COLLEGE STATION, Texas — October is national cybersecurity awareness month and even though we're winding down into November, you should take cybersecurity seriously 365 days a year. With one click, your personal and financial information can be stolen and put in the hands of those who are up to no good. With COVID-19 also at the forefront of people's minds, it only heightens the stakes.
When it comes to a global pandemic, hackers will prey upon people who have concerns about the virus, or even those who are struggling financially due to a lack of work in a pandemic.
"A common phishing method for getting people's personal information is to use some kind of fear tactic, some kind of urgency where if you don't do this, then something bad will happen," said Officer Tristen Lopez, who is the public information officer for the College Station Police Department. "Either you're going to lose a lot of money or you're going to be charged with a criminal law offense."
Officer Lopez said it's important to follow the old mantra: if it sounds too good to be true, then it really is too good to be true. While that message is clear, it's important not to just think these scams all look alike.
"The common threads are 'how can we get someone to get caught off guard and give personal information that can be used to take out loans against their credit to steal their money, to steal their identity'," Officer Lopez said.
It's also important to only trust sources you know. If you're not sure who that person is that is sending you information, don't click on any links in your email or text messages. If you get an email or links in a text message from a source you know, before you click, contact them directly first before you do anything.
"Anytime you receive any kind of electronic communication, email, text message, don't click on any links. Don't go to any links, don't give anybody access," Officer Lopez said.
If you have lost money, or been involved in some kind of activity that you think may have been a scam, then contact the police department to find out where to file the report.
"Think before you click," Officer Lopez added.
If you do get a message you believe to be a scam, just delete it, Officer Lopez said. Better safe than sorry.