How to Avoid Online Fraud

Beware of phone calls claiming to be from a family member, law enforcement officer, or lawyer calling on behalf of a loved one. 

The caller will say a loved one was involved in an emergency situation, such as a car accident, charged by law enforcement, or is injured.  They will demand payment immediately to cover bail or other amounts to assist the loved one.  The caller will ask you to keep the information confidential and will instruct you to withdraw cash from your financial institution or transfer the money using other means. 

If you receive such a call, hang up the phone and contact your family member or law enforcement directly and immediately. 


Billions of dollars are stolen every year by thieves with nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection.

Online fraud is usually committed by people impersonating someone else, whether it be a financial institution employee, a member of a tech support team for a big company, or a representative of an e-commerce site.
Fraud is avoidable.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure no one has access to your money, email account, or any other valuable or sensitive property.

Always verify the web address of a company you're contacting.

Whether you're contacting your financial institution, a website from which you buy merchandise, or tech support for an IT company, look at the URL in the address bar at the top of the screen. Is the domain name right? If you're trying to contact Microsoft or Google, then the URL should end in or respectively. 

Fraudsters regularly adopt domain names that seem legitimate by including the name of the company in question but adding another word, e.g., or by using a different top-level domain at the end, e.g. .net instead of .com. Only when you have ensured that the web address is that of the company you wish to contact, should you go ahead and talk to them. 

Be mindful of 'virus' warnings

A favorite trick of fraudsters is to use pop-up warnings advising you that your computer is "at risk" or "infected".  The fraudsters then add contact details for getting it fixed. In many cases, there is even a spoken message telling you to take action.

These warnings are always fake, and you should not visit sites where they appear. When you contact the people behind them, you will be charged a heavy price for having a non-existent problem solved, and possibly have a real virus placed on your computer so that you will need to contact them again. In addition to all this, they can also use the access to your computer to steal from you.

Save your trusted sites as bookmarks or favourites.

Instead of utilizing Google, Bing & other search engines each time you navigate to commonly used but sensitive sites, save the sites as favourites or bookmarks.  Fraudsters place ads at the top of search results that look almost identical to the site you're trying to access. These sites are spoof sites and clicking on these links leads you to a similar-looking but fraudulent website. This is called “Malvertising” (malware and advertising) and if you’re not vigilant at spotting it, you could get burned.  

Never reveal your PIN or password to anyone

If someone online asks you for a password, PIN, or one-time security code you've received by phone from your financial institution, you know they are a fraudster. Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions will never ask you to reveal this information to them when you're speaking with them by phone or online. 

Never allow anyone remote access to your computer

Many types of online theft are impossible without remote access. The fraudsters will pretend they need access to your computer to repair some defect or to help you with some complex problem you cannot handle yourself. You will be asked to click on some links to give consent. These clicks then give the fraudster access to your computer. Once they have access to your computer, they can black out the screen to hide what they are doing and look through your files for any useful information such as bank details or passwords. In addition to stealing your information, they can also place an invisible keylogger on the device to read everything you type from then on (e.g. credit card details when you buy online).

Most often, fraudsters will not tell you what they are doing when asking you to click on the remote access consent link. If you find you have inadvertently allowed them access to your device, cut them off immediately by holding down the power key on your computer for ten seconds to switch your device off. You can also break contact by disconnecting your internet service. This can be done by switching off the router or removing the cable from your device.

Beware of phone calls claiming to be from your financial institution or credit card provider.

Many fraudsters begin by phoning their victims claiming there has been a breach of security on an account or credit card with some e-commerce site. Typically, they will then ask for more details such as PINs or passwords. They claim they need this private information to secure your account.

If you co-operate, they may then tell you all your money has to be moved to a secure account (i.e., theirs).

These calls are fake and no bank, credit union or financial institution will ever ask you for your PIN or password over the phone. If you receive such a call, hang up and contact the institution in question to ensure there is no problem.

What to do if you think you are being defrauded

You may only realize you are a victim when it is too late.

If this occurs, contact the financial institution in question and ask them to stop any transactions on your account.

If you have allowed anyone remote access to your computer:

  • take it to a repair shop to have spyware (e.g. keyloggers) removed and have it checked for viruses that may have been placed on it by the fraudsters. 
  • keep your computer switched off until the repairs have been completed.

Don't be put off by the threat of fraud

Communication technology has greatly simplified financial transactions; making banking, shopping, and booking easier than it ever was.

It is a huge advance that improves the lives of millions of people.

There is no need to be intimidated by the risk of theft. Taking these simple precautions will ensure that all your transactions are secure.

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