3 ways to protect yourself against cybercriminals

Efi Dahan, Managing Director in PayPal for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel shares his top 3 tips on how to protect yourself against the cybercriminals in the global data chaos, which has seen a big increase in cyberattacks since the start of the pandemic

Efi Dahan, Managing Director in PayPal for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel

“Many industry organizations and companies note that ever since the start of the pandemic they noted a significant increase in the cyberattacks. Phishing or scam attempts will usually promise something impossible yet very desired in return for our personal data. Before the user understands what is going on, it is usually too late because some damage has been already done,” says Efi Dahan.

The global chaos is a perfect playing field for cybercriminals who usually do not hesitate to use their advantage in such situations. The fears for the health and safety of families might make the internet users an easier prey for them. But there are some steps that everyone can take in order to avoid unpleasant situations.

Watch out for phishing
The cybercriminals will try to impersonate various companies, delivery couriers, payment methods, e-stores or traditional stores. They might call, send emails, or text messages. Usually, they will state that there’s an incredible opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of very quickly (i.e. a sale or a discount), or highlight that there is some sort of danger, which needs to be fixed quickly (i.e. to prevent your account from being blocked).

If the user is unsure about the authenticity of that email, they might want to avoid clicking links in the message and instead of that, log in to their account directly from their browser or check in with the customer support. Pay attention also to typos, punctuation, or weird grammar – usually, official messages from the company will not contain such omissions. To make sure that everything is alright, it is also worth contacting them directly, i.e. by phone.

Suspicious shop promotions
Many users are exposed to targeted advertisements in social media showcasing unique products or highlighting discounts. Among a variety of really interesting goods offered by many niche shops, it is often difficult for sellers to understand whether they can trust a particular e-store, especially if it’s located abroad.

“In such cases, the user could look up reviews of the store to see what other buyers think about it. It is also helpful to take a look at the return policy and check the quality of its customer support,” advises Efi Dahan, “Payment methods that are available in the e-shop are also a good indicator of its trustworthiness. For example, if the user pays with PayPal and there is something wrong with the product or – worse – it never arrives at all, it is easy to dispute the unsuccessful purchase and receive the money back.”

Other suspicious situations might involve a seller asking the buyer to transfer money through unofficial channels rather than the official payment method available on the website.

The companies also protect their customers
Customers should be careful at all times and be wary of offers that are too good to be true. The importance of the trusted payment method is highlighted in such situations, as the fintech companies not only help their customers in recovering the money when something goes wrong. They also continuously work to ensure the highest protection measures are used for money transfers, such as fraud prevention based on machine learning, throughout the efforts of in-house IT specialists or acquisitions, such as the purchase of Simility by PayPal in 2018, valued at $120 million.