Protect Yourself Against Cybercriminals
What is phishing?
Cybercriminals use phishing (among other techniques) to con individuals into revealing sensitive information or install malware on their computers. With ever more sophisticated phishing techniques, it’s no wonder identity theft is on the rise. But, there are several easy steps you can take to protect your personal information:
1. Don’t get snagged on email
Ever open an email from a familiar company that looks well, a little phishy? Maybe it’s full of typos or the email domain doesn’t match the supposed sender. Details like this are good reasons to think twice.
As the California Department of Justice warns, even though an email may claim to be from a reputable organization, “scam artists ‘phish’ for victims by pretending to be banks, stores or government agencies.”
Responding to emails like this, or downloading their attachments, could put you at risk for identity theft. When in doubt, delete.
2. Unliking identity theft on social media
You may have taken online quizzes about your mythical spirit animal or what 80s band best represents your personality. Many of these seemingly harmless quizzes on social media are used by hackers. By answering quiz questions like, “What’s the first concert you attended?” and “What was your first pet’s name?” you could be giving cybercriminals clues to your passwords and security questions. By sharing the results, you may be opening the door for your social media network to do the same.
So no matter how much you want to know if you’re a unicorn or a dragon, Journey or Aerosmith, don’t click and definitely don’t share.
3. Popping pop-up scams
There you are, just browsing through the latest memes on your coffee break when suddenly your screen is flooded with pop ups.
“Warning! Your Computer is Infected! Click Here to Download Anti-Malware!”
In a moment of panic, you might be tempted to click. But often these programs are “Trojan Horses” that could give cybercriminals access to your hard drive, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Worse, some companies charge hundreds of dollars to remove the malware they put there in the first place, says the Federal Trade Commission.
If you’re in doubt, ask a family member, friend, or neighbor if they’ve encountered a similar pop-up. Chances are they have and sharing information is always the first step to preventing identity theft.
Smishing (SMS phishing) is equally dangerous with scammers sending texts like “Call Now to Reactivate Your Credit Card” or “Text Back to Receive Your Free Gaming System,” when the real intent is to gather bank, credit card, and debit card information.
So be wary of unknown callers and texters. If you’re unsure, a quick internet search of the phone number may reveal some information about whoever is contacting you.
4. What can you do?
The most important step is to stay vigilant and think twice before sharing information on the internet or over the phone. But cybercriminals can catch even the most careful consumers off guard.
In these cases, an identity theft protection product can help provide you with tools to help you protect yourself.