HACKS AND SCAMS – CONSUMERS BEWARE!

Media reports regarding financial crimes are so frequent now; I’m concerned that we are at risk of tuning them out. During a recent conversation about thefts, scams and frauds, I was reminded that not so long ago, people left their back doors unlocked for friends and family to have access. No one does that anymore!  And pickpocketing is out of fashion too. There are easier ways for a thief to scam our money.

The other night my friend’s son called her in a panic. Someone had hacked his bank account for a second time! A phony text was sent to a friend in the guise of an e-transfer. His friend clicked on the link and the thief was in! He was a victim of “Spoofing”. Her son’s account was frozen and he was worried about his car insurance payment. The bank had changed his account number after the first breech, and he had changed his usernames and passwords on accounts and emails. He was advised to call the police, who after several days, determined that his Wi-Fi account at home had likely been hacked. They are still investigating, but it was an eye opener for her family to remember to change passwords on everything, often. But passwords are like a back door; it’s important to keep them locked, however there are many other steps we can take to stay safe.

If you want to know more about “spoofing”, and other fraud terms, visit the RCMP managed Canadian Antifraud Center website. This website is updated regularly and I learn new things every time I visit. Have you heard of a “continuity scam”? Neither had I, but once I read about it, I knew I had been tempted by this particular advertising scam many times. Giving fraud a name and understanding how it works, somehow makes it easier to stay alert and recognize potential threats lurking online.

To learn more about online safety, I decided to take their new fight spam quiz. It’s very short, only 5 questions, and much to my surprise; I got two of them wrong! I learned that I have a lot to learn about protecting my personal information whether I am at home, or mobile. And so, I was really excited to see a new link to a “Mobile Protection Toolbox” at fightspam.gc.ca. Here I learned new tips for password safety, cloud computing, digital wallets and so much more. One tip I will consider is coding an easy to remember phrase such as “there are 12 months in one year” for a password; and mixing it up with capitals and numbers. I also learned that there always seems to be a new or trending scam. We should be alert to the season. For example we may be moving out of sunny “vacation frauds” and into “tax fraud” scams. Canada Revenue Agency has lots information on how they do and do not communicate with taxpayers, so use caution and contact them directly if you are unsure. 

Fraud and scams come in so many forms and from every direction. Emails, texts, advertising, at your door soliciting, telephone calls hacking and the list goes on. There seems to be so much to learn about keeping finances safe and it can feel overwhelming. Credit Counselling offers these basic, easy reminders that can go a long way to keeping your finances safe.

  • Do not conduct business with anyone you did not contact first.
  • Do not open the door to anyone you do not know.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, you’re probably right!
  • Follow safety instructions offered by your bank for accounts, debit and credit card use
  • Keep receipts, and check your account activities monthly for inaccuracies
  • Request a free copy of your credit report to check for inaccuracies once a year

Finally, please remember that risks to our personal information and our safety are ever changing with technology. Visit government websites often to learn more, and stay up to date, keeping you, your family and your finances safe.

Media reports regarding financial crimes are so frequent now; I’m concerned that we are at risk of tuning them out. During a recent conversation about thefts, scams and frauds, I was reminded that not so long ago, people left their back doors unlocked for friends and family to have access. No one does that anymore!  And pickpocketing is out of fashion too. There are easier ways for a thief to scam our money.

The other night my friend’s son called her in a panic. Someone had hacked his bank account for a second time! A phony text was sent to a friend in the guise of an e-transfer. His friend clicked on the link and the thief was in! He was a victim of “Spoofing”. Her son’s account was frozen and he was worried about his car insurance payment. The bank had changed his account number after the first breech, and he had changed his usernames and passwords on accounts and emails. He was advised to call the police, who after several days, determined that his Wi-Fi account at home had likely been hacked. They are still investigating, but it was an eye opener for her family to remember to change passwords on everything, often. But passwords are like a back door; it’s important to keep them locked, however there are many other steps we can take to stay safe.

If you want to know more about “spoofing”, and other fraud terms, visit the RCMP managed Canadian Antifraud Center website. This website is updated regularly and I learn new things every time I visit. Have you heard of a “continuity scam”? Neither had I, but once I read about it, I knew I had been tempted by this particular advertising scam many times. Giving fraud a name and understanding how it works, somehow makes it easier to stay alert and recognize potential threats lurking online.

To learn more about online safety, I decided to take their new fight spam quiz. It’s very short, only 5 questions, and much to my surprise; I got two of them wrong! I learned that I have a lot to learn about protecting my personal information whether I am at home, or mobile. And so, I was really excited to see a new link to a “Mobile Protection Toolbox” at fightspam.gc.ca. Here I learned new tips for password safety, cloud computing, digital wallets and so much more. One tip I will consider is coding an easy to remember phrase such as “there are 12 months in one year” for a password; and mixing it up with capitals and numbers. I also learned that there always seems to be a new or trending scam. We should be alert to the season. For example we may be moving out of sunny “vacation frauds” and into “tax fraud” scams. Canada Revenue Agency has lots information on how they do and do not communicate with taxpayers, so use caution and contact them directly if you are unsure. 

Fraud and scams come in so many forms and from every direction. Emails, texts, advertising, at your door soliciting, telephone calls hacking and the list goes on. There seems to be so much to learn about keeping finances safe and it can feel overwhelming. Credit Counselling offers these basic, easy reminders that can go a long way to keeping your finances safe.

  • Do not conduct business with anyone you did not contact first.
  • Do not open the door to anyone you do not know.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, you’re probably right!
  • Follow safety instructions offered by your bank for accounts, debit and credit card use
  • Keep receipts, and check your account activities monthly for inaccuracies
  • Request a free copy of your credit report to check for inaccuracies once a year

Finally, please remember that risks to our personal information and our safety are ever changing with technology. Visit government websites often to learn more, and stay up to date, keeping you, your family and your finances safe.