In Episode #86 of the Good To Know Video Series, Megan Harbin highlights the growing importance of cyber security to protect personal information and money for our associates, clients and customers. Megan introduces our new STAR initiative. STAR or “Stop, Think, Ask, Report,” is a simple process that can help you avoid the serious consequences of cyber crime. Watch the video to learn more!
— Transcript —
Did you know that Cybercrime is now considered the greatest threat to every company in the world? Cybersecurity Ventures recently predicted that the costs for cybercrime will grow to an alarming $6 trillion annually by 2021. Cybercrime costs include the damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, and a growing list of other losses.
At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, we take cyber security very seriously. Our enterprise has invested considerably in the systems, processes and resources to help protect personal information and money for YOU, YOUR clients and YOUR customers. There has been a lot of visibility for wire fraud across our industry and we know our associates are on high alert to watch for potential wire fraud. Fraudsters use many techniques now including malware, online credential breaches, debit or credit card fraud, identity theft, and phishing attacks, which is now the #1 cause of cyber theft.
Phishing Attacks – No, we’re not talking about a lake full of piranha…Phishing attacks (that’s fishing with a ‘p-h’) are emails that may look like they are coming from a person or company you know or trust. Essentially, scammers are fishing for information and hoping to hook you and compromise your data or get access to your email and financial accounts. Often, these attacks will encourage you to click on a link or open an attachment, so it’s VERY important that you take your time when reading emails and text messages and only click once you’ve verified that the email is legitimate. Let’s look at this example from the FTC’s website. This is a phishing email that looks like it comes from Netflix, it even has the company logo and looks legitimate – at first glance. One noticeable flag is the salutation, “Hi Dear,” this is not how Netflix would address you. You may also notice that the word “center” uses the British spelling. Another thing you can do is to HOVER OVER the link without clicking on it to see what link is behind that red button. If the link isn’t even related to Netflix, you definitely don’t want to click it. In a case like this where you’re getting a notification that there’s a problem with your account, you’re better off deleting this email and logging into the account in question to see if there actually is a problem. During the holidays, there are more frequent attempts by those posing to be from Amazon, UPS, the US Postal Service, banks and more…so be vigilant!
The bad guys are getting more creative and we are seeing a growing wave of attacks in the form of a text messages – now called “SMiShing” or voicemails – now called “Vishing.” Wow, that’s a mouthful!
If you suspect that you have been attacked, remember to Shine Like a STAR…
S is for – Stop. Read the message carefully before clicking on any attachments, links, or replying with sensitive information.
T is for – Think. Should you be receiving this? Is it generic or frightening? Is it from a legitimate sender?
A is for – Ask. When in doubt, forward the email to isitlegit@BHHSGeorgia.com for review.
R is for– Report. If you click on a link or attachment in error, report it to the IT department IMMEDIATELY.
In addition to phishing attacks, there are a LOT of scams going on that you need to be aware of and careful to avoid.
Tech Support Scam – These scammers contact you and pretend to be from a computer company like Apple or Microsoft, trying to help you with a problem on your computer. They may lead you the believe that your computer has a virus and want to access it and pretend to run a diagnostic test, they will then try to make you pay for a problem that doesn’t even exist! Or, they may infect your computer with a virus. You never want to let anyone you don’t know, or haven’t called yourself, access your computer.
Pop-Up Warnings – Scammers will run pop-ups that appear real and make you click or call for support. Don’t do it, real security warnings and messages won’t ask you to call a phone number.
IRS Scams – IRS scams are on the rise and if you get a call or email stating that there’s a problem with your tax return or you owe back taxes, take a closer look. According to the FTC, the IRS will initiate contact with a postal letter.
Imposters – Many scams have been reported where people pretend they are with the FBI, Medicare, even Homeland Security. Recently, our associates and employees have received a series of emails from someone pretending to be Dan Forsman or another member of our management team. Often, these people have actual information about you, making it seem like they are quite legit when you start asking them questions. They may even make it look like they are calling from a legit phone number – this is called spoofing, where they use a computer program to mimic a phone number you know or can validate, like a local police department. Be very cautious and careful with these calls and if you’re ever in doubt remember the acronym: STAR – Stop, Think, Ask, and Report. If you think you’ve been contacted by an imposter or any scam, you can notify your local police department and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
It’s a shame that fraudsters use their skills and creativity for evil purposes, but it happens more often that we’d like. Visit consumer.ftc.gov then click on scams to see all the latest scams as well as how to protect yourself and those you care for.
As technology becomes easier to access, it requires all of us to be more vigilant about what we’re receiving and how we use our information online. Proceeding with caution and skepticism when you receive an email, phone call, or text can save you a lot of trouble, hassle, and MONEY in the long run.
Now That’s Good to Know!