View Points Newsletter Article | Spring 2016

A Note from Ron

Thieves and criminals have been with humanity for a long time. It’s unfortunate. Nowadays, we all must watch out for online and electronic scams, including the onset of something called Social Engineering that can catch most of us by surprise.

Social Engineering isn’t necessarily new, but it has seen a surge as the value of personal data has increased. Here’s how the crime works: a person might come to your door or call on the phone posing as a technician for your Internet provider. They might ask for your login credentials for your home network, which would give them complete access to any unprotected computer. While that might not seem like a terrible thing, imagine if they were able to monitor when you shop online and steal your credit card information or login credentials.

This is a real scenario that happens every day. Other Social Engineering crimes include:

  • Pretexting: a person poses as a co-worker, police officer, tax authority, clergy member, or insurance investigator and asks for personal information, such as Social Security Numbers. This crime often happens via social media, such as Facebook.
  • Baiting: if you ever find a USB flash drive laying around and you cannot find the owner, do not put it into your computer. More often than not, it is packed with Malware that will infect your computer the instant you install it.
  • Quid Pro Quo: in this scam, a thief will randomly call phone numbers stating they are “returning a call for customer service.” Eventually, someone will actually be waiting for a call back. The con artist will then ask for the victim’s personal information to verify their identity.

You Can Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself and your personal information is to be vigilant. If a person doesn’t seem legitimate, ask for identification or call the company and authenticate the person before giving out information or allowing them into your home. The same goes for phone calls. Ask the person for their name and extension and tell them you will call them back. Hang up and then call the company using a number you know and trust. If they are legitimate, the extension they gave you will work.

For more information about protecting yourself online and how St. Helens Community protects your financial information with the latest in authentication measures, visit

-Ron Winter, Chief Technology & Information Officer