Rights & Money

Beware of these online scams this holiday season

Advertorial – It’s not uncommon to spend more time online during the holidays – shopping, exchanging greetings and catching up with the people we care about. Here are a few common online scams to watch for and some advice on how to avoid them.

Did you get an email that appears to come from a bank, the government or a business, asking you to act quickly and/or validate your personal information? Be careful!  Remember that banks, phone companies, government and other legitimate organizations will never ask you to send personal information by email, text message or through an unsolicited call. Also, if the message contains links or attachments, don’t click on them!

Refunds, contests and draws
Did you get a message (via text, email or social media) saying that you have the right to a refund or have won a prize or some money? Again, it’s probably a scam.

If you did take participate in a contest or draw, and think the email may be legitimate, ask yourself these questions before you reply:

  • Did the message really come from the organization running the contest?
  • Does it mention the specific contest you participated in?
  • Is the message personally addressed to you?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, delete the message. If possible, report the message in the platform you’re using.  For instance, on Facebook, you can report possible scams by clicking on the three dots adjacent to the message, and then on Something’s Wrong or Report Post.

Fake technical assistance
Is your web browsing interrupted by an intrusive window claiming that your computer has been infected by a virus? This is also a fraud attempt. The message may ask you to call a number and pay to resolve the problem (which is often non-existent) or to let so-called technicians take control of your device. It is best to ignore such messages, close your browser and restart your computer.

Urgent request for money
Beware of messages that appear to come from family, friends or someone else you know, with an urgent request for money to help them deal with a situation – for instance, losing a wallet.  Take the time to contact the person offline, ideally by speaking with them directly, to verify their request and/or notify them that their email or social media account has been hacked.

Seeing web page ads appear regularly, especially when you are starting your computer, is not normal.  This may be an indication that your device is infected with adware. To resolve the problem, ask a tech-savvy friend for help, or go to an electronics store; they can scan your device for, and remove any possible adware or other malware from your device.

Facebook friend requests
One last piece of advice: on social media, there’s no need to feel bad about refusing friend requests – especially from people you don’t know, even if they are friends with people you do know. This can help protect you and your information from strangers who may not necessarily have your best interests at heart.

The techniques that fraudsters use are constantly changing. Stay informed with TELUS Wise, a free-of-charge digital literacy education program. The TELUS Wise Seniors Guide, available on the website, includes information on Internet, social media and smartphone safety and much more, You can also book an informative and free in-person workshop for your seniors’ group here.