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Scam emails and spoofed phone numbers are plentiful these days − we should all be ready to deal with them on a daily basis. It’s important to take care to verify the source of any request for your attention or your money – even if the request seems to be from a co-worker, friend or family member.

The criminals behind these efforts use the names and spoofed phone numbers of trusted entities to try to part you and your money and nobody is immune. We’ve even had recent reports of spoofers pretending to be calling from Allen Insurance and Financial in an attempt to scam the unaware.

These calls and emails are from people who want your money or your personal information or to hold your computer for ransom. We all want to help a loved one, friend or colleague – but the key is to slow down and check a few things before replying or taking further action.

Spoofing is when someone disguises a communication as coming from a known, trusted source. Spoofing can apply to emails, phone calls, and websites, or can be more technical, such as one computer spoofing another computer or a website.

Also known as phishing, scam emails pretend to be from someone you know – but the return email address is not quite right (by a letter or two) or completely wrong and may ask you for gift cards to for “help with an important task.”  The return email address could also be exactly right and from someone you know – but the request is for money or assistance.

To avoid spoofing:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.

The Federal Trade Commission offers lots of good advice on how to avoid spoofed phone calls. ftc.gov/spoofing.

To avoid emails scams:

  • Always think twice before clicking – whether it’s opening an email or an attachment.
  • Double check return email addresses. If something doesn’t seem right, or too good to be true, or of an urgent nature, pick up the phone and call the sender of the email to verify. This one extra step can make a real difference.
  • Don’t open attachments to emails from people you don’t know.
  • Read the email carefully. Does it sound right or is the text out of character?
  • Never send your birth date or social security number by email.

More from the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams

Allen Insurance and Financial and L.S. Robinson Co. will never call or email to ask you to sign up for a credit card, purchase a medical alert system or to send us gift cards. Clients and members of the public should feel free to call us at 236-4311 to see if a correspondence or phone call actually came from our office.

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