Cyber criminals continue to be innovative with methods they use to steal your money and personal information. These criminals use several techniques to fool potential victims.

Cyber thieves are known to send unsolicited email, commonly referred to as spam, which directs the recipient to click on a link contained in the message. That link then takes them to a malicious webpage where software can be unknowingly installed on the victim’s computer and then used to later steal personal information, including credit card numbers and passwords.

Website spoofing is another scamming technique where the user is on what appears to be a legitimate website where they can make a purchase or log in to check their account balance. The spoofed site, however, is collecting whatever information you enter; credit card numbers, user names, and passwords – all later used by thieves to get access to your money.

Cyber scammers often send emails or text messages to unsuspecting consumers, alerting them that there is a problem with their account. When the consumer clicks on the link or calls the number they have been told to call, they are asked to verify their account number, Social Security number, birthday, or even PIN. Your credit card companies and banks already know that information, and would never ask you to verify it if they were the ones to initiate contact with you.

If you receive an unsolicited email, text message, or phone call from a financial institution you actually have an account with, contact them directly to verify the authenticity of the message you receive. When you make contact, however, get the number, web address, or email address from a source other than the communication you have received.

If you have an item posted for sale on the Internet and receive payment from someone through the mail in the form of a money order or check, for more than the amount you are asking, with a follow up email request from the buyer explaining that they have overpaid you, asking that you wire the overage back to them, chances are – you are about to become the victim of another common scam. In this scam, the money order or check the victim receives is later determined to be fraudulent. Many people that fall for this scam do not realize this until they receive notification from their bank that the financial document deposited by them was counterfeit. By then, it is too late because the money has already been wired to the cyber criminal.

Top tips on avoiding a high-tech scam:

  • Never respond to unsolicited email or text messages, and never click on links contained in an unsolicited email.
  • Never open attachments in emails from sources that you do not personally know and trust.
  • Never fill out forms in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always log on to an official website by typing the address in yourself, instead of clicking on links contained in unsolicited email.
  • Never wire money to a purported buyer of something you have listed for sale on the Internet.

For more information on eScams, or if you feel that you have been the victim of an Internet scammer, go to www.ic3.gov.

The Franklin Police Identity Theft Victim Guide provides useful information on what you should do if you suspect you have been the victim of identity theft.

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