Ryan R Bradley
Illinois Consumer Protection and Fraud Attorney at Koester & Bradley, LLP
For Illinois Consumers, Equifax dominates the headlines in cybersecurity, but Ransomware is a serious threat as well.
While large data breaches such at Target and Equifax dominate the headlines, there are other equally frightening threats lurking on the internet that impact Illinois residents. Illinois Consumer protection lawyers Koester & Bradley are still noticing a large jump in Ransomware attacks on individuals and businesses alike. In fact, last week the city of Atlanta was attached and information necessary to run the entire city was held for ransom. Are Illinois cities and consumers next?
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks your screen and prevents access to your computer and its files until you pay a ransom. Ransomware is not just a problem for large companies and hospitals, it afflicts individual and small to medium sized business as well across Illinois. It has been around in different forms since the mid 2000s and attacks both businesses and individuals with the hackers committing the fraud demanding payment in largely untraceable bitcoin. According to cybersecurity experts Tom Barker and Chris Heuman of Virtual Auditor, unlike earlier ransomware that disabled your computer, recent forms of this malware encrypt your files, which makes their recovery far more difficult. If you don't pay the several hundred-dollar ransom by a certain date, your files will be destroyed.
Champaign Illinois Consumer Protection attorneys Koester & Bradley warn that while there's no guarantee against becoming a victim, there are several measures for Illinois consumers and businesses to take to make an attack less likely and less damaging:
Back Up Your Files
Make frequent file backups to lessen the impact of an attack. We now know that for Illinois residents, and consumers across the country, it is more probable than not that you will be a victim of cyber crime. Don't store these files anywhere that's reachable by your computer because the ransomware may find and encrypt them. If you're using an external device for your backups, keep it disconnected from your computer. If you're using cloud services for backup storage, make sure they retain previous versions of your files that you can roll back to in case your most recent files are encrypted.
Backup files make recovery easier because it's just a matter of reinstalling your backups after the malware is removed from your computer and represent the primary way to reduce the damage caused by an attack.
Be Careful With Emails
Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links within emails from unfamiliar sources. If the email content from a familiar source seems unusual, it could be ransomware that's exploiting a list of your contacts. When an email is suspicious but plausible, contact the source independently of the email and its attachments.
If you have any questions about an email, even if it is from a send that you do know, verify with the sender and do a Google search for scams that are similar to the email that you received.
Keep Your Software Updated
Ransomware may exploit known weaknesses of various software. Software providers respond to recently discovered security weaknesses with new version updates that "patch up the hole." Update all software including your firewall and anti-virus. Additionally, ensure that you computer operating system, usually either Windows of Mac OS, is kept up-to-date. Moat time you can suet this for automatic updates.
If your computer gets infected, your safest bet is to erase the entire system and reinstall your operating system. After this, scan your computer with an anti-virus that can detect ransomware. Then you can load your files back into your computer from your backups. If your files and backups are infected, don't pay the ransom because you may not get your files back, or the ransomware may attack again. In addition, your money enables the criminal to continue his activities.
The above tips will reduce your risk of becoming a victim and will make recovery from such an attack less painful. If you were impacted by the Equifax breach, keep these tips in mind to further protect yourself. Finally, remember that the Illinois Consumer Protection Attorneys at Koester & Bradley are here to help should you become a victim of Cyber Attack.
Across Illinois, Scams and Cyber Threats are Targeting Seniors. Here are a few You Should Know About
Scams that target the elderly never seem to end. With the notice and attention that is given to cybersecurity and crimes such as identity theft, it is important to understand that "conventional" and lower-tech scams are still prevalent--particularly regarding senior citizens in central Ill and across the country. At Koester & Bradley, LLP, we do our best to monitor all potential threats to our clients and community as Illinois personal injury and fraud lawyers. Here are some more scams that target senior citizens. Let us know if you are aware of any others to add to the list.
Fake Anti-Aging Products
Elderly people, especially women, often feel a need to look younger. This is a result of social and peer pressure. Scammers target seniors with fake or low-quality anti-aging products. They may not work, may be overpriced, or may have hidden fees -- for example, they may offer a one-month discount option without disclosing that they will be charged exorbitant fees for monthly deliveries after that.
