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How do I stay one step ahead of cybercrime?

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News reports show that large-scale data breaches are on the rise and affecting large retailers like Target, Home Depot and eBay. But we don’t hear many reports about consumers falling victim to cybercrime, even though individuals—especially the affluent—are also frequently targeted, and this real threat is on the rise.

Because of the copious amount of time people spend online, and our vast number of personal devices that allow for immediate communication and exposure, cybercrime is a greater risk than ever. It’s a rapidly evolving landscape that demands attention.

“Cybercrime” is described as a criminal act that involves computers and networks, or a traditional crime conducted through the Internet. There are numerous categories of cybercrime, but the ones that affect the most victims include identity theft, credit card fraud and social networking scams.


To protect themselves against identity crime, individuals need to be aware and cautious of their activity when using smartphones, tablets and other digital devices.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, victims of identity-theft fraud often travel a long and frustrating road to restore their good name. Recovery from identity theft fraud can take anywhere from a few weeks t several years. Not only are victims sometimes left with stolen assets, but also lower credit scores and time lost correcting credit records.

Insurance coverage isn’t a substitute for good cyber security practices, but it is an important addition to overall risk management.


One of the most common forms of identity theft is the use of stolen credit card numbers. Importantly, this crime no longer occurs simply from failure to shred paper documents before disposing. Today’s cyber criminals are more sophisticated: They obtain credit card numbers through radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that credit-card issuers now place on cards instead of traditional magnetic strips.

RFID chips have the advantage of quicker transaction times at retail outlets, but the problem is that radio-frequency identification makes it possible for identity thieves to use a simple electronic device to capture a credit card’s information.

An individual who suspects that he or she is a victim of credit card fraud should immediately contact the card issuer to verify if fraud has occurred and to file a fraudulent charge claim if needed.


Social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have become a part of many people’s daily lives. They are a great way to stay connected, but it’s important to be aware of how much personal information we give out, what connections we make and which of our links are accessible.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified a number of scams to be cautious of when using social networking sites; and the agency regularly updates the public about new scams, at

One of the latest social media scams is called “social engineering.” It’s no surprise that cyber criminals can fake everything about themselves online, from their names and business affiliations to gender, age and location.Cyber criminals carry out social engineering crimes by misidentifying themselves on social networking sites, then tricking victims into giving their account names and passwords, as well as other personal identity information.


A number of insurance carriers offer personal-identity products to help protect clients from identity theft and other cybercrime threats. Some carriers include coverage for identity restoration services as part of their homeowners insurance policies, while other companies sell more comprehensive coverage as a stand-alone policy or an endorsement to a homeowners policy.

A trusted personal insurance risk advisor can help you examine potential risks and secure appropriate protection. That protection is an important addition to your overall risk management. So, be sure to secure it.

Risk & Insurance

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