How to protect your personal information from phone, email & text scams
Published Thursday, April 26, 2018 8:01PM ADT
Protecting your personal information is getting more challenging now that scammers have more options for how to target you.
Recently, people in the Maritimes have been receiving fraudulent requests from the Canadian Revenue Agency, but they don’t just come by phone anymore, there are emails and text messages, too.
On Tuesday, Crystal Budds’ phone rang and she did what she does anytime she gets a call from an unknown number, she let it go to voicemail.
When she listened to the message, she knew immediately it was a scam.
“I get scams a lot, so I’m used to them,” she says. “This one was a little different with the arrest warrant, just made sense now.”
But she wasn’t the only one who got a call this like, far from it.
Nova Scotia RCMP say they’ve received hundreds of calls about the scam in the past month alone, and some people have lost money.
“In those cases, they’ve proceeded to go and utilize their funds to go and transfer money whether it be through iTunes cards or Bitcoins,” explains Cpl. Dal Hutchinson of Halifax District RCMP. “As a result, over 10 thousand dollars in two different incidents were lost.”
That money is likely gone forever, so how can you protect yourself?
Police say don’t answer calls when you don’t recognize the number, and if you hear messages like the one Budds’ received, just hang up.
If it’s an email or text message, don’t respond.
Cyber safety expert Pascal Fortin says protecting your information is becoming more challenging.
“Minimize your risk by limiting sharing of contacts,” explains Fortin, “sharing of access so whatever can be closed, whatever passwords you can put in there, put them in a fingerprint is good for example, on your Apple devices.”
Things like your address and phone number can be sold to other organizations and passed on to other companies.
“Free services aren’t free,” adds Fortin. “Your information is valuable, be careful who you give it to, who you trust with this information. Once it’s out there, it’s gone.”
Police and cyber security experts agree there is no end in sight with these scams constantly evolving with new technology available.
The Better Business Bureau says they’ve received a number of complaints about this, too, and that it’s not just targeting a specific population, but rather everyone from high schoolers to seniors.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Priya Sam.