Tag Archives: ransomware

internet security phishing

7 Measures to Protect Yourself from an Internet Scammer

According to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Report, US consumers lost nearly $5 billion to the Internet scammer with over 1.5 million people affected in 5 years.

Before the crime occurred, many thought — what are the chances? It will never happen to me. But with internet scams this common, your chances are much greater than you think.

Let’s explore how to beat scammers at their own game by getting informed and taking measures to prevent cybercrime.

1) Realize How the Scammer Operates

Scammers are skilled at connecting with people when their guards are down.

You might meet them on a website you trust. They may say all the right things to show that they understand your business or personal challenges.

They’ve got the solution.

When someone commits a crime in the “real world” how often do you hear people say things like:

  • We never suspected her
  • He’s such a nice boy
  • But she’s committed her life to working with children

It’s because people who commit crimes for a living hone their skills and they know how to cover their tracks. They place themselves where you’d least expect them.

What they do is well thought out, researched and scripted. This can make it seem like a losing proposition for you. But there are ways not get pulled in.

2) Manage Your Empathy

Being an empathic person is not a character flaw. It means you have high emotional intelligence. But cybercriminals count on the good nature of their victims.

They target people who seem very kind and compassionate. That’s because they know that it will be difficult for someone with this empathy to:

  • Say “no”
  • Cut off the conversation
  • Hurt someone’s feelings

Living in fear and not caring isn’t the answer. But keep your radar up.

If someone starts telling you sob stories or subtly trying to make you feel bad or convince you to do something, they may be a scammer.

3) Get Informed about Phishing

You get an email from Paypal or your bank. They tell you that they think your account’s been hacked. They need you to log in and verify it’s you.

Or you get an email from your web host. They have a new offer for you that they want you to check out.

The email looks very formal — exactly like an email from the company.

Do you click that link to sign in? Don’t do it.

The message may be slightly different. But their goals are the same. They’re trying to get your username and password so they can gain access to your account.

When you click the link, you’ll go to a site that looks just like the website you know.

These are hard to detect. They could actually be real emails from a company you trust.

Your best thing you can do is go to the website through your browser — not the link. Check it out to see if there was any truth to the email.

4) Resist the Irresistible

You receive an email a guy named Steve. The subject reads something like:

I forgot to send you this file OR

I really liked the site. You should check it out

The name sounds familiar. Maybe it’s someone you forgot about meeting on social or through work.

The email sounds very personable. This person seems to know you and they share just a little about how great this attachment is.

You’re really curious now. But don’t click.

These are tell-tale signs of a scammer. Clicking on the link could give the scammer access to your passwords, your website, personal information, and computer.

It could also be ransomware, which we’ll talk about next.

They’re counting on making that file irresistible to click. But they’re not using hard sales tactics. Instead, they act like your best friend.

5) Learn About Ransomware

You’re browsing along. You click a link. And suddenly your screen freezes. You can’t do anything. Shutting down doesn’t work.

You get a message to send them $300 to unlock your computer. If you don’t, they assure you, you’ll lose everything on your device.

We store our entire lives on our devices; this can be devastating.

Here’s what to do to protect yourself

    1. Back your computer up on a separate secure drive
    2. Keep your virus protector up to date
    3. Don’t click on questionable links
    4. Don’t pay the money. Help stop making this profitable for scammers

6) Update Your Passwords Now

If you don’t create strong passwords or use password best practices, you’re not alone. This makes you a target.

If you’ve been using weak passwords, update them today.

Here’s how to create a super strong password you can actually remember.

  1. Think of an 8-12 word phrase from a movie you know by heart
  2. Pull up a notepad on your device
  3. Jot down the first letter of each word in the phrase
  4. Change out any letters that look like numbers for numbers (e.g. 5 for S)
  5. Change out at least 1 letter that looks like a symbol (e.g # for H)
  6. Capitalize 1 letter in the middle that has emphasis
  7. Memorize it while saying the phrase in your head
  8. Trash the note you created

Create a password for high-security sites like banking and retirement. Use a different phrase to create another high-security for social accounts. Never use the same high-security PW on low-security sites.

For best results, have a different password for every high-security site.

7) Buy Sister Domain Names

If you have a website for your .edu site or .org site, it’s a good idea to also buy the .com version to prevent someone from funneling traffic away from your site.

DMV.com and DMV.org, for example, are not associated with the government agency DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). But they benefit from traffic when people are looking for the “real” DMV. And if they wanted to, they could use this to scam people.

If you have a brand to protect, then buying sister domains is a smart idea.

Services like Revision Legal specialize in helping businesses reclaim their names.

The Scammer Doesn’t Have to Make the Internet a Scary Place

When you understand what to look for and take measures, you can prevent cybercrime. Manage your empathy. Learn about Phishing. Don’t click suspicious links. Update your passwords.

To learn more about staying safe online, follow our blog today!

tinder and match.com scams

Match.com Scams: Security Tips for Dating Sites & Apps

Avoid scammers & protect your privacy on dating sites like match.com: Are you thinking of trying out an online dating site? Millions of people now have profiles on Match.com, Tinder, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish, and online dating is now a multi-billion dollar business.

