March is Fraud Prevention Month
What UM students and staff can do to stop fraudsters
Fraud is a growing concern in Canada, and universities are not immune to this problem. According to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, $530 million was lost to fraud in 2022 – a 28% increase from 2021.
It is important for us all to learn about these scams and take steps to protect our personal information and stop fraudsters in their tracks. Two of the most common types of fraud that affect university communities are business email fraud and phishing.
Business email fraud
Business email fraud, also known as CEO fraud, is a type of scam in which fraudsters impersonate a high-level administrator, such as a dean or president and send emails to employees requesting sensitive information or money.
To protect yourself from business email fraud, never respond to unsolicited emails that ask for personal information or money. If you receive an email that appears to be from a supervisor or a faculty, unit or department lead, verify the sender’s identity by calling them or using a known email address before responding.
Phishing scams typically take the form of emails or text messages that appear to come from a trusted source, such as a bank or a government agency. The scammer then asks for personal information to be sent to them, which they can use to steal your identity or money.
To protect yourself from phishing scams, never respond to unsolicited emails or text messages, always be cautious of emails that contain attachments and never send money or personal information to someone you do not know.
March phishing simulation
The university will run our annual Fraud Prevention Month phishing simulation in March. The email will likely be a notice about your tax information. Watch out for these three indicators of a possible scam:
- Urgency or fear – the message will try to reel you in by triggering a fear response.
- Suspicious links – typos in domain names are a common trick, e.g. “umaniloba.ca.”
- Fictional department or unit – for example, the university does not have a “Tax Department.”
If you notice any of these warning signs, forward the message to spam [at] umanitoba [dot] ca immediately.
What else you can do
You can take several other steps to protect your personal information and stop bad actors. These include using strong passwords, regularly checking your credit report and being cautious when sharing personal information online. Additionally, stay informed about the latest frauds and scams, pay attention to university information security alerts and report any suspicious messages to spam [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.
Remember: Information Security Starts with You!