By Elizabeth Naumovski
In the olden days fraudsters and scammers were either cheque forgers, grifters or swindlers and they needed to get up-close-and-personal with you and really create a trusting, loving, and giving relationship. This was a tangible relationship that took many hours, many meetings and conversations to eventually get you to sign over your estate or hand over all of your hard-earned money.
Fast forward to 2020, where the world is dealing with a deadly pandemic and we are all working from home and self isolating. This form of isolation, especially for single and elderly people not only causes loneliness, but depression. There is no one to talk to and we’re all on our computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones boredom shopping (this is another blog and an entirely different topic), online dating and surfing the internet for interesting news and social media stories.
This is a perfect storm for us to be targeted by scammers and fraudsters with phishing tactics. We are not paying attention, we are distracted and we are easily caught off guard.
When I wake up every morning and check my email, I get a minimum of 10 to 40 fraud phishing scam type emails.
Complete strangers are offering me millions of dollars from a deceased family’s estate, gift donations have been given to me all I have to do is click on the link. I have been sent grants. I am the winner of the Power Ball, the job of a lifetime and so much more. I’m receiving phishing emails to upload a program because my email address is going to stop working. One morning I woke up and I had well over 50 emails from Individual men from Russian Cupid and Army Cupid. One of the male profiles was holding a duck.
We are all inundated with emails and we are all targets. This has become a numbers game and they are trying to deal with your emotions, your loneliness and depression.
One of my new sayings is STOP. PAUSE. THINK. DELETE.
Never give strangers any of your money, personal information such as PIN numbers, social insurance numbers, copies of your passport, credit card numbers.
Every organization that you deal with has this information on file. If someone asks you for it by email or calls you for it. STOP. PAUSE. THINK. DELETE or HANG UP.
Never just click on a link because someone is asking you to do so. Is this email from a stranger? Do you deal with this organization? Even if you do, is the email really from the organization? Go directly to the company website. All of their information will be on their website.
Read the email slowly. Is it from a friend or a stranger?
Remember, no one will give you anything for free. If you receive an email from a corporation, look at the corporate logo? Does it look correct? So many corporate logos have been stolen online. Are they promising you insanely high returns? Does it sound too good to be true?
Our friend’s emails are being hacked. If you receive an email, does it sound like it is coming from your friend. Most of these emails begin with “Hi, can you do me a favour?”
There are too many phishing scams to mention them all. However, to help you protect yourself, take a look at the chart below.
Stay safe, be diligent and don’t click on any links. STOP. PAUSE. THINK. DELETE.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE PHISHING ATTEMPTS
Legitimate companies & organizations:
1. …Will not request your personal and sensitive information via email or text. Chances are that if you are to receive an unsolicited email from an institution that provides a link or attachment asking you to provide sensitive information, it’s a scam.
2. …Usually call you by your name. Phishing emails and texts will typically use generic salutations such as “Dear Account Holder” or “Hey” with some avoiding the salutation altogether.
3. … Have a domain email. Hover your mouse over the “from” address and make sure no alterations have been made i.e. additional numbers or letters or someone else’s hacked email address.
4. … Know how to spell and are grammatically correct. An email from a company or organization will be well written. Always pay attention to the grammar used and typos.
5. …Do not force you to use their website. Sometimes phishing emails are coded entirely as a hyperlink, therefore clicking accidently anywhere in the email will take you to a fake website. When in doubt, always go to a search engine and look at the corporate website.
6. …Do not send unsolicited attachments. Unsolicited emails that contain attachments are usually sent by hackers. Authentic institutions and organizations typically don’t randomly send you emails with attachments, but instead direct you to download documents or files on their own website.
Remember, when in doubt, slow down and STOP. PAUSE. THINK.