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Saying no to scams: A Q&A with Tangerine’s fraud squad

With fraud on the rise in Canada, we went to an expert on Tangerine's "fraud squad" for some straight talk on scams.

March 21, 2024

Written by Tangerine

Key takeaways

  • Making the public more aware of fraud is one of the best defences against it, says Josh Shivaram, Tangerine’s senior manager of fraud governance.

  • The biggest threat is phishing – that is, emails or texts trying to get you to give up personal information or to click a malicious link.

  • Fraudsters are constantly switching tactics, and with technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the rise, it’s becoming easier for them to fool us, he says.

  • Trust your instinct if something doesn’t feel right, and make sure to create strong passwords, and log into your accounts from trusted sources. 

Saying no to scams: A Q&A with Tangerine’s fraud squad

When it comes to preventing fraud, “no” can be a powerful word.

No, I will not click that link.

No, thank you, I don’t need my ducts cleaned.

Trusting your suspicions and saying “no” is one of several simple yet effective ways to prevent getting scammed, advises Josh Shivaram, senior manager of fraud governance at Tangerine and a key member of the bank’s “fraud squad.”

With fraud on the rise in Canada, we came to Shivaram for some straight talk on scams.

Q: Before we begin, can you please enter your temporary password? I just need to confirm your identity.

A: Nice try, but identity theft is nothing to joke about.

Q: Seriously, though, it really seems like we’re surrounded by scams these days – in our emails, our phones, shopping online, even inserting our credit cards in a PIN pad can be an opportunity for fraud. Is there really more of it now, or are we just more aware of it?

A: It could be a bit of both. In today’s fast-paced world, people are doing everything online and on their smartphones, including socializing, making purchases, planning trips and getting medical consultations. Most scams now are sophisticated, taking advantage of this constant connectivity while also appealing to our emotions. In 2023, $554 million was reported lost due to fraud in Canada alone.

But making the public more aware of fraud and making them able to recognize scams before it’s too late is one of the best defences against these threats. Banks such as Tangerine are continuously raising awareness on how to recognize, report, and reject fraud. 

Q: And that’s why we’re talking today?

A: Exactly.

Q: What are people mostly falling for these days? Is there anything we should really be cautious of this year in particular?

A: There are quite a few things. There’s the grandparent scam, tech support scams, and the infamous duct cleaning phone calls we all receive. But the biggest threat of them all is still phishing–that is, emails or texts trying to get you to give up personal information or to click a malicious link.

Read more: Fraud to look out for in 2024

We can avoid falling victim if we practise caution when receiving calls from people claiming to know us – hang up and call them back at what you're sure is a legitimate number. If it’s a company offering a service, do a search to identify the company, review ratings, and read through reviews for a proven track record.

And for phishing? Don’t reply or open any links/attachments in the message.

Q: Let’s talk about prevention. What are the main things everyone should do to avoid getting scammed?

A: Number 1 is knowledge and keeping informed. Today, we have an abundance of information and resources at our fingertips, including great info at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Tangerine’s own Security Centre.

Number 2, don’t be afraid to say no. Those telephone calls we often get? Fraudsters are trained to intimidate people with high-pressure tactics – if it doesn’t feel right, hang up.

Number 3, protect your personal information. Giving out personal information on calls you didn't initiate or through emails and links you received is a risk, since you can't be certain who you're talking to or how your information can be used. Do your research and confirm that the party you're dealing with is real. 

Q: What are people not doing enough of when it comes to fraud prevention? 

A: A majority of people are doing a great job of understanding how fraud works, but there's still an opportunity to keep yourself informed. Fraudsters are constantly switching their tactics and methods of contact, and especially with technology like AI on the rise, it’s becoming easier for them to fool us. Fraudsters prey on victims and force them to act quickly, making them skip a few steps along their usual thought processes.

It’s very important to take your time and make sure whatever is being sold to you or offered is legitimate. Make sure you create strong passwords, enable 2-step authentication, and log into your accounts through trusted sources. 

Q: Obviously, preventing fraud is a hugely important role for a bank. So, what are people able to do to help keep their money safe?

A: Our role is to protect our Clients, our employees and the bank. No pressure, right? We see the frequent attacks on organizations and people, and we see first-hand the negative effects. Our job isn't just about promoting awareness and educating, but also looking at new tools to proactively prevent fraud while not interfering with Clients doing their everyday banking.

It’s a delicate balance. We work with Clients to identify if a transaction is legitimate, but we don’t want to stop or slow down any legitimate transactions. We want our Clients to be able to transact without barriers. 

Q: Do you find yourself educating friends and family members on scam awareness? 

A: I think maybe a bit too much! But joking aside, we pass on knowledge to our family and friends in hopes they share this information with someone who may not have known, and it becomes a snowball effect of fraud prevention.

Q: This has been great. I’ve learned a lot. Just one more question: What's your mother’s maiden name?

A: OK, we’re done here.

–Interview conducted by Ariel Teplitsky

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