Financial Tips

What is Social Engineering?

Social Engineering is any malicious activity that takes advantage of people by tricking them into sharing private information.

You’re probably familiar with some of these:

  • An email claims you’ve won millions of dollars.
  • An unsolicited phone call asks if you’d like to donate to the victims of a natural disaster.
  • A text claims there’s a problem with your account.
  • A popup warns about an infected computer.

These are all types of social engineering, and their goal is to get you emotionally involved and off-guard so that you share information you wouldn’t otherwise give away.

The best way to safeguard yourself is to be cautious whenever anyone asks you for money or personal information. Never assume that any unsolicited phone call or email is actually from a trusted source, whether they claim to be from your bank, credit card, a well-known charity, or any other service. Go online to a verified website or call a trusted service number instead.

Finally, you should always be aware of how much you’re sharing online. While sharing pictures of a favorite pet, reminiscing about your first car, or responding to someone’s quiz post can be fun, you may be giving away answers to security questions used for your online banking or other secure websites.  Thieves are experts at gathering information people have posted online and may even pose as friends or family members to ask for money to be wired for an emergency.

Play it safe, and always contact the person or account provider by some other method and verify any request before you share money, passwords, account numbers, or other confidential information.

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