It’s April in Canada, images of melting snow, income tax returns and summer tires come to mind. And with the tax season upon us there is a rise in cyber crime. Seniors are a highly targeted group by the thieves, who seem to be immune to empathy. Many of the crooks will try to impersonate the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), banks or other financial companies and organizations. Cyber criminals are always trying to be one step ahead of victims so emails (spam) look authentic. Some are even evolving to use text messages as a way to steal. While a lot of the tips in this article may seem like old news, it’s always good to be reminded. Here are a few guidelines:
- If you aren’t the person who initiated the contact, be very suspicious. Treat the email, text or phone call like a stranger approaching you on the street.
- NEVER reply to emails or texts with passwords, financial information (credit card or account numbers) or any personal information – even to trusted people. The safest way to do this is by talking in person. Even if you email someone you trust, you don’t know how their email is secured.
- Check your email, social media and other login site settings often. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with a lot of people but “checking in” to locations announces that you’re not at home. Make sure you understand who can see your updates.
- Learn to spot phishing attempts – some scare tactics include urgent requests, account deletion and prizes. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t legit.
- Use common sense – if you have any inkling that the email, text or phone call is bogus, it probably is. Ignoring legit emails, texts or phone calls has far fewer consequences than being vulnerable.
If you are lucky enough to catch an attempt, you can be a good citizen and report it to right authorities: Public Safety
The Canadian government site on Cyber Safety is a great resource: Get Cyber Safe