Government Imposter Scams: A Growing Threat

In a recent survey conducted by Interac a staggering 42% of respondents said they had been targeted by a Government Impersonation Scam, making them one of the most common types of scams. Government Imposter Scams are nothing new but as technology and the internet continue to evolve so do the means by which scammers commit these frauds. Which is why it’s important to stay informed about the latest types of government imposter scams and how they are being perpetrated. 

What are Government Imposter Scams?

Government Imposter or Government Impersonation scams are a type of scam that involve individuals or groups posing as representatives of government agencies to deceive victims into giving over personal information or money. There are many ways these scams play out but there are few more common scenarios that scammers tend towards.

Common Types of Government Impersonation Scams


A scammer contacts a target claiming to be an employee of either the CRA/IRS. They may state that you have an outstanding case against you, owe back taxes, have unpaid balances or committed a financial crime. They then will threaten arrest, fines  or even deportation if the money is not paid. They generally will request payment via transfer,  pre‐paid cards, gift cards or crypto.

Social Security/Insurance Scams

Social Security scams aim to deceive people into providing sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers They may claim that there has been illegal activity under your SSN/SIN, or that there is some sort of bogus benefit or a cost of living adjustment you are eligible for but you need to provide for SSN to claim it

Medicare/Medicaid/Healthcare Scams

There are several common types of scams Medicare/healthcare related scams. They include: 

  • Pressure to Switch Plans: Fraudulent calls, often posing as Medicare, may offer “pre-approved” plans with lower costs, but insist on a fee for enrollment.
  • Card Renewal Notices: Watch out for calls demanding activation, renewal, or upgrades for your Medicare card, requesting your Medicare number or payment for processing.
  • Coverage Threats: Scammers might claim issues with your Medicare account, threatening to cancel benefits unless you immediately provide personal information or join a new plan.
  • Refund Offers: Beware of scams suggesting eligibility for plan-related refunds. Scammers may ask for Medicare and bank details. Stay informed and vigilant to protect yourself from Medicare fraud.

Law Enforcement Scams

Law enforcement scams involve fraudulent attempts by individuals or groups to impersonate law enforcement officers or agencies. These scams often play on people’s trust in authority figures and use fear tactics to manipulate victims into providing money, personal information, or both. Two common types of law enforcement scams include the package scam, in which victims are  told a package addressed to them, containing illegal goods, has been intercepted. As well as the Laundry card scam where the Victim is told that their bank card has been used in a money laundering scheme and their accounts are going to be locked.

How Scammers Contact You

Understanding how scammers reach out is crucial to recognizing potential threats. Whether it’s through phone calls, emails, or text messages, staying vigilant is key.

General Warning Signs:

Most communications from scammers show some common red flags. 

  • Unsolicited Contact: Beware of messages or calls that unexpectedly reach you, especially from unfamiliar sources.
  • Requests for Sensitive Information via Insecure Channels: Exercise caution when asked to share personal or confidential details through unsecured platforms.
  • Urgency and Threats: Be wary of communications creating a sense of urgency accompanied by threats or intimidating language.
  • Encouragement to Click on Links or Open Attachments: Exercise discretion if prompted to click on links or open attachments, especially in unexpected or suspicious messages.
  • Unconventional Payment Requests: Stay vigilant when faced with demands for money through unconventional methods or untraceable transactions.

How to Handle Scam Texts, Calls, and Emails

Knowing how to respond when faced with a potential scam is vital. Here are some general guidelines:

TextsDelete or mark as spam, then block the number.
CallsDon’t engage; hang up and block the number.
EmailsMark as spam and block the sender.

Verify Before You Trust

Always verify the legitimacy of communications from government departments. Contact the official communication channel or log into secure online accounts to confirm the authenticity of messages.

Be Proactive: Protect Your Personal Information

The best way to protect yourself against government imposter scams it is important to take proactive steps.

  • Invest in a reliable protection system.
  • Use VPNs and visit only secure sites.
  • Utilize a password manager and create strong passwords.
  • Be mindful of oversharing online.
  • Regularly review and update privacy settings.

I’ve Been Scammed… Now What?

If you have been the victim of a government impersonation scam (or any type of scam) it is important to take several steps to prevent further damage or loss.  You can follow Aura’s comprehensive Victim Checklist (full details here)

  1. Don’t blame yourself
  2. Stop paying scammers
  3. Check your insurance coverage
  4. Act quickly to assess the full damage
  5. Notify your bank, lenders
  6. Set up a fraud alert or credit freeze
  7. Secure your online accounts
  8. Gather documents and proof for your fraud case
  9. Report fraud and identity theft to the FTC
  10. File a police report
  11. Try to recover lost funds
  12. Dispute fraudulent transactions

Where to Report Scams

FTC (Federal Trade Commission)


Call: 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)

Anti Fraud Centre


  Call: 1-888-495-8501

Knowing the Signs of Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams: help and resource page | Malwarebytes Labs

Tech support scams are a type of online scam in which cybercriminals pose as legitimate technical support representatives from well-known technology companies, such as Geek Squad, Microsoft, Apple, or major antivirus software providers. The scammers typically use various tactics to trick individuals into believing that their computers or devices are infected with viruses, malware, or other issues, and that they need immediate assistance to resolve these non-existent problems.

