Protecting yourself

‘Fraudster’s Dictionary’ names the latest cyberscams

Susan Ladika

Think you’re hip to the latest in scams and fraud? Then maybe it’s time to brush up on your cyberspeak.

You’ve probably heard of ransomware, where the bad guys hold your computer hostage. Click on the wrong link and malware may be planted on your computer, locking it up or encrypting everything on it till you pony up cash to the cybercrooks.

One ransomware attack even paralyzed a Los Angeles hospital last month until administrators paid off the cyberthieves with a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin.

That’s just one phrase in a long and growing list of cybercrimes.

While it might not yet compete with Merriam-Webster, the business fraud prevention company Kount has rolled out “A Fraudster’s Dictionary,” providing a guide to the newest cyberschemes.

Don Bush, Kount’s VP of marketing, says it’s important for businesses to stay on top of the newest cyberterms. “If they don’t know what the bad guys are up to, it’s hard for them to defend themselves against it.”

For a consumer, it’s vital to be aware of the latest trends so you don’t fall victim to fraud, Bush says. Often cybercrooks will buy up big batches of stolen credit card numbers and then come up with crafty ways to test them to see whether the stolen numbers are still valid.

Here are a few of the latest terms you should add to your cyberarsenal.

  • Synthetic identity theft – experts call it the fastest-growing form of identity theft, and you’ve probably never heard of it. Say the fraudsters get their hands on your Social Security number. They may combine it with bits of real and fake information, such as name, address and date of birth, to create a new “person.” If they open up credit cards under your Social Security number, it may take years before you ever find out. Children can be especially at risk because they’re issued Social Security numbers as babies, and then typically won’t find out their credit has been damaged until they’re young adults and try to get a job, rent an apartment or open a credit card.
  • Reshipper fraud – you may be looking for a way to make some extra cash, and instead find yourself in the middle of postal fraud. The fraudsters will often lure in unsuspecting accomplices with work-at-home ads posted on legitimate job boards. Often they’re advertising for “merchandising managers” or “package processing assistants,” the U.S. Postal Inspection Service warns. You’ll typically be asked to receive packages and then send them on to a foreign address for the client. Postage-paid mailing labels are sent to you by email. What you’re shipping is likely to be either merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards, or fake postal money orders. When you get paid for your work, you’ll be left holding the bag – the check or money order you receive will be fake.
  • Triangulation fraud – it’s become a way for fraudsters to profit from stolen credit card data. The bad guys will use eBay or a similar site to auction off underpriced products that they don’t actually own. When the auction ends, they’ll use stolen credit card information to buy the product from a legitimate e-commerce site, and have it shipped to the auction winner. The auction winner will be satisfied because she’s paid a lower price and received the merchandise she wants, while the one who owns the credit card that the fraudster used to buy the goods will be left to dispute the charges.
  • Chip and skim – no, this isn’t some new type of Starbucks coffee drink. Krebs reports that a team of Cambridge University researchers heard reports of card users claiming they’d been fraud victims, and banks refusing to reimburse the losses, saying fraud was impossible. These cards create a unique transaction code, which can’t be used again. “Researchers suspected that fraudsters had discovered a method of predicting the supposedly unpredictable number implementation used by specific point-of-sale devices or ATMs models,” allowing cybercriminals to ring up new transactions on the unsuspecting victims’ credit cards.

By learning the lingo and the fraud they describe, you may be in a better position to protect yourself from cybercrime.

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  • Bernadine Gower

    One tends to buy more things they do not need. Some of the fault lies on the Banks and sellers. When you pay only part on time you pay high interest. Not good.