Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Technology Blog

How to Avoid Fake Check Scams

By | Scams | No Comments

How to Avoid Fake Check Scams

Con artists rely on two basic principles: people love the promise of easy money and they are ignorant of everyday financial transactions.  In the case of check or money order scams, they know people are excited to receive a large check in the mail. They also know that very few people understand the process or rules of wire transfers.

What Are Check Cashing Scams?

Money transfers done through checks, cashier’s checks or money orders are extremely hard to track. The process is slower than the transaction, so scammers use this to their advantage.

Banks will deposit a check and release the funds within a day or two. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to discover that a check is counterfeit. Scammers hope the promise of easy money will make victims deposit the checks immediately and send the “overpayment” back to them as requested. Weeks later, the check the victim received bounces. The victim is then liable for the money sent to the scammer. Learn more in our blog post about advanced fee fraud.

Fake check scams are a form of advanced fee fraud. Pros 4 Technology Blog

Fake check scams are a form of advanced fee fraud. Never refund money to someone you don’t know who has written you a check!

Online Purchase Check Scams

Con artists sometimes target people selling an item on sites like eBay or Etsy, purchasing the item and sending a fake check, written for an amount greater than agreed upon. The unsuspecting seller deposits the check, mails the item and sends the difference back, losing not only the money, but also the item they ‘sold.’

Scam Job Offers by Email

In a typical scam job offer, the victim agrees to perform certain work, for which the scammer pays them by check through the mail. When work is done, the ‘employer’ sends a check for a significant amount (sometimes thousands) over the agreed upon pay. The scammer conjures an excuse such as wanting the ‘employee’ to buy supplies, pay taxes or run an errand. With apologies, he or she asks the victim to deposit the check and return the difference.

Fake Contests

Fake contests usually involve an unexpected notice of winning a significant amount of money. The victim is asked to simply pay the taxes, insurance or fees on their winnings and then the scammer will send their money. The Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to throw this mail away immediately.

Four Ways to Avoid Check Cashing Scams

  1. Don’t send money to people you don’t know, even if they claim to be an employer or buyer.
  2. Do not share personal information (birth date, account numbers or passwords).
  3. Never prepay anything on monetary awards.
  4. Avoid dealing with someone who sends you a check for more than the agreed upon amount.  Stop the transaction immediately.

If you think you are being targeted by a fake check scam, don’t send the scammer money! Report the incident to the Better Business Bureau.

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

By | Cyber Security, Smartphones & Tablets | No Comments

How to Stay Safe on Public WiFi Networks

We regularly connect with public WiFi networks when away from work or home: at the airport, in a coffee shop, even in our dentist’s office.  The public networks are for everyone. However, users should remember this can include hackers. Your devices are vulnerable to attacks on these Wi-Fi networks. Even if the network requires a password, it is still shared with others.

Here are 8 things you can do to boost cyber-security on a public WiFi:

  1. Disable sharing on your device.  Check the settings to make sure it is disabled.  This is the default on most public networks but always double check.
  2. Use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. This program ensures anonymity while on a public network. You can use open source software (openvpn) or vpn private, which is  purchased for an added layer of privacy. There are unique benefits to both openvpn and vpn private. Contact us to learn more about setting up a VPN.
  3. Avoid using websites with sensitive information, such as bank and credit card accounts, which can be hacked on a public network. Wait until you are on a secure network like your home or office to log into such websites.
  4. Remove private information from your device before using a public network. Get rid of files with any connection to your bank account or social security number. If you must access these accounts, use remote access software provided by your business.
  5. Prevent physical theft of your device. Be aware of your physical surroundings. Hackers can simply steal devices and take data off them. Keep them on your person or within eyesight and reach at all times.
  6. Use a firewall and the updated anti-virus software. Also known as a packet filter, a firewall monitors incoming traffic to your computer and blocks unknown or potentially dangerous cybercriminals. Keep your antivirus software up to date.
  7. Authenticate your public connection. Hackers often create fake Wi-Fi hotspots to trick unsuspecting users into logging on so they can steal their data. Never just connect to the nearest open network.
  8. Only use websites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This is an extra layer of internet security. An easy way to check for the SSL is to look at the site’s URL (address).  Websites starting with ‘https’ have an SSL. Those starting in ‘http’ (without the ‘s’) do not.


How to stay safe on public wi-fi. Pros 4 Technology Blog

Free public wi-fi comes with its share of risks, including hackers who are waiting to steal your data.

Cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure your device is protected before connecting to a public Wi-Fi network to keep your data safe.