Cybersecurity Awareness Month: What to Know About Common Scams
FBI Portland Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eliza Odom describes the most common scams the FBI is seeing in Oregon, and how to respond.
“What are the most common scams we are seeing in Oregon?”
The most common cyber scams that we are seeing in Oregon, ranked by the number of complaints into the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, are:
- online shopping
- romance scams and
- business email compromise scams
By dollar losses – business email compromise scams top the list.
“What are the most important things I should know about cyber scams?”
Here are three of the most important things to keep yourself safe from cyber scams:
Never click on links or attachments in emails, text messages, or social media posts. They can contain malware that will infect your device or lead you to a fraudulent (but real-looking) website to collect user ID and password info.
Don’t share personal or sensitive info with people you meet online. You can never take back compromising pictures… and no one should contact you unsolicited to ask for your financial or health information.
Trust your gut. As the old saying goes, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“What are some easy steps you can take today to increase your safety online?”
There are a number of easy steps you can take to greatly increase your safety online:
- Lock down all of your social media accounts with security and privacy in mind. Restrict your friend lists to include only those who you know and trust in real life.
- Set your devices, software, and apps to update automatically.
- Make sure every online account – whether it is your favorite shopping portal or your utility provider – has robust security. That means using strong passwords or passphrases and/or multi-factor authentication.
“What is social engineering?”
A scammer uses social engineering to generate an intense emotion in you to get you to act quickly without thinking. That emotion could be fear, anger, excitement, or even curiosity.
Examples include scams where you are told you are in trouble with the law, have won a huge lottery, or need to immediately help a family member in danger.
The fraudster will use your heightened emotion to get you to give them money or personal information.
“What should I do if I am the victim of a cyber scam?”
If you are the victim of a cyber scam, the first thing you should do is to contact your bank, credit card company or other financial institution. Let them know you suspect fraud and ask them to lock down your accounts.
In some cases, you may need a police report to file a fraud complaint. Contact your local law enforcement to do that.
Check your credit report regularly for ongoing concerns. Everyone is entitled to at least one report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. During these COVID times, they are offering Americans even more frequent options. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to find out more.
Finally, report fraud to the FBI through our Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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