According to a report from security vendor AVG, between 8 and 14 million Web users in the U.S. have been exposed to a social engineering scam during the past year. Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into divulging their personal information by playing on their human emotions for the purpose of fraud.
Here is a list of the most widely used social engineering tactics that identity thieves are using:
Fake charitable scams: Many of these scams are designed to look as if they came from real charities. A recent example of this would be the Haiti charity email scam that the FBI warned the public against days after the devastating earthquake. It’s always good to enter the exact URL for the charity you wish to donate rather than clicking on a link that was sent via email.
Urgent email notice from your bank: You receive a fake email which appears to have come from your bank. It is requesting you fix a problem to your account by clicking on a link. Don’t ever click on a link sent via email even if it appears to have come from a reputable source. Again, make it a practice to type in the exact URL of your bank or call the number on the back of your card.
Facebook or Twitter distress messages from your friends: If you receive a message from a friend asking for money and you are considering helping them out, you should always call that friend first. Make sure their Facebook or Twitter account hasn’t been hacked by a thief.
E-cards: It’s sad, but true, it’s no longer safe to open most E-cards. Many contain malware to attack your desktop and gain access to confidential information. Make sure you have updated virus software protection to notify you of viruses that come through emails or the Internet.
Armed with some common sense and knowledge about current social engineering scams, you can better safeguard your most valuable asset, your identity.