Today’s Most Popular: How to Spot Them and How to Avoid Them
Antennas Up! Don’t Be a Victim of These Scams
Scammers are targeting mobile phone users aggressively, knowing it’s hard for someone to both conduct a call and check the veracity of what they are being told. Some scammers simply call a number and hang up. If the person calls them back, it validates the number is genuine and they can use it to perpetrate fraud. Others call and say, “Can you hear me?” When the recipient says yes, they record the number and use it to provide verification the individual approved a purchase or monetary transfer. Others claim to be tech support with Google, Microsoft, or Apple, telling them they need to gain remote access to a device to repair a problem. Some may urge them to visit a website to resolve the issue but lead them to a fake website that steals their credentials, instead. Rest assured that Microsoft, Apple and Google will never call you and need remote access to your machine!
Cyber criminals know how to push the embarrassment button. In the case of pornography scams, they send you an email threatening to expose you for watching porn unless you pay them. In some cases, they even go as far as saying that they took over your webcam and have visuals of you pleasuring yourself.
For more on the specifics of sex scams, check out our blog post Are Porn Scammers Watching You? Don’t Be Caught by the “Sextortion” Con.
What is phishing? Phishing is a form of cybercrime where someone posing as a legitimate institution contacts you by email, phone or text to bait you into providing personal data such as passwords, banking information, credit card details, or other personally identifiable information.
While phishing attempts can occur via phone or text messaging, the majority (96%) of phishing attacks come from email messages, and they won’t always land in your spam folder. There are several types of phishing attempts:
- Spear-phishing (targeted towards a specific person)
- Whaling (spear phishing specifically targeted at rich, high-level business personnel)
- Angler phishing (using social media and fake links)
- “Smishing” occurs via text, “vishing” by phone call, and, as mentioned previously, the rest are emails.
When looking to avoid falling for a phishing scam, it is important to ask yourself three questions:
- Was I expecting this request?
- Do the hyperlinks route to a legitimate site? (You can check this without following through by right-clicking and copying the URL.)
- Is this a service or program I actually use?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you can always go directly to the supposed company’s support page and inquire about your account. For more information on phishing, please take a look at our blog post: Phishing Alert! New Email Scam Preys on Internet Users Who Engage in a Very Common Behavior.
For some major companies, people are constantly trying to replicate homepages and sign-in pages. Unlucky internet surfers who are lured to these pages will find that their credentials are logged and used for nefarious purposes; bank sites and social media logins are often cloned in these scams. To avoid falling trap to webpage clones, always to check the web address you are at before entering sensitive information like bank account numbers, passwords and your SSN.
If enough of your personal information is online, it would be easy for someone to target you in a spear-phishing attempt. One of the most common types of spear attempt is when a perpetrator claims to be a someone you know, usually requesting money or access to a certain account. Remember, if correspondence is important enough, people will usually call you or use legal counsel in their proceedings.
Ransomware is a type of malicious attack that uses software to block your access to your data. These cyber criminals demand some sort of ransom, usually money, from the victim, to reinstate access to the data.
While ransomware has been around for a few years, its most successful attacks have been on hospitals and tech companies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has posted information on how best to avoid ransomware infection on their website. Should you ever get hit with ransomware (the best strategy would be, undoubtedly, to avoid it), it is beneficial to have been backing up your data to a cloud server that uses versioning.
For more information on ransomware, visit our recent blog post: Cyberthieves Have a Laser Focus on Ransomware. Are You in Their Crosshairs?