Scammers don’t take a holiday break

UT Chief Information Security Officer Cam Beasley reminds us that although the winter break is almost at hand, scams are still in full effect. There are simple steps you can take to protect your private information.

Shop carefully
For any last-minute purchases, Beasley recommends keeping these points in mind:

  • Check your devices. Before starting your hunt for the best deal, make sure your devices are up-to-date and all of your accounts have strong passwords. If you purchase an internet connected device or toy, change the default password and check the device’s privacy and security settings to make sure you’re not sharing more information than you want.
  • Shop through trusted retailers. Before making a purchase and providing any personal or financial information, make sure you are using a reputable, established vendor. Similarly, if you are planning to make a charitable donation, be sure to research to whom or where your donation is going in order to ensure it is a legitimate organization.
  • Use safe methods for purchases. If you can, use a credit card or other forms of digital payments as opposed to a debit card. Credit cards often have better fraud protections.

Beware of unexpected multi-factor authentication requests
In cases where a scammer might have tricked you with a phishing email—one that tries to scam you into surrendering private information for the purpose of identity theft—the scammer still needs to get past the Duo authentication check, Beasley explains.

“They will oftentimes try to blindly trigger a Duo Push hoping that you will approve it so that they can bind their own phone or device to your account for future use,” Beasley said.

Additionally, never accept a Duo Push request from an unexpected caller (a form of vishing—a call encouraging you to provide sensitive data). The push request can be a route to accessing your accounts. Once you have accepted a Duo push, you will not easily know when your accounts are being accessed.

Be alert to income tax scams
With income tax season approaching as well as the holidays, Beasley cautions that many of us can expect to be targeted with tax fraud scams. Visit Defending Against Identity Theft for Information Security Office tips on protecting your personal data.

Scam Protection
Dec. 10, 2021