Over the past year, the internet’s importance to our daily lives has become more apparent than ever. The pandemic brought on by COVID-19 has forced millions of people into their homes, meaning we’ve had to rely on the internet for everything from work and school to doctor appointments and socializing.
However, while we can all be thankful for this connectivity, there is another side to the story: cybercrime.
Putting so much of our information out on the web means there is a vast amount of data out there for people to steal. Cybercrime is a growing problem that seems to keep getting worse each year, and 2021 is no different.
Fraud attempts can come in many shapes and forms, from your supposed online sweetheart to seemingly innocent messages appearing in your inbox. Fraudsters creatively use emotions and connections to attempt to collect your personal information.
Keep in mind that cybercriminals are smart. They always seem to be one-step ahead. They use various forms of manipulation to find a trigger that will spur you into action. Usually, that action results in either giving away important information, or a monetary transaction of some kind (purchasing gift cards or wiring money).
Pictured is a text conversation from a text-scamming attempt:
Scammers use many tactics – some of them look innocent like these text messages.
Here are a few steps to protect yourself from text scams:
• Look at the phone number – Scammers typically use phone numbers not associated with a name or address. If you don’t recognize the phone number, it’s best to not respond, and block the phone number.
• Do not reply or click any links – This is the easiest way for criminals to acquire your personal information. Clicking these links can install malware on your device, which collects your personal information.
• Delete unwanted text messages that ask you to enter any sort of code or confirm or provide any personal information. Legitimate companies won’t send you a text asking for sensitive information.
• Report spam texts to your carrier – Look for the option on your messaging platform to report junk or spam. You may also contact your cell phone carrier to report as spam or file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
The best way to protect yourself from potential fraudsters is to stay educated about common scams. Additionally, create a strong password on your social media accounts and change it regularly. Most importantly, don’t use the same password for all your online log-ins.
By staying alert and informed, you can stay one step ahead of cybercriminals, and keep your information protected.