How to Combat Online Fraud and Identity Theft

With the benefits of technology we can bank, shop, connect with friends and family, and so much more, all from the comfort of our own homes. However, with an increase in information sharing, comes an increase in nefarious activity. Online fraud is rapidly becoming one of the most widespread forms of cybercrime, and the number one trap used are phishing scams. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and it is becoming increasingly difficult to decipher the difference between a scam and a reputable company.

Here are 5 tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:

1. Create a Strong Password and Change it Often – using the same password for numerous sites may be more convenient but it can leave you more vulnerable to a security breach. Make sure you check out our password tips by clicking here.

2. Review Credit Card and Banking Statements Regularly – make a habit of regularly checking your banking statements for any strange charges to your account. If you notice any odd charges on your credit card or bank account statement, contact your bank immediately and alert them of the atypical activity. This is one of the fastest–and easiest– methods of recovering your funds.

3. Input Personal Information Into a New Browser Window – never enter personal information into a pop-up window from an external link, even if it looks like it is from a credible source. Instead, copy and paste the link in another window to detect a pharming scam. Pharming is a fraudulent practice that redirects users to a different website that mimics a legitimate one. Check out the web address: Ensure it starts with “https” and everything spelled correctly.

4. Remote Connections – only allow remote connections from a company that you trust and have contacted directly. Legitimate companies won’t contact you out of the blue via phone or email asking for remote access, but scammers often claim they are from a legitimate company in order to gain access your computer. Once a third party is in, they can access a multitude of sensitive information such as banking information. At this point, they can also encrypt files on your computer and hold them for ransom.

5. Unknown Emails and Attachments – don’t fall for a phishing scam – never open emails from people you don’t know.  Sometimes these emails will also be disguised as legitimate sites, such Facebook or Microsoft. Remember, large companies such as these do not correspond with their customers using emails provided by gmail.com, yahoo.com, etc.