Cyber crimes are on the rise and criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, identity theft arising from Internet fraud and phishing scams cost Americans 27.4 billion in 2013, exceeding all other types of crimes. And the Kaspersky Lab Cyber forecast for 2014 predicts cyber attacks will continue to grow.
Scams on Craigslist
Since its inception in 1995 as an email list for San Francisco-based events, Craigslist has expanded to 700 localities in 70 countries. The site receives over 50 billion page views, 60 million classified ads, and 1 million job listings per month. It’s ranked number one among job boards, surpassing CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, who operate exclusively as employment websites.
Craigslist’s vast community, free advertising, and lure of companies and individuals offering great deals draw visitors from around the world in search of jobs, housing, goods and services despite reports the site is inundated with fraud and phishing scams.
Browser Beware: What to watch out for
Beware of listings and emails that ask you to divulge personal information. Never provide your mailing address, phone number, social security number, credit cards numbers, or banking information. When searching housing, employment, and seller ads, do not be fooled by email replies and posts directing you to a malicious link where you are asked to provide personal information to authorize a credit check, background check, or funds transfer.
In response to a recent rental inquiry I submitted via Craigslist, I received an email instructing me to follow a link where I could obtain a background check prior to viewing a property. These types of rental scams are targeting homeowners and renters and are commonly accompanied by a scammer’s excuse for being unable to show or view the property – such as being away on business
Protecting Yourself: What you can do
To protect yourself always try to avoid disclosing personal information and redirect links. Verify a company’s existence by searching its name on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) websites.
When doing business with individuals, ask for the correct spelling of names and a phone number where they can be reached. Perform a basic Google search and reverse phone number lookup to see what information is unveiled.
Verify the validity of a website by looking for Hypertext Protocol Transfer Secure (HTTPS) in the address bar. Sites that have been issued Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates, which ensure secure communications, will have http(s) in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Clicking the lock icon located in the address bar will allow you to view the certificate expiration date. Issuers of SSL certificates include VeriSign and Norton (Symantec)
Download and install antivirus software to your computer and smart device. Run routine scans to detect and remove crimeware. Use strong passwords and keep a backup of critical data.
Do not reply to emails asking that you divulge personal information. Forward emails you suspect are phishing emails to The Federal Trade Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do if you are scammed
If you are a victim of a cyber crime you should immediately contact your banking institution and alert the major credit bureaus. Report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Division. The FBI advises filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Also, contact your internet service provider (ISP) to see what recommendations they can provide.
For more information about cyber crime and to learn how to protect yourself and your family visit USA.gov at: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/