Money and wallet, image courtesy Creative Outlet

Watch out for scams this holiday season

The Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy hopes to raise awareness of email scams.

The Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy hopes to raise awareness of email scams circulating this holiday season.

CCPL operation support worker Melody Newcombe said with so many scams going around this year she felt it was more important than ever to promote awareness and offer hints to avoid getting caught up in them.

“We all need to practice good judgment with emails and texts,” Newcombe said.

Some of her best tips and hints include reading the full email address. Check the domain address by placing your cursor over the email to make sure it is from an email that you know and trust. If you do not recognize the email don’t open it and send it to your junk email folder instead. The same goes for text messages – if you do not recognize the sender do not open, just delete it, she said.

“I have received a few texts that look like the text is from a large company, for example, Bell, texting me that I have a credit coming to me and just click on the link to get my cash refund. All I have to do is follow the instructions on the link which include me giving my bank details to get the cash. Companies like Bell never send cash credits or e-transfers, they will put a credit on your account,” Newcombe said.

Newcombe reiterated that at this time of year, there “are a ton of scams on the internet” specifically for counterfeit goods. If a bargain seems too good to be true, be wary of it. Scammers usually offer gift cards for less than the real value, like selling a $25 Amazon gift card for $10.

One of the newer scams Newcombe said is Christmas e-cards that can contain malicious software hidden in its animations, pictures or videos or a link to a hacker-controlled website. She advises the public to be wary of emails that push you towards e-cards and to trust your instincts if you receive an email that seems suspicious. If you receive one. don’t open any links to avoid downloading any Trojan viruses that will harvest your personal data and if you can, make sure you’re running good antivirus software to detect such malware.

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When it comes to fake websites, Newcombe said check if the URL begins with https:// as the S stands for secure, meaning the website uses encryption to protect data from hackers. A padlock icon will also indicate the website is trustworthy. While you can open the websites that aren’t secure, she advises not make any purchases on them.

As for fake charities, always check the web address and make sure the charity is real before donating any money.

“Other common things to watch for in scam emails and texts are poor grammar, spelling mistakes, asking for urgent action from you, or anyone asking for your personal or banking information,” Newcombe said. “The Government of Canada website has great information on how to avoid scams. If you think someone is trying to scam you, please report it to the police.”

More info can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/fraud-scams.html

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