Safety Tips for New Grads on Avoiding Fraud Online

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7 min Read
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New Grads Are an Easy Target for Online Fraud

Recent graduates are a part of the digital generation where technology has been an accessible resource since the early years of our lives. As we have grown up, we have seen technology expand at rapid rates, becoming more and more a part of our daily experience. From MySpace to Facebook, Nokia to iPhones, and email to texting, technology has grown just as much as we have. As a result, people our age have become desensitized to what dangers lie behind the screen. People in my generation may sometimes have a false sense of security when it comes to being online and fraudsters are perfectly aware of that. Here are some examples of how new grads are an easy target for online fraud and some ways to improve security measures.

It’s true, we are always on our phones.

Gen Z is known for being constantly connected because we use our cell phones for almost everything. We use our phones for social media, communication, study reminders, and even things like banking, work and school emails, and location tracking. Odds are, we are probably even guilty of using our phones to store passwords and other private information. That being said, as this generation begins to enter the workforce or higher education, cybersecurity will be a huge concern for many companies and universities worldwide. 

According to one survey, 42% of Gen Z employees admitted to losing a device that stored sensitive work-related information. Situations like these can not only do serious harm to others, but prevent people in our graduating class from reaching our career goals.

Some easy ways of preventing ill-intentioned users from accessing private information via cellular devices are:

  • Logging out of online accounts when not in use. Logging out is a simple way to ward off an account takeover and spam messages being sent to your online connections with dangerous links.
  • If possible, keeping work, banking, and other sensitive information off of your phone and on a different device. Losing your phone is easy to do. If you keep sensitive information on a device you are less likely to misplace (i.e. a desktop computer), you are preventing payment fraud and someone stealing confidential business ideas. As well, you should always password protect your login information instead of jotting them down in your Notes app.
  • Creating a secure password for your phone. Many phones have a default password of four numerical digits which is easy to hack into. Instead, go into your settings and select a more secure password method. 

Fraudsters know you use the same password for everything and it will come back to bite you.

Having one password to access many different accounts is a bad idea. In this case, once one account is compromised, so are all your other accounts. Having a fraudster access your personal account means that they not only have access to all the information on that account but the ability to change your password so that you no longer have access to your own account. Just imagine if a hacker discovered your login information for Instagram and decided to try it on your bank account. Now they can change your bank account password and go on a shopping spree. 

Having unique passwords for each account is important but you can’t be expected to remember them all off the top of your head. As mentioned above, using a password manager or password-protected file is a great way to keep track of all your passwords in a secure fashion.

Yes, I always “accept cookies” and no, I don’t know what that means.

Selecting “accept cookies” isn’t always a bad thing but can be harmful if using dangerous websites. According to Security Magazine, 65% of Gen Zers continued using a website despite seeing warnings of it being insecure. Alongside that, 31% of 18-24 year-olds had no knowledge of what “accept cookies” meant. The combination of these statistics is unsettling if you understand anything about data tracking. 

If you “accept cookies” you are allowing the website managers to see your data. This data may include what your general location is, your login information, your name, what you clicked on, etc. For well-intentioned eCommerce websites, this means they can see what you are shopping for so they can suggest other items that you may be interested in based on what you’ve clicked on. However, for insecure websites, they may use cookies to access more personal information to use against you.

As a rule, if you are browsing a website that seems insecure, you should not “accept cookies” and instead exit the site. 

I accidentally clicked on a suspicious link my friend sent me on Facebook, but it’s not like anything bad will happen, right?

Wrong. Although many people our age think they know how to spot a phishing scam, fraudsters are creating more surprising ways to fool you into clicking that link. More recent phishing scams may appear to be a business that you frequent or the bank you use suggesting that someone has accessed your account and to ‘please verify using this link’. 

It is important to note that if you receive a link you were not expecting, the best thing to do is to verify with the person who sent it to you. If it’s a friend on Facebook, you may want to message them back and ask if they meant to send the previous message. If you receive a link supposedly from a business, try giving them a call and asking about the message you received. They will be able to tell you if the message was actually sent from them.

By clicking a phishing link, fraudsters can get access to sensitive information on your device and can install malware. If you do accidentally click a link, make sure to disconnect from the internet. Next, reset your passwords and scan your device for viruses. Lastly, make sure to backup your files to an external hard drive.

That moment when you’re out with your roommates and you realize the assignment you pulled an all-nighter for was due at 12 PM and not 12 AM.

It’s a good thing you remembered to grab your laptop, but connecting to that one sketchy public WiFi network to submit your project is never the way to go. The owner of that network could be a hacker and can see information on your device if you choose to connect. This could include your intellectual property, school login information (which could be used to hack into other accounts if you use the same password for everything), your IP address, credit card information, etc.

Instead, remember to use a VPN (a virtual private network). A VPN will protect your information and identity from hackers while using a public network. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to download a VPN. My assignment is due in two minutes and it counts for 50% of my grade!” All the more reason you should download a VPN during your free time to ensure you don’t run into this issue during a crisis situation.

You got this.

New grads in this generation need to understand these methods for avoiding fraud online. By following these tips above, you’ll be well prepared for your next steps, whether you’re heading to college or entering the workforce. Congratulations class of 2021, and remember to be smart and make cybersecurity a priority. 

About Arkose Labs

Leading global brands trust Arkose Labs to protect them from evolving fraud in the long-term. To learn how Arkose Labs platform bankrupts the business model of fraud and protects businesses from fraud losses, please book a demo now.

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