The essence of cybercrime against most of us as individuals is to steal our money. Cybercriminals are after our identity, be it our credit card or bank account numbers, or our Social Security numbers, birthdate, and other personal information so that they may assume our identities in order to let us pay for the products and services that they purchase.
AARP through its Fraud Watch Network has been educating its members as well as the public in general about the dangers and the prevention techniques of cybercrime and scams. Its motivation has come from surveys of the public on their awareness of safe practices online. In its report, “Shady Signals: Wireless Computer and Online Safety Among Washington Internet Users Age 18-Plus” (http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/consume/2015/WA-Fraud-Report.pdf) it notes that more citizens need to be aware of safe online practices to protect their identity. As a result, the Fraud Watch Network conducts events with guest speakers who talk about scams and cybercrime, maintains a web page (http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/?cmp=RDRCT-FRDWCHNET_SEPT17_013) that provides up to date information on the subject, and sponsors a Fraud Watch Helpline (877-908-3360) that people can call for help to prevent fraud or help in case they have been victimized from fraud.
AARP partners with government agencies and private business in exchanging information about fraud, scams and cybercrime.
One partner agency is the Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftc.gov/). The FTC sends out scam alerts, maintains educational information on its web site and maintains a national database of consumer complaints about scams that it shares with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1).
The FTC also litigates against scammers and fraudsters when it can. An example of litigation comes in an announced settlement against Pairsys, Inc and its owners Tiya Bhattachara and Uttam Saha. The FTC charged Pairsys with making cold calls to consumers representing themselves as employees of Microsoft or Facebook. The FTC also charged that Pairsys purchased deceptive ads that led consumers into thinking that they were calling legitimate tech support numbers. Consumers were subjected to high pressure sales pitches. The Pairsys employees, often located in overseas call centers, would request remote access to the consumer’s computer in order to fix non-existent problems. For this “service” Pairsys charged between $149 and $249 and in some cases as high as $600. For more about this case you can see the FTC press release at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/10/operators-alleged-tech-support-scam-settle-ftc-charges-will.
AARP also partners with Microsoft. Cybercrime is a major concern of the software and hardware developer. One of the topics of emphasis for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit ( https://www.facebook.com/MicrosoftDCU/timeline?ref=page_internal) is the Tech Support Scam (http://ssnoccrimewatch.blogspot.com/2015/10/microsoft-tech-support-scam.html).
Microsoft is interested in reports of scams, especially the Tech Support Scam. You can report scams to Microsoft at www.support.microsoft.com/reportascam.
Keeping up to date on the latest scams is important. While scammers have found multiple ways to take our money and our identities, knowing how they operate helps you to defend yourself better against the crime. This is especially important given the difficulty that governments are having in putting scammers away. Reporting scams is also important, even if we do not receive immediate satisfaction of putting away a criminal. With your report, national law enforcement agencies such as the FTC can learn the scammer’s patterns. With this knowledge they can develop strategies to better protect us from criminal scammers.