How Fraudsters Work
Tactics that fraudsters employ all share the same goal: to obtain your personal, confidential and financial information for fraudulent use.
From obtaining your information 'the old fashioned way' via discarded mail, to emails that ask you to verify personal information under the guise of a trusted source – like TCU – fraudulent activity comes in many different forms.
Fraud tactics include:
Dumpster Diving: Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper that includes your personal information.
Malware: Also known as 'malicious software', malware is designed to harm, attack or take unauthorized control over a computer system. Malware includes viruses, worms and Trojans. It's important to know that Malware can include a combination of all three of the types noted.
Phishing: A scam that involves the use of replicas of existing Web pages to try to deceive you into entering personal, financial or password data. Often suspects use urgency or scare tactics, such as threats to close accounts.
Vishing: Vishing is a type of phishing attack where the attacker uses a local phone number in the fake email as a means of obtaining your sensitive information. The goal is to fool you into believing the email is legitimate by instructing you that responding to the request by phone is safer than responding by email and shows authenticity. The unsuspecting caller is then tricked through an automated phone system to relinquish their sensitive information.
Pharming: Pharming takes place when you type in a valid Web address and you are illegally redirected to a Web site that is not legitimate. These 'fake' Web sites ask for personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.
Trojan: A Trojan is malicious code that is disguised or hidden within another program that appears to be safe (as in the myth of the Trojan horse). When the program is executed, the Trojan allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to the computer in order to steal information and cause harm. Trojans commonly spread through email attachments and Internet downloads. A common Trojan component is a "keystroke logger" which captures a user's keystrokes in an attempt to capture the user's credentials. It will then send those credentials to the attacker.
Spoofing: Spoofing is when an attacker masquerades as someone else by providing false data. Phishing has become the most common form of Web page spoofing. Another form of spoofing is URL spoofing. This happens when an attacker exploits bugs in your Web browser in order to display incorrect URLs in your browser location bar. Another form of spoofing is called "man-in-the-middle". This occurs when an attacker compromises the communication between you and another party on the Internet. Many firewalls can be updated or configured to significantly prevent this type of attack.
Spyware: Loaded on to your computer unbeknownst to you, spyware is a type of program that watches what users do and forwards information to someone else. It is most often installed when you download free software on the Internet. Unfortunately hackers discovered this to be an effective means of sending sensitive information over the Internet. Moreover, they discovered that many free applications that use spyware for marketing purposes could be found on your machine, and attackers often use this existing spyware for their malicious means.
Pop-Ups: A form of Web advertising that appears as a "pop-up" on a computer screen, pop-ups are intended to increase Web traffic or capture email addresses. However, sometimes pop-up ads are designed with malicious intent like when they appear as a request for personal information from a financial institution, for example.
Virus: A computer virus is a malicious program that attaches itself to and infects other software applications and files without the user's knowledge, disrupting computer operations. Viruses can carry what is known as a "payload," executable scripts designed to damage, delete or steal information from a computer.
A virus is a self-replicating program, meaning it copies itself. Typically, a virus only infects a computer and begins replicating when the user executes the program or opens an "infected" file.
Viruses spread from computer to computer only when users unknowingly share "infected" files. For example, viruses are commonly spread when users send emails with infected documents attached.
RetroVirus: This virus specifically targets your computer defenses. It will look for vulnerabilities within your computer operating system or any third party security software. Most security vendors have some form of tamper-proof measure in place, so it is important to keep your patches up-to-date. Retro Viruses are usually combined with another form of attack.
Worm: A worm is similar to a virus but with an added, dangerous element. Like a virus, a worm can make copies of itself; however, a worm does not need to attach itself to other programs and it does not require a person to send it along to other computers.
Worms are powerful malware programs because they cannot only copy themselves; they can also execute and spread themselves rapidly across a network without any help.