Deep within the Internet is the Dark Web, a space where criminals can anonymously buy and sell illegal goods and private information. This is where identity thieves can easily and cheaply buy our personal and financial information.
It’s a place Brett Johnson knows well. Law enforcement once called him “the godfather of the Dark Web” because he was one of the first criminals to buy and sell credit cards and personal information on the Internet. Johnson served time in prison and now helps law enforcement catch cybercriminals and works with AARP to teach consumers how to protect themselves and their families from scammers.
Johnson will speak at a free in-person workshop at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel at 9 a.m. Friday, August 19. For those who prefer virtual events or if Hilo’s workshop is reaching capacity, Johnson’s O’ahu presentation on August 20 will be simulcast. on the AARP Hawaii Facebook page and YouTube channel. Johnson will start speaking around 9:45 a.m.
To register to come to the Hilo workshop, go to aarp.cvent.com/HIFraud. You can view and register for all of the events offered by AARP by visiting aarp.org/hi or the AARP Hawai`i Facebook page and click Upcoming Events. You can be any age, and you don’t need to be an AARP member to join.
Johnson will share what he knows about internet fraud schemes and scammers who work to steal your personal information.
“I was the guy who built what is today the dark net market,” Johnson said. “Things like credit card scams and tax scams – I was on the ground floor developing this stuff and how criminals should go about scamming other people,” he said. he declared.
After finally serving seven years in prison, Johnson turned his back on criminal enterprises and now works to protect people from the kind of person he was and is considered one of the nation’s leading cybersecurity experts. Johnson credits the FBI and Secret Service agents who brought him down and put him behind bars for helping him find purpose in developing new ways to fight Dark Web crimes, rather than to commit them. He says it takes a criminal mind to penetrate the methods of a swindler.
“Faced with increasingly sophisticated scammers armed with new digital tools designed to trick us into handing over our money, many people may feel overwhelmed or have just given up,” said AARP Hawaii’s state director. `i, Keai`i Lopez. . “Many consumers think it’s inevitable that criminals will exploit their credit at some point,” she said. “But we emphasize that there are powerful things you can do to ensure that stolen data cannot be used against you.”
AARP and Johnson recommended consumers follow these three steps to protect themselves:
Order a gel – Implement a security freeze with all three credit bureaus so that no one can access your credit file or open a new credit account with your information. Thanks to a new federal law, it is now free to freeze and unfreeze your credit. For a guide to the process, visit aarp.org/CreditFreeze.
Configure digital access and two-factor authentication – Set up online access to all your financial accounts – bank accounts, credit cards, 401(k)s, etc. – and regularly monitor accounts to stay current on all transactions and to recognize any fraudulent activity that may occur. “Scammers have told us that people without online accounts are the ideal targets, especially children and the elderly,” Lopez said. “This allows criminals to configure online access themselves, and even set passwords and credentials that lock people out of their own accounts. For online banking and shopping apps, opt for two-factor authentication.It requires not only your password to log in, but also a one-time code sent to your mobile device to prove that it is really you.
Use separate passwords – Be sure to use unique passwords for each of your online accounts. That way, if one account gets hacked, it doesn’t put your other accounts at risk. A good way to manage all those unique passwords is to use a digital password manager. These services secure all your passwords and help you create different and strong passwords for each of your online accounts. “When it comes to passwords, people are lazy and tend to use the same passwords for multiple accounts,” Johnson said. “When a criminal manages to trick you into giving up your password to what appears to be an innocuous site like your Netflix or HULU account, they will discover that you used the same password on your credit card and bank accounts. more important.”
For more information on how to protect yourself from scams and fraud, visit www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetowk.