CBS2's Andrea Grymes has more on the feds' investigations and speaks to an expert about how you can defend yourself.
- The pandemic has made more people dependent on technology, and criminals have used it to perfect opportunities to target people with online scams.
- Personal information, then, winds up on the dark web, and many victims don't even know it. CBS 2's Andrea Grymes tells us what's being done to fight back.
MEHTAB SYED: A lot of people are home and working from home, they're online, and it's just easier for hackers.
ANDREA GRYMES: The FBI'S latest Internet Crime Report for 2020 shows a record number of complaints, more than 791,000, a 69% increase from 2019, New York and New Jersey among the top 10 states for victims.
NEAL BRIDGES: Assume that your stuff is compromised.
ANDREA GRYMES: Neil Bridges is a former NSA hacker and now chief content officer at the tech training firm, INE.
NEAL BRIDGES: Assume that you don't have any privacy on your social security number, on your driver's license, on your bank account.
ANDREA GRYMES: The top cyber crime reported for 2020 was phishing scams, where victims are tricked into giving personal information through websites or emails that seem legitimate but aren't. The FBI says it also got thousands of complaints about COVID related fraud, including targeting unemployment insurance.
MADELINE SINGAS: We are sounding an alarm because in Nassau County, we have seen over 2100 complaints where people's identity was stolen, and then utilized to apply for unemployment benefits.
ANDREA GRYMES: Nassau County District Attorney, Madeline Singas, says they set up a pipeline with the Department of Labor, and are able to stop payments to scammers most of the time.
NEAL BRIDGES: This looks very much like you would see out of any other type of online marketplace.
ANDREA GRYMES: As Bridges showed us, it is easy for criminals to buy hacked personal information on the darknet. It's a part of the web accessible with special software and predominantly used for criminal activity because of the anonymity it offers.
In just one example, he showed us a listing for $130, which includes the personal information of 22,000 New Jersey driver's license holders.
NEAL BRIDGES: You can see that they provide you with three lines as a sample to prove that this data is real.
ANDREA GRYMES: We got in touch with one of the victims in the sample who did not want to be on camera.
- I just wanted to tell you that it was on there.
ANDREA GRYMES: He had no idea his information was compromised on the darknet. Most people don't. Bridges and the FBI both say there is nothing you can do to completely protect yourself, but you can try to make yourself a harder target. Pay close attention to your credit reports. Make your passwords complicated. Use extreme caution when communicating online. Andrea Grymes, CBS 2 News.