By Kristin Judge, CEO/Founder of Cybercrime Support Network

The cyber crime threat is becoming more relevant in our lives each day. With the rapid increase in internet usage due to the coronavirus pandemic comes an increase in online scams. The number of individuals affected by online crimes is only expected to rise again in 2021.

FraudSupport.org, Cybercrime Support Network’s (CSN) resource database for cyber crime victims and those who help them, has served over 705,000 visitors since its launch in November 2018. One of our top visited pages in 2020 was “social security number identity theft”.

Let’s take a look at a story about Jane Doe, whose social security number was stolen.

Jane was searching for a job and was struggling to find work in her field. She was searching for weeks on end and wasn’t having any luck. To her surprise, she received a LinkedIn message from a professional in her field. He said he was in desperate need of an employee and saw she was a recent graduate. The job description was somewhat vague so Jane assumed she could do it. The recruiter seemed to be in a rush and asked her to email some personal information in order to set her up for a job interview. 

Even though Jane thought it was strange to share this information via email, she really needed a job so she sent over her information, including her social security number.

In the next few days, Jane never heard anything about this new job and the man she was messaging was no longer responding. In fact, his account had been deleted. She began to worry and realized it must have been a scam. Jane decided to act quickly and searched for what to do after a scam has taken place. She came across Cybercrime Support Network which then led her to FraudSupport.org, where she was able to follow helpful action steps such as:

  • Reporting the scam. She found out where to report by visiting FraudSupport.org.
  • Downloading the Identity Theft Help App from the Identity Theft Resource Center for free help.
  • Visiting annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy of her credit report and add a fraud alert or freeze her credit on Experian, Equifax and TransUnion in one place.

It is important to act quickly if you think you have been affected by a scam, just as Jane did. Once you have followed the immediate action steps on FraudSupport.org, reported the scam, and recovered from the incident, it’s time to reinforce your security. Download the Six Steps to Better Security PDF, which includes these three tips:

  1. Keep your operating system and security software up to date on all devices.
  2. Never click on a link or open an attachment in a message/email from someone you don’t know.
  3. Always enable a two-step/factor verification – which requires an additional code to log in.

Remember, online scams and cyber crime can affect everyone so don’t be discouraged if it happens to you. Cyber criminals are malicious and create scams that are sometimes difficult to detect. To learn more about how to spot a scam, visit ScamSpotter.org, a CSN site created in partnership with Google to help individuals stop scammers in their tracks. For more helpful tips and information about online scams, follow Cybercrime Support Network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.