Statistics show that digital crime increased significantly in 2020. This is because digital fraudsters and criminals are always up-to-date on technological advancements. They use this information to their advantage. At the same time, they also know that people across the globe are spending more time at home and online than ever before. Think about it, almost everything we do in our financial life is available on the internet now. Our banking, shopping, investments, utility payments-you name it, it must be online in some form or fashion. The reason for this is the global pandemic which continues to impact our lives.
This is why we need to arm ourselves with information on some sophisticated ways digital crime and fraud can occur. It is critical now more than ever that you arm yourself with this knowledge. Here are some types of digital fraud you need to protect yourself against in 2021 and the safety precautions you can take to prevent them from happening to you and your loved ones.
Cryptocurrency, simply put, is a way to conduct financial transactions without physically holding money in your hands. As of January 2021, investors can choose from about 4000 cryptocurrencies. This technology was invented to address some flaws of money transmission in the real world. One example is how banking institutions have profited from fees or rewards since they’re the third-party middleman when financial transactions happen. Cryptocurrency works around this with the help of blockchain technology.
Now that you have a primer on cryptocurrency, here are some digital frauds that can work within this tech:
- Fraudulent investment websitespretend to invest your money in cryptocurrency trading systems or mining farms, but the truth is they will keep your money for themselves.
- Fake digital wallets are the counterfeit versions of a digital wallet, where people store their cryptocurrency. Digital fraudsters and scammers create fake digital wallet apps where they can swipe users’ funds.
- Crypto-jacking, which is very much comparable to hacking. Digital criminals and hackers try to get into your computer through traditional channels-by getting users to click on malicious links, which are actually phishing websites that also install harmful code that can dig users’ cryptocurrency in the background. Before users even know it, their funds are already being stolen, and they probably won’t even notice until their operations lag.
- New ransomware is the digital version of a kidnapping, wherein digital criminalstake control of your devices until you send them a ransom in whatever cryptocurrency they choose.
Ever since the pandemic started, a slew of digital scammers took advantage of vulnerable, uninsured people in different ways. With vaccines being rolled out across America, scammers continue to target people looking for vaccines by finding them online and persuading them to pay a specific fee. They even pretend to offer discounts when they pay in advance. These users would then show up only to find out that there’s no vaccine waiting for them. This scam is particularly heinous because it targets uninsured patients. They may not have the resources to access quality vaccines that can help protect them from the virus. Some scammers would also sell fake vaccination cards, which encourage people to fake their immunity.
Another type of digital fraud you need to watch out for in 2021 is charity scams. These scams are all about tugging at the heartstrings of users to get them to donate a certain amount for the benefit of different marginalized communities, only for digital fraudsters to steal the funds. Their mode of operation is cold, calling people to solicit money. They would pretend to be working closely with reputable charities that are working hard to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis, and they would ask those they call to wire the funds. These scammers would then keep the funds for themselves instead of donating them to charity.
Thankfully, there are plenty of fraud prevention tools at your disposal to ensure that you won’t be the next victim. You can invest in these tools so that you and your business can know exactly who you’re dealing with, identify fraudulent transactions from legitimate ones, and protect your hard-earned money.
You can also keep yourself informed of the ways criminals are growing in sophistication as time goes by. Once you train your eyes to identify which ones are real and which ones are fake, you won’t be easily swayed by flowery words or interesting links. More often than not, when something is too good to be true, it usually is. Make sure to always consult with your doctor about where to get vaccines during this time.
Our freedom to use the internet comes with a lot of responsibility, so make sure to do all that you can to protect yourself and your resources out there in the digital world.