Yes, you read that right. Fraud is not new and is something that’s been around for a long time – we all know a family member, friend or co-worker who has fallen victim to a scam. We all think “it will never happen to me” but it’s easier than you think to fall for a fraudster. Let’s take a look at how it can happen.
With ever-growing technology, we’re seeing an increase in the number of scams out there and between 2014-2016, it’s estimated Canadians lost over $290 million to fraudsters. Scams and fraud can originate through a variety of different channels including phone, email and social media, and some of the top scams include romance scams, income tax extortion scams and phishing.
Here are a few tips on how to protect your information and detect one of the scams out there:
Caught in a bad romance
Gone are the days of having to go to the bar or local hangout to meet that special someone. With the growth of technology, many relationships nowadays are starting online.
Unfortunately, this has also caused an increase in romance scams and, in 2018, Canadians lost more than $22.5 million to this type of scam. That’s a lot of money that could have paid for heartbreak chocolate and ice cream.
A romance scams usually starts with a fake profile on an online dating site or social network and the scammer pretends to be someone they’re not by using a fake name, photos, etc. The scammer will build a fake relationship with you over a short period of time and often professes their love for you early on. Just as the ‘relationship’ is getting ‘serious’, your new bae will have a financial emergency such as a health issue or wants to visit you in person and needs you to send money. After you’ve sent the money, they’ll continue to ask for more… and more… or they’ll stop communicating with you altogether.
Don’t let love blind you and use these tips to protect your money and your heart.
- Look at the photo – does it look real? Many scammers use photos from the web for their profiles. Check to see if the photo is real, not stolen, by doing a reverse image lookup.
- If the person can never video chat or keeps finding excuses not to meet up, it’s probably because they aren’t who they say they are. This is called “catfishing”.
- Never… ever… under any circumstances send them money for any reason, especially if you have never met them in person.
Congradulations! Your our sweapstakes winner!
Phishing is a common type of fraud that often comes in the form of a prize, threats such as your bank account being locked and you must take immediate action to open it, or a refund due to an overpayment on your account. Scammers will use a variety of channels including phone & text, email and fake websites.
Don’t take the bait and follow these tips to recognize when you’re being phished:
- Most scam emails and texts contain spelling errors, bad grammar or altered logos. At first glance, it may look real, but upon further inspection something may be wrong like the sub-heading above. Did you notice the spelling errors in our heading or did you have to scroll back up for a second glance?
- Check the link before clicking on it by holding your cursor over link to display the full URL. If it looks suspicious, it probably is. Instead, contact the company directly or visit its website to confirm if any actions are required from you.
- Beware of urgent or threatening language. Causing a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic in order to draw an impulsive decision from you.
No one cares that your first cat’s name was Fluffy
Raise your hand if you’ve seen a quiz or survey filled out by one of your friends pop up in your social media feed. Now raise your hand again if you’ve ever done one of these quizzes or surveys and shared with your followers.
I’m also guilty.
With social media, we’re seeing more than ever people sharing information about themselves online. Yes, it may be fun to reminisce on your past and share all the things you love such as the name of your first pet or the make of your first car, but you know who also loves this information… scammers!
Sharing this info can be a goldmine for hackers and fraudsters as it helps them build their knowledge of information about you even more. A lot of the time, we also choose security questions for our different accounts related to the answers of these questions, putting us at further risk of being hacked. This also allows fraudsters to build a profile around you so that they can confidently walk into a bank and pretend to be you.
Reduce the risk and stop oversharing information about yourself on social media as well as:
- Choose security questions and answers that can’t easily be guessed. Your mother’s maiden name may be an easy one for you to remember, but it’s also an easy one for fraudsters to google.
- Don’t share photos of your personal and financial information such as your driver’s license or new credit card.
- If going away on vacation, don’t share details on social media before you go or while you’re there. Doing so is equivalent to saying “I’m not home right now, please feel free to come break in and steal my stuff, especially the new TV I just posted on Instagram.”
- Make your accounts and posts private so that only those you know and trust can see what you’re up to. Don’t be afraid to prune the friend-tree every once and a while. If you don’t know what someone has been up to in a while, you also have no idea if their account has been hacked.
The sophistication of fraudsters is increasing and as organizations raise the bar on security, fraudsters up their tactics to try and trick us into giving them information and our money. For more information about protecting yourself from fraud and to learn about different scams out there, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/finance/fraud.html
Ever fallen victim to a fraudster or know someone who has? Comment below with how they tricked you to save someone else!
Born & raised Regina city girl whose been married for 10 years and a Mom to two busy, busy girls, one of which is a teenager (yelp!). Prefer experiences over things, but realize experiences need a lot more planning. Started budgeting & tracking our family’s spending and wishing I would have done sooner; still can’t give up my daily coffee purchase though.