Every day hundreds of people file complaints to the service provider companies as they fall victims to scammers. What is identity theft, how scammers trick people into believing them and is your information secure?
All these questions are puzzling enough. Although we are all responsible for our well-being, we must take extra steps to prevent unwanted intrusion. Today, we will explore what the most common schemes that scammers use are, how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercriminals, and what is exactly best identity theft protection, besides being cautious and careful online.
What is Cybercrime?
The popular definition of cybercrime (cyber-attacks or cyber intrusion) include crimes committed through the computer. It encloses the variations of the crimes that involve three major categories of offenses: individual, property, and government.
- Individual crimes involve the distribution of harmful content, cyberstalking, and trafficking.
- Property crimes involve stealing one's bank or credit card credentials to access the funds, purchase online, or selling it to third parties. It is performed either by malicious software, phishing links, or direct hacking of the individual's computer.
- Government crimes are the least common category, but they impose serious harm on the national level scale. It is also known as cyber terrorism and includes hacking government or military websites, propaganda distribution, and even distribution of fake viral news.
One of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top priorities is the prevention of computer and network intrusions, indications and taking down of ransomware malware, investigation of Dark Web, identity thefts, and an indication of the online perpetrators. As you may see, everything that a criminal may perform through the web or within one’s laptop falls into the definition of cybercrime. You have a right to ask for an investigation and legal assistance in case of such.
What are the Methods of Computer Intrusion and Information Theft?
Everything you know from malicious software that hackers spread to direct DDoS attacks is targeted to harvest one’s information. Here is the list of the most common types of computer intrusions you should be aware of:
- Phishing: phishing may include both emails or fake websites that are aimed to harvest your user credentials for further access to your accounts and data. The phishing websites and attachments are designed to trick you into thinking you are dealing with a legit URL, providing all your information to third parties.
- Social engineering: this method involves criminals contacting you via email, social media messengers, or phone and presenting themselves as customer support agents, company representatives, or third parties that offer you a giveaway or assistance. Criminals attempt to trick you and gain access to your account, bank information, or any other relevant credentials to commit a crime. It is the most common method of those criminals who sell information on the Dark Net or misuse your information for committing a financial crime.
- Identity theft: as soon as your information becomes corrupted and criminals have it, it can be used for participating in health insurance and tax frauds, attempts to gain access to your funds, or getting involved in other criminal activities on your behalf.
- Exploit kits, PUPs, Botnets: all these methods can be categorized as a malware that remotely gains access to your computer, interferes with a legit software, or connects your computer to a network of controlled 'bots'. Often your information may be targeted since hackers have full control of your computer.
What Are the Scam Schemes?
Although most scam schemes are designed to trick you into giving criminals money directly, some of them involve asking for your documents’ scans, your signature, and other details that can be used against you in the future. These schemes transform and change, becoming more and more sophisticated and hard to spot right away, only phishing schemes counted more than thousands of cases last year. Here are some common types that might lead to a data breach:
- The most famous scheme involves ‘agents’ that are contacting you to offer their assistance in your credit reports or any financial assistance. Lately, this type of scam happens within messengers, where it is easy to erase one’s profile and correspondence, so there will be no direct trace to scammers. Although it seems obvious that official representatives will never contact you via direct messages in any social media, these criminals prey on one’s lack of experience, on a shortage of time, or provide too much of a professional insight on the matter, which wins one’s trust.
- Another type involves your documents’ copies, your selfie with a passport, and a sheet with your name and date. Scammers contact you on behalf of Airbnb or any other service, asking you to provide the particular copies and selfie for proof that you are an account holder. Then it is a matter of minutes to create an account on currency exchange platforms, where they easily verify accounts on your behalf and then can transfer cryptocurrencies and perform other money-laundering operations.
- Ransomware malware can also be sent directly under the premise of you winning a lottery to receive the message on legitimate social media platforms. You open the link, and the next thing you know, all your data is being held in an exchange of ransom.
- Phishing websites are also a big part of scam schemes; these links are attached to messages promising a quick lottery win, the gifts, or bonus for following it. All you need to do is ‘log in’ into your account, and after that, you hand your user credentials to scammers.
How Not to Fall a Victim of Cybercrime
It is better to install antivirus software that will check your system for ransomware and prevent clicking on phishing links. At the same time, it will keep you protected from other common virus threats. Secondly, check for identity theft protection services for learning about data breach before it is too late.
Besides, you have to think strategically for two steps ahead. Scammers may rush you into making life-changing decisions, promise you money prizes, ask you to provide your credentials. Always double check who the sender is, why they are making such requests, and contact official representatives to clarify the matter.
The best way to stay protected is to be alerted and cautious about the pitfalls of the Internet.