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Coronavirus Scammers User Fake Sites to Steal Your Stimulus

Coronavirus Scammers Are After Your Stimulus Check

Scammers and cybercriminals love to exploit the headlines. COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic affecting Americans – so are the scams that go along with it.

Case in point: stimulus checks that will help Americans weather the COVID-19 pandemic are already being targeted by scammers, who take advantage of the confusion and disinformation surrounding the rollout of the relief funds. They know how easy it is to profit from crisis.

The IRS set up an Economic Impact Payment website to enable Americans to claim and track their stimulus checks, and will mail or directly deposit the payments. Unfortunately, scammers have quickly designed more than 4,000 similar websites to try to skim payments from unsuspecting citizens.

IRS Stimulus Check Scams (Economic Impact Payments)

  • Some coronavirus scammers may be after the payments themselves, while others are using the opportunity to get valuable personal information, like bank account numbers
  • There has been a 6,000% increase in spam emails related to COVID-19 since early March, with many of these emails aimed at stealing the IRS checks.
  • 4,000 new websites related to the stimulus checks created since January. The websites are set up to either look like the IRS or banks, with hackers trying to trick individuals into disclosing their financial information.

How to Protect Your Economic Impact Payment Stimulus Check

  • Be extra wary of all stimulus-related emails, calls, and texts. The IRS will never contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media. Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
  • Check the language. Stimulus payments aren’t actually called “stimulus checks,”— official term is “economic impact payment.” So if you get an email, call or text using the unofficial language of “stimulus check,” it’s a tip-off that the message isn’t legit
  • Watch for your receipt. Whether you receive your payment via direct deposit or as a paper check through snail mail, the IRS will also send you a letter in the mail 15 days later letting you know that the payment was sent. The agency won’t be hounding you or anyone else over the phone, email or text about it. That letter is useful because it serves as official verification that your stimulus payment was sent out. If you get one after receiving your payment, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. But if you get one before your payment arrives, it’s a sign that you might be the victim of fraud.

 

12 Days to a Safe Christmas: Day 12 – Holiday Security Tips All Wrapped up Together

Would you like to give the people you care about some peace on earth during this holiday season? Take a few minutes to pass on our 12 privacy tips that will help them protect their identities, social media, shopping and celebrating over the coming weeks. The more people that take the steps we’ve outlined in the 12 Days of Christmas, the safer we all become, collectively.

Have a wonderful holiday season, regardless of which tradition you celebrate. Now sing (and click) along with us one more time.  

On the 12th Day of Christmas, the experts gave to me: 

12 Happy Holidays,

11 Private Emails,

10 Trusted Charities

9 Protected Packages

8 Scam Detectors

7 Fraud Alerts

6 Safe Celebrations

Fiiiiiiiiiiive Facebook Fixes

4 Pay Solutions

3 Stymied Hackers

2 Shopping Tips

And the Keys to Protect My Privacy

 


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author, keynote speaker and expert on technology, cybersecurity, and tech/life balance. He energizes conferences, corporate trainings and main-stage events by making security fun and engaging. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab, and organizations of all sizes. John got started in cybersecurity when he lost everything, including his $2 million business, to cybercrime. Since then, he has shared his experiences on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, and even while cooking meatballs with Rachel Ray. Contact John directly to see how he can customize his presentations to your audience.

WWBD? (What Would Bond Do?) Five Steps to Secure Your Business Data

I finally got around to watching the latest 007 installment, Skyfall, and it appears even James Bond has entered into the world of Cyber Crime as he tries to protect a computer drive with a list of British agents from falling into the wrong hands.  And like the proverbial victims in a James Bond flick, you and your business data are under assault, even though it may not always be as obvious as getting thrown off a train.  Why?  Because your business data is profitable to would-be thieves. And for many of those thieves, that data is easy to get and the theft can be next to impossible to trace.

Sony PlayStation Network, Citigroup, Lockheed and several others have seen more than 100 million customer records breached, costing billions in recovery costs and reputation damage.  If it can happen to the big boys, it can happen to you.  If you don’t have Bond on your side fighting off the villains, take these steps to take to secure your business data:

Involve your employees. No one in your organization will care about data security until they understand what it has to do with them. So train them to be skeptical. When they’re asked for information, teach them to automatically assume the requestor is a spy. If they didn’t initiate the transfer of information (e.g., someone official approaches them for login credentials), have them stop and think before they share. Empower them to ask aggressive questions. Once employees understand data security from a personal standpoint, it’s a short leap to apply that to your customer databases, physical documents and intellectual property. Start with the personal and expand into the professional. It’s like allowing people to put on their own oxygen masks before taking responsibility for those next to them.

