In this technological age, it seems like everything is at your fingertips. Have business to conduct? Pull out your smart phone and get it done. Have a report that is due while you are out of town and do not have all of the information you need? Find an internet café or public wifi, pull out your laptop computer and get to work. With the help of Wikipedia, Google, and any number of search sites, all of the information you need is at your fingertips. Great, right? It can be, but while it is easier for people to access information, it is also easier for hackers and scammers to access people’s personal information like social security numbers, bank accounts, and other personal information. Once they have that information, Tada! You now have six new credit cards, your debit card has been used to buy a new car half-way across the world, and you managed to get a speeding ticket in some hole-in-the-wall town three states over! Your identity was stolen! Scary, right? How can you protect yourself and your clients from this type of threat? Here are some tips for practicing public (and personal) internet safety:
- Never log into your email using public wifi. Get yourself a mifi device. A mifi device is a personal wifi that uses cellular broadband to make a wifi connection. Not super convenient, or free, but using a mifi device is much more secure. You can password protect it and it pulls from a private source. You can also typically use your smartphone as a personal hotspot.
- Change your passwords frequently. If a hacker gains access to your password, they may try to access your system or account more than once over a period of time. Changing your password reduces the risk that they will have frequent access. It also keeps things like a keystroke logger, which is surveillance technology used to record keystrokes, from obtaining your password through repeated logins.
- Never email any documents that have your client’s personal information. If you do email any documents that have that type of information, make sure it is password protected and encrypted.
- Stop and read an email before opening any attachments or following any links. If you do not have your email set up to preview a message before opening, modify your settings to allow it. A lot of attachments and links in fake emails from scammers and hackers have viruses and other little nasty surprises that can corrupt your system or open a backdoor for someone to get to the rest of your information.
- Do not use a free email service for your business email. Yes, they are convenient, and better yet, free. However, they have the barest minimum of security when it comes to allowing junk through.
Computers can be a convenient tool that can make our lives easier in many ways. By following these 5 rules, they can continue to be the tools that they are intended to be. Here at Tallgrass Title we are committed to protecting all of our associates and clients. Let us know how we can help you protect yourself and your clients from scammers and hackers.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a growing concern about email hackers, scammers, and phishers. Here at Tallgrass Title we receive fishy-looking emails on a regular basis. Our title agents go through regular training sessions to help detect these potentially dangerous messages. In order to help you protect your clients and yourselves from these pitfalls, we would like to share some things we have learned.
Here are some red flags that usually indicate an email is not legit:
- The message contains grammar and punctuation errors. A lot of emails coming from scammers sound like they come from someone living in a foreign country. If the language does not make sense to you, don’t follow their instructions.
- The sending email is usually misspelled, even it it’s just one letter missing or added to it. This is a big one and is easily missed since it is so small. Instead of firstname.lastname@example.org you may see email@example.com. (See, it can be very difficult to detect…)
- If you hover over the sender’s email address, it may show a different address. The email may say “from: firstname.lastname@example.org”, but when you move your cursor over it, there is a different email address or a whole string of random letters and characters.
- Another thing that should be an immediate cause of concern is any phrase that conveys a sense of urgency. Phrases like “do this immediately” or “as soon as possible” are often used. Also, the message might ask you to do something sooner or in a different order than you expected.
Here are some actions you can take:
- Google the company name in the auto sig. Does the address under the signature match the information on the company website?
- If you ever get a feeling that an email just doesn’t sound right, call the sender. Remember that you might not want to use the phone number listed in the suspicious email. Try to use a number you already have saved from before. Most people will be reasonable about it as soon as they realize that you are trying to protect them.
- Never send a client’s contact information or other personal information by email without protecting it. For example, do not email a completed deed packet back to us with the 1099 form. If the 1099 form has been filled out, it will have your client’s Social Security Number, address, and phone. This is a good opportunity for a scammer to steal your client’s identity!
- Use our paperless closer program to send documents to us. Access it through the client login on our website, www.tallgrasstitleks.com. We are able to view the document as soon as you upload it.
- Educate your clients. Go ahead and mention to your clients that there is a concern about this. Let them know a couple of things to watch out for.
Here at Tallgrass Title we are very serious about protecting our client’s information. Something very important to remember is, we will never ever email wire instructions without password protection. If someone emails wire information to us, we will call the sender to confirm. Please be sure to contact us if you have questions or concerns about a message you have received. We are always happy to take a phone call to confirm any instructions or requests we have sent to you.