Now more than ever, cybercriminals are using a tactic known as pretexting to catch you off guard. 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.
A common pretexting scam is when a cybercriminal impersonates one of your friends or family members using information they find on social media. 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.
Follow the tips below to 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. Try reaching out to them using another form of contact or by meeting with them face-to-face.