Protecting Members from Scams Is a Top Priority for DirectLink


If you have the internet, a phone, a mobile device, or even a mailing address, you can become the target of scams and other fraudulent attempts to steal your money or personal information.

Protecting members from these scams is one of DirectLink’s top priorities, according to Marketing Director Brian Strunk.

“One of the things that makes DirectLink unique is that as a cooperative we are very invested in the community,” says Strunk Currently. “We’re member-owned and everything we do is really driven by that community focus. Our goal is to always put the customer first and make sure they take care of them.”

Fighting scammers – even just to keep up to date with the latest trends and scams – requires a collaborative effort.

“All of our employees take regular cybersecurity training because there are so many creative ways to exploit vulnerabilities in networks,” explains Strunk. “It can be done through social engineering, malware, spyware and so on. And these scams can happen via email, phone calls, text messages — sometimes even a person knocking on your door.”

As a longtime telecoms provider, DirectLink is particularly vulnerable to scammers using some of the same technologies it grants access to to scam its members.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we take it so seriously, because we’re a service provider and we know how impactful it can be for victims,” ​​he said. “As a service provider, we have to take care of people.”

One of the most effective tools for fighting bad actors is information.

“One thing we’re really focused on is making sure members are informed, protecting themselves, and making good choices about what they want,” Strunk said. “Being aware, knowing what’s going on and asking the right questions can protect you from these things. But it takes a little work.”

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DirectLink — along with the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies tasked with protecting consumers from fraud — are emphasizing this everyone can be a victim of fraud regardless of age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, education, or other factors.

“Some of these people are really good at what they do,” Strunk said. “It can be difficult. They have become very sophisticated in how they get you from point A to point B. And anyone can be susceptible to it. It happens to everyone at some point where you’re like, ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have clicked that.’”

Consumers should be aware of—and likely already have experience with—some common tactics used by email, SMS, and robocall scammers, often attempting to create a sense of urgency e.g. that they are under investigation by the IRS.

“That’s not how we work,” Strunk said. “We don’t use scaremongering. We don’t threaten people.”

Many of these bad actors claim to represent legitimate government agencies, companies, or organizations – including DirectLink.

“We actually had a recent phone scam where they posed as DirectLink employees and made false claims about the company and the things members had to do to protect their service,” he said. “And it was completely wrong, completely inaccurate.”

Fortunately, many local residents have become wise enough to be part of the solution by helping to uncover these scams – to the point that DirectLink is occasionally hearing about a new scam for the first time from a member.

“When that happened, I actually think it showed that the company did a good job of educating people because we had a lot of people call and say, ‘I didn’t fall for it. I knew right away it wasn’t you,'” Strunk said.

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Much like an amateur detective, consumers looking for fraud must look for clues that a communication may not be legitimate — such as B. Typos or wrong URLs – and exercise extreme caution before sharing or confirming personal information.

If anything seems suspicious, hang up and call DirectLink directly to make sure you’re speaking to the right people. If the call is legitimate, the caller will understand.

“If it seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is,” Strunk said. “There are certain things that we just won’t do. We will not call you out of the blue and ask for your financial information. We are your service provider and have pretty much everything we need. We don’t have to come to our members and ask for confidential information.”

While DirectLink can’t track every scam out there, consumers can stay safe by staying informed, being cautious, and following a few basic tips.

“There are bad actors everywhere, but I still like to think that there are a lot of good people in the world and we help each other,” Strunk said. “And to the best of our ability, DirectLink will be there to help our members with these things.”

For more information about scams and the methods DirectLink uses to protect its members and their information, visit the cooperative’s website at directlink.coop/support/scams. If you have questions or need to report something to DirectLink, call 503-266-8111 or email [email protected]

To learn more about online privacy and how to stay safe online, you can also visit directlink.coop/classes to watch a recording of two recent community courses: 5 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information Online ‘ and the follow-up ‘5 More Ways to Protect Yourself Online.’

DirectLink hosts free virtual and in-person classes every few months to educate members about technology, connected devices, fraud, and other areas of interest. For upcoming class dates and topics, visit directlink.coop/classes.

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What you can do to avoid a scam

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice

Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take action to block unwanted calls and filter unwanted text messages.

Do not provide your personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request. Legitimate organizations will not call, email, or text you to ask for your personal information, such as your social security, bank account, or credit card number.

If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s legit, it’s still best not to click any links. Instead, contact them through a website that you know can be trusted. Or look up their phone number. Do not call a number provided to you or your caller ID number.

Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate companies give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you into paying or giving them your personal information is a scammer.

Learn how scammers ask you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to anyone.

Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone—a friend, a family member, a neighbor—what happened. Talking about it you can tell it is a scam.

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