The Hub How to protect yourself from online fraud

How to protect yourself from online fraud

March is Fraud Prevention Month

Many of us spend more of our lives online than ever before—and with that shift comes an increase in the potential for online fraud. March is Fraud Prevention Month, and as a digital university, it’s important to help students and staff protect themselves online.

Last year saw record-breaking fraud-related financial losses for Canadian individuals and organizations. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, $530 million was lost to scams and fraud in 2022—a 40% increase over 2021.

What is fraud?

Fraud is typically understood as an attempt to deceive someone for monetary gain or personal information but takes many different forms. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre provides up-to-date information on the types of scams and frauds most often reported in Canada.

For students and staff of AU, you may be the focus of a scammer attempting to gain access to AU’s systems.

“The digital age we operate in today is inundated with data breaches and other online threats,” AU security awareness analyst Cleo Mushonga said. “Being part of the digital world means AU and its community can be targets of cyber crime.” 

“Being part of the digital world means AU and its community can be targets of cyber crime.”

– Cleo Mushonga, AU security awareness analyst

Phishing is a type of fraud

Phishing is one of the easiest ways for fraudsters to try to steal your AU credentials, personal information (like a social insurance number), or to get into AU’s systems.

It could be a mass email campaign that appears to be from recognized institutions, like AU or another government agency, and could include:

  • a claim that you need to update your account
  • malicious links or attachments
  • appear to be a receipt from a purchase or another official document

Your computer could be infected with malware if you click the link or open the attachment.

How to protect yourself from phishing

One of the most effective fraud-prevention measures is recognizing and preventing phishing attempts. Below are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Beware of text messages and emails from individuals or organizations asking you to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t click anything. Block and delete.
  • Be wary if you’re seeing spelling mistakes in emails or text messages.
  • Verify the hyperlink by hovering your cursor over the link or button.
  • Set up multifactor authentication for all online accounts and change your passwords frequently. Help with your AU login information is on the technical support site.

Learn more about phishing, as well as how to create a strong password.

Crypto fraud

Cryptocurrency is basically digital money. Using computer algorithms or blockchain technology, there is no single organization managing the currency. Each person participates in managing the money and its movement.

Fraudsters are attracted to new and emerging markets, so cryptocurrency represents a new online scamming opportunity.

Some examples of this type of fraud include pretending to be a friend or family member with an offer of an exciting, limited-time crypto investment opportunity. Another favourite is a deceptive social or digital advertisement connected to a fake trading platform.

How to protect yourself against crypto fraud

Protect yourself by understanding the red flags before investing. Watch out for limited-time offers and investment opportunities that sound too good to be true. If you get a suspicious message from a friend or family member, try to connect with them through a different type of communication to determine if the investment opportunity was really from them.

Cybersecurity at AU

Learn more about cybersecurity at AU, including training, resources for password management, and tips for recognizing fraud.

  • March 15, 2023