It is important to know what signs to look out for when it comes to tech support scams. So let’s look at how a typical tech support scam unfolds.

How Do Tech Support Scams Happen?

Step One: 

Scammers initiate contact through email, text messages, phone calls, or fake websites, often masquerading as reputable companies like BestBuy’s Geek Squad.

Step Two: 

They assert that your device is compromised, claim you owe fees for services, or request you to “verify” your identity by providing personal information such as credit card details, Social Security Numbers (SSN), or Social Insurance Numbers (SIN).

Step Three: 

Depending on the specific scam, scammers may coerce you into downloading malware or applications, granting them remote access to your device.

Step Four: 

Once they’ve gained access, scammers will persist in their fraudulent activities. This could involve emptying your accounts, extracting sensitive data from your device, or demanding additional payments for their supposed services.

Common Tech Support Scam Tactics

Now that we understand how a typical tech support scam plays out, let’s look a deeper look at the common tactics tech support scams employ:

1. Cold Calls: Scammers may call you, claiming to be from a reputable tech support company. They often use high-pressure tactics, such as stating your computer is infected or compromised.

2. Pop-Up Messages: While browsing the internet, you might encounter alarming pop-up messages claiming that your computer is infected and urging you to call a specific number for assistance. These pop-ups can be convincing and intimidating.

3. Fake Websites: Scammers create fake websites that resemble legitimate tech support sites, complete with logos and contact information. These sites may prompt you to call or provide personal information.

4. Emails and Messages: You might receive unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media messages, with scammers impersonating tech support representatives from well-known companies. These messages often contain links to malicious websites or files.

5. Malware Downloads: In some cases, scammers persuade victims to download malicious software or applications under the guise of necessary security updates or diagnostic tools.

6. Remote Access Requests: Scammers may request remote access to your computer, claiming they need to fix an issue. Once granted access, they can manipulate your system or steal sensitive information.

7. False Error Reports: Scammers might display fabricated error reports on your computer, convincing you to call a provided number for assistance.

8. Fake Refund Scams: Some scammers claim that you are due a refund for services you never received, and they request your banking information to process the refund, but instead, they steal your financial data.

9. Impersonating Known Brands: Scammers often impersonate well-known tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, or antivirus providers to gain victims’ trust.

10. Social Engineering: Scammers use psychological manipulation to gain your trust, make you panic, or create a sense of urgency to encourage you to take action or provide personal information.

To protect yourself from these common tech support scams, it’s crucial to stay cautious. Legitimate tech support companies will not contact you unsolicited and pressure you into taking immediate action. Always verify the identity of the caller or the authenticity of any message or website. If you have any doubts, contact the tech support company directly through their official channels to confirm the situation.

Ways to Protect Yourself from Tech Support Scams

  • Don’t respond to unsolicited messages or phone calls. 
  • Instal legit antivirus software on your computer. 
  • Never click on links in suspicious emails. Check the URL path by hovering over the link. 
  • Don’t supply passwords, 2FA codes, or other sensitive information. 
  • Learn to recognize the signs of a phishing email. 
  • Always double-check phone numbers. Make sure you’re only using the numbers listed.
  • Consider signing up for credit monitoring. Aura can scan your bank accounts and other financial accounts for signs of fraud (such as an overpayment or “accidental refund” scams).

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How to Spot and Avoid Social Media Scams

Over 62% of Facebook users report encountering scams on a weekly basis — the highest out of any social media platform.

Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or X (formerly Twitter), social media has become an integral part of many of our daily lives. It’s where we connect with friends, family, and even access news and entertainment. Unfortunately, it’s also where scammers thrive, taking advantage of our desire for connection.

There are several ways we can protect ourselves from social media scams. One of the best ways to protect yourself  is to stay up to date on the latest social media threats. So, let’s start by delving into some of the most common social media scams and how you can yourself against them.

Common Social Media Scams

1. Investment/Crypto Scams

Investment and crypto scams have become increasingly prevalent on social media. Scammers often start by building a casual relationship with their victims. Eventually, they introduce them to a “great investment opportunity.” These scams accounted for approximately 37% of social media scams last year, with the majority being crypto scams. To protect yourself, be skeptical of unsolicited investment offers and do thorough research before parting with your money.

2. Romance Scams

Romance scams are heart-wrenching. Scammers create fake profiles using stolen photos and initiate romantic relationships with their victims. They often use “love bombing” tactics but never intend to meet in person. While these scams are common on dating sites, they’ve proliferated on social media, becoming one of the most common scams. Always verify the authenticity of online relationships and never send money to someone you’ve never met in person.

3. Account Takeover Fraud

Account takeover fraud involves hackers gaining access to your social media accounts. They may use phishing techniques to steal your login information and then use your account to perpetrate more scams, such as posting fake investment opportunities, sharing phishing links, and gathering personal details about you and your friends and family. Enable two-factor authentication and regularly change your passwords to prevent account takeover.

