pressures you to pay, download an application, or give them your personal information is a scammer.
  • Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. 

If you are the victim of a scam or believe you saw a scam attempt, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at or call 877-382-4357.

Always be cautious when you are asked for personal information, whether it be by phone, email, or in person. Never provide personal information when you did not initiate the conversation. A good rule of thumb is to ask what the information is needed for, and if you can opt-out from providing that information.

Common Scams

Here are some examples of common scams:

Dating and Romance – You meet someone online and you have a great rapport. You provide personal details getting to know them better and then they ask for money to help cover costs associated with illness, injury, travel or a family crisis. Never send money or gifts to a person you haven’t met in person. If you suspect a scam, stop communicating with the person immediately.

Gift Cards for Your Boss - You get an email that seems to be from your boss asking you to go to a supermarket to buy them some gift cards, then scratch off the backs and send them the card numbers and they promise to pay you back. Being asked to send credit card or gift card information in an email is a red flag. Call your boss and verify the request is legitimate. Don't reply to the email or use any contact information provided in the email - attackers often provide fake numbers or email addresses that they control.

Computer Scan Alert - You get a pop-up on your computer that looks like it might be from your operating system or antivirus software saying suspicious activity has been detected and to call a live technician now. Do not call the phone number. Real security warnings will never ask you to call a phone number. Do not click on any links in the pop-up or browser window. Instead, hit Control + Alt + Delete (Command + Option/Alt + Esc on a Mac) to view a list of programs currently running and delete the pop-up alert from the list of running programs.