It’s 2017, and over half of the world is connected to the internet, according to the BBC. With much of the globe being more connected than ever, it leaves room for cybercriminals and scam artists to steal your personal information. When an identity is stolen, it helps to facilitate organized crime and terrorist activities, and sadly, it appears to be a growing trend. According to the Government of Canada, in 2016 alone, online scams accounted for more than 20,000 complaints and more than $40 million in losses by Canadians.
You can rest easy knowing that SolidTrust Pay is committed to protecting your information, and we take data privacy and security seriously. SolidTrust Pay has compiled an informative article that outlines how you can protect yourself in the ever-growing world of cybercrime. You are more powerful than you think!
What exactly are cybercriminals looking for? According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), identity thieves tend to want your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Insurance [government identification] numbers
- Full address
- Mother’s maiden name
- Username and password for online services
- Diver’s license number
- Personal identification numbers (PIN)
- Credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the last three digits printed on the signature panel)
- Bank account numbers
- Passport number
What could a cybercriminal possibly do with your mother’s maiden name or an outdated passport that is lying in your car? More than you think! Thieves could:
- Access your bank accounts
- Open new bank accounts
- Transfer bank balances
- Apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services
- Make purchases
- Hide their criminal activities
- Obtain passports or receive government benefits
There are many ways scam artists will try to get your information. According to the RCMP, these are some of the growing trends they have found:
Fake Online Endorsements and Sponsored Content – The reviews and comments you see on social media and purchasing sites may not be real. The review comments are misleading and not the truth.
Astroturfing – No, not golf green. This term is similar to the above definition. It means the practice of creating content that masquerades as the authentic experiences and opinions of impartial consumers, such as fake consumer reviews and testimonials. This is often part of organized efforts by companies to boost their own ratings or to lower the ratings of their competitors.
Binary Options Scam – All or nothing “bets” are invested based on how an asset will perform within a certain timeframe. The asset could be a stock, a currency or a commodity. Websites are designed to attract users to trade binary options, by offering high rates of return and by claiming to be risk-free.
Subscription Traps – Subscription traps, sometimes also referred to as Continuity Scams, can take various forms. They can appear as an advertisement featured on your favorite social media site, a referral from a friend (on Facebook, for example), a fake “survey” that pops up on your computer while you’re online on another website, or from a telemarketer.
Spoofed websites – A spoofed website is a site that uses deceptive means to mislead consumers into thinking that it represents a specific business, financial institution, government or charity. These websites generally imitate the real websites to sell products or services that may or may not be authentic or to obtain sensitive financial or personal information from users.
Ransomware – Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer until a sum of money is paid. A computer can be infected by ransomware in a number of ways, but most commonly, victims click on a malicious link or attachment received through a phishing email.
Business Executive Scam – Sometimes referred to as the Business Email Compromise scam, this fraud starts when a potential victim receives an email that appears to come from an executive in their company who has the authority to request wire transfers. In some cases, the fraudsters create email addresses that mimic those of the CEO or CFO. In other cases, the fraudsters have compromised and subsequently used the email account belonging to the CEO or CFO. Losses to this scam typically range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Employment Scam – Scammers use online classified websites like Kijiji, Craigslist, Monster, Indeed, and Workopolis to recruit potential victims. The most common scams include Mystery Shopper and HR/Administrative jobs.
It may seem like a lot to take in, but you can do things to prevent your information from being stolen, such as:
- Monitor your credit score by contacting your credit bureau.
- Do not carry excessive amounts of documents on you or in your car. Only carry what is necessary.
- Shred/destroy all documents when you are finished with them. This is a classic way to gain information about you!
- Read user agreements carefully on any website that requires your personal details.
- If you are getting unsolicited emails asking for information, check the email address. Does it look legitimate? Have you heard of the person/business/company before? Be skeptical. Do your research about the email if you’re not sure!
- If you change your address, let your postal service know that you have done so, that way old mail can be forwarded to your new address.
- Be skeptical. If something seems like it’s too good to be true, or the little voice in your head is saying “hmmm, this doesn’t look/feel right”, don’t ignore it! Your intuition could save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.
Knowing about the issue is only part of the solution to protecting yourself. Despite your best efforts and diligent eye, what can you do if you think your information has been stolen?
- Report the incident right away to your local authorities.
- Let your bank and credit card company know that your information has been stolen. These places are helpful when it comes to identity theft, and they take it seriously.
- Contact your credit bureau and let them know that someone has stolen your identity.
- If applicable, contact your local anti-fraud center.
If you think your account has been accessed by someone other than yourself, please contact SolidTrust Pay right away. Our help center can be found here.