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Five cyber fraud trends in 2012

28 De de 2012

Experts from the National Police's cyber security division have prepared a summary of the most popular - and dangerous - high-tech crimes in 2012. They point at the 28th of December, or Innocents' Day, as a particularly dangerous day for computer and network users.

The Police's Brigada de Investigación Tecnológica (Technology Investigation Brigade) provided information on the top-five online crimes committed by fraudsters cheating Internet users. They gathered information from the thousands of crime reports, inquiries or requests made by Internet users in 2012 via email, phone or social media, the Spanish Police being a leading institution in this regard.

Social media and online bargain shopping/rental fraud:

  • P2P sale/purchase and rental sites.
  • Fake job offers that take the form of advance fees frauds.
  • Viruses used by fraudsters to cheat Internet users pretending to be the National Police, SGAE (Songwriters, Composers and Music Publishers Association) or AEPD (Spanish Data Protection Agency).
  • Phishing attacks on social networks or email accounts.
  • Premium-rate SMS or phone call scams.

How to protect yourself from online and high-tech fraud:

  • Always take basic security measures and get up-to-date information for prevention.
  • Don't trust very cheap or too convenient offers from unknown sources.
  • Don't think site owners, email authors or social media users really are who they say they are.
  • Don't trust appealing short phrases or shortened URLs in social media or emails from unknown senders.
  • Don't call back missed phone calls from premium-rate numbers (phone numbers that start with 905, etc.) or regular phone numbers that route your call to a number beginning with 80.
  • Don't trust text messages that come from a short mobile number asking you to respond in one way or another.
  • Don't trust job offers asking for advance fees. Search the phone number or ad publishers on the web first.
  • Don't shop from unknown websites with shortened URLs or untrustworthy sellers.
  • Check the seller's URL in the address bar; it should be EXACTLY the same as the name of the business (or check that it's the online seller's legitimate site and not a fake one).
  • Don't reply SMS messages/emails or fill in forms giving your bank account or credit card details.
  • Never trust too-good-to-be-true online deals. Check them out first.
  • When you buy a very expensive item directly from a peer, ask him/her to send it via registered mail with insurance cover for the declared real value.

Always take basic computer security measures:

  • Get an antivirus update, use original software and update your OS to prevent spyware, viruses, worms and trojan infections.
  • Use traceable and secure payment methods. Don't trust online sellers who ask you to pay via untraceable payment methods or under conditions that either don't allow you to control your money or leave the purchase process unfinished. Check regularly your credit card and bank account transactions, including SMS or email alerts.
  • Finally, use your COMMON SENSE: Unless you enter a competition, you won't get any prizes. And if you get one, you shouldn't be asked for a lot of money to receive it.

For more info, visit the Spanish Ministry of the Interior website (in Spanish).