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Cyber Safety Glossary

Social Engineering Scams

Also Known As:

Social Engineering is a scam that preys upon our acceptance of authority and willingness to cooperate with others. The Social Engineer’s objective is to extract sensitive information such as your social security number, bank account information, or login name and password to a website.

Social Engineering scams are most commonly perpetrated over the telephone or via email. One recent fraud involved criminals calling people and claiming there was a warrant out for their arrest because they failed to show up for jury duty. The caller asked for the person’s social security number to “verify their identity.” Many of the scammer’s potential victims complied with the official-sounding request. Another scam involved a Phishing email that appeared to come from the Internal Revenue Service and asked for personal financial information.

How to Recognize This Threat:
Be wary of any “official” email, telephone call, text message, or in-person encounter that asks you to give out identity or financial information.

What Should I Do:
Never give out a social security number, passwords, or financial information in response to an unsolicited message, call, or in-person encounter. Do not click on links in unsolicited emails. Delete the email. After that, if you are concerned, call the organization. You can also open your Web browser, type the organization’s website address, and log in.