It is easy to appreciate the speed and efficiency of making financial transactions online. You save a lot of time and effort shopping, paying bills, and managing your financial accounts online. Completing financial transactions online became exponentially convenient due to the COVID pandemic in 2019. Many industries improved their online services to accommodate our ever-changing needs and expectations. However, the rise of online financial transactions due to the pandemic has increased cybercrimes. According to Cyber Crime Review, more than 2 billion individual records get stolen every year. Taking certain precautions when making online transactions can successfully protect your personal and financial information and help shield you from becoming a victim of a cybercrime.
Types of cybercrime
Cybercriminals use the internet to access and tamper with an individual’s personal information illegally. As technology has advanced, so have the ways cybercriminals have developed to access our personal and financial information illegally. Here are some common types of cybercrime that not only target individuals but companies and organizations as well.
Hacking involves a direct attack on your computer or other digital devices to gain total control. Hackers generally attack for financial gain, or they might attack if they disagree with something. As a result of hacking, the security of your digital device is compromised. A common form of hacking is a distributed denial of service (DDoS). In a DDoS attack, your digital device network gets filled with traffic, making it impossible for anybody to use. A hacker will commonly ask for payment to give you back control of your device.
Malware attacks are the most common type of cyberattack. There are several forms of malware, including ransomware and spyware. Ransomware encrypts the files on your infected device(s), rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. The criminals then demand a ransom to decrypt the files. Spyware is a form of malware that can attach to your computer or phone by clicking on a link in an infected email or website. Once your device is infected, the criminal can spy as you use your device, such as your keystrokes, to access your bank account usernames and passwords.
Phishing is a type of social engineering where a cybercriminal tricks a victim into providing confidential information, such as their credit card information, by impersonating another person or company. Both phishing and social engineering rely on individuals to have confidence in the unknown criminal rather than rely on the technology itself, making both very dangerous cybercrimes. To avoid becoming a victim of phishing, don’t give out your credit card or bank account information to anyone over the phone or via email links unless you are absolutely sure you know who they are.
Steps to avoid phishing scams
Cybercriminals may contact you through emails, text messages, or phone calls. To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing attack, don’t click links in random emails or text messages from companies or people you do not know. If you’re unsure, go directly to the trusted website. Check your banking accounts and credit reports regularly to avoid any bank or credit phishing. When you have all your financial accounts enrolled in your FinLocker, you need to only sign in to one app to view all transactions and your credit report.
Verify a website is secure
Completing financial transactions online may require you to entering your personal information, such as your birthdate or full name and phone number. Before giving out your personal information, verify that the website you are currently using is secure. One way to verify is to search for a locked padlock icon displayed in your browser. This icon indicates a secure connection between the browser and the server and proves that the website is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certified. Another way to verify a secure site is to check that the URL begins with HTTPS.
Change passwords frequently
Protect your personal information online with a secure password for each website you shop or transact, particularly your financial accounts. Create strong, unique passwords using a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, you can use a password manager. Password managers are secure programs that allow you to generate, store, and protect your passwords in one place. Changing your passwords frequently can help lower your risk of being hacked.
Avoid using public WI-FI
Hackers often utilize free public Wi-Fi or set up their own free Wi-Fi network to steal personal and financial information. Avoid conducting financial transactions on public Wi-Fi wherever possible, especially on devices that do not belong to you.
Keep your computer protected
As it’s safer to make online financial transactions using your personal devices, you need to keep your computer, iPad, and phone protected. Install antivirus and antispyware software on your computer, keep your firewall turned on, and turn on automatic updating so your computer system and internet browsers are always up-to-date with the latest software.
How to report a cybercrime
If you are concerned that someone has tried to access your financial information, report the issue as soon as possible. If you were a victim of phishing, contact the company you thought you were doing business with and contact your banks to place fraud alerts on each financial accounts to prevent further criminal activity.
Report fraud, scams, and bad business practices to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Learn how to make a report by clicking here.