From the convenience of online shopping to staying connected with loved ones through social media, the digital world has seamlessly woven itself into our daily lives. It has completely revolutionized how we work, communicate, and entertain ourselves.
However, this increased reliance on the digital realm has brought an increased risk of Internet fraud and online scams. According to TransUnion, fraud attempts with credit cards are increasing year-over-year. What is the real source of this alarming epidemic? We’ve honed in on three different reasons for growing cyber threats.
Three Reasons for Increased Cyber Threats
More Digital Commodities
We’re sharing our personal information online more extensively than ever before. With digital resources such as social media, e-commerce, and various online services on the rise, we’re submitting more of our personal information, including financial data, personal details, and even our daily routines.
Data has become a highly sought-after commodity, and many businesses collect vast amounts of personal information from their customers for the sake of profit or to enhance their services. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency surrounding these data-sharing practices can leave consumers vulnerable to exploitation, making data security more important than ever.
The Adoption of AI
While AI holds the potential to improve cybersecurity, it has also empowered cybercriminals with advanced tools and strategies. AI-driven bots can perform tasks at unprecedented speeds and accuracy, and machine learning algorithms can also adapt to security measures, making it more challenging to detect Internet fraud.
It is crucial to stay informed about online security practices and protect our digital identities because our data is valuable. When your sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to drain your savings account, open new bank accounts in your name, make purchases with your cards, and more. That’s why we’ve provided some tips below on how you can take your cybersecurity back into your own hands.
10 Strategies to Divert Online Fraud
Protecting ourselves against the looming threat of online fraud and scams has never been more important. To battle this growing challenge, we’ve put together ten essential strategies to help you ensure a safer, more secure online presence.
1. Identify Imposters
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust such as a representative from your bank, a family member, or a government official. This is called impersonation fraud and, typically, these individuals will first gain your trust and then ask for personal information. Avoid sending money or giving any details away, whether it’s over a text, a phone call, or an email.
2. Safeguard Your Passwords
Guard your passwords and PINs with vigilance. One way to do this is to create strong passwords that are twelve characters long or more and contain special characters other than letters. We also suggest that you use multi-factor authentication whenever possible, utilize secure password storage applications, never write passwords down on paper or unprotected digital files and never use the same password.
3. Monitor Your Accounts
By regularly reviewing your bank activity, including financial statements and transactions, you’re more likely to quickly detect unauthorized or suspicious charges. Having a proactive approach can help you take fast action before any significant damage is done. Most banks now send transaction notifications, so we highly suggest turning this option on and reviewing your activity as it’s posted.
4. Report Lost Cards
If your credit or debit card has been lost or stolen, it’s essential to act as soon as you realize it’s missing. Contact your card issuer, since issuers will usually have after-hours support. While you’re waiting to speak to someone, you can check your issuer’s site to see if you can freeze access to your card on your end. The issuer will cancel your card and send you one with new information.
5. Never Pay Upfront
Avoid sending money to someone you don’t know. This scam could appear in the form of you winning a prize through a lottery and being asked to pay for fees or taxes. It could look like a charity seeking a donation. It could even look like a real estate agent asking for your home closing funds such as a down payment. If you think you may have made a transfer to a scammer, contact your bank immediately.
6. Regularly Change Passwords
Your passwords are the first line of defense for your online accounts. If your passwords stay the same for long periods, they become more vulnerable to hacking attempts. By changing your passwords every few months, you can limit the likelihood of a cyber attack if your passwords have already been compromised and ultimately reduce the amount of damage that can be done.
7. Don’t Wire Money Back
The act of receiving a check and being asked to wire money back to the sender is one of the most prevalent scams in the world of banking. In this situation, the scammer will use a fake check that will clear in your bank at first but will bounce weeks later, leaving you responsible for the full amount. It can take banks weeks to uncover a fake check.
8. Use the Latest Software
Hackers and AI are always learning and becoming more sophisticated by the day. Make sure you’ve downloaded the latest data security software from a reputable source and update it regularly. This will help shield your data against cyber attacks and prevent potential breaches, data theft, and system compromises.
9. Safeguard Your Internet
Secure your home Wi-Fi network with a strong password and enable encryption to keep potential intruders at bay. Regularly update your router's firmware to avoid any vulnerabilities. Additionally, when using public Wi-Fi networks on your phone, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection.
10. Use Protected Payment Methods
When making a payment, opt for a method that provides customer protection. Reputable services usually offer secure payment options such as credit cards, PayPal, or encrypted payment gateways. Most major credit card issuers offer safeguards for online purchases and may be required to provide refunds in specific situations.
In a digital landscape filled with potential threats, empowering yourself with the right knowledge and strategies is essential to protect yourself against online fraud and scams. The ten strategies covered above are designed to give you the tools needed to reclaim control over your online safety.
By staying informed and practicing vigilance, you can fortify your defenses against cyber threats. Navigate the digital realm confidently and ensure a safer and more secure online experience for yourself and those around you.
If you're in the market for a bank that provides the necessary tools to enhance your digital safety, get in touch with us to explore your options and learn more. Additionally, if you’re a business looking for support with extra security, check out our Security Guide to fully protect your organization.