March is considered Fraud Prevention Month and we wanted to share some tips on what to look for and how to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.
We all know that technology has made a lot of things simpler in life. We can instantly share pictures and messages with our family and friends. But it has also made the fraudster's life easier, they don’t even have to leave the house to persuade someone out of their hard-earned money.
Most of us have received them or heard about them – the email or phone call scam. There are many variations, such as the CRA fraud attempts, but some fraudsters have taken to make claims on behalf of large companies such as Bell Canada or banking institutions.
While the people and messages of the deception may change, our actions must remain the same. We are sharing a few tips to help you protect against falling prey to phone and internet fraud and phishing,
Phishing - the fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages pretending to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. They will often use the same company logo and branding.
Why they Work and What to Look For
Email scams work because they target our emotions – greed, shame, fear, anger – scam emails are heavily focused on triggering an emotional response that kicks you into action without really thinking about it. If you find yourself putting logic aside due to the context of an email then set that email aside and come back to it later when the surge of emotion has subsided.
They are loose on details. Sure, a scammer might obtain your email address (it’s not hard to do at all) – but they won’t have other information about you. If you find an e-mail light on personal details (such as your name, address or other identifiable information) then it could be another clue that what you have received is a scam email.
Language – remember when teachers used to tell us that spelling and grammar matter? Scammers didn’t learn this lesson and their language may be subpar with noticeable errors. Reputable companies, banks, and even the CRA will always proofread their communications material!
For best results use a checklist to see how many red flags an email triggers. For example, if an email checks the boxes of the three points described above then there is a greater chance that it is fraudulent.
Scams are about triggering us to react quickly and avoid the “or else/consequence” scenario – but they all have something in common – the transfer of money from your bank account to someone else.
5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Fraud
Tip #1 Only open and click links on emails from individuals you know. The email from
your bank or other trusted companies may look "legitimate", but be cautious
when they require you to link on a link, open an attachment, or require a sense
of urgency to provide personal information.
Tip #2 Use caution when giving your information online and over the phone, such as
your Driver's License number, Social Insurance Number, etc. If there are any
doubts in your mind about who you may be speaking with, hang up and call the
the number on the back of your bank or credit card to confirm.
Tip #3 Be sure to use a trusted, secure internet network when accessing your online
account. When shopping online, make sure you only use secure websites. A
quick way of knowing if you are connected to a secure website is if the URL
begins with https:// instead of http://.
Tip #4 Add an extra level of security by enabling two-step verification. It adds an extra
layer of protection, so you can be sure you're the only person who can access
your account - even if your password has been breached. Two-step verification
may require a code sent to you via text message or email. It may also include
security questions that only you would know the answer to, etc.
Tip #5 Temporarily lock and unlock your credit or debit card if you misplace it or see
charges that you did not make. If you do not know how to "lock" your card on
your bank's website or phone app, contact your bank's fraud department right
Fraudsters continue to target those who may be vulnerable to sharing their personal information. Remember to check in on elderly friends and family members to help build awareness of fraud and share strategies to help them safeguard their personal information.
For more information on cyber security, visit Get Cycber Safe, a national campaign created to teach Canadians on how to keep their information from being compromised.
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