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Become educated about scams to avoid becoming a victim

As the Internet continues to make its way into everyday life, criminals have devised more and more ways to scam people out of their money.

A large number of these cyber criminals are based in other countries and know how to use a combination of technical and psychological techniques to trick their victims. Some of these criminals will con individuals into parting with their money by pretending to be someone they know. They may make a fake Facebook account with a friend’s name and photo and use it to reach out via social media. This is also a common technique with email. Many cyber criminals will send an email pretending to be someone else for the purpose of convincing an individual to open a malicious link or send money.

Others will use malware to hold a computer system hostage in exchange for cash if an unfamiliar link is clicked.

At a special event at PRCC Tuesday, attendees learned from FBI agents that two types of scams, called “spear phishing” and “ransomware,” are common. The agents said  that the agency gets at least one call every day from an individual or business who lost thousands, if not millions to cyber criminals.

To avoid becoming a victim, always double check the origin of a message. Just because an email says it is from one person doesn’t mean it is necessarily true.

Another protective method  is to use several different passwords that are at least 16-characters long and change them often.

The agents said the number one thing is to be wary of clicking links or sending money. It is always best to be cautious and call a family member or friend to make sure the request is legitimate.