Online scamming activity has increased rapidly these last few days. Scammers are impersonating organizations providing COVID-19 updates. Methods have included attachments about government announcements, best practices, COVID-19 updates, and similar. Scammers are also sending emergency payment requests or pretending to be trade partners in trouble or quarantined and needing a payment or redirection of payment to another bank account.
Given the emotionally charged environment we are currently in, these online scammers will adapt all their existing scams and play on your emotions. It is incredibly easy in this situation to get someone to open an e-mail or attachment. IT security systems cannot protect you against sending out your sensitive personal / work information, so additional care and attention is paramount.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Please read through the following, including the infographic on Social Engineering Red Flags so that you can stay safe during this troubling time. Taking a few moments to verify the authenticity of a request could protect your organization and the personal information of residents and clients.
- Do not fill out any unknown online forms or provide financial information via e-mail. No government program, department, or agency will require you to send confidential / financial information via e-mail.
- No one from the CRA or IRS has a warrant for your arrest. If there were a warrant, they would find you regardless of how you respond to their email or phone call!
- If any of the websites you normally use look different to you – STOP. Click on the top left lock icon as shown in the picture below. If the text doesn’t look something like what is provided below, then do not proceed. If the lock is not on a website you visit, we strongly recommend against using that website. No reasonable website should be missing that lock icon.
- IT departments will never ask you for your personal password / pin to provide you help. Refuse to share your password for any service with anyone else.
- Any changes to a vendor’s account need to be confirmed by telephone with a human being. The person you speak with should be a listed contact accessible via their normal and existing phone numbers.
Please remain vigilant throughout these new circumstances. It is at these times, when people are distracted and focused on crisis management, that online scammers enjoy their best success.