In 2010, more than 74 million Americans were victims of some type of cybercrime, leading to $32 billion in direct financial losses. As the world becomes more technologically dependent, computer criminals are finding new ways to scam and cheat unsuspecting victims. This is partly due to the growth and popularity of smartphones, which offer a new platform for crooks to exploit. Take a minute to educate yourself on three of the most common cybercrimes. Doing so will help you learn how to identify them and avoid falling victim to these relentless con artists.
1. Identity Theft
Approximately 9 million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year. This unfortunate crime happens when a criminal is able to access your personal information and use it for their own benefit. Cyber thieves will employ a number of tactics to pilfer this information, including skimming, phishing and pretexting. To protect yourself against identity theft, avoid sharing private info, such as your social security number, bank account number and credit card number, in an email, IM or any unencrypted communication channels.
You should also avoid sending this personal information over Wi-Fi networks, which oftentimes are not protected by security software. Additionally, never submit your credit card number through a site you’re skeptical of, and be wary of emails asking you for any private information.
2. Social Media Scams
Social media outlets, namely Facebook and Twitter, are some of the greatest innovations in recent memory. However, they are also being exploited by fraudsters and thieves. Many scammers will simply request to be your friend so they have more access to your personal information. They may also attempt to swindle you into divulging your username and password so they can gain control of your account. Some criminals are even using social media to target homes for burglary. Consequently, you should avoid accepting friend requests from anyone you don’t know and never post details about upcoming vacations or other whereabouts.
It also helps to have a monitored alarm system installed at your home. Currently, ADT is offering 24-hour monitoring for just $9 per week. Check out www.totalalarmsystems.com if you’re interested in learning more.
3. Money Transfer Scams
The rise of online banking has made it possible to transfer funds across the globe in mere minutes. It’s also made it possible for overseas scammers to trick you into sending them your hard-earned cash. There are numerous versions of money transfer fraud, including inheritance scams, Nigerian 419 scams, up-front payment scams and check overpayment scams.
Typically, scammers will attempt to solicit people through an email promising huge rewards or an easy way to get money. They may ask you to deposit a check for them, send them money upfront in exchange for a product or “reward, “or tell you that you’re the beneficiary of a large inheritance. To avoid falling victim to money transfer scams, never wire funds to a stranger or someone you haven’t met in person.