When you’re working hard, enjoying time with loved ones and pursuing your dreams, life can get pretty busy. So, finding the time to stay up-to-date on increasingly sophisticated identity theft scams can be challenging.
But we’re here to help. We’ve collected the following info to help you outsmart identity thieves, so you can keep pursuing your dreams worry-free.
What to know
Identity thieves are experts at social engineering — a clever, sneaky way of tricking people into giving out financial or other sensitive information, usually through email, phone, text messages or even in person. Here’s a high-level look at common examples:
Phishing: This scam typically involves emails, text messages or pop-up messages that convincingly look like they’re from trusted sources, such as your bank, college alma mater, insurance company (even American Family!) or your Internet provider. These “phishy” messages often contain links to copycat websites that will fool you into providing valuable personal information, from Social Security and credit card numbers, to login IDs and passwords you use for financial websites. Or, they’ll contain file attachments that can damage your computer or steal passwords when you open them.
Spear Phishing: This sneaky form of phishing involves emails that create a false sense of trust by referencing things or people that are personally familiar to you — where you work or live, people you may know, or things you’ve bought online. They might even look like they’re from one of your friends or relatives! Spear phishers typically encourage you to give up personal information, often under the pretext of some urgent need, like getting your help with mortgage payments or transferring funds to your boss.
Vishing: This usually involves phone conversations with real people — con artists who use widely available information about you to manipulate you into giving up personal information. Here’s an example: You just got a friendly call from someone who says she’s from American Family Insurance, and she needs your credit card number to help you avoid a late auto insurance payment. She’s got your personal info — birthday, home address, phone number and even your car’s VIN — so she’s probably legitimate, right? Nope!
Caller ID Spoofing: This is a more sophisticated form of the vishing example above, in which the caller ID and phone number are deliberately falsified to look like they’re coming from a trusted source — but they’re not.
Take smart steps
Be savvy and proactive by following these tips.
Think before you act. Be cautious. Think about whether it’s okay to send financial or other personal information in response to unsolicited requests.
Verify first. Pick up the phone or send an email to contact financial institutions, your insurance agent, companies or other entities that are supposedly requesting your sensitive information.
Type, don’t click. Type out URLs instead of clicking on links in emails that request your information.
Be an eagle eye. Watch out for URLs that look like the real deal, but are spelled differently or have a different domain (.com, .gov, .org, etc.) Or, click the padlock icon in the website address field to confirm that the name matches the site you think you’re on.
Insure carefully. Consider getting American Family’s Identity Fraud Expense Endorsement offering high-value, low-cost coverage for expenses related to restoring your identity. Contact your American Family Insurance agent for details.
What to do if you’ve been scammed
Here’s how to recover more quickly if the unexpected happens.
Act swiftly. As soon as you can, contact the company that was being misrepresented by the scammer, so it can take steps to help you (and others). Contact your bank or credit card company if you’ve given out credit card or bank account numbers to the wrong people.
Update your logins. Change your passwords for online accounts, especially those with sensitive information.
Now that you’ve got the know-how to fend off identity thieves, go out there and pursue your dreams with confidence!