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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


CTV's Chief Financial Commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid will share her top money tips for Financial Literacy Month in November. Follow along here.

Canadians lost over $95 million due to scams last year, according to TransferWise. And you can bet that a large majority of that came during the holiday season as consumer spending ramps up.

However, with only five per cent of victims coming forward, there seems to be a stigma around falling victim to cyberthieves.

But with scams becoming more sophisticated, people shouldn’t be embarrassed. The only way to combat these fraudulent attacks is to be aware of which ones are out there.

Andrea Gildea, the head of legal for the Americas at TransferWise, has outlined the top scams to lookout for:

• Watch out for fake websites
• Avoid bad exchange rates
• Be weary of too-good-to-be-true deals
• Set up two-factor authorization to keep your accounts protected
• Check point of sale machines and ATMs for any unordinary devices
• Hang up on phone scammers

To understand how we can better protect ourselves, I reached out to Larry Schwarberg, vice-president of information security at the University of Phoenix, about research he had been doing on cybersecurity and holiday shopping. Here’s what he found:

• 3 in 5 Americans are more concerned about their online safety during the holidays than at other times
• 66 per cent said the convenience of online shopping during the holidays outweighs the risk of a potential data breach
• 78 per cent said they have “bad online habits”

“There are no surefire ways to prevent data breaches, but practicing good cyber hygiene can help keep consumers safe online,” Schwarberg said. “Most people probably are familiar with the universal security procedures, like using strong passwords and avoiding suspicious websites, but it is important to take extra steps when online shopping, especially during the busy holiday season when cybercriminals may be more active.”

“One good measure is shopping at trusted online retailers by typing the web address directly into the browser,” he added. “Avoid clicking on links or visiting retailers that appear through social media.”

Finally, try to avoid bad cyber habits like using the same password across multiple accounts, allowing social media and applications to access personal information, and never allow your credit card information to be stored online.