Digital crimes are getting more sophisticated. Here's what to watch out for

Photo (c) Just Stock - Getty Images

Never thought about your car being hacked? You can now

If you think we’re all at risk of “digital crimes,” now, just wait. Cybersecurity experts say we could be in for a wave of hacks and scams like we’ve never seen before. 

“We are more connected now than ever and the risk of being targeted by a digital crime is only going to increase,” Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO at Aura, warns ConsumerAffairs readers, noting that in his company’s latest Digital Crime Index, Americans spent an average of 494 minutes on digital media every day last year. He predicts that number is going to rise to 508 minutes by 2024.

What are those potential crimes and how can you protect yourself? ConsumerAffairs spoke with several cybersecurity gurus to find out just that.


The new artificial intelligence widget has been the talk of the town, but the public was served notice quickly that we were playing with a potentially dangerous weapon and, now, as the world found out, this week, ChatGPT has been used to take over Facebook accounts. One expert predicts that our inboxes may be the next target. 

“ChatGPT will allow people with poor language skills to create much more effective fishing campaigns. In most phishing campaigns there are language abnormalities that make it clear that they are not coming from a large corporation or bank,” Michael Gibbs, CEO and founder of Go Cloud Careers told ConsumerAffairs.

“Cybercriminals armed with ChatGPT will be able to create content that will look and feel more real. The public will need to be extra vigilant and look for other abnormalities such as the URL of the link in the phishing campaign.”

Payment systems are becoming more vulnerable

When Sandy Fliderman, CTO at Industry FinTech, gave ConsumerAffairs his number one concern that's laying in the bushes, it was the digital threat occurring in the payment industry.

“Peer-to-Peer digital payment users are vulnerable to scams and fraud due to the same issues that plague traditional payments – identity fraud. While peer-to-peer digital payments eliminate intermediaries which can be a vulnerable point in the transaction, they do rely upon each peer to trust that the corresponding peer is who they say they are.”

To avoid those potholes, Fliderman suggests users of payment apps should be careful before sending money to anyone.

“Once money is sent, a user should expect that they have limited recourse to get that money back,” he said.

The best precautions? Turn on two-factor authentication, use a well-known and trusted payment platform (Venmo, PayPal, your own bank) and if you don’t get a payment receipt verification quickly, call the payment service provider or your bank and put a stop to the transaction.

Orphan Apps

If you scroll through all your apps, you’re likely to find some that you haven’t used – or updated – in, like, forever. Those are considered “orphan apps” and Emma McGowan, senior writer and online privacy advocate at Avast, says they’re littering both the Apple and Android app stores.

“These apps are particularly vulnerable to being compromised. Since they haven’t been updated in a long time, they are likely to be filled with unpatched vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit,” she said.

“Check the version history before you download new apps to make sure they’ve been updated relatively recently. Update your computer regularly.”

Connected cars

If Ford can find a way to worm into a vehicle’s digital system and honk the horn and turn off the A/C, FNTS CISO Don Pecha says hackers can too, and there are already reports of such attacks.

“My recommendation is to scan the news for your model car regularly and understand if you can update it yourself or need to schedule updates with a dealer,” he said.

Take an Identity Theft Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.