Online fraud and theft involves much more than disruptive emails and untrustworthy websites. Today’s virtual thefts are much more intelligent than they were several years ago. Modern cyber crimes may involve tactics such as ransomware, where criminals literally hold your files hostage until they receive a ransom. As another example, although fraudulent phone calls have existed for many years, the callers’ processes are much smarter now; they can even reach you from a number featuring your own area code in the hope that you’ll think the caller may be someone you know.
Fortunately, there are several simple ways you may be able to prevent yourself from falling victim to identity theft and other online crimes.
How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime
- Use a powerful firewall to protect your computer.
- Encrypt your home Wi-Fi network, and be careful about who has your network security key.
- Back up your files into the cloud regularly. If thieves infiltrate your system, they might steal or damage files that are important to you.
- Create strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and symbols. Do no use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Don’t respond to spam emails.
- Don’t open messages from sources you do not know.
- Avoid answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize unless you’re expecting a particular call.
- Download with caution.
- Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent activity.
- Don’t visit suspicious websites or follow links to sources you don’t trust.
- Regularly update your computer’s antivirus software, antispyware, operating system, and system patches.
- When you’re not using your computer, turn it off.
- Don’t give control of your computer to an unauthorized third party.
Where to Obtain Fraud Prevention Information
Remaining vigilant and keeping up with the latest trends may be the first steps in protecting yourself from cyber crime. The FBI maintains a list of Cyber Crime Stories. Learn about the latest news by checking this list.
If you are a target of cyber crime, contact your financial institution immediately, and then report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.