Most of us have probably received at least one of those classic scam emails where you are asked to wire transfer funds to an off-shore location in order to unlock a large sum of money that is ‘frozen’ in a bank account overseas. Unfortunately, cyber fraudsters seem to be getting smarter and with more technology and businesses moving online, it is increasingly important to protect yourself from such fraudsters. In order to avoid being duped, you need to know what to look for.
What follows is a “Top 5” list of general e-safety do’s and don’ts:
1. DO be hyper vigilant when you receive an unsolicited or unexpected e-mail that asks for any personal information.
- These are usually related to financial accounts or other password protected accounts, but they could just as easily be trying to obtain your cell phone number.
- Beware of any email that claims that your account has been flagged as a result of “suspicious activity” or that your account will be shut down and then:
- requests your personal information (like your account name or password); or
- provides a link to a separate site. Where you can follow-up.
- This is known as “phishing” and the goal is to get you to divulge your personal information.
- These emails can often appear legitimate and may look familiar, containing trademarks, logos, and even legal jargon related to copyright to lull you into a sense of security.
2. DO NOT click any links in such emails. You may think you are acting to protect your account but you may in fact be volunteering your sensitive information to fraudsters.
- These links may redirect you to a clone site that is essentially a mirror copy of the legitimate site, but the account name and password sections are illegitimate and are used by fraudsters to obtain your information.
- If you have a genuine concern that your account or bank card may have been compromised:
- You should call the number on the card (do not call any numbers provided in the email or on the linked website, these may be fraudulent); or
- Use a legitimate search engine to bring up the authentic page, or better yet, enter the known address of the website directly into the address field of your browser (eg., www.bmo.com).
3. DO carefully check the sender’s email address in any unsolicited or unexpected e-mail.
- For example, you may receive a phishing email from [email protected], as opposed to [email protected] .
- These types of scams frequently target religious communities.
4. DO beware of emails that contain a lot of typos or grammatical errors, even though they are allegedly from your banking institution.
- This is often a good warning sign as scammers seem to have a tough time with basic spelling and grammar.
5. DO report phishing.
- If you have responded to a suspicious e-mail, report it to your financial institution directly using a legitimate telephone number.
- Additionally, report it to the RCMP at the following e-mail address [email protected] .
Frequently, the banking scams will try to prey on your initial sense of panic and fear that your account is currently being or already has been drained. The best response is to stay calm, think twice, and take the time to contact your financial institution directly.
*Note that much of the above information applies to unsolicited telephone calls as well. Beware of anyone who unexpectedly calls you and claims to be from your bank. The safest thing to do is end the call, locate the correct telephone number of your banking institution and call it directly.