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Stay Safe This Fall with Cybersecurity Awareness

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As the fall season nears, reports of online criminal activities are on the rise. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month; an initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security to raise awareness about cybersecurity threats and educate the public on keeping your information safe. We’ve included three threats to your security below. Read along to learn how to keep your information safe and secure.


Users may experience an increase in local calls to their home or cell phone. This phenomenon is referred to as “neighbor spoofing,” and it’s a caller ID spoof strategy being used by scam artists in an attempt to get information over the phone.

Con artists and robocallers use technology to modify what phone numbers appear on caller IDs -impersonating phone numbers from neighbors, friends and local businesses to try to get you to answer the call. Answering one of these caller ID-spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line and can potentially open your phone line up to more scam calls.

Tips to Identify Neighbor Spoofing Calls:
• Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If important, the caller will leave a message.

• If your phone number is used in a caller ID spoof call, you may receive calls and messages from people asking why you called them in the first place. This can lead to a lot of confusion between the two parties, but knowing your own number can be used by scammers may help explain the situation.

• Be aware that phone numbers of local businesses, including doctor’s offices and/or insurance agents, may appear to be calling you. If you’re not certain whether the call is    legitimate or a spoof, hang up and dial the known phone number for the contact to verify the communication, especially if personal and/or financial information is being requested.

If you suspect foul play, it’s always best to reach out to your local authorities.

Open Enrollment & Medicare Scams

Medicare beneficiaries are targeted by scammers and identity thieves all year long, but fraudulent activity tends to increase around open enrollment. According to AARP, Medicare scams dramatically spike in the weeks leading up to open enrollment, October 15 to December 7. Protect yourself and the ones you care about by being aware of cybercriminals, and how they target seniors for personal information and Medicare benefits. Here are three common Medicare scams:

New Card Scam – Seniors are targeted via phone calls and occasionally emails or front-door visits. They are told that Medicare is issuing new cards, and in order to receive one, they need to provide identifying information such as Medicare number, birth date or even financial account numbers.
What to know: Medicare isn't issuing new cards and its employees don't contact participants through unsolicited calls, emails or visits. They won't ask for personal identifiers unless they are contacted.

Refund Cons - Scammers claim potential victims are entitled to money back because of "changes" or "enhancements" by Medicare or private insurers, or because of purported lawsuits or actions by government agencies. In these schemes, the goal is to get not only the victim’s Medicare number, but also their bank account information for a supposed direct deposit.
What to know: If someone is entitled to a refund, a check will be issued in the mail. No information will need to be provided in order to receive the check. If you receive Social Security, your direct-deposit account information is on file, Medicare will not contact you to provide it.

False Freebies - Often times seniors are targeted with calls offering free medical supplies or a health checkup. The caller may even know something about the victim’s medical condition.
What to know: Assume that an unsolicited call promising supplies for diabetes or other medical conditions is another attempt to collect Medicare and or Social Security number. This tactic is also used to soften victims for pitches for overpriced goods later. The caller may suggest a credit card is needed for shipping charges. If you feel you, or a loved one, has fallen victim to any of these crimes, please contact your bank and the local authorities.

Phishing Scams

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Phishing is a type of online scam that targets consumers by sending them an e-mail that appears to be from a well-known source – an internet service provider, a bank or a mortgage company. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in 2019. Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help recognize a phishing email or text message.

Phishing emails and text messages are often an attempt to trick users into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that use fraudulent ruses to make their e-mails convincing. 
• Say they’ve noticed suspicious activity or log-in attempts
• Claim there’s a problem with an account or payment information
• Say you must confirm personal information
• Include a fake invoice
• Want you to click on a link to make a payment
• Say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
• Offer a coupon for free stuff

Attachments and links can install harmful malware, so if you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question before clicking anything: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?

• If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Check the e-mail for phishing red flags, such as unusual URLs and hyperlinks (hover the mouse over the hyperlink to see the real URL), undisclosed recipients or blank recipients line, grammar or spelling errors, and a sense of urgency. If you see them, report the message and then delete it.

• If the answer is “Yes,” still be on the lookout for phishing red flags and confirm the email's legitimacy by contacting the company using a phone number or website you know is real rather than the information in the email.

If you suspect or find yourself victim of any cybersecurity attacks, please report it immediately. All cybersecurity threats may be reported to the FTC.

We hope you use these tips and are more aware of cybersecurity threats not just in the month of October, but throughout the entire year.

Follow up with this article from the FTC to learn more about keeping your information secure.

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Categories: CapFed® News , Safety and Security
Tags: Kansas City , Lawrence , Topeka , Wichita

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