4. Authentication Code Scams

Scammers use phishing to send fake authentication codes or warn of suspicious login attempts, aiming to trick you into revealing your login information. Be cautious when receiving such messages, and always verify the sender’s identity and the legitimacy of the request before providing any information.

5. Fake Ads/Online Stores

Not all social media ads are safe. Scammers may use them to direct users to fake stores or misleading ads. The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints about these ads. Be cautious when clicking on ads and do your research before making a purchase.

6. Impersonator Accounts

Scammers frequently create impersonator accounts using someone else’s name, including celebrities. They may request money, send phishing links, or post about fake giveaways. Verify the legitimacy of accounts that interact with you and double-check requests for financial assistance or personal information.

7. “Is this you?” Link Scams

Receiving a link with a message like “is this a photo of you?” can be a red flag. Often, these links lead to a fake social media login page designed to steal your password. Be cautious and verify the source of such messages.

8. Social Media Quizzes

Scammers use fake online quizzes to gather personal information on users and then use that information to break into your online accounts. Think twice before taking online quizzes and avoid sharing personal information.

9. Lottery/Sweepstake Scams

In these scams, scammers direct message you to claim you’ve won a prize but require payment upfront. Be extremely skeptical of unsolicited prize notifications, and remember that legitimate sweepstakes don’t ask for payment to receive your prize.

10. Job Scams

Job scams have been on the rise in recent years. Scammers use fake accounts to post job opportunities, aiming to extract money and personal information from you. Always research potential employers and job opportunities thoroughly, and be cautious when sharing sensitive information.

How to Identify Social Media Scams

Identifying social media scams is crucial for protecting yourself online. While scammers can be crafty, there are common signs that can help you recognize potential threats. 

  • Be wary of messages containing spelling and grammar errors, as scammers often make these mistakes. 
  • If you come across a brand new social media account reaching out to you, exercise caution, as it might be a fake profile. 
  • If a message or request comes from someone you’re already friends with, double-check their account, as their profile may have been compromised. 
  • If you receive a random direct message with a link, approach it with skepticism. 
  • Beware of any request for money or financial assistance, especially if it’s unsolicited. If ads or promotions seem too good to be true, they probably are. 
  • Pay attention to the website’s credibility if you’re directed to an online store, as fake stores often exhibit telltale signs of unprofessionalism.
  • If the other user insists on taking the conversation off social media and asks you to text or communicate through a different platform, it’s a red flag. 

What If I Have Been Scammed?

If you have been scammed on social media, taking immediate action can help mitigate the damage and improve your chances of recovering any lost money or preventing further damage. Here’s what to do if you’ve fallen victim to a social media scam:

  1. Cease Communication: If you’re in contact with the scammer, cease all communication with them immediately. Do not respond to any further messages or requests.
  2. Document Everything: Take screenshots of all conversations, messages, and any other evidence related to the scam. This documentation will be valuable for reporting the incident and potentially for legal action.
  3. Report the Scam: Report the scam to the social media platform where it occurred. Most platforms have dedicated reporting mechanisms for fraudulent activity. This action can help prevent the scammer from victimizing others.
  4. Change Your Passwords: Change the passwords for your social media accounts and any other accounts that may have been compromised. Ensure that you use strong, unique passwords for each account and consider enabling two-factor authentication.
  5. Notify Your Bank and Credit Card Companies: If you’ve shared financial information, contact your bank and credit card companies immediately to report the scam and potentially block any unauthorized transactions.
  6. Monitor Your Accounts: Continuously monitor your financial accounts, credit reports, and any online accounts to ensure no further unauthorized activity occurs.
  7. File a Report with Law Enforcement: Depending on the extent of the scam, you may want to file a report with your local law enforcement agency. They may be able to assist in investigating the incident.
  8. Warn Others: If the scammer was using your account to perpetrate scams, notify your friends and contacts about the breach, so they can be on guard for any suspicious messages coming from your account.

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A Complete Guide to Safe Online Shopping

Online shopping is a convenient way to purchase everything from clothing to electronics, groceries to gifts. The ease and accessibility of shopping online offers many benefits, but it also comes with its share of risks and challenges. That is why it is important to understand all the risks, common scams, and red flags to watch out for when shopping online. 

Regardless of risk, there are many benefits to online shopping that cannot be overlooked.

  • Convenience: Online shopping allows you to make purchases from the comfort of your home or on the go. No more driving to crowded malls or waiting in long checkout lines.
  • Variety: The internet offers access to a vast array of products, brands, and styles, often beyond what you can find at local stores.
  • Price Comparisons: You can easily compare prices and read reviews, helping you make informed decisions.
  • 24/7 Availability: Online stores are open 24/7, making it convenient for those with busy schedules.
  • Delivery Options: Many e-commerce sites offer various shipping options, including same-day or next-day delivery.

