For immediate release
Toronto, ON, March 7, 2016 – “Dear customer, please click on the link below to update your bank account number.” Have you ever received an email or phone call from someone attempting to get you to volunteer your personal or financial information? It may have been a criminal impersonating a company to trick you into divulging information.
March is Fraud Prevention Month, and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is reminding consumers to be cautious with suspicious phone calls or emails to avoid becoming a victim of a vishing or phishing scam.
Phishing — or “brand spoofing” as it is also called — is an attempt to get you to volunteer your personal information to criminals or to install malware on your computer. Criminals attempt to fool you by using fraudulent e-mail messages and websites that look like they are from a legitimate company, such as a bank, credit card company, online retailer or government agency. Vishing, or voice phishing, is a twist on phishing, where criminals are using the phone to trick consumers into revealing personal and financial information.
“Fraudulent emails and phone calls may look like they are coming from a legitimate company, but there are often telltale signs that warn consumers,” said Maura Drew-Lytle, Director, Media Relations and Communications at the Canadian Bankers Association. “Consumers should be vigilant about protecting their personal and financial information so they don’t fall for these scams.”
Here are four easy steps to help consumers spot a phishing email or vishing call:
- Urgency and Warnings: The email or phone call will convey a sense of urgency and include warnings that your bank accounts may be closed, or your access will be limited if you don’t reply or provide information right away.
- Spelling Errors: Phishing emails can look very real with logos, website addresses and other company information that appears authentic, but there is usually some part that doesn’t seem quite right: spelling mistakes, bad grammar, or altered logos.
- General Greetings: Criminals will often start a phishing email with a generalized greeting such as “dear customer”, because they don’t know who you are. Phishing emails are usually sent out to thousands of people hoping to “hook” a few victims.
- Getting Personal: Criminals will often ask you to disclose personal information such as a credit card number, bank account number or your online banking password. Your bank would never call you or send you an email asking for this information because they already have it.
Banks take extensive measures to protect consumers, but if you think you have received a fraudulent email or phone call you should report it to your bank, or the company that was spoofed, right away.
Consumer education is one of the best ways to stop phishing and vishing scams. Consumers can take the following steps to avoid fraud:
- Never send personal or financial information by email or disclose it over the phone.
- Whenever you enter personal information on the Internet make sure the address bar starts with “https://” and is further secured with a closed padlock in the bottom right corner of your browser.
- Make sure your home computer is protected with anti-spam, anti-spyware and anti-virus software and you keep these up to date.
- Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity. You should also check your credit report at least once a year through Equifax Canada or Transunion Canada.
Want more fraud prevention tips and resources? The CBA is issuing tips and information through Twitter (@CdnBankers) and its website www.cba.ca throughout the month of March. You can also subscribe to our Fraud Prevention Tips.
The CBA is a member of the Fraud Prevention Forum. The Forum is comprised of a concerned group of private sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, who are committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses. Through its partners, the Forum, which is chaired by the Competition Bureau, works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud by educating them on how to "Recognize it. Reject it. Report it."
About the Canadian Bankers Association
The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 59 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada’s economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness. www.cba.ca.