Just as quickly as technology evolves scammers learn new ways to compromise the convenience. From stealing identity and money to uploading vicious viruses and malware, cybercriminals are becoming more advanced in the ways they infiltrate your personal and professional life. Other than eliminating the use of modern technology altogether (which would be nearly impossible in this day and age), the best thing you can do is be aware of the common tech scams and the safest ways to protect yourself.
One of the most common tech fraud to be aware of is malware. Though it’s been around for a while, scammers have programmed more advanced software that, when installed, can harm your tech device. When you download programs from the internet (games, photos, music, etc.), some could contain malware with viruses that can damage your device and cost a lot of money to repair.
What to do: Be mindful of the sites you download software and applications from. Only do so from sites that you’re familiar with. You can also download monitoring software. It will send red flags when sites are suspicious and allow you to sweep your computer for viruses.
Phishing is another old but still very dangerous method used by scammers to steal your private information. Using information like your email or phone number, they will reach out to you pretending to be someone else. The hope is to get as much information from you as possible from your social security number to your bank accounts. They make even supply you with faked or fraudulent documents to obtain this information.
What to do: Never open an email from a sender you don’t recognize. If you believe you do know the sender and/or company they’re pretending to be from, check for clues. Look to see that they have provided several methods of contact, a first and last name, and a physical address. If documentation is attached, check to see that it is on company letterhead, the forms are clear and legible, and that they recommend you find a notary near you before resending documentation to ensure it is legit. If you’re hesitant, look online for the company or sender’s contact info and reach out to find out more.
Tech Support Scams
Another form of spoofing or phishing scams to look out for is tech support scams. These scams have been increasing around the country and have cost millions of dollars in damages. Basically, someone calls claiming to be a representative from a legitimate tech company like HP, Apple, or Microsoft. They send you into a panic by stating that they detected a bad virus on your computer. To remove it remotely, they will charge you a fee. The problem is they are not legitimate employees of these companies, they con you out of a few hundred bucks, and the “virus” is never removed but harmful software can be installed or uploaded to steal more information.
What to do: You should never have to provide a fee for tech support. If money is requested, this is your first red flag. To be on the safe side, it is always best to end your conversation with the representative and find a legitimate number for the tech company online to confirm. Lastly, you should never, for any reason allow someone to have remote access to your computer until you’ve verified that they are in fact a representative of a tech company doing something legit.
Social Media Scams
Millions of users are logged onto social media at any given time of the day. Scammers aware of this have found a way to use this platform to their advantage as well. One of the most common scams found on social media is when cybercriminals hack legitimate accounts and ask their friends for money. Because they believe it to be someone they know, many people will reach out trying to get them the help they need. Only to find out it was all a scam. Another social media scam to be aware of is hacked accounts encouraging you to click on a link. This link or web address, unfortunately, will download viruses and other spyware on your device.
What to do: Protecting yourself on social media starts with a strong password so your account cannot be hacked. Choose a password you can remember but is not easy to crack. You should also change your password periodically and never give it to anyone. You can also change privacy settings so only those you invite can view your page. Lastly, never send money electronically or visit a site that you’re not sure about. If someone you know is in need, reach out to them in person to see how you can help.
The convenience of modern technology and the boom of the internet of things leads to one conclusion – it’s here to stay. With that being said, it is important that you take the proper measures going beyond installing antivirus software to protect your personal and/or professional data. As you can see, all it takes is a click of a button and your money, identity, and a lot more could be taken from you.