The number of online scams and cybercrime have been on the rise in the last couple of years, but due to pandemic, in 2021 these attacks will probably set new record high number of cases.
Because many people switched to “working from home” in 2020 due to the pandemic, last year was the year with the most cyberattack worldwide, but in 2021 the number of attacks already surpassed the last year’s number.
The same trend applies for South Carolina where the FBI already confirmed that South Carolinians lost more than $40 million in online scams. That number will be even higher until the end of the year, they say.
“Realize that these attacks are not going to stop,” Supervisory Special Agent Cindy Starns said. “They are so lucrative.”
Data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center shows the number of cybercrimes reported across South Carolina jumped about 30% from 2019 to 2020, from 4,541 complaints to 5,853.
On national level, FBI recorded 70% more online scams in 2021 compared to 2019 when “only” 467,361 complaints were recorded. In 2020, 791,790 cases were officially reported.
“We are getting calls every day about people losing money or being socially engineered to give up money,” Starns said.
The most common cybercrimes in South Carolina are those when people pay for good or service, but are never going to receive it. The second most common type of cybercrime cases is data breach which later scammers use for different things.
The FBI also confirmed that the pandemic drastically increased the cybercrime in the country. This came as a result that more people were spending time online during lockdowns and working for home and they all became easier targets to scammers.
“There’s so many people in need, whether it’s for their work, for their education, just trying to understand what’s going on with the virus, that it’s very easy to fall for a lot of these scams that are out there,” Starns said.
“You’re now divorced from your corporate IT help desk and support. It might’ve had a layer of protection,” Starns said. “Now you’re responsible for your own security, and not everybody has the same skillset to deal with those problems.”
Despite FBI’s efforts, online scams are on the rise and they say that people should take measures by themselves in order to prevent such actions. According to Starns, online users should frequently update the programs and applications they use on their mobile phones, PC’s and tablets.
People should also be very careful when they receive strange requests and offers they didn’t initiate themselves, including over the phone or computer.
The FBI encourages victims of cybercrimes to report those crimes to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.