Newspaper article The Canadian Press

With Online Shopping, Banking More Popular Consumers Need to Guard against Scams: Online Con Jobs Can Be Deceptively Simple

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

With Online Shopping, Banking More Popular Consumers Need to Guard against Scams: Online Con Jobs Can Be Deceptively Simple

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - Did you ever get an email saying a package couldn't be delivered and you should click on the attachment for details?

How about one asking you to change your bank password?

Con jobs involving banking and e-commerce in cyberspace can be quite simple but effective, experts warn.

With the increasing popularity of online shopping and banking, consumers need to be aware of scams that are trying to get financial and personal information, said Kevin Haley of Symantec Corp., maker of software security programs.

"They're not these incredible genius hackers," said Haley, a director with Symantec's security response team in Culver City, Calif.

"It's a good con job appealing to our sense of curiosity and wanting to know what's going on. They can fool us into clicking on these things. Just like a good con man back in the real world, he knows what our basic human needs are."

Other times, cyber fraud can be sneakier.

John -- not his real name -- had $17,000 stolen online from his chequing account, charges put on his line of credit and on fake credit cards in his name.

"I opened my laptop and checked online and lo and behold all of the money was gone," he said, adding he has no idea how his computer got infected but it had been acting "funny."

"It's a horrible feeling. I wouldn't say violated but you feel so, you know, exposed. It's hard to put into words, but it's not a fun feeling."

John got his money back after his bank found he had been the victim of online fraud.

Banking scams can involve getting an email that appears to be from a bank saying it's updating your accounts and asks for passwords, Haley said. Other methods to get financial information can be from what's known as a banking trojan, which can send an email saying a package couldn't be delivered along with an attachment that supposedly has the details, he added.

The Canadian Bankers Association said online banking fraud caused losses of about $8.5 million in 2010, its most recent figures.

Apart from having money and personal information stolen, consumers also need to be wary of buying goods from fraudulent websites.

If you're buying designer sunglass that usually sell for $300 for $50, you're more than likely wearing counterfeit shades. …

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