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Fraud is on the rise but there are things we can do to stay safe

Advice on how consumers can protect themselves from online fraud and phishing scams.

Anything connected to the internet -- from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. - © AFP/File JUNG Yeon-Je
Anything connected to the internet -- from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. - © AFP/File JUNG Yeon-Je

Consumers remain at risk from fraud, be that in person on digitally. It continues to remain important, whatever the season, to take precautions to shop safely. As an example of the risk, statistics from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) show that last year Canadians lost over $106.4 million to fraud, $62.6 million of which was related to online fraud.

Events across the past two years have contributed to the rise in fraud as many people have become distracted. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a rapid shift to digital payments meaning more people will be shopping and paying for things in new ways into 2022 — from tapping and clicking to pay in person, to relying on e-commerce, to ordering online for in-store pickup.

While consumers want more choice in how they pay, security is more important than ever, Natalie Kelly, SVP, Global Head of Risk Strategy, Visa Canada has explained to Digital Journal.

As an example of useful measures to consider, the credit services company Visa provides the following fraud prevention tips:

  • Pay securely online: Always check the URL to ensure it begins with “https”. The “s” at the end confirms a secure connection.
  • Pay securely in-app: Use a strong password unique to each account or switch to fingerprint or facial recognition for account login and payments.
  • Pay securely in-store: Use a payment card with a chip or contactless symbol on it, or a mobile wallet to protect card data from being stolen in case of a data breach.
  • Look out for phishing scams: Be careful of unsolicited and suspicious emails or phone calls. They may try to steal personal information such as account number, username and password.
  • Update system and application software: Install the latest software before shopping on the computer, tablet or phone. Staying up to date helps patch known vulnerabilities.
  • Turn on purchase alerts: Receive near real-time notifications of transactions to help confirm legitimate purchases and prevent potential fraud.

A further concern is where criminals have turned to online and technology-enabled scams to exploit people’s fears about the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of fake websites and phishing emails.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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