Online scams, libel top PNP list of cybercrimes in last 3 years

The Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP-ACG) has recorded a total of 1,211 cybercrime complaints covering the period of 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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The top five complaints received for the period are online scams with 366, online libel with 240, online threats with 129, identity theft with 127, and anti-photo and video voyeurism with 89.

The online scam complaints were reported by victims of online buying/selling, paluwagan, investment, pyramiding, and other forms of online fraud.

To avoid becoming victims of cybercriminals, the PNP issued the following do’s and don’ts:

• Do set privacy settings to the most secure setting available. Most social networking sites offer ways to restrict access to make sure information is being shared only with friends and not the Internet at large.

• Don’t post any information that would let someone know about a vacation or whether the house is empty. Posting about being out of town for a few days could make someone a likely target of thieves.

• Do make a unique password for every social site. Consider making the passwords stronger by adding numbers or special characters. Having strong, unique passwords for each site helps prevent hackers from taking over social media accounts to send spam to other users, scam friends or use information against the owner of the account.

• Don’t post anything online that would cause problems if made public. Follow the “Front Page Rule,” which reminds social media users not to report anything on social media site they would not want to see on the front page of a local newspaper.

• Do remember that employers, school and university administrators and others often check Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for information posted online.

• Don’t click on links that may appear to be unusual or suspicious, even if they look like they are sent by friends. Likewise, don’t click links sent through spam email, these could launch malicious software or viruses that could damage a computer.

• Do be selective about who is accepted as a “friend” or “follower” on social media account. Identity thieves can easily create fake profiles in order to obtain personal information that might otherwise have been private.

• Don’t post any information that can lead hackers to passwords for online baking or other accounts. For example, common questions for those who have forgotten their passwords for financial or other sites include “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What’s your favorite pet?” Criminals may be able to find those answers easily on social networking sites.

• Do assume that status updates, photos, and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Just because a profile is deleted or information is removed, anyone on a computer has the ability to print text or photos or save items to a computer.

The PNP said it in order for the agency to address the increasing number of cybercrimes in the country, victims of illegal online activities or targets of suspicious online messages should report the incidents to the PNP ACG for proper evaluation and investigation.

They may also file their complaints or report incidents through the ACG website , or through cellphone number 09985689082, hotline number 4141560/7230401 loc 5313 or e-mail at pnp.anticybercrimegroup@gmail.com. They can check this Twitter page and Facebook account for cybercrime updates.