‘Phishing’ for trouble: Online fraudsters using sophisticated bait

Online fraud is increasing as fraudsters are continuing to use sophisticated ways to hack into customer bank accounts by sending an e mail, this phenomenon is known as phishing.

March is Fraud Prevention Month and Canadians need to be aware of the dangers of online fraud. eBay Canada’s online safety expert , Marc Saltzman says there are common characteristics a consumer can look for to determine if it is a phishing e mail or not.

“(It) usually starts with an e mail that is sent to the could be victim that looks like its from a known institution such as a bank, and will give a false sense of urgency,” Saltzman said. “(It will ask you) to update your personal information, (and then) click on a link that will send you to a spoof website,” Saltzman said.

More than 10,000 phishing websites exist worldwide and anyone can be affected.

“Anybody and everybody can be targeted,” said Saltzman.

Twenty-four-year-old college student, Ryan Morris says that he was a victim of online fraud but of another kind. Morris moved to Canada from England in 2005 and when applying for a RBC visa credit card he was advised that he already had received one in 2003 and it was in collections.

Morris then became aware that he had been a victim of fraud and had to prove that he was not the recipient of the credit card in question.

“A week later I took my landing papers (to the bank) to prove my point…. They then advised me to file a police report,” Morris said. “I was later advised that the card was applied for online,” Morris continued.

Morris’ personal information had been stolen after he applied for permanent resident status in Canada in 2003, but not yet migrated.

Consumers can protect themselves from falling victim to online fraud by being aware of the problem. In the case that an e mail is received from a financial institution, check it out.

“Be aware that it exists, look for telling signs and look for phishing e mails that address you in a very generic manner,” Said Saltzman.

If you suspect your have been a victim of fraud contact your financial institution, go to ebay.ca/securitycentre for tips and links and report to the phishing site, Saltzman said, and contact your financial institution to stop credit card(s) transactions.