Fraud a growing concern during COVID-19

Young adult woman using laptop at home
While the technology we use for day-to-day banking continues to advance, fraudsters are perfecting their methods to get your money. Scams are becoming so sophisticated that they are increasingly difficult to detect.

(NC) While the technology we use for day-to-day banking continues to advance, fraudsters are perfecting their methods to get your money. Scams are becoming so sophisticated that they are increasingly difficult to detect.

Fraudsters often pose as collection agencies or financial service companies offering loans, debt consolidation and other services. Scams include unsolicited texts, emails and calls requesting urgent action or payment. They may seem to come from a financial institution, but be wary of this type of request because financial institutions will never ask for personal information, login credentials or account information by email or text.

Unless you have contacted your financial institution, you cannot be certain that a call, email or text you receive is really from your financial institution. If you are concerned, contact your financial institution. And to protect yourself, make sure you never provide your personal or financial information by email or text.

Also, do not click on any links or attachments in unsolicited texts and emails. It is always best to enter your financial institution’s website into your browser yourself.

What to do if you fall victim to financial fraud

If you are a victim of a scam, it is important to immediately inform your bank and credit card companies, if appropriate, to see whether any accounts have been opened in your name or whether your existing accounts have been tampered with. If at any time your accounts or credit cards have been compromised, change your password.

By reporting the fraud, you will save other consumers. It is important to report the incident to the local police. You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or fill out an online report.

Learn more about identity theft, types of fraud and other threats and scams at canada.ca/money.

Watch for pandemic cyber scammers targeting Canadians

(NC) Many of us are spending a lot more time online as we adopt new ways of tackling everyday tasks – be it working, staying connected, shopping or banking. Amid a general rise in fraud and cybercrimes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, RBC Direct Investing offers a few simple guidelines to help you stay safe.

Be aware of unsolicited calls, emails and texts

Emails or texts can sometimes appear to be from a legitimate source, but contain infected attachments or malicious links. Some red flags are threatening or urgent tones, spelling errors, unknown senders or callers.

Tip: Keep your computer anti-virus and anti-malware programs up to date to help keep files from being corrupted or lost due to a virus.

Watch out for fake websites

Fake websites can spread misinformation or attempt to scam individuals. Red flags to be on the lookout for include spelling errors in web addresses or a missing security symbol in the address bar.

Tips: Look for a lock symbol or an “s” at the end of the “http” in the address bar, which can confirm a site’s security. Don’t enter login information or credit card details unless you are certain a site is legitimate.

Use strong, unique passwords

Strong passwords can help ensure you’re protecting your devices and information. Avoid using the same password for multiple applications or services, and don’t opt for obvious passwords like family or pet names, birthdays and street names.

Tips: Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters with a minimum of eight characters, change passwords regularly and create a new password for every application or service you use.

Keep software and browsers up to date

The operating systems on your devices have built-in security features, but they need to be kept up to date to help avoid breaches of your personal information. The browser you use to search the internet also has its own security settings and requires updating. Though they may be bothersome, don’t ignore prompts to update your operating system or browser.

Tip: Consider enabling automatic updates or try setting a reminder to update your device when you won’t be using it.

Protecting yourself from fraud during COVID-19

(NC) Safeguarding against scams can be a challenge. This is especially true during difficult periods like we are experiencing now. The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainty and worry – the very things that fraudsters thrive on.

Scams can include phone calls, emails and texts that seem to be from financial institutions asking for personal or financial information. If you receive this kind of request, be cautious. Financial institutions will never ask for personal information, login credentials or account information by email or text message.

If you are suspicious about information you receive related to your banking, contact the financial institution directly before taking any action.

Here are a few more tips to help you be vigilant during this unprecedented time:

  • Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails.
  • Never give out your personal or financial information by email or text.
  • When banking online, enter your financial institution’s website address in your browser yourself.
  • Beware of questionable offers related to relief measures or quick fixes. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

In the unfortunate event that you do experience financial fraud, it’s important to inform your financial institution immediately. You should also report the incident to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling its toll-free line at 1-888-495-8501 or completing an online report.

Find more information on identity theft, types of fraud, and other threats or scams at canada.ca/money.