Online scams will spike in 2021, here's how to avoid them
Senior officials from Canada's leading cybersecurity and fraud detection agencies warn Canadians of an increase in fraud in 2021, but add that victim reporting is likely to decrease as more people become aware and take precautionary measures.
Jeff Thomson, a senior intelligence analyst at Canada's Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC), said in an interview that coverage of fraud increased in 2020, ranging from goods fraud to job fraud to soliciting personal information.
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"We expect this to stay that way until 2021," he said. "[COVID-19] created the right market for online fraud."
Scott Jones, director of the Canadian Cyber Security Center, agreed with Thomson, saying in an interview that scammers will continue to "chase our emotions and the news of the day."
Scam in 2021: what to see
Thomson said that due to the pandemic and job loss, more people will be looking for jobs on the sidewalk. "You see more people looking for work at the end of the day, and we see scammers creating fake ads with jobs or fake websites with jobs," he said.
Thomson emphasized that scammers continue to send phishing emails. Therefore, it is important to watch out for emails from people you don't know. "These targeted attacks, as we know in many cases, originate from compromised or forged email accounts used to send email to potential victims," he said. "So it looks like it's coming from someone you know."
Thomson said COVID-19 and vaccine fraud is expected to increase. He said the CAFC had warned consumers of ongoing fraud related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
The notice warns users of private companies selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the virus. Receiving unsolicited calls allegedly from a private company that offers home vaccination kits; and COVID-19 vaccine emails with malicious attachments that trick users into divulging personal and financial information.
Detect, reject, report: How to avoid fraud
Thomson determined that fraudsters will use whatever means available to carry out fraud.
"Whether it's the phone, text message, email, social media, classified websites, romance or dating websites - our list goes on, using whatever means available to you," he said.
“We want people to see that you can get one of these requests. The next step is to decline. That is why we talk about not reacting impulsively and checking all requests. Don't be intimidated by high pressure sales tactics or urgent high pressure inquiries. "
According to Jones, the Cyber Security Center focuses on awareness campaigns that are easy to understand and to pinpoint.
"One of the most effective campaigns is the hearing your voice of reason commercial," he said. “Sometimes we do [campaigns] in fun ways. We don't treat them in a way that scares them, we say, "Hey, just do this."
More importantly, it is important for Canadians to pay attention to these little tips, such as: These include changing your password frequently, using two-factor authentication, and practicing secure online habits.
With campaigns in 2021 in mind, the Cyber Security Center plans to publish a cybersecurity guide for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as a campaign for children to understand cyber hygiene.
Canadians are less afraid to report
Thomson said that due to so many awareness campaigns in 2020, fraud reporting is increasing.
"I see more today than ever," he said. "While fraud is being reported, more is being done to raise fraud awareness and prevention."
Jones added that educating Canadians is not about scaring them, but rather helping them understand how to avoid cheating.
“We saw an increase in coverage, which is great. The more people report, the more we can do something in advance, ”he said.
Jones said that while it is good that fewer people become victims because they are better educated, it means that scammers are becoming more sophisticated.
"The actor will then start increasing his sophistication, which means we always have to be prepared," he said.
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