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What are phishing scams?

Canadians were scammed to the tune of $2 billion in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau of Canada.

There are many scams out there that pull money right out of the pockets of consumers but many are phishing scams and unfortunately a lot of people are falling for it.

What are phishing scams?

Phishing scams are essentially email, text and website scams that lure people into responding with personal and confidential information.

Sometimes people are lured to click on a link or open an attachment. Once they do, usually a virus or spyware embeds itself that gets the person’s passwords and other personal information.

How do phishing scams work?

A person will get an email or text message of an “urgent” nature to trigger a fast reaction from the person targeted.

Often people are contacted and are asked for information through one of the popular catch phrases the phishing scam is known for.

It’s important to know that these phishing communications make themselves look legitimate by replicating emails and websites of legitimate existing businesses, government agencies and other websites.

These emails will almost always ask you for personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, social insurance numbers, and passwords. The criminals involved in these phishing scams will use that information to commit fraud.

These emails or text message are almost always unsolicited so be wary when you get a message from your bank, financial institution or the government asking you for personal information. Usually such institutions will not ask for personal information over email. It’s usually a good idea to call them and ask if you have been sent an email.

Warning signs

It’s also important to look out for the warning signs of phishing emails:

  • The person emailed is asked to provide personal information;
  • Words are misspelled and/or grammar is incorrect;
  • There are attachments included;
  • The email or text is unsolicited; and
  • You recognize a catch phrase within the email.

What are some catch phrases of phishing scams?

  • E-mail Money Transfer Alert: Please verify this payment information below;
  • It has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous efforts to protect your account and reduce instances of fraud;
  • Dear Online Account Holder, Access To Your Account Is Currently Unavailable;
  • Important Service Announcement from…, You have 1 unread Security Message!; and
  • We regret to inform you that we had to lock your bank account access. Call (telephone number) to restore your bank account.

What do I do if I’m the target of a phishing scam?

The first thing to do is actually to do nothing. Do not respond and definitely do not click on any attachments or links that are found in the email.

The second step is to report this suspicious email to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

What do I do if I have gotten an email and I responded to it or clicked on the attachment/link and gave them my personal information?

Immediately contact your bank/financial institution and/or credit card company, if applicable.

After that contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts put on your account. The phone numbers for the credit card bureau’s are:

  • For Equifax Canada: 1-800-465-7166; and
  • For TransUnion Canada: 1-877-525-3823.

You may also want to call your local police station (especially if you have lost money to the scam) and definitely report this to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Read more:

E-mail Fraud / Phishing

Phishing Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Better Business Bureau