Category Archives: Identity Theft

Article: Random text? Wait, wait, don’t click that!

“Here’s a tip that’s worth repeating:

Don’t click on a link in a text message you get on your phone that says you’ve won a terrific prize or a gift card, or that asks you to click on a link. Don’t reply either. It’s probably a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission settled charges with a group of marketers that were part of a scheme that sent millions of unsolicited spam text messages promoting supposedly free merchandise like $1,000 gift cards for Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

People who clicked the links in the messages didn’t get the promised prizes. Instead, they were taken to websites that asked them to give personal information and sign up for multiple offers, often involving purchases or paid subscriptions.

What can you do about unwanted text messages?

  • Delete unwanted text messages that ask you to enter a special code, or to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies won’t send you a text asking for sensitive information.
  • Don’t click on links in the text message. Links can take you to spoof sites that look real but will steal your personal information.
  • Report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge, if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.”

Though scams involving free gift cards and merchandise are common there are also other types of scams prevalent via text messages. Below is an example of  a scam text message.



Tip #3 | Don’t Share THAT about Yourself Online!

Shakespeare Listens

Image: Kelli Marshall, Locating Shakespeare in the 21st Century, Vimeo

Inappropriate sharing of secrets always makes for a good plot twist in a Shakespearean play:

O negligence!
Fit for a fool to fall by: what cross devil
Made me put this main secret in the packet
I sent the king? Is there no way to cure this?
No new device to beat this from his brains?
(Henry VIII, Act 3.2)

When you meet someone new, whether it’s in your residence hall, at a party, or at work, do you immediately tell that person your full name, social security number, phone number, address, credit card and bank account numbers? Didn’t think so. You wouldn’t share most of that information with a good friend, either.

But what if you were asked, politely, a few times for the information? And what if the request came with a promise not to share any of your personal information, including your funny middle name, with anyone else? Right. Didn’t think so.

You should feel the same way about your privacy when a social media site asks you for that information. If you need to share those personal details to join the site, that’s a red flag. Walk (or surf) away from it, fast.

When you share something that’s personally identifiable with the wrong person or website, it will be quite difficult to find a “cure” and “beat” it out of his or her “brains” or database!

Read more about Cyber Security Awareness Month!