It’s that time of year when the weather gets cooler, and it starts getting dark earlier. Football games, baseball playoffs and new television series begin taking a slice of our social time. Beyond the pumpkin-flavored coffees and pastries, new decorations appear in our homes and subdivisions. In October, people hang their spooky decorations and take the opportunity to become someone or something different so they can have a party or get some treats. It also can become a scary time for those who believe ghosts haunt our world.
Outside of traditional ghosts, a distinct type of phantom lurks behind our electronic devices. As we have some unrealistic comfort in the privacy of our devices, the “ghosts,” as I call them, are working behind the scenes in “the Upside Down” to gain our identity or something that isn’t theirs. Every time we learn new ways to protect ourselves from the monsters, they pop up again.
Unfortunately, law enforcement is handling more cases involving compromised personal information and/or funds. Seeing these cases on a daily basis is like a broken record. No individual or organization is exempt from this potential threat. I, myself, routinely get calls on my city phone from scammers just looking for the opportunity to infiltrate. So if you’re one of the fortunate few who has avoided harm or the attempts, consider yourself lucky and count your days.
In that light, I wanted to offer encouragement through a mental paradigm shift to help you protect yourself. The list below is not inclusive but might help with your protection:
- Understand if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Avoid greedy responses to the unexpected checks in the mail.
- Avoid opening emails from unfamiliar sources or email addresses.
- Avoid clicking on a link from an unknown source in emails and texts.
- Don’t give out your passwords.
- Change your passwords frequently.
- Make an independent validation before taking any compromising steps if you get a strange email, call or letter.
- Understand that legitimate financial institutions and organizations will not be inquiring about your Social Security information through emails or calls.
- Understand that social media is not a safe place.
At the end of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry! A little extra effort now could save you from a nightmare down the road. Talk to your more vulnerable family members about these safeguards. Hopefully, we can stay ahead of the creatures who want to steal our identities.
Until next time, stay safe.
– Bill Westenberger has served as chief since 2008. He was given the 2019 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year Award.
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