Provincial police in Huron County are warning residents about a scam that could create headaches and financial loss if they fall victim.
In late March, two Huron residents reported receiving text messages from scammers notifying them the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and Service Canada had validation permit (or valtag) refunds for them.
A hyperlink was attached in the text message and the victims clicked onto the link.
Upon clicking onto the link the victims were asked to provide PIN numbers and passwords. Both, however, contacted their banks and their bank cards were cancelled prior to sustaining any monetary loss.
Police say so-called smishing scams are an active method for scammers. When cybercriminals phish, they send fraudulent emails that seek to trick the recipient into clicking onto a malicious link. Typically, scammers want the recipient to open a URL link within the text message, where they are then led to a phishing tool prompting them to disclose personal information. The phishing tool often comes in the form of a website or app that also poses under a false identity.
Smishing simply uses text messages instead of email.
Huron OPP has this advice:
- Do not click on the link. The MTO does NOT send text or email messages to the public.
- Never give out any personal, credit or banking information to anyone over the phone, by letter, email, fax or any other means of communication. Additionally, never provide anyone your Social Insurance Number (SIN) over the phone.
- Any legitimate agency will never request a payment by Interac e-transfer, online currency such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or pre-paid gift cards such as Google Play, iTunes, etc. Scammers will also ask to purchase large denomination gift cards as a form of payment.
- The best advice is to do nothing at all. If you don’t respond, a malicious text cannot do anything. If the message seems urgent in nature, slow down, this is a sign it’s likely a scam. Remain skeptical and proceed cautiously. If you are unsure if the message is legitimate or not call the merchant or bank directly.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM
- Report the suspected attack to your bank, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and police.
Freeze your credit cards and banking cards to prevent any future or ongoing identity fraud.
- Immediately change your passwords and account PIN #’s
- Monitor your finances, credit and online accounts for strange login locations and other suspicious activities.
If you are the recipient of a fraudulent call, text or email, or if you’ve been a victim of a fraud, you are encouraged to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 or visit http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca .