Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
Unfortunately, at this time of year (although it is in no way limited to the holiday season) scams emails are ubiquitous. Really, the only prevention for them is education so here are some tips to arm you and your loved ones with.
Computer scams, also known as "phishing" can be distributed via text, emails and websites. They are designed to look like they come from trusted sources.
The first thing to be aware of is that thanks to Google, anyone has access to company logos that they can slap on a website or email. Anyone can create an email address that looks vaguely legitimate, but they also rely on the fact that most people don't pay attention to the actual email address itself, just the name.
So there is your first tip: pay attention to the actual email address. For example, an email from the government of Canada will not come from a hotmail or gmail account, it will come from an address tagged with @gov.gc.ca or something similar depending on the department.
The aim of these scams is to collect financial or personal information or send money and they would get you to do so by impersonating a legitimate company or organization (also called brand spoofing).
The content is designed to elicit an emotional or immediate response from you. They often use terminology like, "your account will be deactivated" or "i have an urgent proposition for you" or "an update to your payment info is urgently required".
The information you give can be used to access or open bank accounts, apply for various forms or credit, sending and / or will access your contacts lists to run the scam posing as you and even identity theft.
There are over 156 million phishing scams sent out on a daily basis. If you come across one:
1. Do not click any links or provide personal/financial information.
2. Flag the email as phishing to your email service provider
3. Depending on the nature of the scam, you can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
4. If for any reason you feel your personal or financial information has been compromised, contact the RCMP.
You can find more detailed information about scams and prevention on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
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