Staying savvy in the face of smart new scams
Communications Manager, TELUS Corporate Citizenship and Communications
Even those of us who consider ourselves digitally savvy can fall victim to scams online. And as we all become more aware of the importance of staying safe online, fraudsters are quickly adapting and coming up with even more tricks to fool us. Here’s a few new scams to watch out for:
- Subscription bombing: I knew something was awry when I woke up to more than 75 new emails in my inbox; newsletters in different languages from around the world. A quick Google search informed me that I was the target of a new email-based scam, referred to as ‘subscription bombing’, where scammers sign your email address up for an endless stream of newsletters in order to hide an email about a legitimate issue - for example, their fraudulent activity on one of your accounts. In my case, they were attempting to bury an email from Spotify notifying me that someone had joined my family account. They’d purchased my account info from a hacker, and the hope was that the mass of subscription emails I was bombarded with would distract me from noticing. If you ever see the same happen to your inbox, comb through every email to find the notification you’re not meant to see.
- Free product/service: If you get a call offering you a free product or service, stay alert. Scammers are calling people posing as legitimate service providers, asking them to relay their private information, including account number, address, credit card info and even SIN numbers in exchange for the promise of free merchandise. The scammers then use the account information to order merchandise for themselves from the same organization they pretended to call from, and stick their victims with the bill. The basic rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can also protect yourself by doing an internet search to confirm that the phone number calling is connected with the company the caller claims to be from.
- Social media contests: In this scam, fraudsters prey on individuals who enter legitimate social media contests. After seeing someone participate in a contest, the fraudster contacts them, posing as the brand offering the contest and asking them for personal information so that they can ‘confirm their entry’ or fulfil the contest and deliver the prize. If you participate in a social media contest or giveaway by leaving a public comment and then get a message shortly after asking you to confirm your entry, be cautious. Most brands will include their entry mechanism within the post copy or on a Rules & Regulations page; and ‘providing credit card info’ should never be a step in a social media contest. Get a DM about a contest? Double check to make sure it’s from the official account.
Always think twice when it comes to sharing your personal or financial information online. By doing your homework on anything that seems out of the ordinary, you can make sure that you and your family are protected against the latest threats.
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