As digital payment scams become more prevalent, they also become more sophisticated, making them harder to detect. Scammers employ what is known as “social engineering” to manipulate people into revealing sensitive information.
Using the psychology of persuasion, these scammers take advantage of human nature, aiming to lower your defenses so you’ll act on impulse. Let’s look at some examples:
Hackers often research their targets in advance to get a sense of the individual's personal and professional lives to help establish the right pretext with which to approach a target. This information can easily be found by searching the internet or reviewing social media activities.
Pretexting is typically the first step in a broader scheme to steal from you. It often starts with a friendly “hello” and a convincing story that leads you to hand over sensitive information.
Baiting uses the false promise of an enticing item, such as a monetary reward or free movie download, to trick the target into opening a file or providing sensitive information, like their login credentials.
Instead of the attached file being the movie or other reward, it is actually infected with malware that will encrypt or take control of your data.
Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering attacks. It’s usually presented in the form of emails or text messages that look like they are from a reputable source, like your financial institution.
The message may include a link to a fake website that looks legitimate and asks you to provide personal information in order to remedy an urgent issue. This can result in scammers gaining access to your accounts or learning important details about your identity.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
Knowledge is key. Now that you know what to look for, follow these tips to protect yourself.
- Delete requests for personal information or passwords. No one should contact you for your personal information. Not even your financial institution.
- Avoid tempting offers. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re really interested in the offer, take a step back and do some research. Confirm that the company or the offer is legitimate by researching reviews. If they are reputable, call the company directly to ensure the offer came from them and not a scammer.
- Verify contacts. Scammers usually imitate legitimate companies by mimicking their names in emails or using caller ID spoofing. Check their authenticity by looking at the domain name of an email address or hanging up on an unsolicited caller. Later, you can verify the phone number and call back.
Looking for more tips? Be sure to visit our online Cybersecurity Center for the latest security news.
Published September 2023
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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