But wait, before you go ahead and set up your dating profile, there are some things that you need to know. Protecting your privacy on dating sites and avoiding scams is very important. There are so many people out there who want nothing more than to take you for a ride.

If you want to keep yourself (and your finances!) safe, you need to be as cautious as possible. Luckily for you, we have all the information you could possibly need to protect yourself. Enjoy!

match.com security scammers

Tip: Actually read the privacy policy

Before you sign up for any dating sites, you need to check out their privacy policy. Most people simply select ‘accept’ without reading what they’re agreeing to. The problem with that is that you could be signing all your personal information away without even realizing it. Frankly, that’s a very scary thought! Here are some of the things that you have to be mindful of:

  • The site giving your information to third parties
  • Whether your profile can be found by search engines
  • The information that is shown as ‘public’

It’s well worth taking the time to sift through all the text and figure out what you’re agreeing to. That way, you can take care of your personal information and truly understand what rights you’re giving away here.

Tip: Be ultra strict about your settings

Once you’ve actually set up your site, it’s time to take a proper look at your settings. Sure, it’s easy to just leave it and assume that it will all be okay, but doing so is a real mistake. Remember, you should have a whole load of control over what is shown on your profile and what is not. Head to the settings tab and see what controls you have.

If you want to protect your privacy, it may be worth making yourself ‘invisible’ to the public. That way, you can make sure that only people you want to contact you can contact you.

Be extra careful on “free” dating sites

“When something online is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

Open a “free” swimming pool in the middle of the city, and see what happens. Pretty soon you won’t want to stay in the water! Dating sites shouldn’t be free either. There should be a cost to participate, and a valid credit card attached to every account.

Match.com has a free trial, but it only lasts 7 days at the most. New members on a free trial are a mixed bag, so be extra careful in your interactions with them. (Also know what a site like match.com really costs before signing up)

No ‘free’ dating sites or apps should ever ask you to hand over your banking details. If they do, you should be very careful about handing them over. In the same respect, if on the off chance a user asks you to give your account details, you absolutely need to report them.

Tip: Keep your communications safe

One of the things that you will come across time and time again is match.com scammers asking you to hand over your phone number or email. If you’ve only just started to talk to them via the site or app, you really don’t want to rush into external communications. The truth of the matter is that if this person’s a con artist, they could well want to lure you away from the site to scam you.

If you do wish to chat to people outside of the app or site, it could be worth making a dedicated email address (that’s not attached to any of your personal information or accounts) that you can use. That way, you can speak to anyone without worrying that your personal information will be available to them.

How to catch a ‘catfish’

online dating scams

In case you haven’t heard, ‘catfishing’ is a massive deal for the online community. If you’re hoping to keep your privacy safe on dating sites, you need to be aware of this common issue. Basically, there are people out there who will pretend to be someone they are not, i.e. assume the identity of another individual.

Usually, Tinder or match.com scammers (or other popular dating sites) will do this so that they can con people out of money or steal their identity. You might also fall victim of Ransomware, where someone locks you out of your own computer and demands that you pay a ransom to access your files. Yikes! (consider backing up your files

When you first start talking to someone, it’s worth doing a little background research. Take a look at their social media accounts and online activity to see whether they are legitimate. Who are their friends online? Hopefully they have ties to a good mix of family and friends, and not just superficial ties to more shady characters or fake Facebook accounts.

Tip: try a “Google reverse image search”

match scammersIf you want to check out if a user is who they say they are, there’s a simple trick you may wish to use.

Copy their picture from the site and reverse image search it on Google.

If you find that the photo appears on other sites under a different name, you should steer clear of that person. If you find anything else troubling, you may even want to report them to the site.

Finally, avoid these common scams

Of course, you should take all of the above into consideration when it comes to setting up your site. However, there are a few common scams that it’s worth knowing about ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The ‘sob story’ scam: This scam on match.com or Tinder is perhaps the most common. Someone you start talking to on a site like match.com will suddenly have an ‘emergency’ and need financial help. As tempted as you might be to give them a loan, don’t do it! Remember you don’t know this person at all and you owe them nothing. Just last year a woman lost her lifesavings to a match.com scam, ($270k) which is hard to comprehend, but shows you an extreme example of how people get conned by scammers
  • The malicious link scam: If someone sends you a link and asks you to click on it, it’s a red flag.  Much of the time, the site will be a porn site or even a page with a virus or creepware on it, which can be really hard to get rid of. (consider having Norton Security on your devices) 
  • The webcam scam: You need to think twice before agreeing to go on webcam with someone you don’t know. They can record the session (and whatever happens during it!) and use it to blackmail you later. Be careful.

It’s not a bad idea to read all the bad reviews and complaints for match.com before joining. It might scare you away, or it might just make you more savvy.

If you follow all of the above advice, you should have no problem using dating sites securely and safely. Remember, you are in control of the information you give out, and so you can make sure that you are always as private as possible. Happy dating!

*Dating photo credits: Huffington Post + omgphotos.com