Stop broadcasting your digital data. Wireless data leaks two ways: the weakly encrypted wireless router in your office and the unprotected wireless connection you use to access the Internet in an airport, hotel or café. Have a security pro configure the wireless router in your office for WPA-2 encryption or better and perform a thorough security audit of your network. To protect your data on the road, set up wireless tethering with your mobile phone provider and stop using other people’s hot spots.

Eliminate the inside spy. Perform serious background checks before hiring new employees. The number one predictor of future theft by an employee is past theft. Follow up on the prospect’s references and ask for some that aren’t on the application. Letting prospective hires know in advance that you will be performing a comprehensive background check will discourage them from malfeasance.

Don’t let your mobile data walk away. Up to 50 percent of all major data breach originates with the loss of a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Either carry these on your person (making sure not to set them down in airports, cafes, conferences, etc.), store them in the hotel room safe, or lock them in an office or private room when not using them. Physical security is the most overlooked, most effective form of protection. Also, have the security pro mentioned earlier implement strong passwords, whole disk encryption and remote data-wiping capabilities. Set your screen saver to engage after five minutes of inactivity and check the box that requires you to enter your password upon re-entry.

Spend a day in your dumpster. You may have a shredder, but the problem is no one uses it consistently. Pretend you are your fiercest competitor and sort through outgoing trash for old invoices, credit card receipts, bank statements, customer lists and trade secrets. If employees know you conduct occasional dumpster audits, they’ll think twice about failing to shred the next document.

Take these steps and you begin the process of starving data thieves of the information they literally take to the bank.  It will be a lot easier to sit back and relax- maybe even have a shaken martini- when you know your business is secure.

James Bond martini

John Sileo is an anti-fraud training expert and in-demand speaker on digital reputation, identity theft and online privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protect Your Packages this Holiday Season!

Almost 20 billion packages will be delivered through the mail this holiday season. Even at $5 per package, that’s more than $100 Billion in value going through the mail–a scale too large and tempting for criminals to ignore.

Why do thieves target us during the holidays? In addition to the volume and value of holiday mail, criminals are taking advantage of the perfect winter storm:

  • Trucks are overloaded, mail & UPS carriers are overworked and shoppers are overwhelmed, which makes theft easy and attractive
  • Thieves take advantage not just of our good nature during the holidays, but of how distracted we are
  • Criminals see our generosity of giving as a goldmine waiting to be exploited

But picking packages off of your doorstep isn’t the only type of crime that skyrockets during December. Thieves don’t just want to steal the gifts inside your packages, they want the identity information that goes along with them: credit card numbers, bank accounts, invoices, even the checks that grandma sends in a holiday card. Check washers want to soak your checks in acetone, erase the Pay To field and replacing it with the word CASH.

How do we protect our mail and packages during the holidays, or any day?

  • Install a locking mailbox at your home and retrieve your mail early in the day, before criminals have a chance to steal it
  • Get a PO box during heavy mailing times and use that address for packages, sensitive documents or payments
  • Instead of putting outbound packages in your mailbox, drop them directly at the post office. Even the blue USPS boxes are commonly emptied by thieves at night.
  • Tell Grandma to stop sending cash! It’s too easy to steal and impossible to trace.
  • If you must send a physical payment through the mail, use high security checks like those provided by Deluxe.
  • Use UPS or FedEx to ship packages so that you can track their progress, insure the contents and require a signature at the other end.
  • If you generally aren’t at home when packages are delivered, have them shipped to your work so that they don’t sit on your porch for hours.
  • Check out our 12 Days to a Safe Christmas for more tips on protecting yourself against cyber crime, party crashers and Facebook stalkers during the season.

Take these simple tips when sending gifts and cards and you won’t lose your valuable data and goods to the identity theft Grinches.

 

Anderson Cooper Targets ID Theft in New Year's Resolution

Anderson Cooper’s 1st show of the year brought a panel of experts to discuss New Year’s resolutions, why we make them and how we can better keep them. Identity theft expert John Sileo closed out the show with 3 Tips for Avoiding Scams in the new year. Click on the video to the left to view the segment. Anderson and John discuss smartphone stupidity, passwords and social networking privacy.
Identity Theft Expert John Sileo Appears on the Anderson Cooper New Year’s Resolution Special.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and speaks internationally on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and it’s polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply results and increase performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his keynote or media appearances on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. Contact him on 800.258.8076.