While fraud is an ever-present threat, during the pandemic there have been more opportunities than ever for fraudsters to take advantage of innocent, trusting people. Fraud can be a life-altering tragedy and Canadians fall victim to it every year. It can be difficult to know exactly what tactics a fraudster will use to gain access to your accounts or information without proper research. That’s why we’re here to share some red flags to look for, and tips to help you protect yourself and your family from the efforts of fraudsters everywhere.
Here are some red flags to keep an eye out for:
Phone calls and social media:
The phone and social media are major ways that scammers will get your information. Fraudsters will use clever tactics to try to learn your personal information. Take for example, those quizzes passed around Facebook that ask you for very specific information, they may seem like they’re just for fun, but they often give out information used for password recovery.
Take this for example: Your sports nickname is the school you went to plus your pet’s name. You may put JDSS Buster not thinking twice, but now the fraudster has your full name (via Facebook) as well as your school and pet’s name. That’s potentially enough information to answer several secret questions for password recovery.
Fraudsters may also call you pretending to be from a government organization, such as the CRA, to elicit a sense of panic. If you do receive one of these calls, do not provide them with any information. Obtain the contact information for the government agency from a credible source and reach out to them yourself. This will ensure that you’re speaking to the correct authorities and help you stay safe. Remember, remain calm and just keep in mind these scams are very common, and that’s far more likely what you’re dealing with than an actual issue.
Another major avenue of attack is through text messages. Many modern criminals will attempt fraud through a series of clever text messages designed to seem as though they’re from a corporation that you trust. When you receive a text message you weren’t expecting, do not click on any links or respond to it.
Taking a moment to stop and calm down can be key in these situations, a lot of scam texts are worded urgently to encourage you to act fast and make a mistake. By taking some time to calm down it will become more obvious that the text is likely not legitimate. This may be your chance to reach out to the company via phone or email (found on their website, not the text) and ask them if they did indeed contact you.
Be cautious around emails as well. This is another route the fraudsters will take to attempt to get your important information. A common tactic is to disguise an email to appear as though it’s from someone you would be willing to share information with. Hidden within this email will be a link that will take you to a fake site set up by the fraudsters to take your information.
Another possibility is that the email will contain a virus of some kind that can compromise the security of your device. It’s best to exercise caution where emails are concerned. The safer course of action is to avoid clicking on links in emails unless you’re certain of the source. Rather than clicking a link you can manually navigate to the desired webpage to ensure you’re in the right place.
At this point I’m sure we all know of someone who has been a victim of these scams, they feel more common than ever as we increasingly do more and more of our business online. The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Fraud prevention month is over, but it’s never a bad time to educate yourself, and we encourage you to do your research and keep yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.