Fraud and Identity Theft

This is part two of a series of articles about fraud.

Identity TheftImagine you’ve just had your smartphone stolen and are desperate to get it returned, along with the data it contains. You track it with the Find My iPhone app and send messages offering to buy it back. In response, you get a link to click. That’s a trap designed to steal your username and password. Click it and enter your credentials, and you’ll join the ranks of those hacked by crooks playing on a weakness–your urgent need to get back your phone. Watching out for these common scams will help keep your identity safe.

A hacker can infect your computer by covertly installing malicious software that will encrypt your files. If you don’t have a very recent backup, you can lose all your data and be faced with having to pay a fee of several hundred dollars to recover it. Don’t click on any link or attachment you are not expecting.

Victims get a phone call from a scam artist claiming to be a representative of a fake computer firm. The caller warns that your computer has been infected with malware that will corrupt your files. The scam: tricking you into giving the impostor full access to your files which then infect your computer and get you to pay for unnecessary repairs.

This is an unsolicited email designed to reel you in like a fish. It can look like an email from your bank asking you to update your password and other preferences, or it can resemble an email from a friend sharing “attached photos” that, when clicked, show nothing or an error message. At this point a hacker gains full control over your computer and can steal any information stored there.

Spear phishing aims to defraud specific people rather than a larger group of potential targets. Prior to carrying out a spear phishing attack, the hacker digs up your personal information such as your family history, where you live, your mother’s maiden name, your Social Security number and so on. In one such scam, the perpetrators pretend to be your mortgage company, notifying you by email that your mortgage has been sold to another company and instructing you to now send payments to “XYZ” company. A link in the email goes to a fake website, designed to look real. Only a very close look will reveal subtle differences that expose the fraud.

Series of Articles on Fraud

The Cleveland Police Foundation, in partnership with the Cleveland Division of Police and the Ohio Crime Prevention Association present these tips so citizens can help to make our community safer.



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