With March being Fraud Prevention Month, Sasktel and Crime Stoppers have teamed up to share some tips on how to protect yourself from online fraud and cyber scams.
Greg Jacobs, an external communications manager with Sasktel explains that there are five ways people can avoid falling victim to online fraud.
“One of the biggest things you can do is enable multi-factor authentication on your digital accounts that offer that type of protection,” says Jacobs. “This is usually offered by your bank, and major online shopping outlets.
“What is it is an added layer of protection that if you’re trying to log into that account from a unique device, it will send a text message or an email to the account, so you have to input a code or sequence of numbers before you can access that account. It wants to verify that you are who you say you are before it grants you access,” adds Jacobs.
For those with a Sasktel account, Jacobs notes that the provincial agency offers multi-factor authentication.
Another way to protect yourself is password protection. Jacobs says people should think about having a strong and unique password for each online account.
“We recommend passwords should be at least 12 characters in length and include numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special characters. For added protection, consider using a passphrase or a random password generator. Also, never share your passwords with anyone.”
If people are having a hard time remembering all their online account passwords, Jacobs recommends a passphrase instead of a password.
"It is a set of three, four, or five words that you would put in a sequence that for you might mean something but wouldn’t mean anything else to another individual.”
Online scammers also like to use enticing emails and text messages. Sasktel has noticed a recent string of text messages that have targeted the 306-area code using more adult-themed language.
“Don’t click on the link, and don’t respond to the text message either. If you respond, you just confirmed to the bad actor that this is a live number and may try to target you with scams in the future. Just delete the message entirely and forget about it.”
He also recommends blocking the number to prevent any further attempts by the scammer.
Another useful tip to prevent online fraud is limiting your personal information on social media.
“You might not want to share your vacation plans on Facebook. I wouldn’t share a recent big-ticket purchase either. Some of the things that we may not think of, we share relatively regularly. For instance, your birthday, where you went to school, or where you work. If the scammers are building a profile on you, you have given them three interesting pieces of information without them having to work for it.”
He advises keeping those pieces of information to yourself.
And finally, the last piece of advice Jacobs recommends is updating your device. Keep your device software up-to-date and install critical security patches as soon as they are available. Failing to do so can give hackers the access they need to access your device and all the personal information stored on it.
If you suspect that you have fallen victim to any sort of fraud or online scam, contact your local law enforcement agency.
All types of fraud can also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) by calling 1-888-495-8501. Additionally, the CAFC has information regarding the types of scams that are prevalent in Canada available on their website at www.antifraudcentrecentreantifraude.ca.