Common Online Shopping Scams

There are a number of common types of scams and tactics used by malicious players online to try to con unsuspecting shoppers. Here are some of the most common scams associated with online shopping:

Phishing: Scammers may send deceptive emails or messages pretending to be from legitimate retailers to steal your personal and financial information.

Fake Websites: Fraudsters will create fake websites that look like reputable stores to trick you into making payments or sharing your details.

Overpayment Scams: You may receive counterfeit checks or money orders when selling items online, leading to financial loss.

Bait and Switch: Sellers advertise one product but deliver something completely different or lower in quality.

Non-Delivery Scams: You pay for products that are never delivered, leaving you empty-handed and out of money.

Online Shopping Scam Red Flags

Regardless of the type of scam being waged, there are some red flags we can look out for across the board in order to protect ourselves from online shopping scams. 

Watch out for these red flags:

  • Too Good to Be True Offers: Be cautious of deals that seem unrealistically cheap.
  • Unsecured Websites: Ensure the website has “https://” in the URL and a padlock symbol in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.
  • Poorly Designed Websites: Check for typos, strange layouts, and missing contact information on the seller’s website.
  • Unsolicited Emails: Be wary of unsolicited emails asking for personal or financial information.
  • No or Fake Customer Reviews: If a product lacks reviews or has overwhelmingly positive ones, it might be a scam.

Tips for Staying Safe While Shopping Online

At this point you might feel a bit scared to shop online, but do not worry there are habits you can practice in order to keep yourself safe when shopping online. Here are some of the best ways to keep your financial information safe. 

1. Shop from Trusted Websites

The first step in ensuring online shopping safety is to stick to reputable and well-known websites. Recognizable e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart have established security measures to protect your data. When shopping on less-known websites, research them beforehand. Look for reviews, customer feedback, and whether they have secure payment options.

2. Secure Your Connection

Before entering sensitive information, ensure your internet connection is secure. Always shop from a trusted and private Wi-Fi network. Avoid making online purchases over public Wi-Fi, which may lack adequate security measures. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data, adding an extra layer of protection.

3. Look for HTTPS

Check the website’s URL for “HTTPS” and a padlock symbol in the address bar. This indicates that the website encrypts your data, making it difficult for hackers to intercept and steal your information. Avoid websites with only “HTTP,” as they lack the essential security protocols.

4. Strong Passwords

Use strong, unique passwords for your online shopping accounts. These passwords should include a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as “123456” or “password.” Consider using a reliable password manager to keep track of your login credentials securely.

5. Beware of Phishing

Phishing emails and websites are designed to trick you into providing personal information. Be cautious of unsolicited emails claiming to be from online retailers, especially if they ask for sensitive data. Always verify the sender’s legitimacy, and avoid clicking on suspicious links.

6. Use Secure Payment Methods

Opt for secure payment methods like credit cards or PayPal when making online purchases. These methods often offer buyer protection and allow you to dispute unauthorized charges. Avoid sharing your debit card or bank account information unless you are confident in the website’s credibility.

7. Regularly Check Your Statements

Frequently review your bank and credit card statements to identify any unauthorized or suspicious charges. The sooner you catch and report such issues, the better your chances of resolving them.

8. Keep Software Updated

Ensure that your device’s operating system, web browser, and antivirus software are up to date. Updates often include security patches to protect against the latest threats.

9. Read Privacy and Return Policies

Before making a purchase, take a moment to read the website’s privacy policy. This will inform you of how your data is collected, used, and protected. Avoid websites with vague or non-existent privacy policies.

10. Equip yourself with Identity Theft Protection from trusted providers like Aura

Regardless of how safe you are, the risk of falling victim to online shopping scams still remains. To safeguard your online accounts and financial information from potential threats, explore the benefits of subscribing to an all-inclusive digital security service like Aura.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of an Online Shopping Scam

If you suspect or realize you’ve been scammed while shopping online:

Step One: Report the scam as soon as possible. In Canada, report online scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and in the USA, report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

Step Two: Next, contact your bank or credit card issuer to dispute charges.

Step Three: Change your passwords for all your online accounts to prevent further unauthorized access.

The Bottom Line: Shopping online can provide great convenience and great deals but it is important to be mindful when shopping online and to do your research before making any purchases or giving away financial information to online retailers. 

Check out this additional resource on safe online shopping from Aura:

14 Essential Tips for Shopping Online Safely in 2023 (

Online Banking Safety: 

Protecting Your Finances in the Digital Age

Online banking has witnessed a surge in popularity over the past few decades due to its convenience and user-friendly interfaces. Banks have invested heavily in enhancing the security of online banking platforms. Nevertheless, the allure of easy access to money has made online banking a prime target for scammers and hackers. Shockingly, the Federal Trade Commission reported over 33,000 cases of bank fraud in just the first quarter of 2023.

Types of Online Banking Crimes:

Online banking scams take various forms, including:

1. Phishing Attacks: Scammers send fake bank emails, texts, or phone calls, often with links to fraudulent websites to steal login information.

