Keep your guard up against the latest scams.

posted October 13, 2017 in Blogs

scamIt seems like there’s a new data leak or identity theft trick to be worried about every week. If you’re not informed, you risk becoming a victim. Sitting back and waiting for news about scams to come to you may not be enough. In an ever-changing security climate, you need to stay on top of new threats in personal information security.

Why the landscape changes so fast
The bad news is that humans have become the weak link in the information chain. Breaking modern encryption algorithms takes high-powered supercomputers months, if not years. Information you intended to send online or over the phone being hijacked by nefarious people is a slim chance. The biggest danger is sending information to people you don’t intend to be the recipients.

That’s why scams pop up so quickly. Humans can be tricked in any number of ways. Scammers can appeal to fear, greed or sentimentality in different forms to trick information out of you. They can also rely on inattention to detail or carelessness. This is because humans have a number of built-in vulnerabilities. Unlike a computer, you can’t just download the latest anti-virus software to your brain. You can, however, do the next best thing: Stay current on evolving cyber-crime situations.
Websites to visit regularly
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regularly updates its website with phone, email and web-based scams. The FTC's website features several articles a week. As one of the strongest consumer watchdog agencies, it investigates illegal or fraudulent business communications with zeal. It publishes the results of these investigations in hopes that fewer people will be victims in the future.

You can also pitch in and be a good cyber citizen by reporting scams you see to the FTC. You can report it online using the FTC’s online form or call their toll-free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP. It’s one way you can make sure scammers are stopped before they really get started.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also maintains a list of scams from criminals posing as businesses. The BBB is a helpful place to look if you’ve received an offer that seems too good to be true. For identity-theft specific scams, go to the Identity Theft Resource Center. They maintain a list of schemes that have been used to steal personal information.

News to follow
You’re not alone in the effort to protect yourself against fraud. The National Consumer League is a not-for-profit organization with over 100 years of history helping to protect consumers from scammers. It maintains a list of scams and monitors old ones. It also interacts with law enforcement where possible to try to bring scamming groups down.

One of the services the National Consumer League provides is an email list. It sends out alerts whenever a new threat to consumer well-being emerges. In addition to covering scams, it also monitors product recalls, food safety conditions and truth in advertising concerns. It’s a great resource in helping you make smart consumer choices in a market crowded with information. Click here to join the mailing list.

GICU is here to help!
Member security is a top priority for Greater Iowa and we are proactive in keeping up with fraud detection. However, it's essential for members to also be aware of common scams and how to protect themselves against identity theft. Greater Iowa staff is familiar with common scams and we're here to help when members have concerns. If an offer, information request or website doesn't seem legitimate, it's probably not! Don't hesitate to speak with a member service representative or our contact center (1.800.296.9064) if you think you are a victim of a scam.