As I have reminded you many times, we are only as safe and secure as the security as the websites that have our personal information.  So even if you are extremely diligent in protecting your personal information, you can be in danger of identity theft and scams if your personal information falls into the hands of hackers which is just what happened to 533 million Facebook users whose cell phone numbers, Facebook ID, name, gender, location, relationship status, occupation, date of birth and email addresses were recently made available for free to criminals using a hacking forum located on the Dark Web where cybercriminals buy and sell goods and services.

The information which is now in the hands of criminals around the world was originally obtained through a data breach in 2019.  At that time it was sold on the Dark Web for as much as $30,000.  Since then the price has dropped periodically and now it is being given away to other criminals for free.  This is a common scenario where cybercriminals eventually give away, for no charge, information they have previously sold to others as a way of increasing their reputation in the cybercriminal world.

This personal information is used by cybercriminals to create specifically targeted spear phishing emails and text messages (called smishing) to lure people into clicking on malware infected links or providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  While many common phishing emails and text messages are easily recognized as phony, sophisticated spear phishing emails and text messages can be tailored by the criminals to our own interests using the information obtained through the data breach in order to appear to be trustworthy which makes them quite dangerous.

TIPS

One important lesson is to limit the amount of personal information that you provide to companies and websites whenever possible.  It is also critical that we all remember that whenever we get an email, text message or phone call, we can never be sure who is really contacting us so you should never click on links or provide personal information in response to such communications unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication was legitimate.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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