With a new year, comes new cybercrimes. While technology is our friend in helping us keep connected with our loved ones, there are some sobering threats that can make it our foe. Unfortunately, internet-based crime is increasing at an alarming rate with a 64% increase in email threats year-over-year in 2020 with older people being impacted the most. Cybercriminals and spammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and more new users of technology such as seniors are falling victim to their attacks.
The statistics are staggering. According to the FBI 2020 Internet Crime Report, there was a 27% year-over-year increase in cyber fraud losses totaling $1.8 billion, as reported by individuals over 50 years old. Moreover, it appears that these cybercriminals specifically target senior citizens not only because are they are less aware of technology scams, but also, they are perceived to have larger financial assets than other groups.
Anytime you use a computer, smartphone, or tablet, you can fall prey to your identity and financial information being stolen and used for nefarious purposes. The good news is that there are five simple ways you can protect yourself from these attacks.
We Suggest you Do Not
Open emails that look too good to be true
Typical attempts to get you to open an email include subject lines that “you have won a prize” or “a free offer”.
Do not click on banking or account links in an email, particularly if the email asks for updated credit card information. Cybercriminals can disguise emails to look like they are coming from legitimate organizations or people you know but clicking on these links and submitting your personal, financial, or login information may fall into the wrong hands. Always contact the financial institution directly, do not use the link in the email, to check to see if the request is valid. Almost every time it is not.
Respond to emails that are an unusual plea for help
A common scam is when an individual poses as a known contact and states that they have been mugged while vacationing abroad and need you to send money ASAP. If you are concerned, call the person directly and don’t respond to the email or phone call.
Interact with unknown individuals or sources
That includes opening emails, downloading files, or interacting on social media. Only download files from a trusted source as files can be malware which can steal personal data and damage your device. Moreover, some fraudsters have been known to impersonate a potential love interest online to gain your trust and then ask for your bank information.
- Submit payment in response to threats of arrest from an authority figure. Common scams are when criminals pose as an IRS agent and demand payment to avoid persecution. The IRS does not email communications of this type to citizens. Just ignore these scams.
As we navigate the current ever-changing cyber environment, it is possible to learn and connect safely with just a little knowledge. So now you know these five ways to protect yourself, enjoy technology today!