More than 1 in 5 Americans have been, or know someone who was a victim of cyber crime.  Protecting our personal and business information online is a daily task and requires vigilance.  There are dozens of ways we can be scammed.  It may be an email hack, a phishing scam, a Nigerian money order or a product that sounds just too good to be true.

Here are 8 red flags to stay alert for:

  1.  An Increased Number Of Pop-Ups.
    An increase in pop-ups in browser windows could be the first sign that your information has been compromised.  This is especially troubling if it is accompanied by sudden crashes or stalling.
  2. Odd Software Behavior.
    Automatic mouse movements, changing of passwords, and unsolicited software installs could mean that someone is trying to steal your information in exchange for ransom.
  3. Resisting Update Downloads.
    Regularly updating your antivirus software is vital, but if you are unable to do so or you are unable to visit the vendor’s website, it is likely that someone is tampering with your network.
  4. Phishing Emails.
    Cyber criminals can easily manipulate the sender field to appear to be from an authoritative or legitimate company.  These emails look trustworthy and people often click on them, exposing themselves to a cyber attack.  They have poor or no photos, terrible formatting and often result in ‘data ransom‘, often costing several thousands of dollars for the release of your data.
  5. Payment Required Without Clarity.
    If upfront payment is required before you are given any real information about a product that you are interested in, it’s likely a scam.
  6. Required Downloads.
    This is one of the top ways online scammers can get to your information.  They ask or require you to download something.  This download contains malware which infects your hard drive and steals your information.  Check the source and trust notifications from your anti-malware software.
  7. Jargon.
    Be wary of jargon you don’t understand.  While reputable companies aim for customer clarity, fraudsters aim to confuse and trick.
  8. Too-Good-To-Be-True Promises.
    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Lofty promises are usually an attempt to steal your banking information.

One of the easiest ways to verify the source of a suspected email is to Google the sender.  Consider this your due diligence.  Look for a working phone number and make sure someone actually answers your call—don’t settle for an automated message.  Look for an address and then Google it.  Lastly, trust your intuition.

We hope that you enjoyed this article.  It was sourced from several others and is only intended to bring awareness to this pervasive crime.

Mastroianni Consulting is a unique consultancy firm whose goal is to assist Realtors to build their businesses and become more successful.  For more information, please reach us at (636) 220-7481 or contact a Client Care Specialist at

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