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Staying safe in the digital space

Staying safe in the digital space

Take steps to help protect yourself and your family.

Connecting digitally with the world has never been easier, at home and on the go. But there’s a darker side of this exciting digital world, where threats to your privacy and finances lurk. Protecting yourself starts with being aware of the risks, and then taking steps to protect yourself and your family.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), 2018 was another record-breaking year for scams across Canada with over $121 million lost to fraudsters. And that figure is probably just the tip of the iceberg. “When taking into account that only 5% of fraud cases are reported, the more realistic annual tab is closer to $3 billion,” according to BBB president Danielle Primrose.

Cybercrime is evolving at such a pace that it’s hard to keep up. No longer are hackers content to create mischievous computer viruses that wreak havoc. Now, the stakes are much higher as hackers are becoming thieves, focused on stealing your private information, your identity and your money.

Cybercrime: social and mobile

Consumers are generally attuned to safeguarding their personal computers from established risks such as viruses. But social networks, email and mobile devices – where the public is less aware of the dangers – are fresh avenues for fraud.

Fraudulent emails, fake websites and phony links and text messagesare digital doorways through which crooks can steal your personal information, infect your devices or con you. Social engineering fraud – where criminals exploit a person’s trust and trick their victims into giving out confidential personal information and funds – is quickly moving up the danger list. This is most prevalent in the rising incidence of romance scams, where emotionally vulnerable members of dating sites are drawn into sending money to would-be Romeos (or Juliettes).

Who fraudsters target and why

Fraud doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about age, gender, income level or race. It’s an equal-opportunity threat to people from all walks of life.

It used to be considered common knowledge that seniors and new immigrants were the most vulnerable to fraud. However, recent reports indicate that technology-savvy youth are more likely to be swindled by fraudsters than seniors, according to a BBB survey that turns the stereotype of money scams on its head.

In the survey, 11% of seniors reported losing money in a scam, while 89% recognized the threat before getting fooled. Among the 18 to 24 demographic, 34% reported losing money.

And it’s not always about big money. Research from the Canadian Securities Administrators found that half of the scams they analyzed involved less than $5,000. The majority of those defrauded fail to recover their loss.

An even more frightening type of fraud – an one that can have much more far-reaching impact - is the theft of your personal information which can be used to steal your identity or resold to other crooks.

Top 10 cyber-scams and how to spot them

Fraudsters rely on the speedy evolution of technology to perpetrate their crimes. The CAFC’s statistics show that last year 56% of fraud losses were a result of email and the internet, far outpacing telephone (19%) and in-person (16%) scams. And with fraud now piggy-backing on the explosion of social media and use of mobile devices and technologies like smartphones, Wi-Fi and tablets, cyberspace has become crime’s new frontier.

But there are excellent organizations and community partners working to combat cyber-crime. For example, the Better Business Bureau publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Scams in Canada designed to engage, educate and help protect consumers and businesses throughout our communities concerning the most pervasive scams of the year.

Click here to see the entire list.

Sender beware: educate yourself on e-Transfers

Another source of fraud that’s been in the media recently concerns e-Transfers. E-Transfers, also known as email money transfers, are a convenient and secure method for transferring funds—which is probably why more than 371 million e-Transfers worth over $132 billion were made in Canada last year (Interac).

While the transfer itself is very secure, it’s not foolproof, primarily due to email scams and weak security questions.

In one case, a tradesperson was contacted by email from what appeared to be a regular vendor for a recent home renovation requesting an e-transfer for a balance of supplies. The request seemed legitimate, but after the e-Transfer was accepted, the builder contacted the company and found out that they had not requested the payment. The tradesperson had been duped by a fraudster posing as the legitimate vendor.

In another case, a woman tried to send an e-Transfer to a friend to reimburse her for travel expenses. When the friend tried to open the email to accept the transfer, she was told the money had already been deposited. A fraudster had hacked into and intercepted her email and because of a weak security question was able to redirect and deposit the intended funds into their own account.

What you can do to protect yourself

The key areas of vulnerability in e-Transfers lie not in the technology, but in consumers diligence. Here are ways you can protect yourself and your e-Transfers:

  • Choose security questions that are not easy to guess in case the notification is sent to the wrong person or intercepted by a criminal. Never communicate the answer to the security question via email. Call or text the recipient with the answer.
  • Be wary of any emails asking for payment. Phishing emails often have numerous visual cues, such as strange typos, or the “$” sign often appears after the amount. Always double check directly with the company or individual asking for payment – either by phone or in a separate email to ensure the request is legitimate.
  • If you are suspicious about a transaction for any reason, immediately notify your financial institution.
  • If you think an Interac e-Transfer notification is a scam, forward it to

How BlueShore protects your information

BlueShore Financial has always been committed to protecting your privacy, and we recognize the critical importance of preserving the confidentiality of your sensitive financial information. We ensure that appropriate safeguards and security controls are built into everything we do.

If you think you’ve been targeted by an email scam or other fraudulent activity, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, through its website at or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501.

If you think your BlueShore Financial banking has been compromised, contact us at 604.982.8000 (1.888.713.6728).

Learn more about how you can protect yourself from cybercrime

It’s always a good time to update your cybersecurity awareness and your online habits. BlueShore has an extensive online resource library of information on safeguarding your privacy and security.

Comments or suggestions? Please email us.

The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete. This article is provided as a general source of information and should not be considered personal investment advice.

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