Beware cybercriminals – they’re everywhere

By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

Has your bank account ever been compromised and you find that money is missing? Unfortunately, these days we have to stay aware of all account transactions because fraudsters are widespread.

Hopefully, you have not been a victim of bank fraud. But to make sure you never are, know that bank account scams are usually tied to a password that has been stolen, guessed or tricked into sharing with criminals.

The author of Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking, Georgia Weidman, claims most people use the same credentials for their online bank accounts as they do for social media and online shopping sites and if one of those vendors is compromised and bad people gain access to the stored credentials, they may be able to reuse them on the online banking site.

An article published by AARP reminds us that some scammers will even call you by telephone and pretend they’re from Microsoft, the IRS, your bank, and so on to try to persuade you to give out your personal information to (ironically) protect you. Don’t fall for it.

“Besides, your bank or other financial institution won’t ask you to confirm these credentials in an email or by an unsolicited phone call,” says global security evangelist Tony Anscombe at ESET, also a technology security company. “When in doubt, contact your bank to see if it was really them. Chances are it wasn’t.”

Recently, I’ve received calls from “Apple Support” wanting access to my laptop. I didn’t fall for it and you shouldn’t either. My motto, if I didn’t request a call or message or letter from anyone then likely it’s a scam.

Even if you don’t bank online, identity theft could lead to a crook opening an online account in your name. Here’s what AARP says to do:

– Never use the same password for all of your online activity, if a service is hacked and your password is exposed or if your bank suffers a data breach, cybercriminals may try it on another account.

– Use two-factor authentication which means you need a password, passcode or a fingerprint or facial scan to confirm access and then receive a one-time code to your mobile phone to type in.

– Reputable anti-malware that’s updated often can identify, quarantine, delete and report any suspicious activity coming into your computer or flag sensitive information going out. And make sure your smartphone is protected as well.

– Credit-card companies and banks can push notifications to mobile device if something looks suspicious during a purchase. Be sure to review bank statements to ensure security.

– Never conduct financial transactions online such as banking, trading or shopping when you’re using a public computer in an airport lounge, hotel or library or when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop.

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.