Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues individuals must face today as we grow more and more reliant on technology to handle everything from paying bills to online shopping, ordering groceries, sending correspondence, and connecting with friends via social media. As such, hacking scams are becoming more sophisticated, resulting in an increase in data breaches, financial losses and identity theft.
According to a global study, data breaches cost its victims $4.24 million in 2021, a 10% increase from the previous year and the highest in the past 17 years. Further, 95% of cyber security breaches result from human error.
According to recent data:
The good news is, though, you can protect yourself from hacking attempts with the right tools and knowledge about how they work, which scams are the most common, and what to do if you’ve been hacked.
While most hacking scams are used to steal your money, they can also infect your computer with malware that can be difficult to remove or worse, gives scammers access to your identity.
This could look like:
Most hacking scams require you to do something for the hack to work. This means that if you look for the red flags of a hacking scam, you can keep your device, data, and money safe most of the time.
Here are some of the warning signs to look for:
If you encounter any of the warning signs listed above, you may be a victim of a hacking scam, especially if you notice any of these things afterward:
There are many types of hacking scams, here are a few common ones to look out for:
Many phishing scams are also hacking scams. In this type of hacking scam, you will receive an email, text message, or social media message that contains a link or attachment. The scammer will often make the message look like it is coming from a legitimate company such as your bank, a government agency, or a company giving away free gifts. However, if you click on the link it will go to a fake website or the attachment will install malware on your computer, giving the scammers access to your sensitive data.
In an Amazon OTP Scam, you will get an Amazon one-time password text out of the blue. This usually means a hacker already has your Amazon credentials and is trying to log into your account.
Another common hacking scam is a tech support scam, which is also called an imposter scam. One variety of this scam is the Apple support scam, where the scammer calls you on the phone, impersonating a support technician from Apple. The scammer will tell you that there have been issues with your Apple account or device. Then they will ask for your account credentials for you to install software on your computer, or to access your computer remotely. Either they will steal your credentials or the software you install will be malware that infects your computer.
While most ransomware scams target large companies, some target individuals. In this type of scam, you will have malware on your computer that prevents you from accessing any of your data. To unlock it, you are told you must pay a ransom.
In a blackmail scam, you will get an email from a scammer claiming that they have hacked into your computer and recorded your activities. They may say they have evidence that you visited adult sites or found compromising data on your device that they will distribute to everyone in your contact list unless you immediately pay them. Often, blackmail scammers will ask for payment via Bitcoin.
If you are vigilant with your devices and are careful about the websites you visit, you can beat hacking scams. Here are some additional tips that will reduce your risk of falling victim to hacking scams.
Here are some tips to help you recover from a data breach and prevent the scammer from creating more victims:
Start by reporting the scam to the authorities so they can potentially catch the scammer and prevent them from targeting others. Here are some places to report it:
If you notice that your device is acting strangely, follow these steps:
If you entered your credentials on a phishing site or have installed software on your computer, change your passwords using another device, starting with the important ones first, like those for your bank and email.
If you entered your bank account information on a fake site or paid the scammers, you should contact your bank or financial institution. Hopefully, they will be able to credit your account with any funds that the scammers have taken.
These days, many credit cards offer protection against scammers, which means you won't lose money through a scam like this.
Continue to monitor your accounts, even after everything has been taken care of, and report any suspicious activity you see.
If you received an Amazon OTP text message out of the blue, it could be a sign that someone else is trying to log into your account.
If a hacker is blackmailing you to get bitcoin, it can be hard to figure out if it's an empty threat or a real one.
Scammers are sending fake Venmo emails to Facebook Marketplace sellers in an attempt to steal login information and money.
If you've received a locked debit card text message from Citibank, it's likely a scam. Don't click on the link and delete the text message.
If you receive a text message from Chase Bank, don't click on any links or call the phone number listed—it could be a scam designed to steal your information and money.
If you receive a text message from American Express, don't click on any links or call the phone number listed—it could be a scam designed to steal your information and money.
If you received a text message from Citizens Bank asking for personal information such as your password or login credentials, it may be from a scammer trying to steal your money.
Verizon may send you text messages from time to time with account updates or data usage alerts, but beware—most of these aren't really from Verizon but scammers.
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