Cybercrime is a growing problem. All walks of life can experience it. Cybercrime is any illegal activity involving computers, the internet, or networking devices. Over 53 million people are affected by cybercrime every year, costing them $318 billion in damages. The most common cyber attacks are phishing (pronounced fishing) scams. A phishing scam is when a criminal pretends to be a well-known entity in order to steal your personal information. The average phishing scam victim can lose more than $225. Here are some ways to avoid being the next victim.
Recognize The Signs
Phishing scammers often use texts or emails to trick you into giving them information. The biggest red flag to look for is, does it make sense? If you didn’t order anything from Amazon, then why is Amazon reaching out to you about your lost package? Usually, they try to scare you into making a decision, like if you don’t respond to this email in one hour, the police will be on your doorstep. It’s these high-pressure situations that trick people into believing the scam. Another red flag to watch out for is a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes. This is done on purpose to test you because if you are willing to overlook that, you’ll overlook anything.
Catfishing is when you create a fake persona online to trick others for attention or money. Catfishes are often talking to multiple people at one time, so they’ll use a nickname to prevent them from using the wrong name. They’ll have the craziest stories that are too bizarre to be true. They often have a couple of photos on their profile and even fewer friends. Take the clearest, best photo to reverse image search it on https://tineye.com/to see how many other sites have the same photo. If it’s on a lot of them, then you are being catfished. They’ll actively avoid calling you or video chatting since they know they are not the person they claim to be.
Spyware and Malware
Malware, or malicious software, includes viruses that can infect your computer to phish the information a scammer needs to steal your identity. It can be downloaded when you click on a pop-up ad or a suspicious link in one of the Phisher’s emails. Spyware is a type of malware that infiltrates your computer without being noticed until it’s too late. Avoid opening suspicious emails. Don’t click on any pop-up ads or banner ads claiming you won, you didn’t. Download an excellent protection software such as Malwarebytes. Keep your system up-to-date to prevent hackers from setting up a secret backdoor to your computer on obsolete, forgotten software.
Another way phishers gain access to your sensitive data is by holding your computer hostage with Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of cyptovirological malware that blocks you from accessing anything on your computer until a ransom has been paid. The most common type is called Cyptolocker. This particular malware has extorted over 3 million dollars from victims. To remove it is a completed process. To begin, you’ll need to reboot your computer to safe mode. Find and remove the program that’s causing the issue. Once it is removed, restore your computer to the last date it was working properly. You’ll lose all the work you did from that date forward, but you saved your computer.
Practice Basic Online Safety
Phishing scams can largely be avoided if we practice online safety every time we log online. Craft unique, strong passwords that nobody can guess. Don’t play social media games that require you to give personal data. Never buy anything from an unverified online store. Don’t use any public, unsecured Wi-Fi. Review your bank statements once a month to check for suspicious activity. Only accept friend requests from people you have personally met. Never give money to anybody you’ve never met in person, especially if all they will take is a wire transfer or gift card as payment. If you suspect someone is a catfish or operating a phishing scam, report them immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.