7 Deadly Digital Sins That Could Jeopardize Your Security

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It’s no secret the internet doesn’t always bring out the best in people. The relative anonymity and global sprawl of digital life make it the ideal environment for scams, trolling and other kinds of bad behavior online.

I host a podcast about cybersecurity was pondering how to put the issues we all face in our digital lives in a memorable form, and here’s what I came up with: The Seven Digital Sins.

Listen to the latest episode of What the Hack, Adam Levin’s podcast which has been nominated for three 2024 Webby Awards, including individual episodes for crime and justicefeatured guest, and news and politics.:

1. Pride: Thinking You’re Safe

According to the FTC, U.S. citizens reported roughly $10 billion in losses to cybercrime in 2023, up $1 billion from the year before; far more scams probably went unreported. No matter how tech-savvy you are, you’re vulnerable.

2. Greed: Crypto Scams

Cryptocurrency initially promised the ability to freely transfer money without pesky laws and regulations. Cybercriminals, scammers, and even nation-state actors, have profited crypto-based scams

3. Lust: Sextortion

Sextortion scams are actively targeting U.S. teens and tweens, specifically males ages 14 to 17. The consequences, as covered on my podcast, are more than financial: At least 20 cases of people taking their own lives have been attributed to them since 2021. 

4. Envy: Social Media

Does it seem like all of your former college classmates are living fitter, happier and more productive lives than you? Does it make you sad? Heavy social media usage has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Related: Cybersecurity Girl Caitlin Sarian Tries to Delete Herself Online

5. Gluttony: Screen Time

Your eyesight, sleep, and overall mental well-being are impacted by excessive screen time. It’s worse for children: A study found that an hour a day for youth is associated with less curiosity, self-control, emotional stability and higher-than-average levels of depression and anxiety.

6. Wrath: Internet Trolling

One-third of youth and forty percent of adults have experienced some form of cyberbullying and/or online harassment. It’s not just casual heckling either; online trolling has been associated with sadism, psychopathy and a litany of other disorders.

7. Sloth: Reusing Passwords

62 percent of internet users keep the same password for multiple accounts. Data breaches keep breaking records year after year. Using strong and unique passwords might not be anyone’s idea of fun, but it’s a blast compared to having your identity stolen online.

This article originally appeared on AdamLevin.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Help! I Got Scammed! What Do I Do Now?

Help! I Got Scammed! What Do I Do Now?

You might associate scams with far-fetched ruses about foreign “princes” or emails, full of misspellings, that claim to be from your bank. And you might think you would never fall for those ploys. Scams, however, have grown more convincing over time, as evidenced by a growing amount of consumer dollars lost to fraud each year. And no, internet-savvy younger folk aren’t immune. In fact, according to data collated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), those between the ages of 30 and 39 were the most likely to get scammed in 2023.

Fortunately, there are ways to recover from the financially and emotionally draining experience of being scammed — and to avoid falling victim to scams in the first place. Read on for wise advice on how to rebound from being scammed, plus what to look out for so you don’t become a future scam statistic.

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The short answer: Lots. The FTC states they received fraud reports from 2.4 million consumers in 2022 — and chances are not everyone who was scammed followed through on filing a report about it. (If you have been scammed, though, you should; the FTC’s data can help law enforcement build cases against scammers and stop the problem from happening to others.)

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Scams come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, but here are some of the most common scams reported in the US.

Imposter Scams

In imposter scams, the fraudster acts as if they’re a person or business entity you already know and trust to swindle you out of your money. This is by far the most common type of scam in the US, and it can be perpetrated in a variety of different ways.

  • You might get an email that looks like it’s from your bank (but is not) and prompts you to enter your login information. This however allows the fraudster to get access to your login credentials, which they can then use to drain your checking account.
  • Imposter scams also include romance scams, wherein someone often woos you online from afar and asks you to wire them money to help them through some emergency.
  • Scammers might even impersonate someone you already know, like a friend or relative. They could hack someone’s online accounts and then send messages that they need money for an emergency, help buying gift cards or some other scam.

(Learn more: Personal Loan Calculator

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As their name implies, prize and sweepstake scams trick consumers into believing they’ve won something. They take a person’s sensitive information under the pretense of giving them the prize, only to wrest away their hard-earned money.