Fake Prescription Drugs
Similar to fake anti-aging products. These fake prescription drugs are cheap, and can often be found on the internet. They may cost less, but they may not work and may even be dangerous. There are many drugs and devices that are actually prescribed by doctors that are also dangerous to seniors in Illinois such as Xarelto and Pradaxa, so it is wise to avoid subjecting yourself or a loved one to any drug not discussed with a healthcare professional.
The grandchild scam involves someone telephoning a caring grandparent and pretending to be a beloved grandchild. They can find out the names of their grandchildren from social media. During the phone call, they'll use low-quality audio to conceal their voice, and they will cry about how they are in trouble or in debt and need money to bail themselves out. They'll often say that they can not call their "parents" because their "parents" will be angry at them.
Elderly people who live alone are especially vulnerable to all kinds of phone, mail and cyber scams, such as fake charity scams, fake lottery tickets, fake antivirus companies and so on. Make sure to warn your loved one about these common scams.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud, contact us today for legal help. Finally, remember that it is always worth investigation a scam if you or a loved one were a victim even if not sure of all of the details and the legality of the situation. This is the way that new law is made.
With the recent hacking of Equifax, personal information of over 143 million Americans were compromised. Identity thieves gaining access to an individual’s credit report allows them to open new accounts in the victims’ names. A credit freeze is a security method that restricts access to an individual’s credit report. New creditors would not be able to see your file and therefore would not be able to approve a new account and extend credit. Under a credit freeze, existing creditors and debt collectors would still be allowed access to your credit report. Government agencies may also have access to your frozen credit report with the use of a court or administrative order, a subpoena or a search warrant.
A credit freeze will not prevent an identity thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You should continue the process of monitoring all credit card, bank transactions and insurance statements to screen for fraudulent transactions. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score and will not prevent you from acquiring your free annual credit report. A credit freeze will also not stop you from opening a new account, applying for a job, buying insurance or renting a home but you will be required to lift the freeze temporarily for a specific time or to specific parties in order for these actions to be approved. A credit freeze will not stop an individual from getting pre-screened offers of credit. To opt out of pre-screened offers of credit for 5 years or permanently, you can call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or access the following website, www.optoutprescreen.com.
You can place a free on your credit reports by contacting nationwide credit reporting companies such as Experian (1-888-397-3742) and TransUnion (1-888-909-8872). You will be required to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, current address and other personal information. The fee associated with placing a credit freeze is between $5 to $10. Each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter for your freeze request containing a personal identification number (PIN) or password. You will need the PIN or password if you choose to lift the freeze at a later date.
A credit freeze will remain in place until you request the credit reporting company to temporarily lift or completely remove it. The cost of lifting a credit freeze varies by state. The freeze must be lifted no later than 3 business days after the credit company receives your request.
CREDIT FREEZE VS FRAUD ALERT: There is a major difference and trade off between protection and convenience.
We have compiled the most relevant differences to keep in mind when taking action
As with any issue relating to credit and cyber security, being proactive and moving quickly is vital. Attorneys are investigating the matter and are always here to answer questions.
Many things have the potential to ruin a well-planned vacation, but identity theft may be may be at the top of the list. Spending time fighting fraudulent charges, closing credit cards, and disputing errors is certainly not how you planned to spend your time off. Unfortunately, every year there are millions of complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission. Your chances of identity theft, however, are reduced if you try these identity protection strategies while enjoying a relaxing vacation:
Nothing can ruin a good vacation like having your identity stolen. Use these tips to maximize your protection and contact us if you find that you have experienced something unfortunate so we can sort things out.
Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer Personal Injury Blog by Koester & Bradley, LLP
Legal News with Illinois Impact from Accident and Personal Injury Firm Koester & Bradley, LLP
Ryan R Bradley is a civil litigator based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing plaintiffs in a variety of cases form medical malpractice to automobile accidents.