Money Matters: Cybercrime gets sophisticated

Education Resources, Finance 411,

In the early days of email, inboxes were flooded with poorly worded, fishy-sounded spam emails filled with misspellings, probing for targets to scam.

Most of us now don’t even see those messages thanks to spam filters and education about scams, but as we’ve gotten better at avoiding scams, scammers have gotten better at what they do too.

Scams are nothing new and existed even before email, but scammers are always getting better at using psychology and technology to manipulate and impersonate.

Science of manipulation and technology of mimicry
Online and phone scammers are getting more sophisticated all the time.

Scammers are now using pre-written scripts and responses to lure victims. They track reactions and share responses that work best at manipulating their targets’ emotions.

They can even set up pre-recorded voice and video messages using the same voice recognition technology automated call centers use.

It can take many exchanges before the scammer runs out of automated responses or doesn’t have one to fit a question.

This all makes scams sound more legitimate, and leaves more people vulnerable, particularly to the emotional manipulation of romance scams.

Even more technically sophisticated hackers can watch your communications and closely mimic actual messages. They can mask email addresses, trick caller IDs and pose as legitimate businesses.

What can people do to avoid these more sophisticated financial scams? Ask detailed questions when you’re contacted, and pay attention to responses that don’t line up. If you do have a large financial transaction coming up, like a downpayment on a home, reach out proactively to learn what the process will be, how you’ll be communicated with and who you can talk to if you have questions.

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education