Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to steal your personal information and money. One common tactic they use is called pretexting. Pretexting is when a cybercriminal impersonates a real person and asks you for help with a fake scenario. They often carry on a conversation with you and use public information to convince you that they are who they claim to be.
A common pretexting scam is when a cybercriminal impersonates one of your friends or family members using information they find on social media. For example, let’s say your friend posts on Instagram that she just arrived at her vacation destination. The next morning, you get a message from her saying that she lost her wallet. She mentions the resort she’s staying at and asks for you to wire money for transportation. Fortunately for her, she didn’t lose her wallet. Unfortunately for you, she’s not the person sending the messages. Instead, a cybercriminal is preying on your emotions to steal from you.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe from pretexting scams:
- Think before you act. Pretexting is used to make you feel strong emotions so that you react impulsively. Always remember to think before taking action.
- Consider the context, timing, grammar, and other conversation details. For example, does your friend usually type in complete sentences, or do they tend to abbreviate and use emojis?
- Confirm that the person you’re speaking to is actually who they say they are. Try reaching out to them using another form of contact or by meeting face-to-face.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a pretexting scam, there are a few things you can do:
- Report the scam to the authorities. You can file a report with your local police department or the FBI.
- Contact your bank or financial institution. Tell them you may have been scammed and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account.
- Change your passwords. This includes your passwords for your email, bank accounts, social media accounts, and any other online accounts you use.
Citynet offers security awareness training that can help you learn how to spot and avoid pretexting scams. Our training covers a variety of topics, including:
- How to identify pretexting scams
- How to protect your personal information
- How to respond to phishing emails
- How to use strong passwords
Stop, Look, and Think. Don’t be fooled.