Scams cost honest Canadians over $100 million in losses every year, according to the Better Business Bureau. They are getting more sophisticated and convincing with sleek digital interfaces, impeccable use of language (and psychology) by email, text and voice communication and by having just enough information about you, that it feels legitimate. Suffice it to say, you need to be more vigilant than ever to protect yourself and your finances.
If you’re suspicious of the legitimacy of an email, text, phone call or piece of mail, perform the “S-C-A-M” check.
S — Do I recognize the sender’s (email) address or phone number?
Tip: An unrecognized (email) address or phone number could be a fraudster in disguise. Check it against your list of saved contacts. All legitimate organizations will have a corporate information email address, and an address and phone number for their headquarters, that you can cross reference against their website.
C — Have they asked for my confidential details?
Tip: Legitimate organizations will NEVER ask you to share your private information through email, by text, phone or mail. Instead, they will notify you to log into your secure account and update your details on their protected site. Alternatively, they will have you visit a physical location and have you present proof of your identity, before discussing any confidential details.
A — Is the communication specifically addressed to me?
Tip: Fraudsters generally won’t take the time to customize their scam emails, texts, phone calls or pieces of mail. You’ll find many of them generally addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam,” “To Whom it May Concern,” or simply “Hello.”
M — Are there mistakes within the message?
Tip: Many phishing emails, which are another way to say email scamming, and texts, have grammar and spelling errors throughout their messages. According to Cisco, this has much to do with using internet translation services like Google Translate, which are far from fool-proof. For example, if the fraudster is located in Russia and only speaks Russian, they will quickly translate their language using an internet translation service, rather than paying for a professional translation service. Similar principles apply for telephone and mail scams.
Close the loop
If you think you’ve been scammed, contact the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre about the incident, which will help prevent further incidents.
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