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Cyber Scams to Watch Out For

By Hannah Logan

We rely on the internet for a lot these days. Everything from research to banking to learning and keeping in touch with friends and family. We meet people online, share photos online, and work online. However, as incredible as the internet can be it’s more important than ever to proceed with caution due to the amount of fraud that’s out there. Here are some cyber scams to watch out for. 

Popular types of cyber scams

Cyber scams have evolved over the years and thieves are getting smarter. It’s important to keep up to date about what types of fraud are being implemented so you can avoid them.

Internet scams 

You know that saying ‘don’t believe everything you read on the internet?’ There’s a reason for it. The fact is that anyone can create a website which means there are lots of fake ones and scams out there. Typical internet scams include:

  • High paying job offers
  • Easy/fast debt relief
  • Easy/fast immigration services
  • Love/companionship that asks for money

Obvious red flags here are the requests for money. You should never have to pay to apply for a job and you shouldn’t be sending money to someone you have never met before. Similarly, anything that seems too easy should be a warning. If you come across something that seems off, do your due diligence. Research the company, look for reviews, and check their URL for HTTPS- this means it’s a secure site. Also- just trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. 

Email scams

Email scams are also quite common and some of them can be very deceptive. We all know by now that a Prince from Kenya doesn’t really want to send us several million dollars. However, if we receive an email that looks like it’s come from our bank, a company we know and shop with, or even a friend it’s easier to get tricked.

Typically, these emails include a link that will take you to a webpage asking for personal details such as banking information, your SIN number, etc. If you open the email and it seems a bit off- don’t click those links. If you are concerned that it might be valid, call the official number for the business and follow up that way. 

Phone call scams

Phone scams work very similarly to email scams. Someone calls you pretending to be a business you have used, your bank, or even a government agency. These types of scams tend to be very forceful and aggressive and use fear tactics in an effort to get you to share your personal information with them. Again, your best bet is to hang up and call the official number back yourself and inquire about the validity of the call.

Text message scams

Text message scams often tell us that something has been compromised and we need to click on the link below to verify and protect our accounts. Typically, even if they seem legit, we know that they are scams as businesses will rarely text you unless they tell you they will. For example, to text you a verification code when you try to sign in online. Once again, if you aren’t sure if it is legitimate or not, call the official number. 

Identity theft

Not all scams are blatantly out for your cash. A lot of these scams are conducted with the goal of getting your personal information so they can steal your identity. With the right information, scammers can open credit cards in your name and make fraudulent purchases. Again, be careful with the information you share and who you share it with. You should be 100% sure that the individual you are speaking with is actually with the bank or your service provider etc. 

How to protect yourself from cyber scams

Many scams are quite obvious when you take the time to think about it and know what to look for. So keep calm when you get these aggressive calls and emails and think it through. Does the number that called you match the number of the business? Does the email address look right or is it coming from a generic Gmail address? Look for the warning signs.

On a day to day basis, you should do everything possible to keep your personal and financial information safe. Don’t share your SIN number around- keep that card tucked away and not visible. Change your passwords for online banking regularly and choose obscure ones that aren’t easy to guess. The harder you can make it for potential scammers to get a hold of your information, the better protected you are.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your banking. Read through your statements, pay attention to any charges and if something looks off, flag it right away. 

How to report a scam

If you have been contacted by a scammer, you can report it online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre here.

If you are a victim of a scam then take the time to gather your thoughts and all information about the fraud that occurred. Receipts, screenshots of emails or text messages, anything that was linked to the incident. You also need to get in touch with all financial institutions and have them flag your accounts as well as credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion). Next step is to go to the police and report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. 

Getting this back in order after your information has been compromised can be a pain, so try to protect your information as best you can moving forward.

Hannah Logan is a freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. She specializes in finance and travel writing and has bylines at Greedy Rates, Young and Thrifty, Fodor's Travel, O Magazine, and more. She also runs two travel blogs, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel and Ireland Stole My Heart. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @hannahlogan21