AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Internet scammers continue to be on the prowl, especially during a pandemic.
Dr. Michael Nowatkowski is an associate professor at Augusta University’s School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.
He says there are red flags that can help you spot a scammer. If someone claims to be contacting you from the government, and they ask for confidential personal information, it is likely not legitimate.
“The government is never going to call you and ask you for that information,” Dr. Nowatkowski said. “And they’re especially not going to ask you to give them any money.”
There are times, however, when it is appropriate to give personal information over the internet, like when filing taxes or requesting a stimulus check. In those situations, make sure you sought out the interaction. The IRS will not initiate this type of activity.
Dr. Nowatkowski says when seeking or submitting information, web addresses ending in .gov are the safest route.
“IRS.gov or CDC.gov, you can be reasonably assured that that is a legitimate website,” Dr. Nowatkowski said. “If it ends in something else, IRS.com or CDC.net or something like that, that’s likely not a legitimate website.”
And it’s never safe to click on links that are randomly sent to you.
“One way that attackers can gain access to your devices is by sending you a link that then goes to a website that could download malware onto your device,” Dr. Nowatkowski said. “It’s challenging for attackers to get into your devices without you letting them in.”
You can report fraud and scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.