5 tips for online safety

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Newcomers can be an easy target for scams. They can take advantage of your need for a job or friendship. They can also target you because everything is new to you. However, online scams can trick even the most experienced Canadians. These range from identity theft to phishing schemes. These are done through emails, malware-infected websites, or texts or phone calls. Scams aim to steal personal information. Criminals use it to access to credit cards or bank accounts.

Phone and online scams

Examples of phone and online scams:

  • Tax scam – Victims receive a call from CRA or “Taxation Canada”. The caller says they owe back taxes and demand that they pay using gift cards. This type of fraud comes yearly around tax time.
  • COVID scams
    • Red Cross phishing scam – Texts or emails from Red Cross offering free masks and sanitizers. It will ask you to click on a link and ask for personal information.
    • COVID test scam – A call or text saying that your COVID-19 test is ready. You’ll be asked to provide your bank account details to claim it.
    • Canada Relief Fund text scam – A text saying “Alert: The emergency response benefit of Canada Relief Fund has sent you a deposit for $XX. See link. Data rates may apply”. It is a phishing link.

5 tips to keep yourself from being scammed:

  1. Don’t click links

    Don’t click links in texts, emails, suspicious websites. Don’t click pop-up ads. They can infect your computer with a virus. If you don’t know the sender, don’t click on links in a text or open emails. Update your computer’s anti-virus software and keep your security and privacy settings up-to-date.

  2. Keep your personal info private

    Don’t give away personal information online or over the phone. Protect your Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Unique Client Identifier number (UCI). Criminals can use this to steal your identity or use it in other scams. Read Who can ask for your SIN? from Service Canada to be informed.

    Your bank will never email you for account information. They should have this in their files. Make a list of your account numbers and lock it in a safe. If it is needed for a transaction, call your bank branch first to make sure.

  3. Keep your online accounts secure

    Always use strong a user names and passwords. Don’t use just one password for all your accounts and don’t save your password in a device used by others. Watch this video from Google privacy to learn how to create more secure passwords.

    Make it a habit to check your bank statements. This is the easiest way to discover if there are unauthorized transactions or withdrawals from your account.

  4. Always verify online job postings

    Beware of job postings that:

    1. Do not mention a company name.
    2. Mention the company’s address but the office does not exist physically.
    3. Ask for a fee so you can be hired.
    4. Require training before getting hired. It is a fake job offer especially if they demand a training fee but cannot provide a receipt or a contract.
    5. Offer a high salary for little or no experience.

    Verify a job posting by:

    1. Calling the supplied contact number directly or checking their website.
    2. Checking with the Better Business Bureau.
    3. Researching the labor market for standard wages as well as education and job requirements. Go to the Canada Job Bank).
    4. Being informed. Read Money: Are you the target of a Scam? by Dale Sproule on Canadian Newcomer to know more about job scams to avoid.
  5. Online shopping precautions

    Watch this video from Kiboo to keep your online transactions secure:

    Read Thinking of online shopping? Here’s how to stay safe for more tips.

    Stay updated about marketplace issues. Sign up for consumer alerts by email at the Manitoba.ca site. These provide latest news and tips on consumer safety.

Article updated April 1,2020.

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Community Resources

Being Smart Online is a Youtube channel for kids. It has short videos that has tips to keep kids stay safe online (available in various languages).

Go to theCanadian Anti-Fraud Centre to know more about online fraud.

Learn about investment fraud or report one to the Manitoba Securities Commission site. Sign up for investment alerts here.

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