Responding to an unsolicited email that appears to be from a person you know, a known business or what appears to be a legitimate financial institution, could cost you.
‘Sophisticated computer spywares and viruses are helping scammers acquire peoples’ personal and financial information for financial gain, to obtain goods or services, or to fund other criminal activities,’ says Cpl. Christian Hochhold of Nova Scotia RCMP’s technological crime unit.
The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC) says 56% of the total reported $57,000,000 Canadian consumers lost due to fraud were solicited through email and the internet scams. CAFC 2013 figures indicate that there was a 23% increase from the previous year in reports of email phishing.
Phishing emails are designed to trick the victim into thinking they are dealing with someone they know such as financial institutions, delivery agencies and or even government institutions. The victim receives a fraudulent email that infects their computer with malware enabling the scammer to capture the victim’s personal and financial information.
‘Spear phishing’ emails ask the intended victim to click on a link which will download spyware onto the victim’s computer that will retrieve personal or sensitive data. Some spear phishing emails trick the victim into updating their username and password giving the scammer access to secured networks or databases.
Cpl. Hochhold urges people to be wary of any email or text message containing urgent requests for personal or financial information. He recommends using encryption when emailing personal or financial information and avoiding embedded links in an e-mail claiming to go to a secure site.
‘Trust your sixth sense,’ advises Cpl. Hochhold. ‘If you question an email’s authenticity, call the sender (i.e. your bank) to verify they actually sent it. Being cautious is the first step to securing your online safety’.
For more information about email fraud, and ways you can protect yourself, please visit the fraud section of the RCMP’s website: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/phishing-eng.htm. If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca