LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
Don’t Click That Link! How to Avoid Phishing Scams
MICHAEL PERRY, CLIENT ACCOUNTING SERVICES MANAGER
You’ve probably seen it before: an email that sounds like it came from your bank or the IRS or another entity. It insists that you must click a link or open an attachment, or else really bad things will happen to you.
Sometimes you have no association with the sender. Those are easy to spot. But if you’re a QuickBooks user, be aware that a new email scam may target you. The subject reads, “QuickBooks Support: Change Request,” and the message is “verifying” that you asked Intuit to change your business name.
Whether or not you did, do not click on the link that “allows” you to cancel. It’s a phishing scam, a way to gain access to your computer and install malware that can grab your website user names and passwords, making you vulnerable to identity theft. Intuit never sends emails requesting login information, software downloads, or bank/credit card information.
Don’t Be a Victim
“Phishing” is meant to sound like “fishing” because that’s what its perpetrators do: send mass emails in the hope that a few people will fall prey to their schemes. Malicious links and attachments are the bait, and you’re the intended victim.
Don’t be. There are numerous ways to avoid getting caught. Here are some suggestions.
- Verify questionable emails from known sources. You can’t simply stop clicking links and opening attachments in emails. Sometimes, they’re required for your work. Friends may send you something funny or inspirational or newsworthy that you want to see. If you didn’t request this or know it was coming, consider checking with the sender.
- Don’t be taken in by official-looking email correspondence. Scammers have gotten increasingly sophisticated; they use familiar fonts and logos or other graphics to make the message look legitimate.
- Keep familiar patterns in mind. Does the sender usually contact you by email? If not, contact the company directly to see if it’s for real.
- Use your detective skills. Check out the reply address and the link itself (hover over it with your mouse) to make sure they contain the company’s exact domain name.
- Keep your computer safe. Your computer’s operating system and web browsers should always be running the latest updates. Use antivirus and anti-malware applications, and keep them current, too.
- Check your online bank activity regularly. Once scammers have the keys to your finances, they can do an incredible amount of damage very quickly. Consider opening a separate checking account with a low balance for online purchases.
Your Identity is Worth It
Some of these suggestions require extra time and care when you’re going through your daily mountains of email, which can already be an onerous task. And you may not want to spring for system protection applications. But imagine the inconvenience and expense of having your identity stolen. It’s worth a few extra minutes every day to protect it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MIKE PERRY + CLIENT ACCOUNTING SERVICES DIRECTOR
Mike Perry is a Client Accounting Services Director at Lutz with over 15 years of accounting experience. He focuses on providing business consulting, software implementation and training, accounting procedure assistance and outsourced accounting replacement consulting for closely held companies.
AREAS OF FOCUS
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Member
- Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants, Member
- Intuit Certified ProAdvisor, QuickBooks Advanced
- Certified Public Accountant
- BSBA in Accounting, University of Nebraska, Kearney, NE
- Community Bike Project Omaha, Past Treasurer
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- Don't Click That Link! How to Avoid Phishing Scams
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