Shopping online for Black Friday? Be wary of cyber threats, federal partners warn – National |

Canadians are being urged to watch for cyber threats while shopping online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In a joint statement, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Get Cyber Safe campaign, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have warned against getting “caught up in the excitement.”

“In the rush to secure deals online, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the big savings being offered by savvy retailers,” the statement released by the federal partners said Thursday.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), “COVID-19 has created an environment that is ripe for fraud and online criminal activity.”

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In 2021, for example, CAFC said frauds associated with buying or selling goods, or services online accounted for more than $21.1 million in reported losses.

“If something appears too good to be true, it probably is,” the CAFC said.

There are also ways to keep from getting scammed by recognizing some important signs, according to the Get Cyber Safe campaign, like prices being too low and sites that look poorly designed.

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Some of the red flags to keep an eye on also include payment processes that seem overly complicated or stores that are missing key information or ones that are missing security elements.

“The majority of legitimate retailers will always have a return policy, a privacy policy and proper contact information for the business,” the statement said.

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When it comes to security elements, “a padlock symbol next to the URL in the address bar that is open or missing indicates the website’s data is not secure” and consumers shouldn’t buy from it, the statement added.

Another thing to watch for are “typos or errors in the URL of the store.”

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“Scams, fraud and cybercrime are significant issues that are having real impacts on individuals, businesses and organizations in Canada and around the world. Unfortunately, fraudsters and cybercriminals use holiday promotions to continue to victimize people,” Chris Lynam, director general of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and National Cybercrime Coordination Centre, said in the statement.

“The best way to protect yourself and those around you is by learning what fraud and cybercrime looks like and report it,” he added.

The federal partners are also advising that anyone who has been a victim of a cybercrime, fraud or scam, should contact their local police immediately.

The CAFC also said it’s important for Canadians to report an instance, whether they are a victim or not, to the agency via their Online Reporting System or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

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