2. Cyberattacks: Hackers gain unauthorized access to your devices to steal personal and financial information.

3. Data Breaches: Cybercriminals target financial institutions, leaking sensitive data to the Dark Web.

4. Social Engineering: Scammers create fake bank accounts using stolen information.

5. Hacking Payment Processors: Criminals target companies storing bank account information.

6. Skimming and Shimming Devices: Fraudsters attach devices to ATMs to steal card details.

Consequences of Bank Account Number Theft:

Once scammers obtain your bank account number, they can:

  • Commit ACH (Automated Clearing House) fraud and withdraw money.
  • Make online purchases using your bank details.
  • Launder money through your account.
  • Create and use fraudulent checks.
  • Steal your identity.
  • Gain access to your online banking.
  • Conduct tax fraud.
  • And more.

Who Do Bank Scammers Typically Target?

While no one is immune to bank scams, they often target less tech-savvy individuals, including young people with newly opened bank accounts and the elderly. For instance, individuals in their 20s are more than twice as likely to fall for fake check scams.

Can Someone Use My Identity for Bank Fraud?

Yes, scammers can use your identity to commit various forms of bank fraud, accessing your bank accounts, government benefits, and even contacting your friends and loved ones to perpetrate further scams.

The 10 Most Common Types of Bank Scams:

1. Overpayment Scams.

2. Automatic Debit Scams.

3. Fake Check Cashing Scams.

4. Unsolicited Check Fraud.

5. Government Impostor Scams.

6. Phishing Scams.

7. Charity Scams.

8. Online Lending Scams.

9. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams.

10. Fake Bank Text Messages.

Are You Liable for Scammers’ Charges?

Generally, you are not liable for charges made by scammers using your bank account details. However, it’s essential to follow specific guidelines and report unauthorized transactions promptly to your bank.

Steps to Protect Yourself:

To safeguard your finances, take these precautions:

  •  Avoid cashing checks paying in excess.
  • Use encrypted websites for financial transactions.
  • Never share sensitive information over the phone.
  • Be cautious with charity websites.
  • Verify email addresses.
  • Don’t engage with scammers.
  • Be cautious of government impostor scams.
  • Never pay to redeem prizes.
  • Borrow only from reputable sources.
  • Verify unsolicited checks with your bank.
  • Use a trusted cybersecurity app like Aura for protection and identity theft coverage.

In the digital age, protecting your finances is paramount. By staying informed and adopting best practices, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to online banking scams and enjoy the convenience of online banking with peace of mind.

Protecting Your Generosity: How to Identify and Avoid Charity Scams

Charity scams are a heartless deception that prey on people’s kindness and desire to help others. These schemes come in many forms, so it’s important to know what tell tale signs to watch out for if you are planning to give.

Understanding Charity Scams: A Closer Look

Cybercriminals manipulate emotions, using sympathy and urgency to trick victims into giving away their hard-earned money or sensitive personal information. From impersonating well-known charities to setting up fake disaster relief funds, scammers leave no stone unturned to exploit the goodness of people’s hearts.

The Alarming Rise in Losses

According to the FBI’s 2020 report on internet crime, losses due to charity fraud and scams have been steadily increasing over the years. In 2020 alone, victims of online charity scams lost a staggering $4.4 million. Shockingly, this figure doesn’t even account for offline charity fraud or unreported incidents, underlining the magnitude of the problem.

Why Charity Scams Target Compassion

The human tendency to lend a helping hand is both heartwarming and exploitable. Scammers capitalize on this generosity by creating elaborate narratives that tug at heartstrings. When a desperate need arises, compassionate individuals feel compelled to contribute, unknowingly falling into the trap set by these fraudsters.

Common Types of Charity Scams

  1. Impersonation Charities: Scammers replicate well-known charitable organizations, diverting funds meant for the genuine cause.
  2. Dishonest Distribution Charities: Legitimate-looking charities misallocate funds for personal gain instead of aiding recipients.
  3. Fake Disaster Relief Funds: Scammers exploit crises to solicit donations for fabricated nonprofits.
  4. Fraudulent GoFundMe Accounts and Social Media Fundraisers: Fraudsters manipulate emotions through fabricated stories on social platforms.
  5. Veterans Charity Scams: Exploiting patriotism, scammers impersonate veterans charities to target well-meaning donors.

Warning Signs of a Fake Charity

  1. Hard-Sell Tactics: Beware of aggressive tactics that pressure you to donate quickly.
  2. Vague Language: Steer clear of charities with unclear intentions and ambiguous descriptions.
  3. Unsecured Websites: Look for “https://” and a padlock icon in the URL to ensure a secure connection.
  4. Direct Contact: Legitimate charities won’t cold-call or email you unexpectedly.
  5. Strange Payment Methods: Avoid cash, wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies for donations.
  6. Similar Names: Be cautious if the charity’s name is remarkably similar to a well-known organization.
  7. Lack of Information or Bad Reviews: Scam charities may have no online presence or negative reviews.

