A new year is a time for new beginnings, but unfortunately, it is also a new year for fraudsters to ramp up their cybercrime acts and commit online scams. Senior officials from top scam detection and cybersecurity agencies in Canada have banded together to warn Canadians about an impending rise in online scams especially for the first part of 2021.
Senior officials added that reports from victims are likely to go down as people are beginning to take further precautions, but this does not mean that the cases will go down as well.
CAFC or Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre senior intelligence analyst Jeff Thomson shared in an interview that was an increase in 2020 scam reporting and that the schemes ranged from soliciting social security information, job scams, to merchandise scams. He adds that they expect this trend to continue in 2021, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a huge factor for the proliferation of online scams.
Canadian Centre for Cyber Security head Scott Jones agrees with the above, saying that fraudsters are making use of what’s hot in the news to sway people’s emotion. Wisth more people looking for jobs, fake job scams and fake job websites are bound to increase.
What Scams to Expect?
Thomson said that phishing scam emails are the most prolific from either spoofed email accounts or compromised email accounts. He warns that any suspicious emails should be avoided even if it seems to be coming from someone you know.
Another expected scam is vaccine fraud for when vaccines become more available. There may be people trying to see or guarantee access to them for a fee.
In view of this, the CAFC issued a warning about private companies who may try to sell fraudulent products promising to cure or prevent COVID-19 as well as home vaccination kits. Some COVID-19 emails also contain malicious attachments that trick people into revealing their financial details and other personal information.
Avoid Scams in 3 Steps: Recognize, Reject, Report
Thomson emphasizes that scammers will use any avenue possible to execute scams. They can use text messages, emails, phone calls, social media, romance or dating sites, classified ads, and so on. He adds that people should recognize that anyone can receive these solicitations and that rejecting requests like this is fine. He further says that being too polite or getting intimidated by urgent or high-pressure sales tactics and requests can make you more vulnerable to scams. It is best to scrutinize requests and refrain from responding impulsively.
Better and Safer Online Behavior from Canadians
Jones shared that the Cyber Security Centre focuses on easy-to-understand awareness campaigns that are straight to the point, citing their commercial on listening to one’s voice of reason as one of their most effective campaigns because it goes back to the basic and simple thing that anybody can do. Other things that work include changing passwords frequently, practicing safe online habits, and using two-factor authentication. They plan to release a cybersecurity guide for small and medium-sized businesses as part of their 2021 campaign as well as teaching children cyber hygiene.
Thomson also shares that Canadians are more likely to report scams after their awareness campaigns in 2020. He adds that the more people report, the more they can be aware of new scams and the earlier they can issue the necessary warnings.
Looking for ways to avoid COVID-19 related scams and other online scams? Familiarize yourself with new scams at our fraud prevention blog! If you’ve been targeted for a scam and worried about your privacy, contact us so we can discuss possible solutions for you using our private investigation services.