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Guide to Online Safety: Phishing, Scams and Fraud Prevention

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As cable and internet providers will reiterate, connecting to the web leaves you vulnerable to various forms of cyberattacks. The world relies heavily on internet technology, and millions of users have email and social media accounts. Many people also download files, apps, and content online and digital transactions are the norm. You need a way to ensure online safety.

The 3 Common Online Threats

Phishing, scams, and fraud are the three prevalent cyber crimes internet users should know. Anyone can fall victim to attacks, whether mistakenly or through targeted methods. The consequences of each episode vary depending on what's at stake: reputation, funds, online resources, and more. Here's an overview of the three cybercrimes and prevention methods:

1.    Phishing

Phishing occurs when the attacker poses as a trustworthy entity, such as a business, company, professional, representative, or website. The lure is to have you explore the fake links and websites and give up personal information, such as social security numbers, usernames and passwords, and bank info.
You can receive a familiar-looking email, website design, or advert and think they deal with trustworthy companies and websites. Some attacks are easy to spot, but others are carefully structured to target the individual. Phishing attacks also come in many forms, as shown below:

•    Email Phishing: Involves fake emails disguised as trustworthy messages from your work or familiar companies you deal with. You might receive an email to update your password or personal information and re-upload verification documents.

•    Spear Phishing: This phishing attack targets one individual with highly personalized emails. A popular form is whaling (CEO fraud), targeting high-profile persons, CEOs, and other decision-makers.

•    Smishing: Involves cyberattacks conducted through mobile device platforms. Smishing attacks occur through text messages (SMSs). You may receive notifications with infected links and executable elements.

•    Vishing: Vishing is a form of voice phishing involving phone calls to conduct an attack. The target may receive voice messages requiring them to update insurance information or threatening tax collection.

Preventing Phishing

Up to 91% of all cybercrimes involve phishing attempts. You need effective ways to identify, block, and prevent phishing attacks. Popular red flags for recognizing phishing include incorrect URL/domain names, personal information requests, and threatening/urgent language. Other warnings include spelling, punctuation, grammar errors, promotions, free services, and donations. If you unknowingly respond to a phishing email, take these steps as soon as you can:

•    Change your password for the affected site (email, social media, eWallet, and more)

•    Scan your computer or phone for viruses

•    Install a secure VPN to connect to the internet

•    Contact the spoofed company (social media, bank, insurance, and more)

•    Follow the instructions/procedures given by the spoofed company

•    File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you are a victim of ID theft

2.    Scams

According to the FTC, scams continue to rake losses each year, and the average consumer will lose around $300. Consumers lost $3.3 billion in 2020 alone, so it's vital to beware of scams when browsing the internet at home. A scam is any scheme that takes money from unsuspecting victims. Here are five common scams to watch out for:

a)    Lottery/Sweepstake/Competition – You might receive notification about winning a lottery or competition or an invite to participate. If you didn't participate, it's easy to recognize the scam, but you might fall for the trick if you participate. Such scams often include processing fees, upfront taxes, and other charges.

b)    Credit Card and Online Accounts – These scams involve impersonating your bank or online payment service and requesting personal details. You might be asked to provide the account number and ID details to fix a made-up issue. Such scams can occur over emails or phone calls and request service charges.

c)    Investment and Tax Scams – Impersonating the local tax authority, phone service, or landlord are popular scammer antics. The impersonator may request personal information about your finances and make up fake tax issues, bills, and penalties. Investment and tax scams also carry a high sense of urgency around the response.

d)    Medical/Health/Treatment Scams – There are many such scams, including health insurance scams, vaccination card identity theft, and funeral assistance scams. Other popular antics include IRS checks and scams, grandparent and military service member scans, COVID-19 testing, vaccine and treatment frauds, and more.

e)    Dating/Romance Scams – Cybercriminals can create fake dating profiles and enter virtual relationships to scam money out of unknowing victims. The scammer may take advantage of virtual dates and the victim's emotions, requesting support for fake accidents, illness, and family problems.

Preventing Scams

Most scams are easy to recognize by reviewing the information keenly. They feature unsolicited/unexpected contacts, request personal information or money, and offer random competitions. If you receive urgent requests or threats, make sure you contact the involved company or organization.

Use the official website/contact provided by the company. Double-verifying every request and donation is the best solution to eluding scammers. If you respond mistakenly, block them immediately and contact your bank. You can also notify the credit agencies involved and report SPAM to avoid future contacts from the scammer.

3.    Fraud

Fraud includes many forms of deception. It is a general term describing all malicious attacks resulting in money loss and identity theft. The FTC reported about 2.2 million incidents of fraud in 2020, 34% of which victims lost money.

Popular types of fraud include banking fraud, mail fraud, internet fraud, elder fraud, and counterfeit health/beauty products.

The most common type of bank fraud is the advanced fee. Investors are requested to pay a fee upfront before the deal goes into the next phase. In most cases, you'll never receive the advanced payment back, and the deal won't progress. Mail fraud occurs via postage mail. Victims may receive a fraudulent letter or have their letters stolen and replaced.

Internet fraud is the type you'll encounter online and comes in many forms, including phishing, viruses, and data breaches. You can recognize fraudulent activity if you notice unexpected bills, statements, or changes to your accounts.

Other red flags include receiving credit cards you didn't apply for, address notifications, password/information changes, and shady sellers/buyers.

If you respond to fraud, collect all pertinent information and report the incident to the authorities as soon as possible. You should also check your insurance coverage if you qualify for compensation.

Working With Reputable Cable and Internet Providers

It’s essential to protect your home internet networks from all forms of attack. At Teleful Connect, we partner with leading providers to offer premium solutions covering your home needs for internet, cable, and security. Our team can help you set up adequate firewalls and security measures to protect your household from cybercrimes.