Scams, like everything else, have moved into the digital age.
While the Nigerian prince email may have become more of a punchline than a threat these days, scammers are inventing new ways to try and steal your information almost daily.
Every Canadian, no matter their age, income, or education, has the potential to fall victim to a scam. The Competition Bureau says that between 2014 and 2017, Canadians lost over $405 million to scammers; with $94 million of that being from Canadians aged 60 to 79.
The best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim is by being aware of popular scams, and how to avoid them.
SMS phishing, or “Smishing”, is one of the latest techniques scammers are using to try and steal your personal information.
Smishing scams are like phishing emails, where a scammer pretends to be a trustworthy institution and tries to get you to send personal information, except sent through text message.
One popular scam is to send a fake text, saying that there is a problem with one of your accounts, usually a bank or mobile phone account. The text urges you to call the number included, to sort out the problem as soon as possible.
If you respond to the message, the scammer may attempt to gain further information from you, which could be used to access your accounts, or even steal from you.
The best way to avoid this scam is not engaging suspicious messages, according to Margo Gilman, Consumer Reports money editor.
“Never click on a link in an email or text without first confirming that it’s from someone you trust.” Gilman told CTV News Vancouver. “And if you get a phone call from someone asking for information and it sounds even remotely fishy, hang up.”
Shimmers are a new form of credit card skimmers. These devices are smaller and even more difficult to detect – and they’re popping up all across Canada.
These thin, card-sized devices are installed into ATMs or gas pump card readers by scammers, and allow them to read and record data from even chip-embedded bank cards.
The Better Business Bureau warns that unlike the older, bulkier credit card skimmers, the new shimmer devices fit directly inside a card reader, and can be quickly and discreetly installed.
They recommend using the contactless tap feature on your cards, and use safe, secure ATMs if you can.
“ATMs installed at a bank tend to be a lot safer than the kind you might find at a convenience store – which can be so much more easily tampered with.” Gilman said.
Tech-support fraud is a scam where malware is used to freeze your computer, and show you a pop-up that tells you to immediately call a number for tech support.
These messages may claim to be from your antivirus software, your internet browser, or your device manufacturer, but will connect you to a scammer if you try to call the number.
The fraudster may try to charge you money to have the device fixed, or may even ask you to allow remote access so they can try to solve the problem.
To stay safe, The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recommends you don’t click on any suspicious pop-ups, be careful to only allow downloads from trusted websites, and never give anyone you don’t know or absolutely trust remote access to your devices.
Story: CTV News