Everyday tasks—opening an email attachment, following a link in a text message, making an online purchase—can open you up to online criminals who want to harm your systems or steal from you. Preventing internet-enabled crimes and cyber intrusions requires each of us to be aware and on guard.
Protect Your Systems and Data
- Keep systems and software up to date and install a strong, reputable anti-virus program.
- Create a strong and unique passphrase for each online account you hold and change them regularly. Using the same passphrase across several accounts makes you more vulnerable if one account is breached.
- Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting the file, document, or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
Protect Your Connections
- Be careful when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network and do not conduct any sensitive transactions, including purchases, when on a public network.
- Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels, or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices that access these ports. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.
Protect Your Money and Information
- Examine the email address in all correspondence and scrutinize website URLs. Scammers often mimic a legitimate site or email address by using a slight variation in spelling. Or an email may look like it came from a legitimate company, but the actual email address is suspicious.
- Do not click the link in an unsolicited text message or email that asks you to update, check, or verify your account information. If you are concerned about the status of your account, go to the company’s website to log into your account or call the phone number listed on the official website to see if something does in fact need your attention.
- Carefully scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or transfer of funds.
- Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.
- Make online purchases with a credit card for an extra layer of protection against fraud.
- Do not send money to any person you meet online or allow a person you don’t know well to access your bank account to transfer money in or out.
If You are a Victim, File a Report with IC3
If you are the victim of an online or internet-enabled crime, file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible.
Crime reports are used for investigative and intelligence purposes. Rapid reporting can also help support the recovery of lost funds.
Visit ic3.gov for more information, including tips and information about current crime trends.
If You Spot a Scam Message, Report It to the FTC
Receive a suspicious message? Report it to the Federal Trade Commission so they can help protect others.
Note: The FBI does not send mass emails to private citizens about cyber scams. If you received an email that claims to be from the FBI Director or other top official, it is most likely a scam.