Did you know 1 in 4 Americans are victims of cybercrime? And servicemembers, veterans, spouses, their families, and survivors are disproportionately targeted?
Online crimes can devastate one’s personal and financial well-being. MOAA recently joined the Partnership to Fight Cybercrime alongside dozens of military and veterans groups, as well as nonprofits and other organizations, as part of ongoing efforts to help members avoid such scams.
MOAA hosted representatives from the Cybercrime Support Network (CSN) for a March 9 webinar discussing the various types of scams, how to recognize red flags, and what to do if you fall victim to cybercrime. The full webinar can be viewed at this link; other webinars on a range of topics are available to MOAA’s Premium and Life members via our Webinar Archive.
What Are Cybercrimes?
Any crime involving a computer and a network is a cybercrime – this includes websites, chat rooms, email, and social media accounts. A device or the internet is used as a tool to commit an offense (credit card fraud, for instance). Some of the most common scams to look out for are:
- Romance imposter scams
- Scammers targeting the military community by impersonating the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)
- Educational scams
- Fake military job scams
- Sextortion scams
[MOAA’S 3-PART SERIES: Don’t Be Scammed]
It is important to know how to recognize cybercrimes before they attack. Cybercrimes can occur when we least expect them; here are some red flags to look out for to avoid such attacks:
- Unexpected messages asking you to act right away.
- Threats of consequences if you do not pay.
- Online acquaintances professing love too quickly.
- A sudden emergency due to a dire event that requires money to fix.
- Any problem that requires a payment via gift cards.
After a Cybercrime
If you fall victim to cybercrime, it is important to take the necessary steps to stop the crime from progressing. The first way to prevent falling deeper into a cybercrime attack is to stop all communication and contact with the attacker/individual. Do not delete messages from someone who is harassing you in case you must show proof to authorities in the future. Notify your bank or financial institution of the crime so it can cancel all transactions and take steps to protect your account and financial information.
Once a cybercrime has occurred, reporting the crime is the final step. If someone is in danger, call 911 immediately. Also, it is important to contact the business, site, or app where the cybercrime took place to notify them of the attack.
CSN officials outlined six basic steps to reinforce security:
- Protect all devices: To protect your devices from cybercrimes, change privacy settings and do not use location features. Software applications and operating systems should stay up to date.
- Keep software updated: Updates often fix unknown vulnerabilities and can prevent scammers from introducing malware onto your device. Software protection also blocks malicious files by blocking future attacks.
- Recognize and delete phishing messages: It is important to recognize emails that encourage you to share personal information. Delete junk email messages without opening them. Be aware of scam emails as well – they can put unprotected computers at risk.
- Unique and strong passwords: Such passwords protect your devices from cybercrime. You should always use upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to create new passwords.
- Implement strong authentication: This method of user verification is secure enough to withstand attacks on the system which the users are authenticating. It helps fight against common cybersecurity threats.
- Use trusted security protocols: This protects all categories of data from theft and damage –sensitive data, personally identifiable information (PII), and more.
Need additional information on how to protect yourself from cybercrimes? Check out the full webinar for more, and visit Fightcybercrime.org to find prevention resources or help for anyone who has been impacted by cybercrime. If you would like to participate in upcoming webinars, events, and programs from MOAA, bookmark MOAA’s events page.
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