How to Report Cyber Crime: Tips for Staying Safe Online

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Hackers are getting sophisticated, and cybercrimes have become increasingly common, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a victim of cybercrime or become aware of cyber-criminal activities, it is essential to report this to the FBI. This article will outline different cybercrimes and some of their risks and explain how and what information you need to report these crimes.

What Is Cyber Security?

Cyber security refers to protecting computers, electronic devices, networks and users from criminal activities in the digital space. As the internet grows in popularity and use, more loopholes surface for hackers and criminals to take advantage of and launch attacks on unsuspecting users. This is why it is important to understand cyber security and how to make it more effective.

What Are Cyber Security Threats?

A cyber security threat is anything that poses a risk of an online attack on you and your electronic devices, networks or systems. The internet has opened the door for many opportunities, like e-commerce, customer support and even online dating. All these online inventions come with the risk of getting attacked. Below is a cyber security threat list with common forms of cyber security attacks:

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  • Romance Fraud: This happens mostly through social media and dating sites where people pretend to be attracted to you. They use this relationship to get information to extort money from you.
  • Tech-Support Fraud: This occurs in the form of a warning about malware or a system upgrade. Then, the scammer claims they are the tech-support team to resolve the problem.
  • Distributed DoS Attacks: These are cyber security attacks designed to bring down a system or network using IoT (internet of things) devices.
  • Travel or Holiday Scams: Fraudsters ask for booking fees or down payments for gifts or holiday destinations. They may seem too good to be true.
  • Adoption Fraud: Some adoption agencies take your money with the promise of getting you a child.
  • Charity Scams: Scammers form a charity organization and ask for money to fund their cause, but they do not give the contributions as promised.
  • Cyberbullying: This happens when people post or share false, misleading or negative content about others. The content is often hurtful, embarrassing or humiliating. It is common on social media, but also happens through emails, text messages, message boards and forums, and gaming communities.
  • Ransomware: This is when your computer or networks are held hostage by malware. Ransomware is mostly experienced on an organizational scale, but individuals can also fall victim to such attacks.
  • Spoofing and Phishing: These are common cybercrimes involving a person using a name, email address or phone number closely resembling an existing person’s or oranization’s. The scammers use these to send you messages that trick you into believing that the said organization is contacting you.

How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Crimes

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Dealing with online scams and crimes can be complex because they come in many different forms, with some coming from the dark web. However, if followed, some general rules will significantly reduce the risk of you being a victim of these crimes. Here are some pointers on how to stay safe online.

1. Never Share Your Personal Information on Unverified Sites

When interacting online, the rule of thumb is to never share your personal information online before double-checking a site’s legitimacy. Your personal information includes your bank account details, passwords, address, credit card information and Social Security number.

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You should also learn to counter-check email addresses and phone numbers that send you messages about updating, verifying your accounts or making any changes, especially when those changes request personal details.

2. Avoid Communicating With Cybercriminals

When you encounter cybercrime, you may be tempted to ask the criminal why they wanted to scam you. Avoid this completely. This especially applies to cyberbullying, ransomware, spoofing and phishing attacks.

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Engaging a cybercriminal can aggravate them to increase the severity of their attack. Instead, block the criminal and do not respond to their aggression. Also, keep the evidence of the attack. Do not delete text, images or video content that the cybercriminal sent; you’ll need it when reporting the crime.

3. Update and Use Strong Antivirus Software

Staying safe online also requires you to equip your devices and accounts to resist attacks. Start by downloading and installing verified and powerful antivirus software and trust-worthy ad blockers. These go a long way toward keeping you safe from cyber security breaches.

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When you visit a website or click on a compromised link, your browser or the high-quality antivirus software on your device can give you a pop-up alert that you are visiting a potentially dangerous site. Always click the Return to Safety option in the pop-up alert to avoid interacting with such sites and links.

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5. Download Software and Applications From Verifiable Sources

Only download and install software from verifiable platforms. Although getting authentic software may cost some money, these are better than the alternative versions, which can compromise your online security.

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It is also important to set up two-factor authentication for downloaded applications. This prevents hackers from easily accessing and manipulating your online accounts.

6. Run Frequent Cyber Security Risk Assessments

Assessing your cyber security strength is important, especially for organizations. Get cyber security experts to test and fix loopholes in your networks and systems. Cyber security risk assessments can help reduce the likelihood of malware attacks or a cyber security breach.

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How to Report Cyber Crimes

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Different cyber crimes have different agencies you can report them to. Here are some of the most reliable agencies to report to when encountering a cybercrime:

  • For romance, tech support, holiday and charity scams, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • For a cyberbullying incident, gather the evidence of the bullying and print it out. Submit the evidence to the relevant authorities provided by your state’s law.
  • You can file a complaint about ransomware and DoS with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or contact the FBI field office closest to you.
  • Reporting spoofing or phishing attacks is possible through the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

How Can I Protect Children From Cyber Crimes?

Children are naïve to the dangers the digital space puts them in. As a parent or caregiver, it is important to educate your child on the dangers of the internet and advise them on avoiding these dangers.

You can enroll them in programs such as the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) if they are between grades three to eight. Also, monitor their online activity to keep tabs on what they do online. 

Remaining safe on the internet requires conscious effort. Protect your internet connections, avoid sharing your personal information with sites or people you don’t trust, and monitor the sites you visit and the content you consume to avoid falling victim to cybercrimes.

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