October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and law enforcement agencies are trying to use the opportunity to make the public more aware of the risks associated with being online. It is sometimes difficult for many of us to figure out which digital ads or social media posts are legitimate, which is why police are offering safety tips and best practices in order to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft.
For example, the OPP’s campaign is focused on four broad themes: identity theft; online child safety; online shopping and safe trade zones; and the OPP cyber crime investigations team. Online and digital crimes in Canada are already estimated to total in the billions of dollars, and police are warning that the losses are expected get even worse as next-generation crime devices and schemes evolve and become more advanced. We know that scams that are not that new are still making the rounds and finding more victims, a recent example of which is a business that received unsolicited emails advertising heavy equipment for sale that were reportedly based on information lifted from legitimate auction and sales sites. The victim follows up with the apparently legit source of the emails and, after completing a wire transfer, is provided with excuses as to why the equipment has not been delivered and communicating has been difficult.
In addition to using caution when dealing with unsolicited emails, the public is being reminded of caller ID spoofing in which the telephone number on display is a local or familiar number to trick the potential victim into placing trust with the caller when, in fact, the call could be coming from anywhere in the world. Try not to feel embarrassed about reporting a loss after being duped, police emphasize. You are not alone, and sharing your experience could save others from a similar outcome.