Color & Control:

Fake news, fraudsters and hackers

How to keep yourself safe on line

Who and what should you believe? Everyday we’re bombarded with information which can be overwhelming, confusing and down right deceptive. Lets take a look at the  methods for fact checking and verifying what should make you raise an eyebrow, when it crosses your screen. 

Make checking a habit
Realize your preferences, beliefs and biases. Did your language affect the search results? We tend to pay attention, and believe what makes us comfortable. 

As well, always confirm the source. Is this a respected publisher? Is the author an authoritative source on this subject? What qualifies them to be so? Are any sources used to confirm the information cited correctly? Trusted journalists corroborate their sources, and do not assume they are correct. Be wary of statistics and facts. Are they real. Are they current.

Who did the research? 
So what information should be fact checked? Even the most reputable looking websites/URL’s need to be fact-checked. With today’s technology, and our ability to manipulate images and software not every webpage is from a trusted source, even if it appears so.  

Beware scammers and phishers
• Regularly check in with aging family members and inquire about any scams they may have been affected by recently. Make sure their financial statements are being reviewed for irregularities and suspicious activity.
• Try and educate senior friends and family about tech fraud and what suspicious messages or phone calls may appear like. Ensure they know that most reputable banks and financial institutions have secure means for communication.
• Ensure they are aware of the different types of scams:

1) Tech support scams which often pose as emails asking for personal information due to a problem with some device or account that may require remote access to ’fix’. They can come in the form of pop-up online windows, emails and phone calls.  

2) Imposter and online business scams, where a website is posing as a business, government agency etc. to get credit card information. 

3) Lastly, romance, friendship or family scams, which strike seniors and can be emotionally devastating for those involved. Ensure seniors have boundaries in place and understand what types of requests those close to them would, and would not make.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of cybercrime or fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. After all, no one wants to be fooled , ripped off  or have their time wasted. 

Anjolina Rankin-West is an intern with the Canadian Abilities Foundation.

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