The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has reported that Canadians have lost over $32 million to email, internet, social media and text message scammers.
With Black Friday and the holiday season around the corner, the Calgary Police Service Cyber Forensics Unit wants Calgarians to be aware of the risks associated with online shopping so they can better protect themselves.
Online shopping can be extremely convenient during this busy season and is often very secure. However, it’s important that shoppers know how to recognize cybercrimes and safeguard themselves from becoming a victim.
Here are 10 tips on how to stay safe while online shopping.
Beware of public Wi-Fi
Never access sensitive information or input your personal/financial information on public Wi-Fi as you never know who else may also be using the network.
Update your antivirus software
Keep your antivirus software and web browsers up-to-date and ensure your firewall is active, so that it is equipped to recognize and fight new viruses that are always adapting.
Look for the lock symbol
Make sure you have a secure connection in your browser by looking for the lock symbol in the address bar, or making sure that the URL you are attempting to access begins with “https” (s for secure).
Use strong pass phrases
The strongest passwords are those made up of phrases and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. You should change your passwords on a routine basis and anytime an account has been compromised.
Use two-factor authentication
You should use this where possible as it provides an extra layer of security when logging in to an account. An example would be needing to provide information only you have access to, or a confirmation key sent to your phone along with your password.
Be wary of unexpected emails
Phishing emails can look very legitimate and often ask you to report a problem with a purchase you haven’t made, validate an account or threaten taking action. Never click on any links and verify the request by contacting the company through an email or phone number you have used before.
Lock your devices
Make sure that all mobile devices and computers have a password to prevent other people from logging on to them when you are not using them.
Protect your personal information
Only provide the information that is needed, and never anything more. On mobile devices, it is a good idea to install an app that will allow you to remote wipe your device if it is lost.
Check your bank statements
Regularly check your bank statements and report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution immediately. You should also check your credit score at least once a year to make sure you are not a victim of identity fraud.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
Scammers will try to take advantage of your good nature, especially during the holiday season. If something doesn’t feel right or if the transaction doesn’t seem fair, it’s probably a scam.