Unfortunately, as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, scams and fraud are a concern for individuals and small businesses. More people are staying home and working virtually, which means some scammers are targeting online hacks. Since people are dealing with technology, they may be more at risk to identity theft and fraud in Hollywood and online.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud:
- Get familiar with scams which could affect you: The FTC has a website with tips for avoiding scams and listings of common scams. Make it a habit to check out the site so you can recognize the tactics fraudsters use.
- Update your computer and personal devices: Always keep your software updated. Security updates include patches and security upgrades to address known vulnerabilities. Since outdated software puts you more at risk, make sure all your electronic devices are set up to automatically update software as it becomes available. In addition, make sure your devices have the latest anti-malware systems and firewall protection.
- Shop safely: More people are shopping online, especially with shops and business closed. When shopping online, make sure to shop on websites you trust. Always make sure the site you are using is encrypted. On most browsers, this means the website URL begins with “https” and not “http” and includes a small lock icon next to the website address. Read the terms and conditions of any company you are buying from to ensure they are not sharing your personal information with others.
- Check your bank accounts and credit reports: This is a good time to check your bank accounts and statements more closely. You can even contact your bank to let you know when there is any withdrawal or unusual activity. In addition, you can get a free credit report once a year and this is a good way to verify no one has been opening accounts in your name. Keep receipts for purchases you make as well, so you can compare them to your statements.
- Use added caution with phone calls, texts, and emails: Avoid clicking on any links unless you recognize an email or text sender. Do not provide information over the phone or through text or email if someone contacts you—even if you think the person is someone you know. For example, if a bank calls you and wants to verify your information, hang up and contact your bank by calling the card on the back of your card to confirm it was really your bank calling you.
- Verify charities and benefit programs: If you wish to apply for aid or want to give to charity, make sure you are donating to a reputable organization directly through their website or are applying to a legitimate a program from their official website.
If you have had your identity stolen and believe negligence on the part of your bank or other institutions contributed to the loss, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) for a free consultation. Our law offices continue to serve clients and we offer virtual consultations for your safety and convenience.