There are countless scams out there, and at the root of almost all of them is an attempt to get someone’s personal financial information.
Kimberley senior Murray Dean reports that someone claiming to be from Shaw Communications contacted him via email to say that the Deans’ latest payment on their Shaw account had been declined by the bank.
The email states: “We are unable to process your last payment with the information we have on file. Reason: Declined by Bank. Did you recently change your credit card, bank, address or phone? Sign in [in the email, this is a link] to update your billing information, otherwise your account will be deactivated. To reactivate your account, you will be required to pay a $15 reactivation fee.”
The email is signed “Shaw Support”.
Dean did the right thing — he contacted Shaw himself by phone and was told there was nothing wrong with his account, it was up to date.
“But it would be easy to fall for it,” Dean said. “The email looked like it was from Shaw. I just wanted to let people know about it.”
This type of scam is called phishing, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
The word phishing comes from the analogy that Internet scammers are using email lures to ‘fish’ for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet users.
Phishing, also called “brand spoofing”, is the creation of email messages and web pages that are replicas of existing, legitimate sites and businesses. These web sites and emails are used to trick users into submitting personal, financial, or password data. These emails often ask for information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, social insurance numbers, and passwords that will be used to commit fraud.
The goal of criminals using brand spoofing is to lead consumers to believe that a request for information is coming from a legitimate company. In reality it is a malicious attempt to collect customer information for the purpose of committing fraud.
Tips on how to
spot and avoid
• Protect your computer with anti-virus software, spyware filters, email filters and firewall programs;
• Contact the financial institution immediately and report your suspicions;
• Do not reply to any email that requests your personal information;
• Look for misspelled words;
• Always report phishing or ‘spoofed’ emails.
If you’ve received one of these suspicious emails, report it to email@example.com or the financial institution that it appears to be from.