Attorney Email Scams
Attorneys are being targeted for email phishing scams on a national level and Cape Cod is no exception. Hackers are targeting lawyers through legal directories like AVVO, Lawyers.com, Findlaw.com and just recently our local directory, LocalLawyersCapeCod.com.
This particular email scam stems back a full year. In this link, you will find numerous examples. The scams are as local as Yarmouth and as far away as Malaysia and The Netherlands. Help others become aware by posting anything you may have received in the comments section at the end of the list: LAWYER EMAIL SCAM
How to Prevent Lawyer Email Scams
- Look twice. Before you open anything be sure to take note of who sent the email and read the subject line carefully. All email settings offer an option to display a snippet of what the email is about. This will help you decide if you should click on the email and open it.
- Look for misspellings, poor grammar, foreign names and domain names with extensions other than .com, .net, .biz, org. because they are dead giveaways to spammers. For example, in many of the instances contained in the link above, the subject line read Website Enquiry. Our standard would have read Website Inquiry.
- It’s best if you don’t open the email at all, but if you do, DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS or ATTACHMENTS contained inside the email. This is where trouble escalates. Clicking on these may invite the spammers into your device or even more hazardous, into your network leaving you vulnerable for future infiltrations.
- REPORT SPAM, delete it and let all staff, peers, or other appropriate individuals know so they don’t fall prey to the same thing. If you’ve been compromised, notify your I.T. resource immediately and perform a full virus scan on your computer device(s) and systems/networks to insure there has not been any breach.
- Keep hardware and software up to date at all times. Every update coming out today deals with security. Make sure you have antivirus/malware, such as Avast or Sophos installed on all devices at a bare minimum and set up regularly scheduled scans. It does help reroute spam into junk folders automatically before issues happen. Be assured, it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.
Common Myths & Misconceptions
- Mac computers are virus free; this is blatantly untrue;
- Open networks such as in hotels, restaurants or tapping into public hotspots are convenient; True but very RISKY;
- Servers offer protection. A server is good for backing up material but not immune to hacks;
- Antivirus & Firewalls are all you need. They are a prudent and advisable step, but one of many you need to take.
Increased threats and cyber scams are on the rise, they will continue, and will definitely pose more damage. Take security seriously and be proactive.
A sophisticated security system is worth its weight in gold if it prevents your financial data, or worse yet, your client’s information from being compromised. You will have to determine what level of security makes you feel comfortable. As with insurance, you rarely can have too much security and a unified threat management system is the best insurance for now.
One of the biggest data breaches of all times just occurred and you can expect more to come. Equifax, one of the ‘big 3’ credit reporting agencies announced a data breach was believed to affect 143 million consumers. According to Equifax, the information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, some driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 consumers, and dispute documents with personal information for approximately 182,000 consumers.
A local Cape Cod mortgage specialist, Edward Moloney of GMH Mortgages Services, LLC provides valuable information and recommends 3 Things YOU CAN DO if you are among those compromised. Bottom line is it’s important to keep tabs on the situation and make sure you are taking any additional steps as necessary.
Control What You Can
The onus of responsibility is in your lap. Not all things are in your control but for the things that are, take control. Always inquire about systems and policies with individuals or businesses where an exchange of confidential or financial information occurs.This could be someone as trusted as your lawyer. Find out if they invest in anything that protects you and your information. If not, DO NOT give them access to your information and find someone who does. Never divulge your social security number, drivers license, birthdate, address (or any combination thereof) especially online but also in person if you can possibly avoid it. It’s become standard to ask for this information but that doesn’t mean you have to answer it.
If you’ve ever applied for credit or taken out any kind of loan, then one or all of the ‘Big 3’ credit reporting agencies below will likely have tabs on you. You are entitled to one free credit report annually. Get it and get used to monitoring it from now on.
- Equifax – www.equifax.com. P.O. Box 740241. Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. 1-888-766-0008.
- Experian – www.experian.com. P.O. Box 9554. Allen, TX 75013-9554. 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com. P.O. Box 2000. Chester, PA 19016. 1-800-680-7289.
If you have reason to believe that you are the victim of identity theft, you should contact your local police department, the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). The FTC will also provide information about avoiding identity theft.
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580; 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
State Attorneys General: Information on how to contact your state attorney general may be found at www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php.
At a minimum, always:
- Be alert and stay informed
- Use private, secure networks with all devices at all time
- Inquire about external network and security systems