Now more than ever, cybercriminals are using a tactic known as pretexting to catch you off guard, according to security experts at KnowBe4. Pretexting is when a cybercriminal impersonates a real person and asks you for help with a fake scenario. They often carry on a conversation with you and use public information to convince you that they are who they claim to be.
Cybercriminals may try to impersonate people you know by using information they find on social media. KnowBe4 shares this example:
Let’s say your friend posts on Instagram that she just arrived at her vacation destination. The next morning, you get a message from her saying that she lost her wallet. She mentions the resort she’s staying at and asks for you to wire money for transportation. Fortunately for her, she didn’t actually lose her wallet. Unfortunately for you, she’s not the person sending the messages. Instead, a cybercriminal is preying on your emotions in an attempt to steal from you.
"Trust your instincts," adds Security Bank IT Manager Ethan Gregg. " If something doesn't seem right, end the conversation immediately. If you're not 100% certain that they are who they say they are, do not give them any information or send them any money."
KnowBe4 shares the following tips to help you stay safe from similar scams:
- Pretexting is used to make you feel strong emotions so that you react impulsively. Always remember to think before taking action.
- Consider the context, timing, grammar, and other details of the conversation. For example, does your friend usually type in complete sentences or do they tend to abbreviate and use emojis?
- Confirm that the person you’re speaking to is actually who they say they are. Reach out to your friend using another form of contact or by meeting with them face-to-face.
Stay safe by staying on top of current scams and always verifying the source calls, texts or emails before you share any information. Visit our Safety and Security Center to learn more ways you can help protect your money and your identity from scams.