Cyber Security: 3 Common Strategies Used by Scammers and How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
With cybercrime on the rise, keeping your personal information safe online by watching out for cybercrimes is now important than ever. As Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and Northern Colorado residents, we are well aware that scammers are constantly coming up with ways to hack into people’s phones, personal computers, tablets and internet accounts to get access to their personal information and money. It is therefore necessary to familiarize yourself with the strategies used by these fraudsters to so that you can protect yourself.
Here are some of the common tactics used by scammers to gain access to people’s personal information and money, and how you can protect yourself from cybercrime:
1. Phishing Scams
When scammers create fake emails or web pages that appear to be from a legitimate organization or person, it is referred to as a phishing scam. Usually, you will be asked to provide your bank account details, password, credit card number or Social Security number via that email or web page. Scammers can also contact you by phone or text message pretending to be from a genuine business like a telephone, bank or internet service provider and ask you for your personal information.
For instance, the scammer can tell you that the bank or company needs to verify customer records because of a technical error that erased customer data. Phishing messages are written in such a way that they look authentic, and usually copy the format used by the company the scammer is pretending to be from, including their logo and branding. The rule of thumb is to never give your personal information to anyone over the phone or online if you are not one hundred percent certain who they are.
If the email or phone call seems suspicious or looks off, it most likely is. And, if you make the mistake of giving the scammer your personal details, the details will be used to carry out fraudulent activities, like using your credit cards and stealing your money. So, avoid giving your personal information over the phone or online, unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with.
Another tactic used by cybercriminals that you need to watch out for is ransomware. Ransomware is malware that cybercriminals use to freeze phones, tablets and computers in order to steal important data, demanding a ransom. Ransomware prevents you from using those gadgets or accessing particular files until you have paid the ransom. It usually encrypts your files so that you cannot open them. Examples of ransomware include CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, Reveton and Locky.
Because ransomware is distributed as malware disguised as a file that is legitimate, you may assume that it is a legitimate file and install it on your device. However, when installed, it can lock your device and display a “lock screen” with a message stating that if you want to have access to your computer, pay a ransom. You can avoid ransomware by ensuring that you do not click on links or attachments from email addresses you don’t know, and do not download or open files from untrusted websites. Also, make sure that you keep your software up to date on all your gadgets, in particular antivirus or internet security software.
3. Charity Scams
You should also watch out for fake charities whose aim is to take advantage of your compassion and generosity for others in need. Although supporting charity organizations is a great thing to do, it is important to make sure that you do not become a victim of scammers. These fraudsters impersonate genuine charities and contact you, asking you for donations, usually after major events or a natural disaster. They can set up donation pages or send you fraudulent emails just to steal your money.
Before you donate money to charity, make sure that you do your research first. Avoid new organizations established for a particular crisis. Instead, go for those trusted organizations that have been around for some time. And watch out for charity organizations whose names are very similar to popular charities. Also, be on the lookout for phony social media accounts, emails, phone calls and crowdfunding requests, including email attachments from contacts that are familiar. Do not rush to donate your hard-earned money without properly evaluating the charity organization first.
The Bottom Line on Cyber Security
Cybercrimes are real, and some people have been victims of cybercriminals. The first thing you need to do to protect yourself from cybercrime is to familiarize yourself with the tactics used by cybercriminals to gain access to your personal details and ultimately steal your hard-earned money. Then, take the necessary steps to avoid being a victim of cybercrime.
If you’re in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver, Boulder, or surrounding area and don’t have an IT Service Provider or are looking for managed IT support, cyber security, IT services, or IT coverage, contact Pro-IS for a free consultation (970) 613-0980.