The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is warning anyone with a cellphone to be aware of text message schemes, which tend to try to trick people using current events.
According to Sue Labine, a call centre supervisor for the fraud prevention intake unit, the centre has been receiving more reports of text message fraud since the start of the pandemic.
She said these schemes include messages about COVID-19, vaccinations and CERB.
“The goal is the fraudster is sending malicious attachments, tricking people into clicking on these attachments and they’re having them reveal personal information as well,” Labine explained in an interview on Tuesday.
However, not all text schemes are COVID-related.
Labine said there are different pitches for every scheme, including someone pretending to be a bank.
She said one of the most recent frauds has to do with licence plate renewal fees.
“It seems to be whatever the ongoing government benefits that are current,” Labine said.
“They seem to latch onto that quite quickly and try to send text messages out.”
By clicking an attachment from an unsolicited phone number, a person could risk getting malware or spyware on their phone.
“For any unsolicited emails or text messages, it’s really important not to open or click on the link,” Labine said.
She said if someone is contacting you pretending to be a government department, then you should contact the actual department and see if it is trying to get in touch with you.
Labine added that people should pay attention to spelling errors in these messages, try to verify any hyperlinks, and avoid clicking on any suspicious links.
“If it’s unsolicited, then it’s definitely a sure sign that it’s probably a scam,” she said.
If you do click on the link of a text scheme, Labine recommends that you do a scan of your phone or bring it to a local technician. Once the phone has been serviced, she said people should change their passwords.
Labine added that if you have given out personal information, it’s best to contact your bank and credit bureaus. She said people should also file a report with police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
“Don’t give out any personal information. If you’re getting phone calls that you don’t know who’s really calling, don’t answer the phone,” she said.
“If you do, as soon as they ask for any information or money, don’t provide that information.”
Labine said it’s important to report fraud because it helps law enforcement to know what the latest schemes are, and it also helps with potential investigations.
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