by Ksenia Annis, WAS-H Communications Director
There is no doubt that the WAS-H website is a great place for our members and guests. They can find information about events, see the latest show winners, sign up for classes, and read the blog. Guests can learn about our organization and, maybe, join.
Unfortunately, criminals are visiting our website as well.
No matter how hard WAS-H board of directors works to protect the information that is stored on the website, it is also important for every one of us to be aware of dangers and not give those scammers a chance to do harm.
Several recent attacks happened when con artists “harvested” emails from the teachers list on our blog.
They pretend to be one of the teachers and send emails to the rest of the list asking “to help out” with some money supposedly for WAS-H needs.
There were also instances when board members received emails with attachments supposedly pertaining to organization’s business but really meant to get sensitive personal info.
Emails have been removed from the Teacher’s List to prevent further attempts.
There are several things each one of us can do to recognize these scams.
When you receive any electronic communication( email, text message, or social media message (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) be on the lookout for the following suspicious requests:
- Asking for money
- Asking for gift cards
- Asking to open an attachment
- Asking to click a link
- Or anything unexpected from the supposed sender
Even if you recognize the name in the sender line, pause for just a second and double check the following:
- Look at the actual email address, not just the sender’s name. Most people use their actual name or initials in the email address. If it’s a strange assortment of letters and numbers, most likely a scammer created it specifically to con people. You can also compare the email address with previous messages from this person, if you have some in your mailbox.
- A similar situation arises when you receive an email purportedly from a company’s customer service. Just look at the domain name in the sender’s email. For example, FedEx or UPS will send emails only from …@fedex.com or …@ups.com, not …@fedexcustomerservice.com or …@upsgiveaway.com etc.
- Scammers often don’t have a good command of the English language or use machine translation. If the email starts with a generic address (“Hello dear”, “Dear Madame,”) or contains unnatural sounding phrases like: I've got credence in you to take care of this… or Will you be able to procure this for me…, it is most likely a scam.
- If you received a phishing email (meant to get personal information or money out of you), you can double check with the person who you think is trying to contact you by other means - a different email address, phone, text. Do not forward the phishing email and of course do not reply to it. You can mark it as spam or junk in your email program. It’s also a good idea to report phishing emails, this is how to do it:
Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).
Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
A few other safety measures will go a long way in protecting you from online attacks.
- Use different strong passwords (containing letters, numbers and special symbols) on important online accounts, anything associated with finances or containing personal information, like your social media accounts.
- Many websites now offer a two-step verification process, when they send you a verification code at the login attempt. It’s always a good idea to have that turned on in your profile settings.
All this seems like a lot of additional hassle, but unfortunately this is the reality we have to deal with on a daily basis. Remember, if you get questions or requests regarding WAS-H business, or need to contact a teacher and can’t find their email address, you can always contact our administrative assistant Laura and verify things with her or ask her to pass on a message. It is up to us all to be vigilant and not let criminals take advantage.