In this era of the Internet, online crime is ever-evolving and takes many forms. Though there are ways to protect yourself, anyone with a computer is a potential victim. Here are some of the most common crimes committed on the Internet.
In cases of identity theft, someone learns your personal information and uses it to commit theft or fraud. Commonly, you believe you are giving your information to a legitimate business. You might have received an email or other communication supposedly from a bank, credit card company, business or auction website asking you to update your billing or personal information. If you comply, the criminal obtains such data as your social security number and bank account login and password and can use this information to pretend to be you. They can use this information not only to rob you but to damage your reputation and credit, often with far-reaching consequences.
In one of the largest cases of identity theft in U.S. history, an employee at a New York software company who had access to consumer credit reports from major agencies sold client codes and passwords for years to a ring of Nigerian nationals. Thousands of personal savings accounts were emptied, and addresses were altered so new credit and ATM cards were mailed directly to the thieves. To prevent identity theft, ignore emails from financial institutions asking you to update your personal information, and never use your credit card at a site you are not sure is safe.
Internet piracy is the illegal copying and distribution of digital files protected by copyright. This includes e-books, music, videos, movies, software and other digital materials. According to copyright law, any original content, whether it bears a copyright mark or not, is protected as soon as it is created and cannot be copied without permission of the owner. Internet piracy is very difficult to stop, though large music and film companies have been trying for years. When one of the largest piracy sites on the Internet, Pirate Bay, was shut down, it wrapped up the code that ran its website and offered it as a free downloadable file, effectively multiplying into hundreds of new piracy sites. Content providers feel victimized due to loss of income, while proponents of piracy proclaim that it would not be so prevalent if creative content were offered for lower prices. Internet piracy is destined to be an ongoing controversy in the foreseeable future.
Internet scams take many forms. One of the most prevalent forms is auction fraud. Auction fraud is what happens when a fraudulent seller of goods on an internet shopping or auction site, who typically lives outside of the United States, never sends the item after you send the money for the item by wire transfer, MoneyGram or Western Union, you never receive what you paid for. Criminals also target those who use Internet classified ads by sending counterfeit cashier’s checks for which the victim is ultimately responsible. Another common scam is the recruitment of United States citizens for work-at-home employment opportunities which involve reselling and reshipping merchandise. You provide personal information and are ostensibly hired by these companies. When you are paid by check and the amount is much higher than your salary, you are instructed to mail the balance by wire transfer to an account in Europe. You discover afterwards that the check is bogus.
These are only a few examples of many types of online crime. To protect yourself, use updated security software, do not give out your personal information unless you are sure it is safe, and do not believe online offers that seem too good to be true.
This article was written by Sheldon Armstrong, a techie who hopes to keep you safe online. He writes this on behalf of OK Bail Bonds, your number one choice when trying to find trusted bondsmen. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!