Continue to be aware when it comes to responding to emails, text messages, and phone calls you receive that seem unusual. Criminals from everywhere are trying to get individuals with seemingly legitimate correspondence. The subject matter is often about verifying your account, your account being compromised, an investment or business opportunity, or changing your password with a sense of urgency. They will often word it in a way that scares you into wanting to take action to protect yourself, an account, your money or credit, or freedom (if they are threatening legal action). They will press you with urgency to click on a link or attachment or provide sensitive information.

Unless you took action recently to do something, such as apply for a loan or open a new account, the government or institutions (banks, investors, utility companies, etc.) will not contact you to verify an account or provide your personal information.

Some companies do have security breaches they will notify you about and ask that you change your password, but do so by logging into the website directly, not through the email provided link. If you haven’t accessed an account in a while (an old email account, a website you haven’t visited in some time, etc.) some companies will suspend your account or want a password reset. Practice the same as with the above and visit the website directly (or Google the company name to get the website).

Holiday season tactics can include:

Asking you to send money to a charity or help someone specific in need.
Sales for products or services from websites or companies you don’t recognize, or where the price seems far too good to be true.
You are the winner of a prize or lottery.
Fake Christmas email card from someone or a company you don’t recognize.
Free apps from unknown companies or ads that promise discounts or something for free.

If you receive a suspect email from a person, company, or institution it’s better to be safe. Contact them directly to verify using a known phone number, email, or visit their website directly instead of through the suspicious text or email.

If it’s likely that an email or text is fake, just delete it. If a telemarketer, hang-up and block the number. These are common and many people get them.

If you accidentally clicked on an attachment or link, or have visited a suspicious website where you have provided login information, let us know as soon as possible.