Computer Scams – Not Just Rich Princes in Foreign Lands
Computer scams are on the rise. Criminals are quick to use the latest technology to part you from your personal information and money.
We are all familiar with email scams from rich princes in foreign lands desperate to move vast sums of money out of the country. Another well known hook is the surprise inheritance from a rich distant relative. You will pay all kinds of processing fees and provide your personal/banking details in order to complete the transfer. That transfer will never happen and your money is as good as gone. While it may seem that these are obvious scams, others can be harder to spot. While this is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover some of the most common.
Subscription traps come in various forms. It can appear as a referral from a friend on a social media or as a fake survey that pops up on your computer. No matter the approach, the bare bones of it are the same. A free trial is offered on a product or service and you need to provide your credit card to cover the shipping and handling. Hidden deeply in the small print is the fact that you have now signed up for a subscription service with fees and unexpected charges.
A spoofed website often looks like the real thing. They imitate real charities, specific businesses, government or financial institutions. They take your charity donations, offer counterfeit products and steal your personal information. The website address and email may be slightly different than the legitimate site, however, there will be just enough correct that you may not suspect anything.
Fake Online Endorsements and Sponsored Content
Has a large number of followers/likes and glowing recommendations persuaded you to make a purchase? Social media influencers and those with significant online presence need to make a living somehow. Not all are going to be on the up and up. That the reviews have been paid for as a marketing tactic, is unfortunately, high.
Astroturfing is the practice of creating content that masquerades as authentic opinions and experiences of actual customers. It includes fake testimonials and consumer reviews too. Employees can be encouraged to write reviews which artificially inflate the products profile. Artificial. Just like Astroturf.
Victims are often recruited on free employment platforms. Sites such as a Craigslist, Workopolis and Indeed offer plenty of opportunity for scammers. Mystery shopping is a popular form of this particular scam. You receive a cheque in the mail along with instructions to complete local purchases and evaluate/review customer service. The job is completed by returning any unspent funds by wire, and in the meantime, the cheque is determined to be no good. You are on the hook for all of the money.
Another type of employment scam is meant to trick you into revealing your personal information. A ‘potential employer’ wants to hire you and sends an employment contract. It requires personal information such as full name, address, birth date and Social Insurance Number. They often include a request for your banking details under the guise of depositing your paycheques. That is, however, enough information for a person to steal your identity for the purpose of getting loans and credit in your name.
In The End…
-Never skip the fine print.
-Beware of unusual email requests. Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email.
-Conduct an open source search to see if anyone has suggested the offer is a scam.
If you have been scammed, please, take heart. It can happen to the best of us. Warn others by reporting the scam, otherwise, the following agencies can not issue a warning bulletin:
You will also want to contact both credit reporting agencies, Equifax and Transunion, if you have provided personal/financial details to the scammers. You will want to add a fraud alert to your credit history.
Many forms of fraud violate consumer protection laws as well as the Criminal Code. If you are the victim of fraud, you should contact your local police to file a complaint. About 5% of victims will file a complaint. This means that, ultimately, scammers go free.
At PYLO Finance Inc., we think its important to be able to recognize a scam. Our team is available if you have any questions about making a report to the authorities.