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What to do if you fall for a scam

Follow these steps immediately if you're a victim of phishing or ransomware

by Kurt Knutsson

Fraudsters are getting more clever every day, and they’re creating new ways to attack and gain your personal information.

Whether you’re a victim of the latest phishing technique, or your devices have fallen subject to malware, especially ransomware, you should be prepared for what could happen next.

Before you can prevent any of these privacy-invading schemes, it’s important to learn what scams you could face and how to avoid falling for them in the first place.

 

paypal phishing email

 

Phishing

 

What is phishing?

Phishing has grown to be one of the most common ways for scammers to connect to you. As we’ve warned with other recent scams, you should never click a link sent from someone you don’t know via email or text message.

You can also receive an email or text that looks like it’s from someone you do know, so be sure to always double-check the sender to make sure it isn’t a spoof.

 

How to prevent phishing

Be on the lookout for any emails or texts that claim to be from a bank, a credit card company, a social media site, or an online store. They will try and trick you into clicking a link by warning that you’ll be locked out of your account, that your information has been compromised, or even offering you a coupon or a gift card.

Never open a link or attachment that you don’t recognize and delete any sketchy email from your inbox.

 

What to do if you fall victim to a phishing scam

If you click on a link, the scammers may be able to install malware or ransomware on your device. If you’ve given out any personal information like your credit card info or a password for a login, the hackers may be able to access your money or other account logins.

If you give out personal information like your credit card or bank information or Social Security number, you may be subject to identity theft.

    1. Report the phishing scam to IdentityTheft.gov.
    2. Forward the scam message via email to reportphishing@apwg.org or text to SPAM (7726).
    3. Install anti-virus software: Make sure your devices are safe in case a hacker did get any information by phishing you. Download an Antivirus Software to scan your devices for malware. Our top pick is TotalAV (Limited time deal: $19 your first year (80% off). You can check out our review of other anti-virus apps, here: Best Antivirus Security Software and Apps to Protect You 2022.
    4. Safetly update your password: If you clicked on a link, and entered any sort of username and password into a fake site, be sure to close your browser, install an antivirus software as mentioned above so the software could potentially remove any sort of virus/tracking software. Once you have a clean system, go directly to the real website by typing the web address into your browser and go through the process of updating your password for that account. Be sure to install a good password manager to keep passwords strong and never forget how to log in to everything.  Good password managers can automatically remember your login credentials to any site or app. My favorite from a list of others we tested is LastPass.  You can see my article about how to check your existing passwords to see if they are already compromised here.

 
 

Ransomware

 

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that is installed on your device and holds your files at ransom. Malware is any software that is installed on your device by a hacker with the intention to disrupt, harm, exploit, or steal your information.

This is one of the most frightening tactics a scammer could use, as they’ll essentially blackmail you to pay a fee to have access to your own files.

The scammers who place Ransomware on devices use highly-encrypted technology which makes it almost impossible to get your files back if they’ve been taken.

 

How to prevent Ransomware

To avoid Ransomware from getting on your computer at all, be sure to have a trusted Antivirus Software like TotalAV installed on your device.  Their product is full of features to keep you safe from malware and protect you when browsing the internet including ransomware protection, real-time antivirus protection, elimination of viruses and malware, a tool to free up your computer’s space, plus more.   Limited time deal for CyberGuy readers: $19 your first year (80% off)   You can check out our review of other anti-virus apps, here: Best Antivirus Security Software and Apps to Protect You 2022.

You also want to be sure to back up your files regularly, so if you ever are a victim of a hacker placing Ransomware on your computer, you won’t have to worry about retrieving any important files.

Click here to learn how to back up your files the right way.

And just like phishing, never open a link or attachment that you don’t recognize and delete any sketchy email from your inbox. Scammers use phishing tactics to place ransomware onto your device.

 

What to do if Ransomware is on your computer

As we mentioned, once Ransomware is placed on your device by a hacker, it’s extremely difficult to get off. Having a backup of your files will ensure you won’t need to consider paying any ransom to get them back. If you fall victim to this scam, be sure to protect yourself and report it.

Make sure other devices won’t get infected. 

  1. Turn off the WiFi and unplug any devices from the internet
  2. Disconnect any external devices like external hard drives, USB drives, or anything else plugged into your devices

Report the attack to the FBI.

  1. Contact your local FBI office to request assistance if you need to retrieve your files
  2. Submit a tip online through their electronic tip form
  3. File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

 

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