Chicago Third Most Fraudulent State Online

April 29, 2012

How safe do you feel surfing the web in your Chicago real estate?

You shouldn’t be too lax: According to a new study, more online fraud originates in Chicago than almost anywhere in the country.

ThreatMetrix, a cybercrime-prevention company, sampled almost a billion online transactions during the first quarter of 2012 and scored each with a fraud risk of low, medium or high. The top 150 U.S. cities were ranked based on their percent of medium- and high-risk transactions, and Chicago came in third on the list.

Hand holding a lock wrapped around a laptop.New York was No. 1 and Atlanta No. 2.

“New York was ranked No. 1 in e-commerce fraud risk with transactions 1.5 times as likely to be at risk in comparison to second ranked Atlanta, and twice as likely in comparison to No. 3 Chicago,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix.

“As fraudsters grow more sophisticated and expand globally, it’s only natural that large cities with international profiles, easy access to shipping and high connectivity rates will become breeding grounds for new generations of cyber threats, including both fraud and malware.”

Malware is short for malicious software. About 25 million new strains of malware were released last year, and according to the Aite Group, that number is expected to increase to 87 million by the end of 2015.

Faulkner called Chicago a “gold mine” for cybercriminals to steal identities, passwords and credit cards.

Los Angeles came in fourth on the list, followed by Omaha, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Lexington, Ky.

So what’s an Internet surfer to do? Here are some online safety tips from the Federal Trade Commission:

*Legitimate companies don’t ask for your financial information via email or pop-up message, so don’t click on a link in an e-mail.

*Don’t e-mail anyone your personal information. That includes credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers.

*Don’t give out your credit card or other financial information in exchange for an offer of something free, a seasonal job or a holiday vacation rental.

*Buy gift cards from sources you know and trust and not from online auction sites.

*Don’t assume that public WiFi spots are secure, and don’t give out any sensitive information on a public computer.

*Free screen savers, e-cards and other seasonal downloads could carry viruses, so watch what you open.

*Keep anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date along with your firewall, and monitor your financial accounts regularly.

For more tips and information, visit ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-HELP.

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