Digital kidnapping happens when a crook takes control of a target’s social media profiles and holds them until a ransom is paid. Here is what you need to know about digital kidnapping and how to protect yourself from falling victim.
How the scams play out:
In a digital kidnapping scam, a hacker or ring of scammers will take control of one or more of a target’s social media profiles. The target will be effectively locked out of their own social media accounts and will be unable to access or update them. Once the scammer has control of the profile, they will contact the target, demanding a hefty ransom in return for access to the account. They may even threaten to post damaging or humiliating content on the social media profile unless the ransom is paid.
If you have been targeted:
If you believe you have been targeted by a digital kidnapping scam, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. First, alert the company that owns the social media platform to let them know your account has been compromised. They will likely have specific instructions for you to follow to ensure your account remains safe. They may even advise you to close the compromised account and open a new one. Next, alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and local law enforcement agencies which can help you determine whether it makes sense to pay the requested ransom. Finally, clean up your accounts and make sure there is no identifying or potentially dangerous information being posted on a public forum.
The best way to protect yourself from digital kidnapping is by keeping your accounts private and secure. Always choose the strongest security settings on your devices and opt for private social media accounts across every platform. This will limit your audience to by-invitation-only viewers while helping to keep hackers away.
Make sure to follow basic online safety rules to avoid giving a scammer access to your accounts. Use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts and change up your passwords every six months or so. Avoid using public WiFi unless absolutely necessary. Accept every security and software update offered for your device to keep them operating at optimal security. Finally, avoid sharing sensitive information with an unverified contact and never download an attachment or click on a link within an email from an unknown sender.
To help protect yourself from fraudulent activity, make sure to utilize your Benefits Plus® checking account with SeaComm! Once you upgrade your basic checking to Benefits Plus®, you will gain access to a full range of fraud and identity-theft protection services, including fraud alerts, lost document recovery services, 90-day Purchase Protection, and much more. Click here for more information, or stop by your local SeaComm branch to enroll.
For complete information, terms, conditions and exclusions please visit www.benefits-plus.org or call 866-329-7587.
Stay informed with SeaComm’s Fraud Center. As your credit union, we want to keep you and your finances safe. That’s why we created our Fraud Center, which includes valuable resources to help educate and empower our members to protect their assets and identities. Click here to get started!