Steps to Protect Yourself

  1. Check Charity Credentials: Use watchdog websites like Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, CharityWatch, and GuideStar to verify charities.
  2. Conduct Independent Research: Look for reviews, complaints, and scams associated with the charity online.
  3. Ask About Nonprofit Status: Verify if the charity is registered and request proof of nonprofit status.
  4. Use Secure Passwords: Create strong, unique passwords or passphrases for each account using a password manager.
  5. Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly check for unauthorized activity and sign up for identity theft protection services.
  6. React Swiftly to Data Breaches: Change passwords and enable multi-factor authentication after breaches.
  7. Seek Professional Help: Use tools like Aura for credit monitoring, dark web scans, and assistance in fraud resolution.

Safeguarding Your Philanthropic Spirit

In a world filled with digital threats, protecting your generosity is of paramount importance. By staying vigilant, educating yourself about common charity scams, and leveraging tools like Aura, you can ensure that your contributions reach those truly in need. Together, let’s empower ourselves and our loved ones to make a positive impact while safeguarding against the darkness of online deception.

Additional Resources:

Remember, your generosity has the power to change lives, but safeguarding it from the clutches of scammers ensures that your impact remains genuine and meaningful.

How Hackers and Scammers Use AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an increasingly popular topic of conversation when it comes to tech these days, especially with the public release of tools like ChatGPT. And while AI has legitimate and beneficial applications, some of its negative aspects are overshadowing its positive potential. One of the big concerns when it comes to AI use is how it is being exploited by hackers and scammers for malicious purposes. In this blog, we’re going to explore how hackers leverage AI in cyber attacks and the potential threats it poses to cybersecurity.

Understanding Modern AI: 

Modern AI systems utilize a technique called machine learning. This technique enables systems to learn from data and improve their performance without being explicitly programmed. It involves training a model using a large amount of data, allowing it to begin to recognize patterns in that data and then asking it to make  predictions or classifications. The model then “learns” by adjusting its parameters based on feedback and comparing its predictions to the actual outcomes. Through this repeated process, machine learning systems become more accurate and effective at solving specific tasks, such as image recognition, speech recognition, and data analysis.

How AI is Used by Hackers and Scammers: 

Here are a handful of ways hacker are leveraging AI to make their hacks and scams more effective…

  • Automated Attacks: Hackers utilize AI algorithms to automate attacks, increasing speed, scalability, and sophistication.
  • Phishing and Social Engineering: AI-powered tools analyze vast amounts of data to create personalized phishing emails, messages, and chatbots, making scams more convincing.
  • Deepfake Technology:  AI-generated deep fake videos and audios enable impersonation, leading to identity theft or the manipulation of public opinion.
  • Malware Detection Evasion:  AI can create malware that adapts its behavior to bypass traditional security measures, evading detection systems.
  • Data Breaches and Data Mining:  AI algorithms assist hackers in identifying vulnerabilities, exploiting weak points, and extracting valuable data from compromised systems at an unprecedented scale.
  • Password Cracking:  AI accelerates the process of cracking passwords by using machine learning techniques to analyze patterns and predict likely combinations.

Top AI Scams to Watch Out For…

While there are aspects of AI hacking that are beyond our control, such as malware detection evasion and data breaches, and for which we must rely on our cybersecurity softwares and systems, there are some that we can actively take measures to prevent. Two such hacks are Voice Duplication/Deepfakes,  and Text Tone Impersonation – more commonly known as phishing

Voice Duplication and Deepfakes: 

One alarming way scammers are using AI is through voice duplication, known as vishing. By utilizing short audio clips of people posted online, scammers can clone voices and deceive individuals into thinking they are speaking to someone they know. Voice synthesis is the technique behind this manipulation, involving the analysis of a person’s voice to generate new speech that sounds remarkably like the original. While voice synthesis has legitimate applications, scammers leverage it to impersonate someone and trick victims into divulging sensitive information. 

How to Protect Yourself:

To protect yourself, establish a secret “family password” with loved ones and be skeptical of unexpected emotional or threatening messages requesting immediate action or money. 

Text Tone Impersonation:

Phishing emails have become increasingly sophisticated, often mimicking genuine company or government communications. AI models are trained using examples of content, enabling scammers to train AI algorithms to create highly realistic impersonations of legitimate emails and texts. This technique makes it harder for individuals to discern between real and fake communications

How to Protect Yourself

To protect yourself, save the genuine emails of companies or organizations that frequently contact you. Be cautious when asked for personal or login information and verify the authenticity of such requests by calling the organization at a known contact number rather than relying solely on the email or text. Avoid clicking on links from unknown senders and preview URLs before clicking if you’re unsure of their safety.

Other Ways to Stay Safe…

As hackers and scammers continue to exploit AI in their cyber attacks, it’s crucial to prioritize your cybersecurity. Being skeptical of unexpected contacts and requests for money remains essential. However, it’s important to note that AI can also be used for good, even in the fight against scammers. Consider leveraging proactive AI-based tools like Aura to enhance your protection.

