The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)
In this day and age, technology has permeated every part of our lives. With further advancements in technology, everything seems to get easier and more convenient. Just pause for a moment and think about everything we use technology for. Do people even write letters or go to the bank anymore? It is all done electronically. Unfortunately, with this ease, technology also poses risks. The world of cybercrime has increased exponentially over the last decade. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released an internet crime report recently for 2020, and the findings are truly astounding.
The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). We must educate ourselves and not fall for frauds and scams crafted by cybercriminals, who have the skills, time and patience to pull off their well-laid plans. This past year, cybercriminals seized the opportunity presented by the global pandemic to prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable, as most of us depended increasingly on technology. Here are some statistics that gives an idea of the magnitude of this problem: in the US alone, reported losses due to cybercrime in 2020 was at a whopping 4.1 billion US dollars.
Mentioned below are some of the key types of frauds and scams, along with a brief description:
Phishing: The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
SMiShing: It is short for “SMS phishing” and uses manipulative text messages to steal confidential personal and corporate information from individuals. Cybercriminals send carefully worded text messages to the victim, urging them to respond or take further action.
Vishing: Fraudsters make phone calls or leave voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as bank details and credit card numbers.
Pharming: The fraudulent practice of directing internet users to a bogus website that mimics the appearance of a legitimate one, in order to obtain personal information such as passwords, account numbers, etc.
These are just a few tactics used by cybercriminals to extort money and information from victims. Also, elder fraud (fraudulent schemes targeting individuals over 60 years old) has been on the rise. However, you can better protect yourself from these attacks by following some do’s and don’ts.
Be generally cautious with all online communications and interactions.
Verify the sender of an email by clicking on the sender. It is possible to change the display name of an email address, so always check the full email address and the spelling of the address.
Even if you know the sender of a message, take all precautions before clicking on links, as their account may have been hacked.
Change passwords to your email and bank accounts every three months at a minimum. Your password should be complicated and should ideally contain a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
Be wary of “You have won…” messages and emails, as these are commonly used to bait victims into believing they have won a prize and should pay up first before receiving it.
If you are in a situation where you are doubtful about an email or a phone call, always speak to loved ones who may be able to advise you. Fraudsters often try to isolate their victims and actively discourage them from speaking to anyone else about the matter.
Do not give out your personal information to unknown sources, whether through emails or phone calls.
Do not click on a link appearing in an incoming email without thoroughly checking the link’s source and authenticity. Hover the mouse over any links to see the actual site before clicking.
Do not give in to “urgent” requests, as fraudsters use the urgency of a constructed scenario to pressure you to share information.
Do not give your account or credit card information to anyone without proper checks. Keep your CVV number (appearing at the back of your debit/credit card) secure, and do not share this with anyone.
As believers, we know that God is the source of all that we have, and we are required to be good stewards of everything that has been entrusted to us, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 4:2. Let us be vigilant and prudent with everything God has given to us and use all we can for His kingdom and glory!