With the holidays upon us the cybercriminal will prey. As a result, I felt compelled to resurface a past article that I had written that will help protect you from the cybercriminal and online fraud.
FRAUD – deceiving another in order to damage them (for personal gain). Fraud is a crime of deception where you decide to be a participant or not. Online fraud comes in many flavors; from deceiving emails to deceiving software.
Are you a participant?
In order for fraud to take place, the perpetrator must attract the participation of the victim. This is usually done through trickery; ultimately for financial gain. Computers and the internet have made it very easy for fraud to take place. It is not limited to just our national borders, but is an international (worldwide) problem of great magnitude. You never see the perpetrator in cyberspace. They are invisible to us, and as a result, recouping your identity or any financial losses can be next to impossible.
- To provide a powerful example of how fraud can lead to identity theft, I encourage you to preview this video clip, “An Interview With An ID Thief”, at Tech-for everyone [click here].
- One of the most common fraudulent methods out there right now are the rogue security applications that trick you into buying security software. As an example, see this article [click here] ,composed by Bill Mullins-Tech Thoughts, on a rogue security application called “Personal Defender 2009”.
- Other fraudulent methods are through email. As an example, a very seasoned computer friend of mine recently received the following email with the subject line: “Beloved (In Good Faith)” – (click graphic below for screenshot). You would not believe how many people fall for this type of email.
How not to participate…
If it is something that shows up on that computer monitor screen unsolicited (that you did not ask for), be very, very skeptical… I know our computers prompt us for updates, etc… but, if you are not sure of what you are doing,DO NOT PARTICIPATE. If you are skeptical about an email you received and there is instructions or pleading for you to provide information, DO NOT PARTICIPATE. If you are solicited in any manner, where money or account information is being requested, DO NOT PARTICIPATE.
Tips from the FBI – Cyber Investigations Unit
Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Where to report…
Local Level – I always tell people to start at their local level (i.e. State Police). Reason for this is that you can actually talk to a human being face-to-face, in a quick manner, to tell your story. If anything, psychologically, it will help. For example, I had a friend that purchased a diamond ring on ebay for several thousand dollars and they received a “bolt”… We contacted the State Police and believe it or not, the perpetrator was tracked down and charged; however, my friend ate the loss.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – Their mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime. IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
United States Postal Inspection Service – To file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service if you suspect you are a victim of mail fraud. If you have been victimized online, by fraudulent means, there may be instances where it could involve the actual mailing of money, checks, documents, etc… via “snail mail”.
Federal Trade Commission – To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if you suspect you are a victim of fraud.
When it comes to computers and the internet;
“Believe Nothing and Verify Everything”