Digital Deceptions: How to Protect Yourself from Social Engineering

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June 20, 2024 |
Article | 5 min
| Personal Insights

Social engineering is the manipulation of our natural human tendency to trust what we see and who we interact with. Social engineers are masters of manipulation tactics. Consumer scams often have an element of social engineering at the heart of the scheme, such as romance scams and imposter scams. Con artists also rely on manipulation to gain access to your accounts or convince you to hand over money or personal information. Let’s dive in and discover how you can stay one step ahead!

Social engineering involves trickery or deception to convince an individual to divulge personal information, which may be exploited for fraudulent activities.

On social media platforms, for example, these attackers manipulate their victims online, using the openness found in online interactions for their own gain: access to accounts, information to be used against someone later, or financial exploitation.

Social engineering risks include:

  • Impersonation: Scammers may create fake profiles that closely resemble those of your friends or family, or even pretend to be from your bank. They might request money, encourage you to click on malicious links, or share personal information. Always verify the authenticity of any requests before acting. Imposter scams are rampant!
  • Phishing Attacks: Scammers may send messages or create fake websites mimicking the appearance of legitimate banking platforms, aiming to trick you into providing your personal and financial details. Be cautious of unsolicited messages asking for sensitive information.
  • Fake offers, investments, and contests: Fraudsters often exploit social media platforms to advertise fake offers, giveaways, or too-good-to-be-true investments. These scams may require you to provide personal details, share sensitive information, or pay fees. Remember, if an opportunity doesn’t make sense the more you think about it, it is probably wise to skip it.

What are imposter scams?

Scammers use social engineering tactics such as a false sense of urgency or fear to persuade their victims to act quickly, without thinking, and provide passwords or other information resulting in account takeover. Bad actors can pretend to be from well-known companies, government agencies, or your bank.

Always PAUSE to consider if the request makes sense.

Things to avoid sharing online:

  • Anything that could answer a security question: Street you grew up on, favorite pet, first car, place you got married, etc.
  • Real-time locations, or when you'll be on vacation
  • Making family members' names or photos viewable by public users

These can make it easy for a good social engineer to target you. By pretending they know things about you or your family, they can work to convince you to engage with them. They can also use technology such as artificial intelligence to manipulate voice recordings or images.

What other recommendations are there for protecting oneself from social engineers?

Be cautious about sharing sensitive information online or over the phone, especially passwords or account details. You should also be skeptical of unsolicited emails or messages requesting personal information – verify the authenticity of any communication before responding.

And finally, always place a call to the bank, family member, or friend - on a trusted number - to verify whether there is truly a problem if you receive an unusual message, rather than engaging with a potential fraudster.

Remember: Social engineers are master manipulators who want your data and your money. Our team is here to help protect you from social engineering scams. To learn more about these and similar scams, visit our fraud protection resource center.

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