There are some basic truths which, if taken to heart, can protect you from the majority of phone, email, and Internet scams. You may already know them. If you do, feel free to share them with others, especially young people. They’re far more likely to fall for scams.

  1. ┬áNo one can see into your device. If they call or contact you saying there’s a problem, it’s a scam. Your mechanic doesn’t randomly call you at home to say there’s something wrong with your transmission. He or she only knows about an issue if you take the vehicle into the shop with a complaint or for a tune-up. Microsoft, Apple, or any other tech company cannot see into your device and know you’re having an issue unless you’ve specifically given them access.
  2. Companies don’t call you. If you want to talk to Microsoft about a problem, you’ll have to contact them and you’ll probably have to wait a while to get someone to talk to you. The only time they call you is if you’ve called them and set up an appointment for someone to call you back.
  3. Anyone you have an account with already has your account information. They don’t need your password or your bank account information to reconfirm anything.
  4. Neither government agencies or computer companies leave threatening messages saying that you only have a few minutes or hours to act or you’ll lose your account, face a big fine, or possibly do jail time. That’s not how any of that works.
  5. Legitimate companies don’t want payment in gift cards, Bitcoin, or wire transfer. Legitimate companies accept credit, debit, or PayPal payments that you can dispute.