Scams in Canada Are on the Rise—Here’s How to Protect Yourself | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

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Use Strong Passwords

Your passwords should be at least seven characters and a combination of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and symbols. Don’t include your birth year or your kids’ or pets’ names. However, a “passphrase” is a good idea; for example, “[email protected]#1!” (derived from “my cat Charlie is no. 1”).

Most importantly, never use the same password for all of your online activity, because if a site or app is breached, then the crooks will try that same password for your other accounts. Password-manager apps like 1Password and Dashlane can help keep track of all your login information and ensure each password is secure.

If you use any of these weak passwords, you’ll want to update your settings immediately.

Limit the Information You Share

Set your social media profiles to private. If someone asks to connect with you on social media, only accept their request if you know them. Even if it’s a name and photo of someone you know, confirm it’s them by reaching out to them in another way. If it’s a fake, block and report the fraudulent message.

Double Your Efforts

For online banking and shopping apps, opt for two-factor authentication, which not only requires your password to log in but also a one-time code sent to your mobile device to prove it’s really you.

Hide Yourself

Use the “private” or “incognito” mode of your browser, which deletes your history and cookies after your session so the information is not left on the device. Better yet, consider reputable virtual private network (VPN) software to remain anonymous when online.

Rethink Your Email Accounts

The email accounts you use on social media should not be the same ones you have tied to your bank accounts, health-care information or confidential conversations you may be having, says Payton. “This is because these publicly accessible email accounts can be easily harvested using free marketing tools.”

Instead, Payton suggests using an encrypted email platform like Proton Mail. In addition, use separate phone numbers for personal use and anything tied to finances. You can get a free secondary phone number on your existing smartphone from apps like TextNow, Google Voice or Talkatone.

Shop Safely

Always use a secure internet connection—your home Wi-Fi, for example—when making an online purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (secure socket layer) that encrypt data during transmission. (You will see a little “padlock” icon on your browser and usually “https” at the front of your address bar.) And experts say it’s safer to shop within a store’s app than the web.

Shop only on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay. When shopping at an unfamiliar merchant’s site, look for some sort of security seal of approval, such as DigiCert, Better Business Bureau and VeriSign. On auction sites like eBay, check the seller’s reputation and read comments before buying a product.

Don’t shop (or bank) online using a public Wi-Fi hotspot—such as in a café, airport or hotel lobby—as they’re not as secure as your home Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. Instead, make a “personal hotspot” out of your phone.

Discover more tips for safer online shopping.

Protect Your Tech

To prevent viruses or other malware, install anti-malware software on your devices. It’s like placing a deadbolt on your front door and activating an alarm system. Formerly called anti-virus software, anti-malware software can identify, quarantine, delete and report suspicious activity.

The most robust products include a firewall, encryption options and webcam-intrusion detection (to prevent someone accessing your webcam).

Protection against scams in Canada is about being on guard, learning to sense when something seems suspicious and installing software, such as anti-malware, to give you peace of mind.

Based in Toronto, Marc Saltzman has been “breaking down geek speak into street speak” for more than 25 years. Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts, or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast.

Now that you’re familiar with the most common scams in Canada, check out this expert advice on how to prevent identity theft.

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