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How to Prevent Summertime Scams

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Summertime is here…and that means sunshine and vacations. Most people love summertime, including scammers! Hackers can use this time to take advantage while we are planning vacations or on vacation or just enjoying fun in the sun. Here are some key scams to watch out for this summer:

  • Family or Friend Requests Money
    You receive an email from a friend or family member. They tell you a sob story and say they need money. It sure seems like the right person. You even ask them for more details and they give them spot-on. Convinced they’re the real McCoy, you wire them money. But what you just did was wire money to an imposter who got all those personal details off social media. One way to prevent this it to establish a secret code that your friends and family promises not to post on social media (and the code should be a nonsensical sentence or something that isn’t easily guessed). If a person can’t type out this secret code, then you know it’s a scam. Another way to avoid this scam is to always speak live to the person asking for the money.
  • Home Improvement
    Summer is when homeowners are most gullible to people offering home repairs. In many of these cases, repairmen do only superficial repairs to make something look nicer or others take your deposit money and then disappear into thin air. To avoid this, make sure you check references and be leery of anyone appearing out of the blue offering home improvement services or those who are not insured.
  • Moving Scams
    As summer is a time when many people move homes, it’s also a time ripe for moving scams. You could experience something like the moving company suddenly charging you more if you want your belongings unloaded from the truck. To avoid moving scams, be careful when you choose a moving company, check references and make sure you use an accredited moving firm.
  • Vacation Rental Scams
    Vacations are something you want to enjoy and getting a great deal makes it even better. But not if it’s a sham. Scammers offer deals on vacation rentals and then you arrive to find that the keys don’t work or worse—the rental is an empty lot. Before you pay for a vacation rental, make sure that the rental address exists by using Google Earth search. And just like other things, get references and only rent from trusted sites like TripAdvisor.
  • Online Employment Ads
    If you’re job searching, you need to be aware. This scam is usually found on free job listing sites, but can be found in emails too. The red flag is when they want YOU to pay THEM (never mind how legitimate it sounds) or they ask you for a ton of personal information like your driver’s license or birthdate. Just don’t give out your information. Stick to well-known job sites when hunting online.

Summer is a time that we should all enjoy—both online and offline. Make sure you educate yourself on the latest scams and be wary of things that seem too good to be true. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stay safe this summer!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

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