According to the Government of Canada's Anti-Fraud Centre,1 over 21,000 Canadians were victims of various scams in 2020, losing a combined total of $89 million. The rise in fraud is especially noticeable in e-commerce, with more customers choosing to purchase and do business online.
Here's a list of common e-commerce scams that you should be aware of, and what to do to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
E-commerce scams to be aware of
As technology continues to advance, it's important to be aware of the different types s of e-commerce scams and what to do to stay safe and protected.
At some point, you've probably received an email that just didn't seem right. Phishing emails can come from a variety of fraudulent organizations such as e-commerce stores, financial institutions, service providers, organizations offering fake prizes/gifts and even fraudulent charities.
A phishing email will typically request sensitive information like a password, credit card number, or Social Insurance Number with the goal of stealing your money or your identity. Phishing doesn’t stop with emails. Fraudsters can also send text messages and make fake phone calls to trick you into divulging your personal and financial information, also known as vishing (phone phishing) and smishing (SMS phishing).
The word 'pagejacking' combines the terms 'webpage' and 'hijacking,' to adequately describe what pagejacking is.
Hackers will create a fraudulent web page that mimics a legitimate existing site. When you're scrolling through a search engine, you might click on the fraudulent web page thinking it was the legitimate site you were looking for. By mimicking a site's login page, scammers are easily able to collect usernames and passwords.
Account takeover is a form of identity theft. It occurs when a scammer uses stolen personal information to fraudulently gain access to your online or financial accounts. Once the scammer has access to your account, they can make unauthorized purchases, withdraw money, or even change the details of your account.
It’s important to always check your financial statements to catch these purchases when they happen by calling your bank to cancel or block the payment.
Vacation fraud is another common scam to watch out for.2 In this case, the scammer sends an email from your account to your friends and family. The email states that all your belongings were stolen while on vacation and requests their help; could they please transfer money as soon as possible?
Your friends and family want to help, so they transfer the money, except you won’t receive it. You aren't even on vacation. You're at home completely unaware of what is going on.
Your email has been hacked and the scammer has stolen from your friends and family. Even after the scammer has hacked your email, they may also hack the emails of the people who tried to help you.
Online shopping fraud
Online shopping fraud occurs when a fake seller offers a product for a surprisingly low price or promises perks such as free shipping or overnight delivery with no intention of following through. Once your payment is processed, you will not receive your product and will have no way of contacting the seller for a refund.
Always keep in mind that anyone can set-up an online shop and if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A job scam can come in the form of a fake online job ad offering a high salary for work that requires minimal experience.3 The applicant is instructed to provide personal information as part of the hiring process and then their identity is stolen.
Other job scams can steal money from applicants who are asked to provide upfront payment for job-related training, materials or education.
How to protect yourself from e-commerce scams
With e-commerce scams on the rise, it's important that you know what to do to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Here are some top tips to fight fraud.
Give yourself time to pay attention to the details. Scammers like to create high-pressure environments. They will often demand immediate information and threaten consequences if not provided.
Think before you click
Don't click on hyperlinks in emails or text messages that look suspicious. Similarly, avoid opening attachments that come from unknown senders. While it might be hard to resist your curiosity and the urge to look, it's not worth the risk.
Don't respond to unsolicited emails, texts, or any communication that requests personal or financial information.
Email is not a secure method for sending sensitive content. As a rule of thumb, never send information like your credit card number or bank account details through email. Instead, contact the requester directly to ask for more information.
Do your research
Before you make a purchase or send any personal information verify the legitimacy of the online store or organization. Before buying a product look at the reviews section to see if there are any red flags about the company, product, or seller. Before accepting an online job, research the company to ensure its legitimacy.
Manage your passwords
Keep your online passwords secret. When creating passwords avoid common words or combinations like "mypassword" or "password123." Instead, opt for distinct words or phrases that use a combination of numbers and letters.
It's also good practice to avoid using the same passwords for all your logins. If a scammer can get it right for one login, they are going to see if it works for others.
Finally, if you think there's any chance that your password has been compromised, change it immediately.
Review your bills
Keep copies of your online transactions and review your credit card bills so you can reconcile your purchases and identify if there are any discrepancies or charges that you don't recognize.
Don't give your personal or financial information to anyone, especially if they've contacted you by email or social media.
How we can help
To keep you protected, multiple layers of security are in place from the moment you sign in to Scotiabank OnLine to the moment you sign out.
Online security guarantee
We offer an online security guarantee. This means you will be fully reimbursed if you suffer direct financial losses due to unauthorized activities in one of your accounts through Scotiabank OnLine or our mobile app, provided that you have met your security responsibilities. Click here for more information.
Using statements can help to reduce identity theft from statements stolen out of your mailbox or recycling bin. eStatements safely store your information and keep it secure.
As a Scotiabank OnLine customer, you can set up InfoAlerts on any of your accounts, credit cards, business accounts, or lines of credit. InfoAlerts make it easy for you to monitor all of the activity on your accounts.