We can now connect to people worldwide, bank and shop online, and control our smartphones’ televisions, homes, and cars.
This increased convenience increases the risk of identity theft and Internet scams. Cybercriminals will employ more sophisticated techniques to steal your identity, personal information, and money as technology advances.
Internet fraud is using online services and software with internet access to defraud or take advantage of victims. The term “internet fraud” refers to cybercrime that occurs over the internet or via email, including crimes such as identity theft, phishing, and other hacking activities designed to defraud people.
Every year, internet scams that target victims via online services generate millions of dollars in fraudulent activity. And the figures are expected to rise further as internet usage grows, and cybercriminal techniques become more sophisticated.
Identity theft occurs when a fraudster obtains sufficient information about a person’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, and current or previous addresses) to commit identity fraud. Identity theft can occur whether or not the fraud victim is alive. Identity theft can lead to fraud, which can directly impact your personal finances and make it difficult to obtain loans, credit cards, or a mortgage until the issue is resolved.
Identity fraud is using stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services through deception.
Fraudsters can use your personal information to:
- Create a bank account.
- Obtain credit cards, loans, and government assistance.
- Purchase items in your name.
- Take over your current accounts.
- Purchase mobile phone contracts.
- Acquire genuine documents in your name, such as driver’s licenses and passports.
- The theft of an individual’s identity details does not constitute identity fraud. However, using that identity for any of the activities mentioned above does.
You may become aware of it for the first time when you receive bills or invoices for items you did not order or receive letters from debt collectors for debts that are not yours. Identity theft is committed by criminals who steal your personal information and is frequently accomplished by stealing documents from your trash or contacting you and pretending to be from a legitimate organization.
The Many Places From Where Scammers Can Access Out Personal Photos
People can share their photos online in a variety of places. These are some examples and from where scammers can get their hands on them!
Social networking sites
Users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp can share personal photos with their family and friends.
Depending on your privacy settings, your pictures and any personal information they contain may be viewed by people you do not know or trust.
Other picture-sharing sites
The primary function of image hosting websites such as Flickr and Imgur is to allow you to post photos online. You may be able to change your privacy settings on some of these websites.
You may be unable to control who can see your photos depending on the site and your settings.
Websites for sharing files
File sharing services such as Google Drive and Dropbox enable you to share your photos with people you know.
However, the files could be moved across computers worldwide, giving cybercriminals more opportunities to access the files.
How Scammers Access Personal Information & Photos
Depending on your online images, you may disclose more personal information about yourself than you realize, which could lead to image scams.
Identity thieves may be able to gather information about you from the identity images you share online. A photo posted on your birthday, for example, would give them your birthday, whereas a picture of a new house could potentially give them your address. Scientists have also discovered that ‘peace sign selfies’ can be used to recreate copies of your fingerprints.
Cybercriminals who gain access to your personal information may use it to commit financial or image fraud. They could pose as you to open credit accounts, such as credit cards, and then leave you with the bill for their purchases.
Identity thieves may also use your information for non-financial scams, such as impersonating you on dating websites. If you have an easy-to-guess password, such as your date of birth or where you live, fraudsters with that information could guess your login details to your social media accounts, providing them with even more information about you.
How Scammers Misuse Your Pictures
Scammers enjoy communicating via WhatsApp and Google Hangouts. However, these apps are not usually where these scams begin.
Catfish scammers send direct messages to their victims via social media. They do so through fake accounts containing stolen celebrities and influencers’ photos. They then employ romance scammer tactics to entice their victims. The victims are flattering. This flattery is usually followed by an excuse for leaving the platform and moving the conversation to a messaging app. Kik, Whatsapp, and Google Hangouts are scammers’ apps.
The reason for this is straightforward. Scammers use messaging apps to avoid having their fake social media accounts reported. They believe that if they continue the conversation on a social media or dating app and their victims become suspicious, they will be able to register their account and have it deleted, despite the scammer’s efforts in creating the fake profile.
If their WhatsApp or Google Hangouts accounts are deleted, they can easily create a new one with a new picture, username, and email address. Messaging apps are also more accessible for these scammers to hide their identities because they can trace phone numbers back to their owners.
They continue to contact their victims daily, attempting to entice them to fall in love with the romance scammer. The victims begin to trust the romance scammer and believe they can do no wrong. The romance scammer starts making up emergency reasons for needing money. Victims believe these excuses and begin sending money to their romance scammer, assuming they are assisting them. On the other hand, the scammer is lying to drain the victims’ bank accounts.
