Most of the world is currently locked down, stuck at home to a greater or lesser degree, and spending a LOT more time on the internet. If you’re an introvert (like me), this isn’t a huge change over normal, but if you’re more socially inclined, this may be the first time you’ve really had to sit in front of a computer for entertainment and genuinely consider what you’re doing. And with this greater audience of internet users, comes a much deeper pond for the scumbags to trawl in and look for suckers.
I’ve decided, at the urging of friends, to start a little series of informative posts to help people maintain their peace of mind and hopefully, their personal computer security during these times… and in the future, because this advice doesn’t apply just during lockdown; it applies all the time.
So what are some important things you need to know right now? Oddly enough, you should probably know these things all the time, but since you have more free time on your hands, now is a good time to learn them.
I figured I’d start with this one because the fake tax people are out in droves right now. They’re going to call you – maybe even with a well-faked Call-ID and pretend to be your government tax man. They’re going to threaten you, and demand payment in things like iTunes gift cars, Bitcoin (aka Dunning-Krugerrand) or other crypto currency, or maybe e-transfer to some bizarre email address.
Now… you will hear Official Government Statements ™ that the tax man (be it Internal Revenue, Revenue Canada, whatever) will never call and threaten you. While a nice platitude, that is complete and utter bullshit. The real tax man will, in fact, call and aggressively threaten you – I know this because the real tax man called and aggressively threatened me. However, they’re not going to do it over a few hundred dollars. If you owe the government tens of thousands of dollars, they might, but you probably already know your tax situation so it won’t be a surprise.
What a real tax man won’t do, however is any of the following:
If you get one of these calls, what should you do?
In fact, no bona fide business accepts gift cards except the business that issued them. Anyone purporting to represent any organization other than Apple that is asking for iTunes gift cards is scamming you. Period.
Also: If you are in Canada, and can speak French, greet a Canada Revenue caller in French. Canada Revenue is required by law to provide service in English and French. To date, I am unaware of anyone receiving a fake tax call from a caller who could speak French. It’s not guaranteed, but odds are, crooks will hang up immediately.
Stay tuned for the next installment… Passwords.