Protecting yourself from online scams during the holidays

MARQUETTE COUNTY — Online scams are always an issue, but the Michigan State Police Negaunee Post says that the threat increases during the holiday season.

Anyone can easily become a victim of an online scam, but the elderly are particularly targeted, especially at this time of the year. Much like telephone scams, scammers will contact you claiming to be with an organization such as the IRS or a police department. Scammers are able to make themselves appear very real, which is one of the reasons so many people fall for them.

“One of the scams that are going on currently is when people might contact you and say they work for Microsoft and say that your checking account was credited for a certain amount of money,” said Michigan State Trooper Alan Park. “So what they get people to do is allow them to remote access into their computer, and the person will have them log into their online bank account. At that point, they have your login information, your password, your security questions, and they just start withdrawing money out of your account.”

Once a scammer withdraws money from your account, the chances of getting your money back are extremely slim. Even with police assistance, victims are almost never able to retrieve their money. 

One thing to remember if you’re ever contacted by someone claiming to need sensitive information, such as your social security number, is that business of that nature will always be handled in person by an organization like the IRS. Another thing to keep in mind if you’re not sure whether or not someone contacting you is legitimate is that your local police department is always available to help you.

“If you have any suspicions that the person is not who they say they are or that you’re being scammed, you can always call the State Police Post,” said Trooper Park. “You can also come down to the Post in person or go to the Sheriff’s Office or the police department in your city, and we can verify that for you.”

The most important tings to remember are never give out personal information over email, don’t give anyone remote access to your computer, and never give someone access your bank records. If you believe you are the victim of an online scam or have any questions, you can call the Michigan State Police Negaunee Post at (906) 475-9922, or you can visit the department at 180 US Highway 41 E, Negaunee, MI 49866.