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Every day, cyber criminals from across the world are scheming about ways to steal your data. According to the FBI’s 2017 Internet Crime Report, a total of 301,580 complaints were reported by victims with losses in excess of $1.4 billion that year. They seem to be using increasingly sophisticated methods, which means consumers need to stay on high alert to protect their personal information.
“Consumers’ security should be a top priority, and we urge them to remain vigilant so they don’t unwittingly hand over sensitive personal and financial information to cyber fraudsters,” said Debbie Guild, chief security officer at PNC.
According to Guild, here are the top three cyber threats that consumers should be on alert for in 2019 and beyond.
Phising is an attempt by fraudsters to steal your personal and financial information. They use unsolicited email, mobile text messages (called SMiShing) and phone calls (called vishing) pretending to be from a legitimate company and requesting personal or financial information and/or login credentials.
Text messages and emails containing certain red flags should alert users to a possible phishing or SMiShing attack, including:
Creating a sense of urgency
Requesting user IDs and passwords
If you receive a suspicious message, take caution to avoid a phish:
Do not respond; first confirm it is from a trusted source using a known, valid phone number or email address.
Do not click the links.
Do not respond to a text or email message requesting personal information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other banking information (user ID or passwords).
Do not call phone numbers contained in the phish. Go directly to a known source of information for contact information, such as the company’s legitimate website.
It’s common knowledge that the first line of defense against cybercrimes is a strong password, but fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in deciphering people’s passwords and hacking into their accounts.
It’s important to use different passwords for each of your accounts, and to make each one difficult to decipher. And most importantly, use a unique password for accounts related to your money, including each bank account, credit card account, retirement accounts, etc.
Guild recommends using a phrase in addition to numbers and letters, as cyber criminals have more trouble decoding passwords that include a series of words.
Chances are you or someone you know has a smart home device that is capable of any number of tasks, such as reading the news, playing your favorite music, changing the temperature or even purchasing groceries.
Cyber criminals have noticed the popularity of these devices and are dreaming up ways to infiltrate the device to steal your information or even spy on you in your own home.
Be careful what Wi-Fi network you connect your device to, as an unsecured network could be easier for a fraudster to hack. Additionally, when available, set up a two-factor authentication. If the device is password protected, immediately change the default password before beginning to use it.
Lastly, don’t ignore those security update prompts. If you aren’t completing a software update, you could expose your device to dangerous malware and other security holes.
Learn what to do if you think your personal information may have been compromised »
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1. 2017 Internet Crime Report, FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
2. 2017 Cybercrime Report, Cybersecurity Ventures
These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.
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