Do you know where you're online shopping and do you know if it's secure? The FBI calls for increased public awareness

Report: Internet crimes target businesses, elderly
Source: FCC.gov
Source: FCC.gov

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Do you know where you're online shopping? And do you know if it's secure? The Federal Bureau of Investigation says you need to be even more careful when surfing the internet. The FBI's latest Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report shows a total of $1.42 billion worth of victim losses reported due to internet crime.

It's something that happens day after day, and no matter how tech savvy you may be, anyone can fall victim to cyber-crime. The FBI says the numbers are growing every year.

The latest Internet Crime Report shows an average of over 800 complaints of internet crime is reported every single day. Add it all together, and you end up with approximately 284,000 complaints each year. But, experts say that number is likely to be much higher because many people who fall victim do not report the crime.

Something called "Business E-mail Compromise" is on top of the list for the most amount of money scammed. The FBI says the scam targets businesses to get wire transfer payments. It's called social engineering, and experts say people will often use one person who works for the company as a gateway to access that business's money.

"Just like they would with social engineering, there are multiple ways to ascertain information about the individual who runs the organization. As you know with LinkedIn. It's just amazing what you can learn from social media when you're doing social engineering," said Greenawalt.

Experts say it's only going to get worse, unless we continue to educate.

"When you do realize it happens, you got to report right away, you got to fess up, you're not the only one," said Stanton Greenawalt, Cyber Security professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College. "If you go to the FBI website, they have their own website where you can report this, and it helps us build database and it helps us maybe find people. So, what you have to create in your business is a culture of… hey something's happening, we've been targeted, let's report it. They want you to be embarrassed and they want you not to report it, so we got to do just the opposite. So, train and have a process in place, what actions you take when you find that you have been targeted and somebody's accessed your accounts."

Greenawalt says it's important to take extra precautions when your computer is not in use.

"Shut your computer down, shut your network interface card down, don't leave your browser open, don't leave your computer on, shut it off. There's ways for hackers to get into your system if you are just leaving your computer on, so don't do it," said Greenawalt.

He said what's frightening is fraudsters can target you from anywhere in the world with just a click of a button.

"It's worldwide, we're being targeting from all different nations. It's easy if you have the right software and unfortunately a lot of the software is free… where the hackers will download it and they can use this tool to try to target a business or company and they may even try it because they know the money is there… to do a legitimate business with you, just so they can learn your process," said Greenawalt.

The President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina, Dr. John D'Ambrosio, said there's no shortage of imagination in a crook's mind; they can target you in multiple ways you've probably never even imagined.

The FBI's Internet Crime Report states in the past year, the most prevalent crime type was Non-Payment/Non-Delivery. This is often linked to internet auction fraud or business fraud. They'll accept payment for an item and intentionally fail to deliver the product to their buyer.

The report also states people over the age of 60 are the most affected, and experts say this could be because they tend to have the most money and may not be as tech savvy.

Dr. D'Ambrosio said there are many websites out there that might look identical, but only one is legitimate.

"The number one issue that the BBB has seen over the last couple years... and I don't think that this trend is going to change, but it is online shopping. Two-thirds of people in North America do online shopping, Do they know where they're shopping? Do they know that it's secure? Anybody can look like any other big company if they got enough money to get a website designed that looks like the other company's website online," said D'Ambrosio.

He said look for a lock symbol on the site. Also, double check what you type in because just a single wrong letter could direct you to a fraud site.

"People have to protect their personal information. They need to know who they should do business with, we try to tell people to think local first, because it's really better to do business with the people that you on the street, and who own the shops, and who you go to church with, and who you see at restaurants. It's a lot better because when you have a problem, you know that you can at least see that person and try to get it resolved," said D'Ambrosio.

Experts also say learning the latest on technology is key to protecting yourself.

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