OnPoint Community Credit Union released the below guidance for protecting personal data as part of national cybersecurity awareness month. We are providing it here to help safeguard you and your staff from the rising threat that online crime poses to small businesses.

As people rely on technology more heavily than ever to remain connected to coworkers, friends and loved ones, OnPoint Community Credit Union is helping consumers protect themselves from identity theft and online fraud. To mark National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, OnPoint has released an updated edition of “The OnPoint Guide to Personal Cybersecurity,” a free online eBook to assist consumers and businesses in preventing and recovering from fraud.

“Identity fraud and cyber scams can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and financial well-being,” said Rob Stuart, CEO and President, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “Data security is essential to financial security and as threats continue to rise, we urge consumers and businesses to become familiar with emerging trends in cyberattacks so they can take action to protect themselves.”

Last year alone, more than 155.8 million individuals were victims of data breaches. This year, in a high-profile cyber attack, more than 93% of LinkedIn’s user base was compromised when the personal information of 700 million users’ was stolen and put up for sale on the dark web.

Adults are not the only group at risk. One in four children fall victim to identity fraud or theft before their 18th birthday. Many children now have smartphones, tablets, or laptops and are frequently connected to the internet. Each time they download an app, create a new social media or online gaming account, the risk of exposure increases.

Recent trends in online scams include:

  • COVID-19 scams: Fraudsters latched onto the pandemic to launch new scams, which continues unabated today. They’re posing as health authorities or government sources, selling fraudulent products online and requesting COVID-19 donations for fake non-profits.
  • Sweetheart scams: Con artists use online dating apps and other tools to emotionally manipulate their targets, convincing them to send money or commit crimes.
  • Phone scams: Despite the growing risk of online scams, the Federal Trade Commission reports that phone scams—via phone calls and text messages—are the most common ways for scammers to reach their targets. One of the most recent versions includes a text message that claims to offer cash from Venmo.

Cybercrime comes in many forms, but The OnPoint Guide to Personal Cybersecurity eBook provides consumers with actionable information on the latest scams and how to defend against them, including:

  • Taking a proactive approach to identity security. Never repeat usernames or passwords between websites. If two or more sites share the same login information, breaching one site makes it easier to breach others. Use long, nonsensical passwords that are hard to guess but easy to remember. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) when available and consider using a password manager to simplify managing unique passwords and usernames.
  • Understanding social engineering and confidence schemes. The vast majority (98%) of cyber attacks rely on social engineering, which involves thieves deceiving targets into believing they are interacting with a government official, bank representative, or other trustworthy individuals to collect passwords, secure access codes or additional sensitive information. Don’t trust unsolicited links and phone numbers. If you’re unsure of an individual’s legitimacy, contact the business or organization via their official channels.
  • Valuing your personal information. Remember that social media provides access to personal information. Don’t answer questions that might give others the answers to your security questions. Update privacy settings, delete unused social media profiles and be cautious when sharing details about yourself online. When possible, opt-out of data sharing when signing up for new accounts to limit your risk of exposure.
  • Spotting and avoiding ATM scams. Avoid ATM fraud by evaluating every ATM before use, even machines you visit regularly. Check for new buttons, unfamiliar keypads or attachments that might conceal a pinhole camera. If the card reader or keypad feels loose, do not trust the machine.
  • Identifying signs of SIM card swapping. If your phone suddenly stops receiving calls and messages, or if you receive an alert saying your phone number has been successfully transferred to another SIM card, contact your cellular service provider immediately. Once access is regained, change your account passwords and check your financial accounts for unauthorized charges.