How can I avoid becoming a victim of a social engineering scam?

Imagine that you receive an email with an urgent message asking you to verify your banking information by clicking on a link. Or perhaps you get an enticing text message claiming that you’ve won a free vacation to the destination of your choice — all you have to do is click on a link you were sent. In both scenarios, clicking on the link can accidentally result in revealing your sensitive personal and financial information to a cybercriminal.

In a social engineering scam, a cybercriminal psychologically manipulates victims into divulging sensitive information. Cybercriminals “engineer” believable scenarios designed to evoke an emotional response (curiosity, fear, empathy, or excitement) from their victims. As a result, people often react without thinking first due to curiosity or concern about the message that was sent. Since social engineering scams appear in many forms and appeal to a variety of emotions, they can be especially difficult to identify.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from a social engineering scam:

  • If you receive a message conveying a sense of urgency, slow down and read it carefully before reacting. Don’t click on suspicious or unfamiliar links in emails, text messages, and instant messaging services.
  • Never download email attachments unless you can verify that the sender is legitimate. Similarly, don’t send money to an email that requests charitable help unless you can follow up directly with the organization.
  • Be wary of unsolicited messages. If you get an email or a text that asks you for financial information or passwords, do not reply, delete it.
  • Remember that social engineering scams can also be used over the phone. Use healthy skepticism when you receive phone calls that demand money or request sensitive personal and financial information.

Content provided by Forefield for use by Eliot M. Weissberg, CFP®, CFS, of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. The Investors Center, Inc. is an independent company. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from various sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Eliot Weissberg and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Past performances may not be indicative of future results. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

M20-2938960 through 2/5/21

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