What is computer fraud?

The definition of what constitutes computer fraud becomes increasingly complex with the ingenuity of people seeking to deceive, misrepresent, destroy, steal information or harm others by accessing information through illegal and deceptive means. Just as people need to be careful when walking down the street or at home when locking their doors at night, they need to be careful about the many examples of fraud that will show up on their computers.

Children need to be taught how to use the Internet safely to protect themselves from predators.

Types of computer fraud vary and can be complex or simple. Simple types of fraud can include the following:

Hacking a computer is a type of computer fraud.

Sending hoax emails with the intent to scare people. Illegally use someone else’s computer or “impersonate” someone else on the Internet. Using spyware to gather information about people.

Committing computer fraud can lead to arrest.

These actions are frauds because they are deliberate misrepresentations of the truth. They progress to more harmful actions as they become more complex and include the following:

People who use their credit cards for online purchases need to protect themselves from computer fraud.

Emails asking for money in exchange for “small deposits”. Pyramid schemes or computer investment schemes intended to take and use someone else’s money. Emails that attempt to collect personal information to be used to access and use credit cards or Social Security numbers. Using someone else’s computer to access personal information with the intent to use it fraudulently. Using the computer to entice minors into sexual alliances. Violating copyright laws by copying information with the intention of selling it.

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Hacking computer systems to collect large amounts of information for illegal purposes. Hacking or illegally using a computer to change information such as notes, work reports, etc. Sending computer viruses or worms with the intent to destroy or damage another person’s computer.

There are many different legal ramifications for those who engage in computer fraud, especially when such practice could be harmful and physically or financially harmful to third parties. Most laws distinguish between a person who commits fraud intentionally and someone who does it accidentally. For example, broadcasting a fictitious letter about a possible virus is a common feature among new computer users and is not really fraudulent. Deliberately generating a hoax letter to scare others is a fraud with the intent to at least emotionally harm others. Generally, when a person intentionally commits a fraudulent act with a computer, he or she can be subject to criminal and sometimes civil prosecution and, at the very least, will pay fines if convicted of petty fraud. People who steal information or money with a computer,

Even though there are stiff penalties for committing computer fraud, laws governing against it may be difficult to enforce. Some of the email scams for investment opportunities and get rich quick schemes originate outside the country where the victims are, and it may be difficult to instigate investigations on foreign soil. Computer users should be wary and commit to the following computer philosophy when they on the Internet:

Users should not give personal information to anyone or any company they have never heard of before. This includes the person’s full name, address, phone number, credit card number, Social Security number, or information about the people in the household. Individuals should not pay attention to get rich quick schemes. If they seem too good to be true, they absolutely are. Email users should not open messages from strangers. Everyone should install antivirus software and spam blocking programs. People should never download attachments from people they don’t know. Children should be taught about safe communication on the Internet to protect them from predators. Individuals should not keep passwords on their computer, and they should not use common passwords like the names of kids, birthdays, or other guessable words. No one should ever give a password to someone else.

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Types of computer fraud vary and can be complex or simple.

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