Major companies like Target and the Home Depot have suffered some of the most severe cyber attacks in the past several years, but they’re not the only ones who can fall victim to online criminals.
These are the three most common cyber crimes targeting individuals this year, and how to avoid them:
An estimated $22 billion will be spent on mobile e-commerce in 2015 as retailers, restaurants, banks and more develop mobile apps that allow users to connect their accounts to the app for quick, easy payments using their smartphones.
These apps create an easy, time-saving way to shop and bank online, but experts say that convenience is the biggest threat.
“The real concerns I have about mobile involve consumers getting used to a whole new way of paying for things, which always opens the door for confusion and scams,” said consumer protection expert Bob Sullivan.
With so many people drawn to the ease of mobile payments, cyber criminals are finding ways to scam individuals by creating fake mobile payment apps or hacking into legitimate accounts.
To stay safe from getting scammed by apps and other mobile purchasing options, stay vigilant about what you’re downloading, and don’t get too comfortable with easy mobile purchases.
It’s best to only download the official app offered by a retailer or your bank, and stay on top of your transactions so that you can catch any irregular charges or payments as soon as possible. If you choose to use a third-party app, make sure to create a unique password and opt for multiple security settings.
Withdrawing money from an ATM has become increasingly more dangerous, with a 174 percent increase in successful debit-card compromises at ATMs on bank property since 2014, and a 317 percent increase at non-bank ATMs.
Cyber hackers are acquiring card information from ATMs by hacking into large databases to empty accounts, shop online or create fake credit cards, The Wall Street Journal reports.
There is no concrete solution to this cyber crime yet, so it might be best to avoid ATMs altogether.
If you must withdraw money from an ATM, only use machines at your bank and always cover the keypad when entering your pin number.
This type of cyber con-artist aims to hit you where you’re most vulnerable, either offering too good to be true deals or scaring you into paying a fine you don’t owe.
For example, here in Arizona, temperatures are guaranteed to skyrocket come summertime, leaving thousands of residents dependent on air conditioning. Cyber criminals are known to pose as your electric company, sending out emails offering services for irresistibly low prices or sending threats to shut off your electric if you don’t pay a certain fee.
These emails can be convincing, but don’t be caught off guard by official-sounding language, use of familiar logos or low prices.
If you receive this type of email, look for details that might be off. The colors used in the logo might be a few shades different than your company’s actual logo or the email may not address you by name – these are just a few warning signs to look out for.
If everything else about the email is normal, but the prices offered are extremely low, do your research. Look around online for the same offer or call the company directly to be sure.