Top online scams detailed
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the attorney general's office of the state of Ohio has issued a list of the top online scams facing users. As so much purchasing is done online, online security awareness has become a permanent part of the week. Many of the scam types listed do not require advanced technology - malicious users prey on the emotions or careless decisions of users and make off with personal information.
"Cyber fraud is one of the biggest challenges to consumer protection we face today," said Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine. "As we begin National Consumer Protection Week, I want to highlight the current trends we're seeing and what we're doing to stop fraud."
Some of the scams on the attorney general's list, especially those relating to the sale of items in online marketplaces, are perpetrated in the same way that they have always been - either never sending an item purchased or making fraudulent payments on items offered for sale. An exercise of caution and the awareness of the possibility of a scam will be enough to defeat these in many cases.
Another technique that can fool many consumers is the theft of a trusted relative or friend's email account. The scammer, having taken possession of an address, will send a message urgently requesting money to the owner's contacts. The prevalence of these schemes underlines the importance of careful inspection before sending money to anyone, even if the email account used to make contact has the correct address. A possible defense against such schemes lies in the way email accounts are managed. If users employ weak passwords for email accounts, they may find their credentials compromised without the attacker needing any software whatsoever. A complicated, unique password enabled by password manager software is a strong step to avoid becoming an unwitting victim of these schemes.
Stealing control of personal email accounts is unlikely to abate any time soon, as attackers have used them not only to scam for money, but to commit ambitious cyber crimes. HITC reported that the infiltration of an FBI conference call containing sensitive international law enforcement began with the hack of a personal email account belonging to one of the Irish police officers involved. Taking every step possible to secure online accounts is not difficult and, with internet crime a persistent problem, is vitally important.