The RCMP and partner agencies wish to remind the public that March is once again Fraud Awareness Month. The purpose of this annual event is to highlight ways for individuals to safeguard themselves from fraud, by educating them by emphasizing specific tactics used to defraud and ways to avoid becoming a victim.
As the term implies, PHISHING is a tactic where a generic message is sent out to many people in an attempt to troll for personal, financial and/or credit information.
Telephone cold calls and Internet spam are frequently used by criminals to solicit sensitive personal information from members of the public. The message or story is the bait and senders of these messages mask the true nature of the call or email, often by portraying themselves as representatives of legitimate companies.
For example, “My name is XXXX and I am calling on behalf of XXXX Credit Services. We have suffered a computer problem and urgently require our customers to confirm some information so that we can retrieve your account information on our servers…”.
Would a legitimate financial institution operate this way? As with anything, the quality of the bait can reflect a higher success rate for the person sending the message. For this reason, callers and email may appear extremely convincing.
PHISHING sometimes employs the use of a counterfeited or SPOOFED website. These fake websites are specifically designed to mimic those of a legitimate fi-nancial institution or credit company.
Images, logos and trademarks are digitally copied into the fake website in order to add an appearance of legitimacy to these sites. Links to SPOOFED websites are often contained within PHISHING email. These emails request that you click into the links and provide your sensitive information. In some cases, a telephone caller may request that you log into a mentioned site in order to “confirm” your sensitive information.
Sensitive data gathered through the use of these tactics is regularly used in crimes ranging from basic fraud to complete identity theft. Recovering from these types of crimes is difficult and can take many years.
How can I protect myself?
In all circumstances, remember the anonymous element to any telephone or Internet communication. Do I really know who I am communicating with? Do I really know where this information is going? Is it normal for a business or government agency to request personal information in this way?
Be critical of unsolicited calls or emails that request your personal information.
Install up-to-date anti-spam software on your computer.
Resist the urgent-sounding appeal to respond to the caller’s request for information. Take time to consider the importance of the information that you are being asked to provide and the circumstances in which it is being requested. Remember, it is extremely rare for a financial institution to “lose” your financial information. As well, any rushed or urgent response on your part is not likely to remedy this loss should it have really happened. When in doubt, contact the financial institution or government agency directly using the contact information obtained from legitimate and established sources.
Additional information on these tactics and others can be found on the following websites:
“Identity theft is rarely the result of information that has actually been stolen. Usually the information has simply been provided,” said Corporal Chris Lambert of the RCMP Commercial Crime Section.
For more information please contact: Cpl. C. R. (Chris) Lambert RCMP “D” Division Commercial Crime Section Tel.: (204) 984-1168 Cell.: (204) 470-5641 or Cpl. Chad Fournier RCMP “D” Division Commercial Crime Section Tel.: (204) 984-1942.