Security expert and friend of Good Joe offers some timely advice for the buying season.
Whether you’re transacting via the Internet, the phone or the till, you need to watch out for anything suspicious that could be fraudulent. But what does “suspicious” mean and how do you spot it? Strengthening the way we protect ourselves against fraudsters means not only knowing our enemy but also understanding our own weaknesses.
We all have one or more “hot buttons” that can make us do something we shouldn’t. These are things that fraudsters know about us and exploit.
For example, we will happily do something for others if they do something apparently beneficial for us. We’re also inclined to act like sheep, blindly following what others have seemingly done. Another of our buttons is how we automatically obey people who look like authority figures - doctors, suited and booted business people, and even people wearing yellow fluorescent jackets. Then there’s how we like and instantly trust people who seem to have a connection with us - have the same name or birth month, or similar tastes in films, hobbies and sports.
In fact many of the “hot button” techniques used by fraudsters resemble those used by sharp sales people. They know we value things that appear to be scarce, such as special “limited edition” and “one day only” offers. That we’re driven to be happy, to help others, to experience new sensations, and that we can lose our self-control.
In other words, they know how to press our buttons. So what can we do about it?
Whether in person, on the phone, by letter or on the Internet, be suspicious of
They have their own buttons so use them.
Uncertainty signals risk so always be wary whenever you feel unsure. Keep asking questions to regain control. If you feel uncomfortable, end it. Put the phone down, close the email, shut the door, leave the room, walk away or ask them to put it in writing.