Avoiding Money Scams

February 5th, 2024

In recent years, financial scams have become more sophisticated and can target individuals with varying levels of technical expertise. We are basically online all the time, so there are more opportunities for scammers to find us with shopping scams, fake storefronts, and phishing emails to gain access to our financial accounts. To help you navigate this landscape safely, we’ve put together some best practices for avoiding financial scams across various communication channels. Read on for some key tips for keeping your accounts secure.

Online Scams

Be Cautious of Unsolicited Messages: Online scams often begin with unsolicited friend requests, messages, or offers on social media. Be cautious, especially if these interactions involve requests for money or personal information. For example, almost everyone on Instagram has been direct messaged with an offer to become a “brand ambassador” from someone that supposedly “loves your account and content” if only you’ll provide your credit card information to get the demo products. And on Facebook, be cautious if you receive a friend request from someone who was already on your friends list. Many scammers will duplicate a profile and send out friend requests to attempt to connect with you and message you under the pretense of being your friend.

Verify Websites: Prioritize secure websites when sharing financial information. Look for “https://” in the URL and verify the website’s legitimacy using resources like the Better Business Bureau or other online directories.

Use Strong Passwords: Create strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Consider using a password manager for generating and securely storing complex passwords.

SMS (Text) Scams

Avoid Clicking Links: SMS scams frequently include links to malicious websites. Never click on links from unknown senders or in messages that seem suspicious. For example, if you receive a text from your bank, delete it and contact your bank directly if you think there may be an issue with your account.

Verify the Number: Always double-check the sender’s phone number. If it looks unusual or the message raises concerns, delete it right away.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication: Setting up two-factor authentication on your phone and other online accounts enhances security against SMS-based scams.

Phone Scams

Don’t Trust Caller ID: Caller ID can be easily manipulated. Scammers often employ “spoofed” numbers to appear as trusted sources. If you don’t recognize the number, let them leave a message. If it’s a legitimate request, you can call back. Many times, a quick internet search of the phone number will reveal that it is not a legitimate call.

Verify and Call Back: If someone calls claiming to represent a bank or government agency and requests personal information, hang up and call the official number listed on the organization’s website to verify the request’s legitimacy.

Research Common Scenarios: Be aware of typical phone scams like CRA scams, tech support scams, and lottery scams. Awareness can help you identify potential threats.

Email Scams

Scrutinize the Sender’s Email Address: Examine the sender’s email address closely. Scammers often use email addresses that resemble legitimate ones. Sometimes it is a matter of a single letter in the address being a different font, so it can be difficult to detect. When in doubt, reach out through official channels to verify email requests.

Be Caution of Attachments: Avoid opening email attachments or clicking links in emails from unknown sources, as these could contain malware or be phishing attempts.

Be Wary of Urgency: Many email scams create a sense of urgency to rush victims into making quick decisions. Take your time and verify the email’s authenticity. Emails that scare you into thinking your accounts will be closed within 24 hours are rarely legitimate.

In a world where technology continues to advance, it is crucial to stay vigilant to the evolving threats of financial scams. Trust your gut – if something feels suspicious, take a step back and verify all the details before giving out any personal or financial information. Being cautious and implementing the guidelines provided in this article will help minimize the risk of falling victim to scams and protect your finances.

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