Throughout the pandemic, people relied on their electronic devices more than usual to keep in touch with others and work from home.
Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) statistics show that this opened up the opportunity for hackers to commit fraud, and the amount of internet scams in Saskatoon has skyrocketed.
According to SPS, internet scams have gone up by just over 500 per cent in the last five years.
This year alone, police have handled almost 350 cases where residents have experienced fraud on an electronic device.
“More people are interacting online, moving their work, their play to an online environment, and, as such, it makes them more vulnerable to fraudsters,” said S/Sgt. Matthew Bradford.
Chief technology officer of Complete Technologies, Justin Schultenkamper, said the rise in frauds is to be expected since the internet is used globally and for so many reasons.
“Hackers don’t care where you live because everyone’s all in the same place when they’re all on the internet.”
Over the course of the pandemic, more people were stuck at home, meaning they were most likely using their devices more often for work, making purchases and contacting family.
Phishing emails, false links and fake phone calls or texts from someone asking for money or pretending to be a trusted source, such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), are the most common frauds as of late.
“I think it’s nothing too concerning, as long as you’re taking the steps to mitigate the risk as much as possible,” said Schultenkamper.
There are a few ways people can stay cyber safe while continuing to use the internet for multiple purposes.
Multi-factor authentication is one example of a free service for email platforms that could help keep hackers out of your account.
“A big part of that is prevention and trying to educate people so they don’t click on that link or hit that send button. Just take that extra second to pause before you go hit that button or click on that link,” said Bradford.
People can call SPS if they feel they have been scammed or go to the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website to find out more about how to avoid internet scams.