For example: Aura’s AI-powered Call Assistant serves as an effective defense mechanism against spam or scam calls. It screens unknown calls on your behalf, ensuring that only legitimate calls are forwarded to you. To learn more about it and  access exclusive Cyber-Seniors discounts, visit

With all the negative talk about AI out there, it may be tempting to shy away from it. However, to ensure our online safety, it is crucial to stay informed about the latest AI developments. By staying up to date, we can better understand the risks and take appropriate measures to protect ourselves in this evolving digital landscape.

Password Safety 101: Strengthen Your First Line of Defense Against Hackers 

The average American has 240 online accounts that require passwords. Most of us go against expert advice and reuse non-complex passwords for many accounts. And although 89% of people say they know this is risky and unsafe behavior, only 12% are using different passwords for every account.

These trends are alarming – Americans lost $10.3 billion to digital crime last year, and Canadians reported $530 million in losses in the same year, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Cybercriminals can guess our passwords by scouring the internet, steal them from leaked data, scamming us into sharing them willingly or buying them on the dark web. When they do, they use them to steal money or benefits, break into our accounts, impersonate people and target our friends and family. 

Here are three steps you can take to strengthen your first line of defense against hackers trying to steal money and identities:

Step One: Create strong, unique passwords or passphrases for your accounts.

Nearly 23 million breached accounts were found to use the password “123456,” but using easily guessable passwords like this put you at risk of hackers breaking into your accounts. Instead of going easy with “123456” or “pa$$word,” use a mix of symbols, characters, upper case letters, lower case letters and numbers that make your passwords impossible to guess.

Avoid using obvious passwords that contain your date of birth, hometown, address, pet’s names or anything else that could be found online about you. 

Combine random words, create a phrase, use song lyrics, quotes or words in different languages to form a passphrase.

For example: 

  • Start with a common phrase, like “the grass is always greener.” 
  • Change some letters to uppercase. Now, change the phrase to “tHE graSS IS alwaYS GreenER.” Don’t only capitalize the first letter of each word, as that’s too obvious. 
  • Replace some of the letters with similar-looking numbers and add on a few extra characters. For example, this phrase could be changed to “tHE%gr4SS%15%alwaYS%Gr33nER.”

According to cybersecurity researchers, a 10-character password with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols can take five months to crack, while a 12-character combination could take up to 34 years. And with artificial intelligence, some criminals are automating the password-guessing process.

Step Two: Securely store and remember your passwords with a password manager.

53% of people rely solely on memory to manage their passwords. This method is far from foolproof – and can mean forgetting your passwords and getting locked out of accounts. 

Using password managers like Aura, Bitwarden, 1password, LastPass or NordPass is by far the best way to create complex passwords that you won’t forget. These applications store your account credentials in a secure digital vault so that you can access them whenever you need to. Every time you login to your account, a password manager automatically inputs your username and password. That way, you only have to remember one master password for the password manager vault. Just make sure that master password is complex, hard-to-guess, hasn’t been leaked and isn’t being used on for any other logins. 

As an added bonus, Aura’s password manager can warn you if your password has been leaked, is too weak or if you’re trying to enter it on a fake website

Step Three: Monitor your accounts and react quickly to data breaches or unauthorized login attempts.

Even the strongest passwords can be leaked if the company that hosts your account suffers from a data breach. This can include login credentials, credit card details and Social Security numbers (SSNs). With hackers targeting companies from Facebook to Marriott to Equifax, there’s a good chance that at least one of your accounts has been compromised.

To protect yourself after a data breach, look out for notifications of data breaches in your email and your Aura app and change any logins impacted. Monitor those accounts closely for any unauthorized login attempts and make sure that you have multi-factor authentication set up as an extra line of defense. 

Check if your data has been exposed in a data breach using Aura’s free tool: 

Sign up for identity theft protection for peace of mind that your online safety is taken care of. 

Passwords are just one part of good cyber hygiene, and securing every aspect of your digital life can be overwhelming. But dealing with fraud and identity theft is stressful and can take years to be resolved. 

That’s where Aura comes in. Aura’s all-in-one-place, easy to use app removes the burden off you by providing you with proactive credit, financial account and dark web monitoring, anti-virus software, a password manager and 24/7 support in resolving any fraud or identity theft quickly and effectively.  Access your exclusive Aura offer – a two week free trial and a 25% discount – at

Aura also offers a family, so if you’re working with your adult children on estate or financial planning, they can join your Aura account and help remove the burden of protecting your digital identity. 

Understanding Common Hacker Tactics & How to Protect Yourself Before It’s Too Late

Cybercrime is growing rapidly each year. In the U.S., $10.3 billion was lost to digital crime in 2022,  nearly double what was lost in 2021. In the same year the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received fraud and cybercrime reports totalling a staggering $530 million in victim losses – a nearly 40% increase from the previously unprecedented $380 million in losses in 2021.

In fact, the cost of cybercrime exceeds that of home burglaries in 2022. Given you probably have assets of greater value in digital form — like your savings or investment portfolios — than you do physical assets inside your home. So treat your online security with the same gravity you do at home. Lock your digital doors with strong passwords. Be smart about opening certain web windows. Don’t let strangers peek inside your online life. Here’s how you can protect your family and life’s from the grasp of cybercriminals. 

