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Tips On How To Avoid Internet Hacks And Scams

LEONARDTOWN, Md. -- With our ever-expanding dependence on technology, there are bound to be people who try to take advantage of people on the internet. In addition to internet scams and hacks, there are over-the-phone scams that attempt to steal personal information.  Below are some tips from the St. Mary’s County Sheriff Office on how to spot potential scams and what to do to avoid coming in contact with them.

Online Scams

-Do not open or click on links from emails that you do not recognize, even from ones that appear to be businesses or organizations.  You should immediately delete them so they are removed from your inbox.
-This also applies to links received over text messages. A general rule of thumb is to not click links when you aren’t sure where it will take you.
-Always look for the secure site icon near the URL, otherwise any information you submit there is not secure.

Over the Phone Scams

-Be aware and cautious of numbers that you do not recognize or not expecting.  Do not be tricked by their attempts to threaten you with false ploys of cutting off electricity, water, etc., or saying you or a loved one will be in legal trouble if you do not act now. 
-If a scammer starts to demand payments through gift cards, that is an automatic giveaway for fraud.
-Scam calls will try to steal your money and information through non-legitimate methods, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office stated that they “do not call citizens demanding payments and threatening arrest. Some scammers will go as far as using actual names from agencies, but they are still angling for the same result – to deceive you out of your money.”

What To Do If You Think You’re The Victim Of A Scam

-If you suspect that you are a victim of a scam, alert your local sheriff's department to make a report.
-Secure all your bank accounts.  Call the number on the back of your bank card to explain why you suspect you may be experiencing fraud, and they will walk you through the next steps to take. The faster you act, the more likely you are to resolve the issue.
-For online victims, change all passwords immediately.
-Contact the three major credit bureaus to have a fraud alert placed on your account, adding a security freeze.

If a person has lost money due to fraud, they can contact the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office at 301-475-8008 or make a report online at https://www.firstsheriff.com/citizenreport/

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