SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Whether it's voicemails saying you're eligible for a free giveaway, emails saying your account has been locked, or text messages saying your package is on its way, cybercriminals are always trying new tactics to trick you into giving them money.
Casey Harrington, the Supervisory Special Agent of the Cyber Squad at the FBI in Salt Lake City said his team focuses on taking reports of cybercrime and analyzing the trends of what they're seeing.
"If anything has changed it's the amount that's gone up and it's the loss amounts that have gone up dramatically. It used to be thousands of dollars and now it's tens of thousands", said Harrington.
That amount of money only accounts for cyber fraud, not ransomware.
This is where a hacker gains access to a computer, locks down important data, and requests a ransom to release it.
The FBI said they're seeing reports of this almost every single day in Utah, and across the country, and they need you to report them in order to prosecute them.
"With the losses as high as they are in the tens of millions of dollars the punishment could be significant at this point", said Harrington.
While it can be almost impossible to get your money back from paying ransoms because most requests are for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it is possible to retrieve money from other cyber scams.
The FBI agent said, "We have a financial fraud kill chain that we've set up working with foreign partners where if we get the information quick enough, we can work through our partners and essentially get that money sent back to the victims."
Another trend the FBI is noticing is more text scams, which prey on our online shopping habits.
The FBI said they tend to hear about text messages being sent to people from someone saying that a shipment is arriving today, click here for tracking information.
But that link could take you to a website where you're asked to put in payment or login details, giving cyber scammers direct access to your money.
To avoid cyberattacks and cyber scams, the FBI recommends:
- Keep software up to date and use a good anti-virus program.
- Examine the email address and URLs in all correspondence. Scammers often mimic a legitimate site or email address by using a slight variation in spelling.
- If an unsolicited text message, email, or phone call asks you to update, check, or verify your account information, do not follow the link provided in the message itself or call the phone numbers provided in the message. Go to the company’s website to log into your account or call the phone number listed on the official website to see if something does in fact need your attention.
- Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting the file, document, or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
- Scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or transfer of funds.
- Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.
- Confirm requests for wire transfers or payment in person or over the phone as part of a two-factor authentication process. Do not verify these requests using the phone number listed in the request for payment.
You can file complaints about cyber scams and ransomware attacks with the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.