Despite what passes for modern wisdom, you might still be paranoid even if they really are out to get you. When it comes to your data, you can be sure that you are being targeted both indirectly and directly. “They” -- whoever they are -- really are out to get you. If they get half a chance, they will pick you clean and leave you for dead. If you are a merchant, payment fraud is just one of the challenges you face. And it is not necessarily the biggest of your problems. That said, everyone is under threat and has been for a long time. It didn’t just start with the internet. Before the ubiquity of high-speed internet connections, there was mail fraud. Long before that, smoke signals were being stolen and faked by enemy tribes. There has been fraud as long as there have been humans. Identity fraud happened without the internet and computers. Today, fraudsters are without shame or limits. They can attack at any time and without any prior notice. Even professional security experts can be victims of fraud. The attacks are not just coming from teens in basements, but from nation-states. Their motives range from petty theft to the destabilization of democracy. You might not be a primary target. But you were there. And that is reason enough to target you. Here are a few of the areas where you need to be most careful.
When Applying for a Loan
There are some great loans out there and these days, some great reasons to apply for a loan. If your business or personal finances need a boost, look into a home equity loan alternative that can get you back on your feet even if your credit is less than perfect. What you should be aware of is the fact that the spyware on your computer is there precisely for such a time as this. You will be putting in all of your personal details. Including your birthday and parts of your social security number. This is in addition to your home address, phone number, marital status, and the number of kids you have. A good key-logger can capture it all and transmit it to the person who has already cracked the passwords to your bank, PayPal, and Amazon account. Reduce these threats by not downloading things from unknown developers on the web. It doesn’t matter how much you want to play that free game. When you see the additional menu bar in your web browser that you don’t remember adding, you should retrace your steps and delete it. Those junk apps are Trojan horses for spyware.
Digital Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is still alive and well. You get it in your mailbox. But that kind is pretty easy to detect these days. Digital mail is very much up for grabs. Here’s the latest on how it works. In short, invoice scams are a new class of fraudulent activity that appears as an email message from Amazon or Apple declaring that your payment has gone through for an item you don’t remember buying. Concerned, you click on the link and try to sign in. They’ve got you! There is also a handy customer service number for you to call. They’ve got you there too! It is so insidious because it makes you think you have already been scammed. So in trying to reverse it, you fall deeper into the trap. This one is bad. Don’t fall for it.
Really, Don’t Play That Game!
You know that popular Facebook quiz your friends have been passing around? Don’t take it! Tell your friends to stop including you in such things. If they continue, unfriend them. That free game you got from that popular download site is carrying Trojan horses that will end up on your computer before you are done installing what you thought you were getting. Just stop it already! This isn’t the 1990s. You should know better by now. Buy it from a reputable developer’s website or a first-party app store. Stay away from social media games, quizzes, contests, and free prizes. Really, just stop it! No, you’re not being paranoid. Yes, they really are out to get you. And if you’re not vigilant, you may find yourself falling prey to these types of fraud. Manage your risk by checking for spyware regularly, avoiding links and phone numbers in emails, and not downloading junk.