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Tips to prevent fraudsters from accessing your private information

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Summary

Hackers may have managed to crack into thousands of accounts at the Canada Revenue Agency

The Better Business Bureau has some tips that can prevent fraudsters from accessing your private information

The BBB warns the 'most harmful perspective is believing you are not at risk of a cyberattack'

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — After several cyberattacks targeting the Canada Revenue Agency, a consumer watchdog has some warnings and reminders to keep you safe.

If you’re one of the 5,600 consumers whose accounts were targeted in what the federal government describes as “credential stuffing” schemes, the Better Business Bureau has some tips of additional steps you should take to protect yourself.

Monitor your credit card statements carefully and consider adding a credit freeze or fraud alert.

“A credit freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze. A fraud alert flags your account but does not automatically halt new credit being opened in your name,” the BBB says.

Update your passwords for all your accounts and if any email looks at all suspicious, don’t respond to it.

“With more people going online to shop, bank, connect with family and friends, access medical records, apply for government grants as well as manage other aspects of their business and personal life, proactively safeguarding online accounts against unauthorized access needs to be top priority,” Karla Laird with the BBB explains.

“Compromised accounts could lead to everything from identity theft and extortion attempts, to fraudulent schemes and loss of valuable data like business files and family photos. Strong systems are still at risk of being compromised if users have poor cybersecurity practices like weak passwords that they share with others or use for multiple accounts.”

The CRA expects online services to be fully restored by Wednesday after cyber-breaches in which hackers used passwords and usernames from other websites to access Canadians’ revenue agency accounts.

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If you were not one of the victims targeted in the recent CRA cyberattacks, the BBB has added additional tips to help Canadians avoid similar incidents of scams, frauds, identity theft, and online accounts.

The bureau recommends, doubling your login protection like using a fingerprint or an additional password.

Consider using longer or creative passwords to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your accounts.

You can also “Play hard to get with strangers.”

“Cyber criminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims, usually by pretending to be someone they know, trust or recognize. If you are unsure about who an email is from-even if the details appear accurate- or if the email looks suspicious, do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments enclosed. Where possible, use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender. Avoid clicking on hyperlinks in emails and hover over links to verify authenticity. Also ensure that URLs begin with “https.” The “s” indicates encryption is enabled to protect a user’s information.”

And lastly, “stay protected while connected.”

“Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot-such as at an airport, hotel, or café-be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures to ensure that the network is legitimate.”

Since cybercriminals do not discriminate, the BBB warns the “most harmful perspective is believing you are not at risk of a cyberattack.”

“The stakes are high – both for your personal and financial wellbeing.”