As fraud grows, so does the language used to describe those scams. To keep you abreast of the terminology, we’ve created a guide to common phrases used when discussing internet and phone swindles. Scroll through the alphabetical list for some of the most important terms and acronyms.
Artificial intelligence. Technology that gives computers the ability to think and learn on their own. This technology can be used to copy voices, also called voice cloning, and give the impression that you are having a conversation with an individual you know.
Botnet. A network of computers — which may include your machine even though you don’t realize it — that scammers have infected with hidden software to secretly send spam or mount cyberattacks.
Brute-force attack. A hacking method to find passwords or encryption keys by trying every possible combination of characters until the correct one is found.
Catfishing. Creating a fake online profile to intentionally deceive, usually through a romance scam.
Check washing. When a criminal steals a paper check, often from a mailbox, and erases the original payee and amount using household chemicals, filling in a new payee and amount. The check is then presented to a bank to be paid to the thief or an accomplice with money from your account.
Clickbait. A story or link designed to attract a reader’s attention. By clicking the link, you may share information unwittingly or inadvertently download malware or spyware.
Cloning. Intercepting the unique identifying number that a cellphone transmits through radio waves and copying the number to another phone. A thief then will use the second phone, charging the legitimate owner of the first phone for data use and calls on the cloned phone.
Cramming. The illegal placement of unauthorized charges on your phone bill for unrequested services or calls not made.
Crypto scam. Criminals may impersonate celebrities, prospective partners or financial advisers offering a way to make money investing in cryptocurrencies. These virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are not backed by any government or central bank. Investment gains may look significant via the crypto exchange you are trading on, but those numbers are fraudulent.
Drive-by download. The transmission of a virus or malware onto your computer or mobile device when you visit a compromised website. It happens without your clicking anything on the site.
Ghosting. Theft of the identity of a dead person to fraudulently open credit accounts, obtain loans or get utility or medical services in the person’s name. It is only one type of identity theft.
Grandparent scam. When a criminal poses as a target’s grandchild or other close relative frantically asking for money due to an accident, an arrest or being stranded while traveling. Information gleaned from social media helps make the impersonation believable. The target is asked to quickly transfer cash or prepare gift cards or money that an accomplice will pick up.