Phishing vs Vishing

The term PHISHING relates to emails that pop up in your mailbox that usually tell you you’ve won merchandise, an inheritance or that your order is on the way (or a request from a friend asking for gift cards). The emails you receive are so sophisticated and look completely legitimate that it is difficult to tell them apart from the real thing. Typically, these emails provide you a link asking for personal information. Be cautious and leery of clicking anything. The truth is that these links will lead you to a fake website where you will be asked to provide personal information and numbers relating to your bank account, social insurance card, health card and even your driver’s licence.

 So, what’s VISHING? Same idea as phishing but it takes place over the phone using a voice mail, VOIP (stands for Voice Over IP) cell phones and even old-fashioned landlines. The term, vishing is a blend of the word ‘voice’ with ‘phishing,’. This refers to a telephone scam where the fraudster tries to trick you into revealing critical financial or personal information. The purpose is for identify theft.  In many countries around the world, having a Canadian identity is worth a lot of money.

 When vishing, a phone call is generated by a computer to the potential victim. Usually, the voice on the phone advises you that there is some suspicious activity has occurred in your bank, mortgage, or credit card account. Sometimes they claim to be calling from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Then you will be directed to a toll-free telephone number and asked to provide very specific information and details to verify your identity. On occasion they will ask you to transfer a sum of money to a new ‘safe’ account or to buy Apple ‘iTunes’ or other gift cards. Another scenario is the request for you to go immediately to the nearest ATM machine to withdraw cash as someone from the “CRA” will be by shortly to collect the funds. It’s frightening because the callers have access to software that will spoof a legitimate source.

Here are a few steps you should take to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

  1. Never under any circumstances give out personal information regardless of where they say they are calling from. The CRA will always use Canada Post mail to reach out to you or if you are registered online with the CRA, you will receive a notification to log into your account.
  2. Never call the number they provide! If it’s your financial institution or organization in question, call them directly to verify and ensure that your account has not been tampered with.

If you are a victim of this fraud, make notes of what happened and contact your local police and file a report. Call all the companies where you have accounts that may be compromised. Call both credit bureaus and request that they put a “fraud alert” on your credit file and request the most up to date copy of your credit report. Equifax can be reached at 1(800)465-7166 and TransUnion at 1 (800) 663-9980.   Lastly, report this to Canadian Anti-Fraud/Cybercrime Centre at 1 (888) 495-8501.

Please remember these scammers can be very convincing so err on the side of caution and never under any circumstances provide your personal information either by email or phone.

Stay safe and stay smart.