Looking for a Halloween Haunt? Look No Further than Cybercrime.
Okay, so no, we don’t expect you to sit your kids down at a computer and explain the dangers of ransomware instead of visiting a haunted house. But it’s important to understand that people dressed as chainsaw-wielding villains don’t hold a candle to the very real threat of different cybercrimes.
The wide variety of ways a criminal can target you online is staggering, and each contains its own consequences and results. Scams, fraud, identity theft, and hacking are just a few of the dangers, so it’s important to understand what they are, how they happen, and what to do to minimize your risk.
1. Internet of Things
If you’re one of the many consumers who enjoy connected devices, you’re not alone. But you’re also not alone in potentially leaving the door wide open for a hacker to sneak in through your device and use that wifi connection to infiltrate your computer. The reality of unsecured wifi routers means hackers can take over your seemingly harmless devices, track your activity, know when you’re home and not home, and more.
2. Ransomware Attacks
Given the high numbers of ransomware attacks, it can certainly feel like it’s a matter of when not if. Imagine opening your computer or device to find a screen that says you have only hours to pay a high ransom in order to unlock your machine and retrieve all of your files, from your photographs to your tax documents. Even worse, imagine lying on an operating table and the surgeon announces that their hospital network has been locked up, and all of the patients’ records—yes, including yours—have been shared on the internet.
3. Identity Theft
Do you want a real scare this Halloween? Come home to a mailbox filled with bills for cars you didn’t purchase, credit cards you didn’t open, and a bank statement that shows your account balance is zero. Oh, and don’t forget the police summons for disability benefits fraud and unemployment fraud since someone was receiving those things in your name…good luck proving it, too.
All of the other things are bad, to be sure, but they don’t hold a candle to the fear of a loved one being targeted by someone online. Whether it’s a faceless case of international sextortion, a group of local kids tormenting your teen on social media, or any other possibility, the reality is that there’s a significant correlation between cyberbullying and suicide rates, especially in young people.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s not the kind of scare I was looking for!” but the truth is, it’s also not just a Halloween incident. Cybercrime is a year-round, 24/7 danger, one that can haunt you for years to come if you become a victim.
In order to know the risk, you have to first know how the crime manifests. By signing up for alerts from groups like the Identity Theft Resource Center, fraud alerts from the major credit reporting agencies, and even transaction alerts from your bank, you can arm yourself with knowledge and up-to-date facts and data about your personal identifiable information. It’s the best way to help make sure the only scary thing happening this Halloween is how much candy you might eat before the trick-or-treaters arrive!
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here.
Read more: Identity Theft Is No “Trick”