Be careful with your information online

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/04/2022 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Fraudsters have picked up some new tricks during the pandemic, so it’s best to prepare yourself.

Because we were suddenly confined to our homes back in 2020, people began interacting with call centres en masse, as we could not go down to our banks or stores to deal with issues in-person. Those calls were more frequent and several studies I’ve read show they also lasted longer on average, too. We don’t like waiting and neither do scammers, so they changed their activities to make best use of their time, according to a few experts I have interviewed for some of my freelance work.

Here is a list of the information that scammers seek out, and where find it:

Your personal information may well be traded or sold on the dark web.

• Phone numbers, names, social insurance numbers and account numbers of millions of people can be bought on the dark web;

• Street addresses, hometowns, previous residences and graduation years are easily found on social media.

• Dates of birth, postal codes, the last four digits of your SIN numbers, transaction histories, available funds and the current status of any loans take more work.

Believe it or not, fraudsters have developed computer programs to make it easier to get that information. Those programs can perform hundreds of automated guesses per second and when they get the right information it is logged for later use while also being used to get at information that’s more difficult to find.

Fraudsters also use compute- generated dictionaries with thousands of user names, or programs which attempt hundreds of guesses per second, to identify email addresses. The ultimate goal is to get the ability to reset your account so they get access to steal money.

Also watch for “man-in-the-call attacks” whereby scammers pretend to be your bank. They transfer the call to an actual agent of the bank and listen in to steal your information. Another type is where they pretend to be checking fake charges on your account before transferring you to the actual company to take down your information. In a third type, a pair of criminals work together with one calling someone pretending to be a bank while the other calls the bank at the same time. The goal is to get the one-time PIN number so they can reset your account.

Change your passwords often and use less obvious ones. If you get a suspicious call, hang up, look up the number for the bank or retaile and call call them. Doublecheck the website addresses you are on because some criminals will set up fake websites that look like the real thing save for a couple of letters in the url.

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha
East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

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