The threat of scams is not new… snake oil sales­man and con artists have been around since bib­li­cal times. The chal­lenge is how to stay one step ahead of the lat­est great­est con, the cyber scam.
The advent of the inter­net and social media has cre­at­ed a vast play­ground for many crim­i­nals. How­ev­er, this new play­ground is much more dif­fi­cult to police, and enforce safe­ty mea­sures. In today’s world, we are often left to our own resources to pro­tect our­selves.
In recent times we have seen online scams become much more cre­ative. Thieves seem to man­age new tech­nol­o­gy very well. Here are a few things to watch for.
Phish­ing scams: In this type of case the fraud­ster will attempt to trick you via an email, text or social media post by imper­son­at­ing a legit­i­mate orga­ni­za­tion, like a bank, where you may have deal­ings. They want you to click a link to a site that looks legit­i­mate but is just a trick to get you to reveal your login infor­ma­tion to your actu­al account.
The Niger­ian Scam: You will receive an emo­tion­al email, text mes­sage or social net­work­ing mes­sage com­ing from a scam­mer (which can appear to be an offi­cial gov­ern­ment mem­ber, a busi­ness­man or a mem­ber of a wealthy fam­i­ly, often a woman) who asks you to give help in retriev­ing a large sum of mon­ey from a bank. They attempt to con­vince you to ini­tial­ly pay small fees for papers and legal mat­ters. In exchange for your help, they promise you a very large sum of mon­ey. Of course this is just the begin­ning to extort more and more mon­ey from you. Some extreme cas­es have result­ed in kid­nap­ping.
Elec­tron­ic Greet­ing Card Scam: In this case you will receive what appears to be an inno­cent greet­ing e‑card from a friend in your email inbox. When you take the bait and click the link to view the card, you are instead down­load­ing mali­cious ran­som-ware or mal­ware onto your com­put­er. In this unfor­tu­nate event, your com­put­er will start send­ing pri­vate data and finan­cial infor­ma­tion to a fraud­u­lent serv­er con­trolled by IT crim­i­nals.
Guar­an­teed Cred­it Card or Bank Loan offers: You will receive an email or social media offer for a “guar­an­teed cred­it card or bank loan” with great terms. All you have to do is con­firm your inter­est and pay a “small” pro­cess­ing fee. This is at best an attempt to get a small amount of mon­ey from many peo­ple, at worst it con­vinces you to pro­vide them with your cred­it card infor­ma­tion.
Cana­da Rev­enue Agency Scams: The CRA scams can take var­i­ous forms. In some cas­es, they prey on those wait­ing for refunds and ask you for your bank­ing infor­ma­tion to use as direct deposit. In oth­er cas­es threat­en­ing calls or emails are sent demand­ing imme­di­ate pay­ment of sup­posed over­due tax­es due to a reassess­ment. Of course, this is untrue but play­ing on peo­ples’ fears of the tax­man, the demands can be to pay imme­di­ate­ly by cred­it card, e‑transfer, mon­ey wires, even bit­coin!
These are only a few exam­ples of a con­stant­ly evolv­ing cyber threat we all face. Our chal­lenge is to stay one step ahead of the con artists. How do you do that? Here are a few flags to watch for:
1. Scam­mers gen­er­al­ly want you to take IMMEDIATE action. Watch for key­words such as “late penal­ty” or “lim­it­ed time offer” or “only 3 spots left”. If it’s a legit­i­mate offer you will have time to ver­i­fy it. Don’t get pushed into irra­tional or quick deci­sions. NO legit­i­mate gov­ern­ment or finan­cial insti­tu­tion will behave in this man­ner. ALWAYS take the time to ver­i­fy. If in doubt…check it out.
2. Avoid sus­pi­cious web­sites. If the site seems of poor qual­i­ty or has mul­ti­ple pop-ups, these are flags it may not be a legit­i­mate site. Avoid click­ing on a pop-up or link in social media to get to your favourite retail­ers’ site. Clear your brows­er, and enter the web­site address in your­self. Keep your com­put­er soft­ware and anti-virus pro­tec­tion up to date.
3. Your mobile phone is con­ve­nient but lacks many of the secu­ri­ty fea­tures of a com­put­er such as virus pro­tec­tions etc. Avoid enter­ing your finan­cial infor­ma­tion into a web­site you accessed using your phone. If it’s a major retail­er you are more secure down­load­ing their App, which will have more secu­ri­ty fea­tures. Avoid doing finan­cial trans­ac­tions on pub­lic Wifi. It’s not secure
4. No trans­ac­tion should require you to pro­vide your Social Insur­ance Num­ber or Driver’s License Num­ber. If a site is ask­ing for this info, it’s a huge flag it’s fraud­u­lent, Stop imme­di­ate­ly. And at the end of the month always check your cred­it card and bank state­ments for any unusu­al activ­i­ty.
5. Don’t friend or accept strangers friend requests on social media, If some­body you have already friend­ed sends anoth­er request, they have like­ly been hacked, DON’T accept. Peri­od­i­cal­ly check your pri­va­cy set­tings. Social media sites rou­tine­ly do updates and make changes. Take the time to con­trol who has access to the infor­ma­tion you post. And use restraint on social media, avoid includ­ing your home address and any per­son­al infor­ma­tion that could allow a fraud­ster to steal your iden­ti­ty.
The biggest key to avoid­ing becom­ing a vic­tim is to stay informed and vig­i­lant. It’s when we let our guard down that the fraud­sters win. If you have more vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in your cir­cle, like chil­dren or elder­ly rel­a­tives or neigh­bours that may be more like­ly vic­tims. Take the time to dis­cuss some basic online safe­ty tips with them. If we all work togeth­er we can keep the fraud­sters at bay.

Share us On:-
Allan Baum
Security Industry veteran with over 30+ years in the industry. Founded family owned and operated Protection Plus in 1994 with his wife and has overseen its growth since. In addition to working with his wife and son, Allan has assigned the role of Chief Canine Officer to his trusted dog Waub, who joins him at the office every day.