Phishing scams seek personal details, such as your address, social security number or mother's maiden name, which are then used for identity theft. Phishing occurs through email or instant messaging, when scammers send communications which appear to be from your financial institution, but are not. You are asked, supposedly by your financial institution, to log in and verify account information often because of a fake security issue. The fake message usually instructs you to click on a link that takes you to an illegitimate version of your online banking site– one that is largely indistinguishable from the legitimate site– where you’re asked to enter your credentials.
Phishing emails may include:
- Warnings about account closures
- Requests to update your information
- Offers to register for a new service
- Offers for pre-approved credit cards
- Free virus-protection programs
How to spot a scam
Scam emails often have these telltale sights:
- Poor spelling or grammar
- Alarmist content, warning that your account will be closed if you don't provide your banking or personal details immediately
- Notices that you've won a prize and are required to pay a fee in order to claim it
Never provide personal details or any account details in an email. Electronic messaging is not a secure form of communication. If you receive a message that you are unsure about, please contact us.
Another way for hackers to get their hands on your personal details is by pharming them, which happens when hackers use a malicious code that compromises your computer and redirects you to fake websites. The malware hides the fake website, cloaking it in the legitimate one that appears in your browser. This can happen even when you type the correct URLs into your browser, making you think that you're on the correct website when you are not.
How to avoid phishing and pharming scams
Be wary of banking emails
First, know that we will never send you emails or communications asking you to verify or provide your online banking details.
Other email security tips:
- Don’t open your online banking through a link (we don't send email links to online banking; scammers do!)
- Do not open emails or email attachments from unknown sources
- Scan your email through your anti-virus software
- Type your financial institution's website address directly into your browser
- Secure sites that have the letter "s" in “https,” to indicate that you’re browsing safely
If you get a concerning email, don’t panic. Just call us or visit one of our branches, and we’ll help you figure it out.
Use anti-virus software
Install anti-virus software on your computer to protect your information, money, and privacy. It will detect viruses and clean your computer so that harmful viruses do not spread. Set up your anti-virus to run frequent scans, and update the software as soon as it is required. Ensure you have real-time scanning of every email and every file you download.
Watch for malware
Nobody wants a computer virus. They can steal your personal information, take over your PC and use your computer to attack other people's computers. Malicious software (malware), spyware, worms, and Trojans are all destructive viruses; just with different names. They can all infect your computer if you open infected email attachments, download infected content, or visit harmful websites.
Spyware is exactly what it sounds like: tracking software that is downloaded to your computer (without your knowledge) when you visit certain Internet sites. Secretly, it gathers information about you and your browsing habits. This information can be trivial or it can include passwords and personal data that you wouldn't want criminals to get their hands on. It can also interfere with user controls and disable legitimate anti-virus programs.The best way to protect your computer against spyware is smart browsing. Stay away from sites that look unsafe and avoid streaming or downloading content from untrustworthy sources. Many anti-virus products offer targeted spyware solutions that inspect your operating system, installed programs, downloads and files.
Steer clear of scareware
One of the most common viruses to watch out for is scareware. Scareware involves scams that pop-up on your screen and display alarmist warnings, telling you a virus has invaded your computer. It prompts you to download (and often pay for) fake anti-virus software to remove the non-existent viruses, tricking you into paying money for nothing.You can protect against scareware by keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and by being judicious about what you choose to download to your computer. You should also familiarize yourself with the interface of your legitimate anti-virus program, so you won't be fooled if one of these pop-ups appears.
Elder financial abuse
Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada. It often involves pressuring an older adult with requests for money, using an older adult’s property or money without their permission, or improperly using one’s authority as a power of attorney. Financial abuse can happen at any time, but it often starts after a health crisis or after the death of a spouse, partner or close friend. Older adults who are alone or in poor health are more vulnerable to abuse.
Possible signs of financial abuse:
- Money taken or cheques cashed without your permission
- Undocumented loans that the borrower later claims was a ‘gift’
- Someone frequently borrowing money without repaying it
- Being pressured into giving money or making purchases you don’t want or need
- Unexplained withdrawals from your account or charges to your credit card
- Receiving overdue bills that you thought were paid
- Someone preventing you from making financial decisions or accessing your money
- Being forced into changing or signing legal documents that you don't fully understand
- Being pressured to help avoid bankruptcy at the point of losing home/business
How to protect yourself:
- Keep your financial and personal information in a secure place
- Track all of your investment accounts and legal documents
- Keep a record of financial transactions and changes to legal documents
- Be careful with joint bank accounts. The other person can take away all the money without asking
- Carefully read and review contracts and other documents
- For major decisions involving your home or other property, get your own professional legal advice before signing any documents
- Stay in touch with a variety of friends and family so you don't become isolated
- Tell someone if you think you are experiencing financial abuse: a friend, family member, health care or social services professional, legal or financial advisor, or local authorities