Whats Happenening Locally

Cyber scams come in many different forms

Oct 13, 2023

In a relatively short period of time, the internet has changed the way people live. Things that might have been unimaginable as recently as a quarter century ago are now ingrained in daily life. For instance, few people in the late 1990s might have imagined a day when billions of people across the globe would be walking around with mini computers capable of taking hi-resolution photos in their pockets. But smartphones have long since become an accepted and vital part of life in the 21st century.

The internet has opened doors to new possibilities, but it's also left other doors open for cybercriminals. Any home with an internet connection is potentially vulnerable to internet scams.

Recognition of that fact and awareness of the following scams can reduce the likelihood of being victimized by opportunistic cybercriminals:

* Disaster relief scams:

Human beings' innate sense of compassion is on full display in the aftermath of natural disasters, when people across the globe typically donate hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by hurricanes, tsunamis and other devastating events. But skilled cybercriminals prey on that compassion by setting up bogus relief efforts. Such efforts may involve fake charities with names that are similar but slightly different than well-known, legitimate nonprofit organizations. Operations such as Charity Navigator make it easy to verify if a charitable organization is legitimate, and would-be donors should utilize such resources prior to making any donations.

* Phishing scams:

Phishing scams are among the oldest cyber scams, but they still nab victims every day. The Federal Trade Commission warns that many phishing scams are conducted via email or text messages and inform potential victims that there is an issue with their finances. Some may say there are issues with a bank account, credit card or even a tax return. Skeptics may wonder how anyone could fall for a phishing scam in the age of two-factor authentication and other security measures. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that phishing scams cost victims nearly $60 million in 2019, indicating they're still a lucrative source of income for cybercriminals.

* Formjacking:

Formjacking is a retail-based scam in which online shoppers' personal and financial information is stolen. In such instances, a retail website could be hacked without users' knowledge. When it comes time to purchase items they've placed in their carts, users are redirected to a fraudulent payment page, where they enter personal information, such as their credit card number, that cybercriminals then steal. When buying items online, shoppers should confirm that the URL on the payment page aligns with the retailer they're buying from. If the URL is missing even a single letter (think Amzon.com instead of Amazon.com), then chances are a formjacking scam is being operated.

Tech support scams, in which users are asked to download applications to fix an infected computer, and similar download-based fake antivirus software scams are some additional examples of cyber scams. Users are urged to be on the lookout for each of these types of scams and exercise caution whenever something doesn't seem right or authentic.