The US Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation have warned citizens and investors to be “extremely wary” of both potential investment and identity theft scams related to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The alert to investors was posted from SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, which regularly issues warnings about the latest fradulent schemes prevalent in the country.
Scammers and cybercriminals are likely to set their targets on individuals and companies who recieve compensation from insurance companies as a result of damage done by Hurricane Ida.
“For example, the SEC brought a number of enforcement actions against individuals and companies who made false and misleading statements about alleged business opportunities in light of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” the SEC warning reads.
“Some of those cases involved pump-and-dump scams where fraudsters used bogus “news” to pump up the stock price of small companies so they could sell their own shares at artificially high prices.”
To protect yourself from investment fraud attempts, you should ask anyone approaching you with an investment opportunity if they’re licensed and if their investment is registered with the SEC or with a state.
“Take a close look at your entire financial situation before making any investment decision, especially if you are a recipient of a lump sum payment. Remember, your payment may have to last you and your family for a long time.”
The SEC alert was released just after a similar warning by the FBI’s New Orelans office, which issued two warnings in the last week – Both around alerting the public about an increased risk of fraudsters trying to capitalize on the Hurricane Ida natural disaster and carry out identity theft.
“Unfortunately, hurricane or natural disaster damage often provides opportunities for criminals to scam storm victims and those who are assisting victims with recovery,” the FBI warned.
The FBI also provided a set of measures those impacted by a natural disaster can take to avoid getting scammed, including to:
- Not respond to unsolicited (spam) emails.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves over email as officials soliciting donations.
- Not click on links within an unsolicited email.
- Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses—only open attachments from known senders.
- Not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions; providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- Be cautious of emails claiming to offer employment for which you did not expressly apply.
- Thoroughly research housing ads before sending money to a potential landlord.
The Dangers of Identity Theft
Identity Theft can be absolutely devastating for an individual. Usually, in the world of malware, we know certain things can be harmed. Our devices may need to be replaced, we may lose access to accounts for a few days or even forever, we may even need to pay a ransom for access to our data. The point is, with most types of Malware, we can eventually rebuild, though it may take longer than we anticipate. The fallout from identity theft is much longer.
Once your stolen information is used once, it can take anywhere from a few days to six months for that one incident. But your information is out there for a very, very long time. This means you could end up dealing with identity theft for many years, even decades.
Identity Theft has been around for a very long time and predates our modern technology by thousands of years. There have always been individuals that try to impersonate others for their own gain, financial or otherwise. However, the internet’s birth and wide adoption have led to new attack vectors, dwarfing any possible past attempts.
Now more than ever do we have data tied into our personal identity. Email addresses, banking numbers, phone numbers, social security numbers, home addresses – All of these and more form a picture of us as lines in a database.
And when this information falls into the wrong hands, it can do a lot of damage. Bank accounts can be drained, and your credit rating can get rattled; you can end up with medical bills or even a criminal record. The list of potential mishaps that can arise from identity theft is endless.
To hackers, identity theft represents a lucrative stream of income, and they can very easily cover their tracks. After they have seized personal information, they sell it on the dark web. This information can be sold over time, repeatedly, meaning that if you notice your identity has been stolen and used, it can be used in several instances over a long period of years.
There are some guidelines from the US government in discovering if you are a victim of identity theft if it is not immediately obvious:
- You stop receiving your regular bills and credit card statements.
- You receive statements for accounts you never opened.
- Debt collectors start calling you day and night about debts you’ve never heard of.
- The IRS alleges you failed to report income for a company you never worked for.
- You see withdrawals/charges on your bank or credit card statement that you didn’t make.
- You try to file your taxes only to discover that someone else beat you to it.
- You try to file your taxes and find someone claimed your child as a dependent already.
- Your credit report includes lines of credit you never opened.
- Your credit score fluctuates wildly and for no apparent reason.
- The most obvious sign—you receive a notification that you’ve been the victim of a data breach.
- If you are unsure, it is always best to check with the authorities on the US government’s identity theft website.
In some cases, a victim cannot be faulted for identity theft. For example, those affected by the data breach handed their information over to companies in good faith in the story above. Unfortunately, these companies, or more specifically the vendor, failed in protecting this information. However, many other times, business owners and families are singled out and targeted in their offices and homes.
For times like these, it is critical that you have the right tools to protect yourself. One of these tools is SaferNet.
SaferNet is the perfect solution to the cybersecurity issues that individuals, families, and businesses face today. It not only connects every device using a secure, 24/7 always on, military grade VPN, but it also stops outside cyberthreats, malware and viruses as well. On SaferNet, all users are protected anywhere in the world, all the time, on any cellular or Wi-Fi network. In addition to SaferNet’s VPN and cyber protection, it also offers a range of employee or parental/family internet controls including internet filtering, monitoring, scheduling, and blocking access to websites or even entire website categories
Typically, a business or family would need 3 separate services for a VPN, Malware Protection, and Internet Controls; SaferNet offers all 3 features in one service. SaferNet truly is an endpoint security presence that can be implemented in minutes around the world, on phones, laptops, tablets, and computers at an economical price point that caters to all sizes of businesses and families. SaferNet guarantees a smooth setup and installation process that takes only minutes, and an easily accessible control hub for you to monitor all your employee’s or family members devices; including activity, time spent online, and threats blocked.