NOVA SCOTIA RCMP
In the time of COVID-19, many Nova Scotians are taking their shopping online. Scammers are looking to take advantage of this and cash in on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season.
“The more you know about scams, the less likely you are to become a victim,” says Cpl. Wayne Ross of the Nova Scotia RCMP. “Fraudsters can be very convincing, so understanding their tricks is the key to protecting yourself.”
Three common scams are domain-impersonation scams, pyramid schemes and selling counterfeit goods. The good news is that you can protect yourself by learning how to spot these scams.
“Clik here for big discount luxury hamdbags!”
With these scams, fraudsters steal personal information or payment data from unsuspecting shoppers, or distribute malware (software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system).
How to spot it:
- Check whether a website or email domain reflects the business or organization. Many businesses and organizations have personalized domains. This means that their web and email addresses mirror the name of their business or organization. For example, the RCMP’s web address is https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ and the end of RCMP email addresses is “@rcmp-grc.gc.ca”. This is different from fraudsters, who may use free domains (ie. Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, gmail.com, yahoo.com, me.com, etc.). While some legitimate businesses use free domains, this can be a red flag to do more research before making a purchase.
- Double check that the domain name is spelled correctly. Sometimes fraudsters will purchase domains that are very close to legitimate ones. It may be as subtle as replacing an “m” with an “rn” (for example, “rcmp” vs. “rcrnp”).
- Keep an eye out for poor spelling and grammar, poor picture quality, and poorly copied corporate logos. These can be clues that a site is not legitimate.
- Be wary of emails from organizations you have never visited or done business with. You may want to reach out by phone using a number from a legitimate source, such as the organization’s official website (which you can search for via internet search engine).
- Before clicking a link in an email, hover your mouse over the link to see where it leads. Sometimes just clicking on a fraudster’s link can cause problems, so you want to be sure you are only clicking on links to legitimate sites. When you hover your mouse over a link, you will see the web address that the link leads to. Make sure to do this and check the domain address and spelling before clicking.
- If you are shopping on a website for an organization you have never done business with, do some research to ensure it is legitimate. Some signs of scams include not having a physical address listed, active social media accounts or online reviews.
- Check for a secure connection before entering any personal information on websites. Sites with a secure connection will have a lock symbol in the left hand side of the URL bar of your web browser. Secure sites will also start with “https” (the “s” stands for “secure”). If you do not see this, do not enter personal information.
You can also take a proactive step to protect yourself by installing the latest updates for your devices. Each update contains new security patches to help protect you. If you don’t know how to do this, you may want to reach out to the company you purchased your devices from and ask for assistance.
“If you enter our gift exchange and send one person a gift, you’ll get 10 gifts from other people!”
Not so fast. Before participating in a gift exchange, make sure it only involves people you know. If you take part in a gift exchange involving people you don’t know, you may not receive gifts as promised and your personal details could end up with people you’ve never met. While these can seem like a nice idea, they are not worth the risk.
“Designer watches for 95% off!”
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce your likelihood of buying counterfeit goods:
- Consider whether the site is legitimate and secure. Check it over using the tips in the Domain Impersonation Scheme section of this news release.
- Does the product have a "use-by" date, safety seal or warranty information? If not, this could be a sign of counterfeit. Legitimate refurbished goods should come with inspection and authentication certificates.
Scammers can be very smart and persuasive, so it is important to stay aware of evolving frauds and know how to spot them. You can help protect yourself and others by sharing this news release on your social networks. It is also helpful to check in on people who may be less tech savvy to make sure they understand how to spot these scams. For the next several days, the Nova Scotia RCMP will be sharing more fraud prevention tips on social using the hashtags #BlackFridayScams and #CyberMondayScams. Follow along at Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia on Facebook and @RCMPNS on Twitter.
If you believe you may be a victim of fraud, contact your local police and check out the RCMP Victim Assistance Guide (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/
For more information on various types of scams, visit https://www.antifraudcentre-