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The Dark Side of the Internet: Protect Yourself From Online Scams and Digital Attacks

 

In the digital age, online scams and cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, posing risks to not only everyday users but also to lawyers who manage clients’ sensitive information. But there’s no need to fear if you take measures to keep your data safe. And if (when?) you’re working with a lawyer, you should also know what actions lawyers take to protect your data. Taking these two approaches, let’s discuss how you can safeguard yourself from these digital attackers and how lawyers ensure their clients’ data is protected from the bad guys. 

And since this article is being published around “Star Wars Day” (i.e., May 4th, as in “May the fourth (Force) be with you”), I’ll refer to the bad guys as the “Dark Side” just for fun.

 

7 Tips to Protect Yourself From the Dark Side

Navigating the internet safely requires vigilance and knowledge about potential threats, even as the Dark Side constantly comes up with online scams and attacks designed to steal personal information or harm your devices. Here are some essential steps to protect yourself from these cyber threats and ensure your digital experience remains secure.

  1. Verify who you’re interacting with and confirm the identity of anyone asking for personal details online. Scammers often pretend to be from a trusted company. If you receive an email or message that looks suspicious, or even a little off, contact the company directly using information from their official website.  
  2. Create strong passwords. This is crucial. Your passwords should be long, unique, and include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using common words or sequences that can be easily guessed. Additionally, use different passwords for different sites. A password manager can help you generate and manage secure passwords.
  3. Don’t click on links or attachments without knowing who the sender is. Clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources can be dangerous. These can lead to fake websites designed to steal your information or install malware on your device. When in doubt, don’t click, especially when links come to you via text. Never, ever click a link sent to you via text without verifying that the sender is a real friend or company you are doing business with. 
  4. Keep your software and devices updated. Regular updates help fix security vulnerabilities. Use antivirus software to protect against malware and other threats.
  5. Educate yourself about the types of scams that exist, such as phishing emails that ask for personal information or offer too-good-to-be-true deals. Being aware is your first line of defense.
  6. If you get a call from a bank, a government agency or even from a child or grandchild asking for money or gift cards for any reason, or access to your computer, tell the caller you will call them back. Hang up, and call your child or grandchild directly, OR the bank or government agency and find out if they were actually calling you. As an added measure, with your family, have a family “code phrase” that must be spoken out loud in the event of an emergency, such as “blackie is a brown dog” or something unique that only your family would know.
  7. MOST IMPORTANT: Never give anyone remote access to your computer, unless it is from a tech support company you engaged with proactively, meaning you called the tech support line on the Company’s website directly, and you initiated the request for support. Scammers will pretend they are from Coinbase or your bank, and tell you they need to access your computer to resolve your account problem. Do not fall for it.

It’s also important to note here that the elderly are the most targeted group for online scammers. So if your parents fall into this age group, pass along this article to them so they are armed with knowledge to protect themselves.

 

The Dark Side Won This Time, Now What?

Even after taking all these measures, sometimes the bad guys get away with it and scam you, or a loved one. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, it’s important to act quickly. Immediately inform your bank or relevant service provider if you’ve shared any sensitive information. They can take steps to protect your account. You should also update your passwords right away, especially if you believe they may have been compromised. Again, ensure your new passwords are strong and unique. You may also want to report the scam to the alleged sender, so they know someone is impersonating them and can take protective measures themselves. And if applicable, report the scam to the relevant online platform, or even the local police, consumer protection agencies, or internet crime complaint centers. 

 

Rest Easy Knowing We Have Your Back

At our law firm, we don’t just give legal advice; we’re your trusted advisor for life. If you’ve been scammed, we can help you set up your affairs in such a way that there are layers of protection built-in so it doesn’t happen again. As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we’re also here for your family. If your elderly parents don’t have an estate plan in place – or it’s been a while since they had it reviewed – we are here for them too. We can help them protect not only their data, but everything they want to pass on to you. 

If you want to learn more about how we can help you and your parents create a Life & Legacy estate plan that keeps your family out of court and conflict and ensures your plan works when you need it to, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

 

This article is a service of Stephanie D. Hon, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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