It’s Change Your Password Day: Ohio 7th in country for cyber crimes

Credit: Paula Munoz

Credit: Paula Munoz

Ohioans are urged to be proactive in updating their online passwords to thwart the potential of becoming a cyber crimes victim.

The Ohio Dept. of Commerce said today, Feb. 1, is Change Your Password Day, an initiative to highlight the growing problem of people losing money through scams. In 2022, 13.659 people lost a combined $180 million. And the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security said nearly half of all American adults have had their personal information exposed by cyber criminals.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations released its 2022 Internet Crime Report, which shows from 2018-2022 losses across the globe grew from $2.7 Billion to $10.3 Billion. There were 3.26 million cyber scam complaints.

The report shows the Top 5 crime types reported include tech support, extortion, non-payment and non-delivery, personal data breaches and phishing. Business email compromise (BEC) complaints soared in 2022, the report states.

“BEC is a sophisticated scam targeting both businesses and individuals performing transfers of funds. The scam is frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds,” the report says.

Also, cryptocurrency scams are rampant.

“Crypto-investment scams saw unprecedented increases in the number of victims and the dollar losses to these investors,” states the FBI’s report. “Many victims have assumed massive debt to cover losses from these fraudulent investments and the most targeted age group reporting this type of scam are victims ages 30 to 49.

According to the FBI report, some variations of crypto-investment scams reported in 2022 are:

Liquidity Mining: victims are enticed to link their cryptocurrency wallet to a fraudulent liquidity mining application. Scammers then wipe out the victims’ funds without notification or permission from the victim. (PSA I-072122-PSA8 ).

Hacked Social Media: scammers used hacked social media accounts to perpetrate a fraudulent investment opportunity using cryptocurrency, targeting existing friends of the hacked user. • Celebrity Impersonation: impersonating a well-known celebrity or social figure, the scammers feign a friendship with the targeted victim who is eventually enticed to learn how to invest in cryptocurrency or is given the opportunity to invest by the scammer.

Real Estate Professionals: the scammer contacts a real estate agent, usually offering to buy a very expensive property for cash or cryptocurrency. Once engaged, the fraudster will expose their control of fictitious accounts with purported value of millions of dollars to entice them to engage in their investment scheme.

Employment: victims apply for fake positions online at an investment firm or company supposedly affiliated with investing. Instead of a job, the victims are instead offered advice investment advice. The investment is fraudulent and designed to retrieve as much money from the target as possible.

Password changing to avoid being hacked should be regular, the Ohio Dept. of Commerce said in a release.

“It’s also about being proactive in safeguarding your own accounts. As technology continues to advance, so does the risk of data breaches and identity theft. Consumers are encouraged to put these steps into practice to ensure their safety and privacy.”

Tips for strong passwords:

  • Make your passwords long, at least 16 characters in length. The longer the password, the more difficult it is for cybercriminals to crack.
  • Make your passwords random. Use a string of mixed-case letters, numbers and symbols, such as (cXhjdtK6*&OaaFRx), or create a memorable phrase of 5-7 unrelated words (HippoBlueShirtIceCream).
  • Make them unique. By using different passwords for bank, email and social media accounts, you can rest assured knowing that if one password is compromised, your other accounts should still be secure.
  • Change your passwords often, at least every three months.

Source: Division of Financial Institutions

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