With an average of more than 800 complaints received every day, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center knows that cybercrime is a real threat to Americans everywhere. This week, the agency released the 2016 numbers, and they tracked more than $1.3 billion worth of losses to the American public.
With nearly 300,000 complaints received this year, data shows that older Americans — those over 60 — lost the most money, but also had the most individual victims. While those in their 30s reported an outsized number of the instances of cybercrime, they didn’t lose as much as those in their 40s and beyond.
California suffered the most losses at more than $255 million, but Florida and New York also saw significant losses. You can get more details on state-by-state cybercrimes on the FBI’s website.
The biggest trend the FBI tracked, costing the country more than $8 million alone, was tech support fraud, where hackers posing as tech support will convince people with computer problems to hand over control of their machines. These kinds of scams sometimes result in charges for anti-virus scans that were never conducted, but also can lead to identity theft perpetrated with info found on compromised machines.
“They’ll trick you into letting them into your computer,” said IC3 Unit Chief Donna Gregory. “You open the door and allow them in. You may think you’re just watching them install a program to get rid of a virus, but they are really doing a lot of damage behind the scenes.”
Ransomware, e-mail compromise and extortion were other major factors in this year’s totals. To protect against these crimes, IC3 also provided some recommendations, like always installing the latest updates to your operating system and software.
“Be aware of what you are clicking on and also what you’re posting on social media. Always lock down your social media accounts as much as possible,” Gregory said. “Try to use two factor authentication, and use safe passwords or things more difficult to guess. The tougher the password, the harder it is for someone to crack.”