When you read email or surf the Internet, you should be wary of scams that try to steal your personal information (identity theft), your money, or both. Many of these scams are known as “phishing scams” because they “fish” for your information.
How to report a scam
- You can use Microsoft tools to report a suspected scam.
How to recognize scams
New scams seem to appear every day. Learn to recognize a scam by familiarizing yourself with some of the telltale signs.
Scams can contain the following:
- Alarmist messages and threats of account closures.
- Promises of money for little or no effort.
- Deals that sound too good to be true.
- Requests to donate to a charitable organization after a disaster that has been in the news.
- Bad grammar and misspellings.
Here are some popular scams that you should be aware of:
Scams will use well-known companies. These scams include fake email messages or websites that use the well-known companies names. The email message might claim that you have won a contest, that they need your log on information or password, or that a representative is contacting you to help you with your computer. (These fake tech-support scams are often delivered by phone.)
Lottery scams. You might receive messages that claim that you have won the lottery or sweepstakes. These messages might even look like they come from an executive. Delete the message.
Rogue security software scams. Rogue security software, also known as “scareware,” is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions. These scams can appear in email, online advertisements, your social networking site, search engine results, or even in pop-up windows on your computer that might appear to be part of your operating system, but are not. For more information, see Watch out for fake virus alerts.
What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam
If you suspect that you’ve responded to a phishing scam with personal or financial information, take these steps to minimize any damage and protect your identity.
- Change the passwords or PINs on all your online accounts that you think might be compromised.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Check with your bank or financial advisor if you’re not sure how to do this.
- Contact the bank or the online merchant directly. Do not follow the link in the fraudulent email message.
- If you know of any accounts that were accessed or opened fraudulently, close those accounts.
- Routinely review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unexplained charges or inquiries that you didn’t initiate.