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Stay cyber-safe this holiday season

Published: December 21st, 2016 By: IT Business Staff

The holidays are a busy time of year, packed with family gatherings, festive parties and hours spent lining up in crowded stores to buy gifts for loved ones. It’s also a time when consumers are distracted, making them easier targets for potential ‘ishing’ scams, which can compromise bank accounts and credit cards — potentially leading to debit or credit card fraud and even identity theft.

Financial institutions have several strategies in place to protect against fraud, but it’s also important that consumers are aware of and take advantage of those safety measures. That starts with understanding the difference between various ‘ishing’ scams and legitimate fraud alerts from banks.

Here are three types of ‘ishing’ that you should be aware of:

Smishing: Text messages are sent to your smartphone via SMS in an attempt to trick you into providing personal information. The message may include a link to what looks like a legitimate website and asks you to enter personal financial information, such as your credit or debit card number, CVV code, SIN number, e-mail address or other personal information.

Watch out for: spelling and grammatical errors in the text message, as well as the overuse of exclamation marks. Hyperlinks in the message and a request to click on a website could also be red flags.

Phishing: An authentic-looking e-mail appears to come from a legitimate source in an effort to ‘phish’ for personal and financial information. The email directs you to a link that re-directs you to a fraudulent or ‘spoofed’ website. Once on the fraudulent site, you’re asked to enter personal or financial information that is later used to commit fraud.

Watch out for: being asked to reply to an email with personal or login information (such as usernames, passwords, PINs, account numbers, or security questions and answers). Unencrypted e-mail is not secure, so if you receive an email claiming to be from a financial institution and you believe it to be fraudulent, don’t respond and don’t click on any links or attachments contained within the email. If you’re asked to contact a financial institution, find the contact information independently.

Vishing: Unsolicited telephone communications attempt to trick you into providing personal or financial information. This is a common tactic used to strengthen a phishing expedition.

Watch out for: requests for personal information by unsolicited telephone calls. If you suspect the call may not be from a legitimate financial institution, tell them you want to call back through the toll-free number on the back of the card.

These days, it’s becoming more common for banks to use text messaging to communicate with customers — and that includes fraud alerts, which instantly notify you if suspicious activity is detected with your debit or credit card accounts. However, consumers should stay on the alert for smishing scams even if they’re accustomed to receiving legitimate texts from their bank.

So how can you tell a legitimate fraud alert from an ‘ishing’ attempt? TD Bank has a new feature that sends its Canadian customers free¹ fraud alert text messages if suspicious activity is detected on their card. Customers can reply to the alert with a simple ‘Y’ or ‘N’ to confirm whether they recognize the transaction and have TD unblock or block their card.

TD will never ask customers to reply to a Fraud Alert text with any personal information or ask customers to click on any links in their reply. For more information about TD Fraud Alerts or to watch a video to see how it works, visit tdcanadatrust.com. Don’t forget to make sure TD has your current mobile phone numbers to receive these alerts.

The TD MySpend app can also help by keeping customers aware of their transactions on TD personal banking and credit card accounts. Customers receive real-time notifications when making a purchase, which allows them to recognize fraudulent purchases.

If you suspect that your debit or credit card has been compromised, notify your bank right away to minimize the damage and prevent further fraudulent activity. You may also want to contact law enforcement and credit reporting agencies.

This information is aimed at helping consumers protect themselves against fraud, but it’s not foolproof: it’s a fast-paced, constantly changing world, so consumers should ensure they’re keeping up-to-date and monitoring security features and preventative measures to minimize risk of fraud.

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by TD Bank.

¹ TD does not charge any fees for TD Fraud Alerts. However, standard wireless carrier message rates may apply.

Minimize your risk: The information above is provided to help you protect yourself, but it’s not foolproof: it’s a fast-paced and constantly changing world so make sure you are keeping up-to-date on and monitoring security features and preventative measures to minimize your risk of fraud.

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