In times of uncertainty, fraudsters become increasingly opportunistic. With COVID-19 top of mind for everyone, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that fraudsters are taking advantage of the environment by ramping up attempts at phishing scams, which breach consumers’ data privacy by tricking them into revealing personal and financial information. This can take the form of email fraud, for example, where users are enticed into clicking on malicious links or making donations to phony charities and relief efforts.
The rise of COVID scams means it has never been more important to arm yourself with confidence, awareness, and the right information to help protect yourself and others from digital fraud. Here are some tips to protect yourself from falling victim to online scams:
STOP: Take a moment to stop, think and follow your instincts
Whether it’s a money transfer you weren’t expecting, or an email asking for your personal information, or a charity you haven’t heard of pressuring you to make a donation, you should be on the alert. Don’t feel pressured into taking action — a trusted organization will never rush you to respond right away.
SCRUTINIZE: Assess the situation and look for the telltale signs of a scam
Becoming aware of the techniques fraudsters frequently use — to compromise your data privacy, for example — could be your best defence. Make use of online resources including the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to stay up to date on scams and how to spot them.
For example, phishing scam emails often contain a sender’s email address that does not match the website of the organization it says it’s from. As well, public health officials and police have been warning Canadians that fraudsters posing as government agencies and not-for-profit organizations have been calling and texting to solicit funds.
SPEAK UP: Confirm the validity and report any concerns
If you suspect fraud, contact the sender of the communication through a different channel. If you’ve already provided sensitive information to a fraudster, you should immediately contact your bank or financial service provider through the number listed on their website or on the back of your payment card and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you think you’ve received a notification that is a scam designed to look like an Interac e-Transfer alert, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org so our fraud team can investigate it for you.
For information about the evolving COVID-19 situation visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.
*Check with your financial institution for details on how to report suspected fraud