Cyber ThreatsIn other areas of the Information Warfare website, we have covered Malware, how to identify viruses, learn how to prevent viruses, and what to do to eradicate them.
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Unfortunately, that is just a small fraction of the cyber threats out there waiting to find a new victim, and it happens every day. From the infamous Nigerian princes who need your help getting their wealth out of the country, and happy share it with you for your efforts, to being scammed on that designer label item on Ebay or Craigslist that never arrives in the mail.
All internet cyber fraud must be reported, even if there wasn't a monetary loss. It may lead to an arrest, possible restitution, and it alerts appropriate authorities, so you may be helping to stop someone else from being victimized.
You can keep on top of the latest Internet threats by reading PC Magazine's Security Watch blog.
Here are also a number of tips for how to stay safe.
But if you've been the victim of Internet fraud, there are several reporting options, according to the type of crime. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will handle a larger majority of those complaints - check out its step-by-step online reporting form - but check out some of the more common tactics employed by fraudsters today, and how best to protect yourself and others.
You've no doubt seen those "My step-aunt earns $1300 working at home" comments around the Internet. It sure sounds like it would be a dream opportunity, but it's a scam that can result in a nightmare. You'll be asked to send money for training, membership fees, or equipment for a job that will never materialize. Report them to the FTC.
Identity theft was the top consumer complaint last year and has been since 2006. Identity thieves can not only wipe out your bank account, they can open new lines of credit in your name. Make sure you call your bank, file a police report, and notify the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) if you become a victim.
Web Database Scams
These days, Internet fraud victims risk having their personal information posted online for other scammers to cherry pick and abuse - from Social Security to driver's licenses numbers. If your private information pops up in Internet search results, you can ask that it be removed from the company hosting it, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Your generosity toward friends can cost you. This scam usually appears in the form of an email from a friend who claims to have been robbed in a foreign country and asks that you send money via Western Union to help them get home. The message, however, is almost certainly not your friend, but a scammer who has hacked their email account. PCMag's networking and security analyst Fahmida Rashid has some good tips based on personal experience.
Also known as "catfishing," romance scams can take far more than an emotional toll. You can end up poorer if you've sent them money for purported travel, medical, or other expenses. Rule of thumb: if someone you're talking to online asks for any kind of money or gift - from a cell phone to a wire transfer - don't do it.
Consumer Transactions With Foreign Companies
If you've ordered something from another country and—after weeks of trying to trace it through foreign postal tracking systems—it never arrives and your messages to the seller have gone unanswered, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network has set up a system to help.
Internet Investment Fraud
"If it's spam it's a scam" is a good rule to follow. But if you fell for it, and are out money, the Securities and Exchange Commission is the place to turn.
For more, check out How to Find Out If You've Been Hacked.
Credit card issues
So what should you do if you are worried that your credit card might have been compromised, for example with issues such as Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels, and how do you keep yourself safe going forward?
1. Check your statement.
Automatic billing can ease concerns about missing a payment, but not checking on transactions can mean spotting a breach only after thousands of dollars have been stolen. Make a point of reviewing your transaction history online regularly – up to several times a week, if you can – and if you have a debit card, consider changing the PIN.
2. Call your credit card company and your bank.
If you notice anything amiss in your card activity, call the credit card company and the issuing bank to alert them. If you have a debit card, this is especially important since debit cards are a direct line into your bank account and are treated differently under consumer fraud protection laws that credit cards are. Neil Rubenking, PCMag's lead analyst for security, said that one of his wife's friends used a debit card at Target, "and the bad guys emptied her bank account." With debit, it's not just a matter of having a charge removed from your statement, but waiting for money to be returned to your account.
3. Set up fraud monitoring.
Use a service such as LifeLock to keep tabs on any suspicious activity on your credit cards and for possible identity theft. Stores are also offering free credit monitoring to affected customers, though as PCMag's Fahmida Rashid pointed out, "credit monitoring just tells you that an account was created. You should also be putting freezes on your account so that new accounts can't be created."
4. Check your credit report.
You can get your credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. There are actually three reporting agencies–Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union–so you can get one report from each, four months apart, to make sure issues don't crop up further down the line.
5. Stay informed.
If your bank is on the ball, they might call you to check up on irregular purchases. Going forward, it's probably worth giving your business to banks with strong fraud protection, or asking your existing bank about their fraud detection policies.
6. Get organized about your personal finances.
The more organized you are, the more aware you are of your accounts and the better prepared you are if your information is compromised. For more, check out PCMag software analyst Jill Duffy's tips on organizing your personal finances.
Other digital security issues that are also threats:
Leaky Apps: android apps are apps that transmit your personal data in plain text, unencrypted.
Malware in Apps. It only takes a few minutes for a hacker to reverse engineer an Android App, repackage it, and install it on your device.