Skip nav to main content.
Pearl Hawaii Credit Union
Android GET - On the App Store
Pearl Hawaii Credit Union
Apple GET - On the App Store

10 Cybercrime Terms You Should Know

10 Cybercrime Terms You Should Know

Below are 10 cybercrime terms you should be familiar with in order to protect yourself, privacy, devices, and information. Unfortunately, online crime is an ongoing and growing threat. Overall, some think that the only form of cybercrime you have to worry about is hackers stealing your information. There are many different ways criminals attempt to attack you. Certainly, the best way to protect yourself from online crime is to educate yourself. Additionally, you should take precautions to help protect against it.




Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another person’s personal information, such as a Social Security number, account information, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, and name to open fraudulent accounts.


Sometimes, emails may look like they came from your friend, but it does not actually come from your friend or loved one. Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source. Spoofing can apply to emails, phone calls, and websites. Additionally, criminals can also spoof an IP address, Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), or Domain Name System (DNS) server.


Jailbreaking or rooting occurs when a user removes software restrictions on a device like a cell phone or tablet. This process, basically, opens a door of a locked-down electronic device to install software other than what the manufacturer has made available for that device. Additionally, when you jailbreak or root your phone or tablet, it allows you to gain full access to the root of the operating system and access all the features. Consequently, jailbreaking, rooting, or cracking your phone is not safe. Jailbroken phones offer an opportunity for cybercriminals to hack your phone, including the data on your phone. To maintain that Pearl Hawaii account information is safe from cybercriminals while you are utilizing our online apps and products, do not jailbreak, root, or crack your phone.


With profile hacking or cloning, cybercriminals attempt to create identical profiles to existing accounts.  Although profile cloning results in two almost identical user profiles, most of us wouldn’t check to confirm that more than one profile exists. Once trust has been established, friends and coworkers are less careful about clicking a malicious link masquerading as a real video, photo, or software.


Social engineering is the art of manipulating people for a criminal to obtain confidential or personal information. Criminals use social engineering tactics because it is usually easier to exploit your natural inclination to trust than it is to discover ways to hack your software. Regardless of what you are doing online, someone on the other end is gathering information about you. So, be careful.



Phishing is the most common type of social engineering attack. Overall, phishing scams endeavor to accomplish three things. First, they are attempting to obtain personal information such as names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers. Next, they use misleading links that redirect users to suspicious websites. These sites will host phishing landing pages that attempt to obtain your personal information. Third, they may threaten you or use fear with a sense of urgency. Basically, messages are poorly crafted with spelling or grammar errors. For more information, visit PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM ONLINE CRIME | PHISHING, SMISHING, & VISHING.


Baiting tactics are all over the internet. Sometimes, a victim stumbles upon baits to download a video or music. They are found on social networking sites and within your search results. Also, the schemes are on classified or auction sites, top-of-page link feeds, or banner ads. Always, review the seller’s rating and selling history.

People who take the bait may be infected with malicious software that can generate any number of new exploits. Additionally, they may lose money, their credit card information, and their contacts. Additionally, they may lose money without receiving a purchased item.

Cybercrime Terms


Another form of social engineering is pretexting. Criminals will focus on creating a good pretext or a fabricated scenario. Their goal is to steal their victims’ personal information. In these types of attacks, the scammer usually says they need the information to confirm the victim’s identity. In actuality, they steal that data and use it to commit identity theft or stage secondary attacks.


Like baiting, quid pro quo attacks promise a benefit in exchange for information. Quid pro quo usually assumes the form of a service, whereas baiting usually takes the form of a good. For example, one of the most common types of quid pro quo attacks is when the criminal impersonates the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) or Federal Reserve. The fraudster contacts the victim, mentions that there is a problem, and asks to confirm their Social Security Number.


A spear-phishing attack is an attempt to acquire sensitive information or access a computer system by sending a message that looks legitimate but is not. Spear phishing is a type of phishing campaign that targets a specific person or group and often will include information known to the target, such as current events or financial documents. Like other social engineering attacks, spear phishing takes advantage of your desire to be helpful. Typically, messages are delivered with an e-mail and are designed to convince the user to open a malicious link or attachment, exposing the victim to malicious software. The difference between phishing and spear phishing is primarily how the email is targeted. For example, phishing emails are sent to very large numbers of random recipients. With spear phishing, the attack is carefully designed for a specific individual to respond.




  • To learn more about identity theft fraud safety visit ID Theft Center.
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site to learn more.
  • If you believe your Social Security Number is being used fraudulently contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.
  • It’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report each year from each credit-reporting agency. You can get a free credit report yearly from the Annual Credit Report website at or by calling 1-877-322-8228 where you will go through a simple verification process over the phone. It is important that you obtain and review a copy of your credit report once a year to make sure your information is accurate.
  • For financial literacy, check out  Upgrade| our blog or our financial education page.
  • To file a complaint about a suspected fraudulent email, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at