High tech frauds are mainly associated with the internet and credit/debit cards

The high tech frauds of internet fraud, identity theft and credit/debit card fraud involve very little direct human interaction. The vast amount of computers and other digital devices in use allow con artists to reach large numbers of potential victims all over the world.

It is difficult to catch and prosecute con artists on the internet and no borders exist. It is quick and easy making it possible to reach large numbers of potential victims in a short period of time.

The internet is less costly than high volume telephone and mail and no samples of materials are needed - only photos that can be posted on-line.

It’s easy to use and creating a legitimate looking website is straightforward for those who know how. Also, chat rooms are an easy way to find potential victims because many visitors provide their personal information there.

High tech frauds have spawned many new terms; here are a few of the better known ones:-

  • Phishing – sending an e-mail that appears to be from an established legitimate business. It attempts to obtain personal information that will be used for identity theft.
  • Skimming – the use of a small electronic tool that can retrieve information from a credit or debit card by reading the magnetic strip or chip.
  • Spyware – a rogue computer program which can monitor your use, send pop-up ads or redirect your computer to certain websites. This could lead to identity theft.
  • Nigerian letter – usually in the form of an e-mail from supposed business people or the surviving spouses of former government executives in Nigeria and other countries. They seek help in transferring large sums of money.
  • Hacking – attacking another computer and seeking to gain unauthorized access by breaking down the computer’s security, thereby compromising personal information.
  • Shoulder surfing – Observing someone using a PIN ( Personal Identification Number) by covertly looking over their shoulder.

Internet Fraud

People use the internet to communicate with others, read newspapers, pay bills, handle investments, purchase goods and for a wide range of reference and research matters.

The internet is used extensively by businesses and governments to sell products and to get information out.

As with telemarketing fraud, about 90% of the companies on the net are legitimate. The rest, however, are using some kind of fraudulent activity.

Here are some scenarios of high tech frauds on the internet:-

Scenario #1

You receive an e-mail with your bank logo on it. The message says there have been a large number of log-in information theft attempts to your account. It states :- "to safe guard your account the bank needs confirmation of your account information; click here to complete this..."

Scenario #2

You comment that your friend is looking excited today. She has a date to meet someone for the first time. They met on a chat room line. You caution your friend about the dangers involved.

Scenario #3

You receive an e-mail from someone who wants to transfer a large sum of money from a foreign bank to your bank account for safe keeping. In exchange you will receive a portion of the money. The person often claims their spouse was killed by government agents and they’re contacting you to avoid suspicion.

Garbage bag

Click here for 'Internet Fraud' prevention tips

Identity theft

Identity theft is one of the high tech frauds that involves someone ‘hijacking’ the identity of another person. It is used by con artists to steal money.

The identity thief becomes another person, using his or her new identity to get credit cards, mortgages or other financial gains, at the cost of the victim’s good name and often their credit rating.

Identity thieves want:-

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social insurance Number
  • Mother’s Maiden Name

They get it by:-

  • Stealing wallets and purses
  • Stealing mail
  • Going through trash or ‘Dumpster Diving’
  • Breaking and entering
  • Information you share on the internet
  • Buying personal information

Garbage bag

Shredding personal information is a very useful habit to get into. Even just throwing out your name and address indicates that you don't care about protecting personal information. A fraudster may then see you as a promising victim.

Also, it's helpful to be aware of your mail box security. The fresh (unopened) stuff is very tempting; it's less messy!

Identity thieves use your information to:-

  • Call your credit card company, pretending to be you, and ask to change the mailing address on your credit card account. They then run up charges on your credit card.
  • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and Social Insurance Number.
  • Establish a cell phone service in your name.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques on it.
  • Use your debit card to drain your bank account.
  • Buy cars by taking out loans in your name.

Credit card fraud

Credit card numbers can be stolen in several ways:-

  • Double swiping; a merchant swipes your card, once into the legitimate credit card machine and once into a ‘skimmer’ a device which copies all the data on the magnetic strip on the back of the card.
  • Stealing a new card when it is mailed to the consumer.
  • Recording the information off a receipt and creating a duplicate card.
Credit card gag

Credit card transactions are becoming more secure with the introduction of chips embedded in the cards.

And, because you usually insert the card yourself and you have to enter your PIN number, your card is always within your sight - a security advantage.

Credit card companies use sophisticated programs to combat high tech frauds. They alert the company when a purchase unlike your normal spending habit is made.

Because of this program, you may receive a phone call from the credit card company asking you to verify you made the purchase in question. If you did not make it, the credit card company will freeze your card which will allow no more transactions.

With these security systems in place, using credit cards is often the safest way to purchase goods.

Consumers are not liable for any fraudulent charges on their credit cards. One exception to this can occur you lend out your card to a friend or a family member. A credit card is only supposed to be used by the person whose name appears on it.

Debit card fraud

Most debit card fraud occurs at Automated Telling and Banking Machines (ATMs and ABMs).

The banks have been helpful in curtailing bank card fraud. They have ways of detecting unusual withdrawal patterns and can remedy certain fraudulent activities, sometimes without the customer even knowing about it.

Nevertheless, it's useful to know just how ingenious these high tech frauds can be.

Click here for 'How fraudsters set up high tech frauds'

Click here for 'ID theft and credit card fraud prevention tips'