Job Interview Scams
A common type of Google Hangout Scam is a job scam. They can also be found in Whatsapp scams. A so-called work-from-home company tells you they would like to interview you for the position you applied for in one of these scams.
They ask you to go to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp for the interview, so you do, believing they will video chat with you. Instead, they send you an instant message about the position, leaving you wondering why they couldn’t do it over the phone or video call as most places do.
They tell you after the interview that you got the job and give you a little over $1,000 to get the supplies you need. They send you a check within a week and instruct you to purchase a computer, desk, chair, office supplies, and other items from bogus websites.
The statement is also a forgery, which means you returned all of the money to the scammer for supplies you did not provide, and you are now responsible for repaying the bank for the fraudulent funds.
In these scams, someone you met on a dating site entices you to move the conversation to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp.
These Google Hangout scams typically begin on other platforms before moving to a messaging app to avoid being banned. They then request that you send them naughty images in exchange for theirs. Once you send the scammer your photos, they can do one of two things. They can first install malware on your device based on a link you clicked and then demand payment to remove the malware.
They can also take your offensive photos and save them on their device. They then threaten to send your pictures to all of your loved ones unless you pay them to stop. You give in and give them money, so they don’t send it to anyone, but they keep bugging you for more.
You receive a message on a social media platform from a stranger claiming to have a money-making opportunity for you. If you want to learn more, they recommend downloading Google Hangouts or WhatsApp to continue the conversation.
You download one of these apps because you are interested in the opportunity they are attempting to offer you. They persuade you to try this low-risk investment opportunity, promising that you will make your money back. However, once you send the money, they block you from one of the messaging apps and the social media platform through which they contact you.
If you have been scammed through online, then contact us to get your money back!
Precautionary Measures to Take To Avoid Getting Your Photos Stolen
• Examine the privacy settings
Check the privacy settings on the platform where you’re sharing your photos to ensure that only your connections can see them.
• Make sure that your passwords are strong
When creating an account, make sure to use a strong password.
This makes it more difficult for identity thieves to guess your login information based on the information they have on you. Change any weak passwords you currently have to stronger ones.
One should enable Multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account.
The additional necessary credentials to log in to your account fall into two categories: something you have, such as a text message passcode or an authentication app, and something you are, such as a scan of your fingerprint, retina, or face. If scammers obtain your username and password, multi-factor authentication makes it more difficult for them to log in to your accounts.
• Examine the photos on your social media profiles
Some social media websites automatically share your photos with the public. Maintain the security of your social media profiles by ensuring they do not contain personal information.
• Remove location information from your photos
If your camera or phone has Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data, this may include the photo’s location.
If possible, disable this function or remove EXIF data using related software before posting your photos online.
• Protect your photos against malware
Check that your device has up-to-date security software, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
This protects you from being targeted by cybercriminals, such as if you use file-sharing apps to show others your photos.
• Documents containing personal information should be kept safe
Keep a safe place for your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards, and any other documents containing personal information.
When you aim to get rid of those documents, shred them before discarding them. In case you don’t have a shredder, look out for a local shred day or block out account numbers with a marker.
If you receive statements containing personal information in the mail, remove them immediately.
• Before providing your Social Security number, ask questions
To identify you, some organizations require your Social Security number. Among these are the IRS, your bank, and your employer. Organizations that require your Social Security number will not call, email, or text you to request it.
Other organizations that may request your Social Security number may not require it. A medical provider, a company, or your child’s school are examples of such organizations. Before you give them your Social Security number, ask them the following questions:
- Why do you require it?
- How will you safeguard it?
- Can you use another identifier?
- Can you only use my Social Security number’s last four digits?
Catch your Online Scammer Now with The Help of Funds Trace
There are companies that can help you recover your funds. Instead of going through the hassle of finding a lawyer or waiting for police feedback, the best thing you can do is contact a funds recovery company like Funds Trace.
A funds recovery firm is your ally and will walk you through the entire process. If you wait too long, you may experience anxiety and depression. In the long run, this will cause irreparable harm. As a result, you should contact a funds recovery company as soon as possible.
So, what are you holding out for? Don’t be afraid to reach out if your personal information has been stolen. Contact Funds Trace right away to get your money back as soon as possible.