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It’s pretty cruel to target people who are looking for job opportunities, but scammers can do just that. You might find their ads in the exact same places you’d find legitimate employment opportunities, but instead of offering a position, they’re really in the business of getting your private information — and using it to steal from you.

Many people have fallen victim to overpayment scams this way, in which a person is told they are hired and is sent money to buy home officer equipment. However, the check was for a higher amount than needed, and the unwitting scam victim sends back the overage. By then, the funds they received from their supposed new employer? That check bounces ultimately, and they are out of cash and still without a job.

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A smart investment can be a great way to make money… but when scammers use the guise of an investment opportunity to get your cash up front, the return never comes. According to the FTC, among the most common investment scams are those related to financial markets, real estate, or precious metals and coins.

Be extremely careful about individuals or companies you invest with. Some fraudsters create very official-looking websites that can fool people out of a lot of their money. These ”get rich quick” schemes can sound very believable.

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If you’ve been scammed, don’t panic: You have options. And in many cases, you may be able to recoup some or all of your lost funds. Here’s advice on how to recover from being scammed.

Tell Your Bank That You Have Been Scammed

Here’s what to do after being scammed: If a fraudster got hold of your bank account information, let your bank know ASAP. After all, the sooner they can change your checking and savings account numbers, the sooner you can stop any theft. While FDIC insurance does not cover money lost due to theft, fraud, or scams, many banks will reimburse you money you’ve lost in a fraudulent transaction. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Request a New Debit or Credit Card

If a scammer got hold of your debit card or credit card information, immediately call the issuer to report that the card was stolen so they can hook you up with a brand new card and account number. Again, many credit card issuers will refund you for charges that were unauthorized or fraudulent transactions, so it’s critical to reach out to them pronto.

Remember the Details

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam, you should immediately write down everything you can remember about the interaction: the details of how the scam was carried out, how much money or which pieces of information were stolen, the time of day, the payment and communication methods, and where you were. All of these details could help law enforcement catch the perpetrator and ensure your case is solid if it gets taken to court.

File a Complaint With the FTC

As discussed above, another step to take after being scammed is filing a complaint with the FTC. This can help track down and stop fraudsters. The FTC can also provide you with valuable information to help you protect yourself from future scams, too.

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There are steps you can take to help ensure you don’t become victimized by a scam for a second time. These can also be good moves to make to avoid being scammed in the first place.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Chances are, you’re already familiar with two-factor authentication: It’s the process where a website or platform verifies your identity with both a password and a second form of authentication, like a code texted to your cell phone or using facial recognition. Use these tools to secure as many of your accounts as you can.

Reset Your Passwords

Whether or not you’ve been scammed in the recent past, it’s always worthwhile to reset your passwords regularly.

  • Use strong, distinct passwords for each account you have. No reusing!
  • To keep all your accounts straight, you may want to consider utilizing a password manager, which can also help you generate stronger passwords and remind you to change your passwords from time to time.

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If you get an email or phone call that promises you a lot of money very quickly — or says there’s a problem you have to pay to fix very quickly — be suspicious. If you’re not totally sure you’re dealing with the person or entity who says they’re on the other side of the interaction, hang up or click delete and reach out yourself (say, directly to your bank, Apple, or whatever company is allegedly contacting you).

It’s also worth looking for tiny typos in email addresses or slightly “off” logos. In all cases, be very wary before you offer sensitive information over email or the phone. It’s highly unlikely you will be asked to “verify your account immediately” by text message, for instance.

Recognize Sometimes Things May Be Too Good to Be True

If someone calls you promising you a prize of thousands of dollars as soon as you provide your Social Security number or says they have the investment of a lifetime if you just cough up $1,000 to start, think twice. If something sounds too good to be true, there’s a good chance it’s just that.

Order Credit Reports

Keeping an eye on your credit report is one of the best ways to stay ahead of any fraud you may fall victim to without otherwise knowing. You’re entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the big three credit bureaus via annualcreditreport.com.

You can also sign up for ongoing credit monitoring with a variety of service providers, though this may be a paid service. You can also consider whether you want to activate a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit files with the credit bureaus. This can help prevent new accounts from being opened without your permission.

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Scams are getting more sophisticated these days, which can mean they can be harder to detect and avoid. Popular ploys are romance and job opportunity scams. Staying vigilant and immediately reporting any fraudulent transactions can help minimize your losses — and possibly recoup lost funds.

Check with your financial institution to see what tools they offer to help you monitor and protect your accounts.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org


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