Another internet scam has reared its ugly head and is duping Metro Detroiters out of making their utility payments.

The Better Business Bureau and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department recently reported that utility customers have been contacted by affiliates of a fake “Presidential program,” claiming that President Obama can provide credits or apply payments to their water, electric and heating bills.

Victims of the scheme have been contacted in person, through fliers, text messages and social media, directing them to send their Social Security and bank routing numbers. Customers are then given a false bank routing number in return that will supposedly pay their utility bills.

Don’t fall for it. There is no such program.

With a variety of social media scams and hackers trying to access your information these days, protecting your security online can seem a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. There are many simple precautions you can take to prevent such a problem from arising:

  1. Don’t share personal information with anyone (account numbers, passwords, etc.).
  2. Use complicated passwords that you can memorize.
  3. Use different passwords for different accounts.
  4. Be mindful of which third party applications you authorize on your accounts and remove access to applications you don’t use frequently.
  5. Change your password at least twice a year.

Preventing hackers from having an easy opportunity is key. But what if it’s already too late? Sometimes being hacked is simply beyond your control. It happens to the best of us.

LinkedIn had its very own debacle in June – a file containing 6.5 million unique passwords appeared in an online forum based in Russia. More than 200,000 of those passwords have reportedly been cracked.

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to such an occurrence, the faster you act, the better!

The first thing you should do is change your password. After that, look through your list of third party applications and delete any programs that you do not recognize or do not use.

If you can’t access your account, try logging in via your mobile device. If you still aren’t having any luck, contact the account host in every way possible (email, phone and other social networks) to inform them of the intrusion.

The hacker may be sending messages or posting on your behalf. Find a way to inform your friends and followers (via email or other social networks) that you’ve been hacked and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. Don’t let someone else’s spam ruin your reputation.

The following links (from their respective sites) are very helpful if you find yourself in this situation:
Twitter Account Assistance
Facebook Account Assistance
YouTube Account Assistance
Google Plus Account Assistance
LinkedIn Account Assistance

Remember – preventing an easy opportunity for hackers is the best thing you can do. Keep your personal information to yourself and act quickly if you believe your account has been compromised!