The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Springfield Field Office is marking Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October by reminding the public to take extra precautions to protect against online attacks and scams.

Illinois ranks fifth in the United States for the most internet crime victims, and sixth for total victim losses with over $150 million, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 Internet Crime Report. Identity theft was the most common followed by non-payment/non-delivery crimes. By dollar losses, business email compromise tops the list.

Internet crimes and cyber intrusions are constantly evolving and while the FBI is laser-focused at staying ahead of the trends, there are steps the public can take to avoid becoming a victim.

  • Use extreme caution in online communication. Verify the sender of an email. Criminals will sometimes change just one letter in an email address to make it look like one you know.
  • Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting the file, document, or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
  • If an unsolicited text message or email asks you to update, check, or verify your account information, do not follow the link provided in the message itself or call the phone numbers provided in the message. Go to the company’s website to log into your account or call the phone number listed on the official website to see if something does in fact need your attention.
  • Scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or transfer of funds.
  • Confirm requests for wire transfers or payment in person or over the phone as part of a two-factor authentication process. Do not verify these requests using the phone number listed in the request for payment.
  • Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.
  • One of the most prevalent schemes seen during the pandemic has been government impersonators. Criminals are reaching out to people through social media, emails or phone calls pretending to be from the government. The scammers attempt to gather personal information or illicit money through charades or threats.
  • Do not give out your personal information to unknown sources.
  • Set your devices, software and apps to update automatically.
  • Use strong passwords or passphrases and/or multi-factor authentication.
  • Take time to read consumer and industry alerts provided by the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Report cyber-enabled crime to the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Not only will this allow your complaint to be directed appropriately, but IC3 data has helped guide the FBI’s response to cyber-enabled crimes while educating the public and supporting local law enforcement with a searchable database of information.

For more information regarding cybersecurity, visit the FBI’s cyber page and scams and safety precautions.

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