Common cybercrimes and your credit

Back when computers first entered mainstream society, the terms “cyber attack” and “ransomware” didn’t even exist. Why would they? Computers were invented to help, not harm. But the world has changed, and we now need our personal computer setup to always be on the offensive.

From simple hacking and phishing to destructive ransomware, the security of our personal information and credit faces more dangers every day. Cyber attacks are on the rise, including the use of malicious code on personal and business computers in order to compromise data and carry out cybercriminals like identity theft.

The 5 Most Common Cybercrimes

You might’ve heard or read about these crimes, but do you know exactly what they are? Here’s a very quick course in cybercrime terminology…

  1. Malware (MALicious SoftWARE). A user is tricked into running an infected program, most often from a trusted website or pop-up advertisement that appears legitimate. The user is typically instructed to click past security warnings and in doing so, downloads a virus that compromises the user’s computer.
  2. Phishing. This term comes from the analogy of a fisherman setting out “hooks” for passwords and data from the “sea” of Internet users. A user receives an email that deceptively appears as though it’s coming from the user’s bank or another trusted source, and through which the user may be tricked into providing his or her username and password. This gives cyber thieves all the information they need to gain access to this account (and possibly others).  
  3. Spear-Phishing. A more targeted form of phishing (hence the “spear”), this crime focuses on specific company employees known to have control over business or consumer funds. They dupe employees through emails and can potentially reveal key credentials to a criminal or download malware that can be used to hack into the employee’s computer or company network. The result? A corporate security breach that puts company data, and potentially hundreds to millions of consumers’ data, at risk.
  4. Medical Identity Theft. This form of fraud is difficult to fix and is commonly referred to as the “type of fraud that could kill you”. This fraud occurs when someone uses another person’s name and insurance information to obtain medical services – leading to false claims and incorrect data being placed on the victim’s medical records. The problem, which is potentially life-threatening, occurs when a physician afterward makes medical treatment decisions based on the imposter’s health information.
  5. Social Media Threats. In addition to providing thieves with “status” information (i.e., posting about being away on vacation, allowing your GPS to show where you are, etc.), social media can provide cyber criminals another way to infiltrate your personal information. As an example, a user may receive an “install request” from a rogue friend or unknown application. If accepted, you not only give access to your social media account but also could be providing the hackers with credit card, bank and other financial information you have previously shared online.

People in the myFICO forum are always looking for ways to keep their identity and credit information safe. See how forum visitors deal with phishing emails that look as though their credit card company sent them.

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