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Why you should watch out for phishing, smishing and vishing

You may think you’ll never fall victim to phishing attacks, but new technologies are making online and phone scams more dangerous. Also, other family members could be at risk.

Phishing is the umbrella term for scams that fraudsters attempt through your computer or devices. Smishing, or SMS phishing, refers to text message scams. Vishing is voice phishing—scam attempts over the phone.
Unfortunately, a great many attempts at all kinds of fraud have been and continue to be successful. In the first six months of 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 32,458 reports of fraud attempts. Of those, 21,299 people fell victim to the scams. They lost a combined amount of more than $283 million—and that only represents reported cases.

The need for vigilance

Cyber criminals are making existing methods appear more authentic and introducing new scams. In some cases, they use information from social media profiles to personalize their phishing email messages. Smishing attempts can send texts that seem to be from your own bank, mobile company or another provider. They may even include a QR code that takes you to a malicious website, a scam known as quishing. New technologies used in vishing create a caller ID to make the phone call appear legitimate.

Alert your family

It’s a good idea to make sure your spouse, children and parents are also being cautious. Think before clicking on a link. Be certain any text message is from a known contact. Otherwise, don’t respond, even if you’re instructed to text “stop” or “no” to stop receiving messages. Don’t scan just any QR code. Don’t give personal or financial information over the phone; look up the organization’s number and call them back.

Overall, stay alert—it only takes one lapse to fall victim to fraud.

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