What puts you at risk? 

Hackers are motivated by money, and they prey on vulnerabilities – like an un-updated device, a lack of awareness or a weak password that’s used on multiple accounts. Unfortunately, many hackers target older adults, assuming that those aged 60+ have a higher net worth, are more trusting and potentially less tech savvy. 

Here a few strategies that hackers use against their victims:

  1. They use viruses or malware that you download or get by clicking a malicious link, which allow them to watch or control your activity.
  2. They impersonate legitimate tech support (like Geek Squad, Microsoft or Apple) to trick you into giving them control of your device.
  3. They take advantage of outdated software, which can cause security vulnerabilities.
  4. They hack your Wi-Fi network to control your other connected devices.
  5. They lure you into clicking dangerous links with believable phishing attacks.
  6. They buy your passwords or Social Security Number on the dark web. 

It’s also important to understand the signs that your device has been hacked, so you can act immediately to remediate the situation.

These are the warning signs that your device has been hacked: 

  1. You get signed out of your online accounts (social media, email, online banking, etc.), or you try to log in and discover your passwords don’t work anymore.
  2. You receive emails or text messages about login attempts, password resets or two-factor authentication (2FA) codes that you didn’t request.
  3. You see logins from mobile devices and locations you don’t recognize in your account activity or sign-in logs.
  4. You notice strange emails in your “Sent” folder.
  5. You start to receive spam emails — especially ones that specifically threaten or try to extort you.
  6. Friends or family members tell you they’ve received strange messages from your email or social media accounts.
  7. You receive a data breach notification from a company or service that you use stating that your personal info was leaked.
  8. You suddenly receive pop-ups that claim your device is infected with a virus.
  9. Your devices slow down, heat up or start to crash more often.
  10. You notice browser plugins, add-ons or toolbars that you didn’t install.
  11. You get redirected to unwanted websites, or they open automatically behind your browser window.
  12. Your cursor starts moving by itself — when you haven’t touched the mouse or trackpad.
  13. There are suspicious charges on your credit card or bank statements.
  14. You get a ransomware pop-up on your computer saying your data is encrypted and you need to pay a ransom.
  15. Your web camera light is on, even when you’re not using it for video calls or recordings.
  16. Your antivirus software is disabled without your permission or action. 
  17. You have to keep closing or quitting apps or sites that open on their own.

What to do in the event of a hack:

Hackers can strike at any time. If you notice any of the below signs, mitigate danger by acting quickly. 

  1. Disconnect from your Wi-Fi network. Many hacking strategies require an Internet connection in order to succeed. The sooner you cut off that access point, the better. To do this, select the Wi-Fi icon in the upper right corner of your computer screen and click the toggle to turn it off, or go to the device’s settings menu. 
  2. Use antivirus software to scan for malware. If hackers gained access to your computer, they most likely installed malware. Antivirus software can help you to isolate and delete any lingering viruses. If you have a PC, you can run an advanced scan offline using Windows’ built-in security software. For Mac users, contact Apple Support online, or call 1-800-275-2273. Aura’s antivirus software can also help.
  3. Delete any suspicious applications. Computer hackers often use unauthorized applications to give them remote control of your computer or to install viruses or malware. To counteract this, it’s important to know how to view all of your computer’s applications.
    • On a Mac: open the Finder application, then click on “Applications” on the left sidebar of the window. 
    • On a PC: select “Start” and then click “All apps.” 
    • Scroll through all of your apps and delete any that you don’t recognize.
      • Look for apps that give hackers remote access — such as Remote Desktop, TeamViewer, AnyDesk and RemotePC.
    • Go through recent downloads in your “Downloads” folder to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
  4. Update all of your apps and operating systems. Once you’ve removed any potentially harmful apps, it’s time to update everything else — including your computer’s operating system. This helps remove any security vulnerabilities that hackers can use to regain access to your computer.
    • You can update any Microsoft or Apple apps by going into the app store and selecting “Updates” in the sidebar menu.
    • Update apps that you downloaded elsewhere by opening them individually and going to their settings to install updates from there. 
    • Finally, go into your computer’s general settings from your desktop and initiate a software update (if one is available).
      • This can be as simple as typing “update” into your computer’s desktop search bar and clicking on the “Software Update” option that pops up.
  5. Reset all of your passwords and set up two-factor authentication (2FA) Password security is a huge part of your computer’s security overall. Make sure you update all of your passwords and use additional security measures such as two-factor-authentication (2FA). Consider downloading a reliable password manager, like Aura’s, to keep your passwords safe. 
  6. Wipe your device and initiate a clean install. When an antivirus scan doesn’t feel like enough, consider wiping and restoring your hard drive. Backup all your data onto an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage system. 
  • For Mac users: you can use the Time Machine application that comes with your Apple computer. Restore your system back to the way it was before it got hacked. 
  • For PC users: you can also initiate what’s known as a System Restore Point, which functions the same way as Apple’s Time Machine. It allows users to wipe all installations that occurred after a given point in time (for example, before a hack occurred). 
  • Pro tip: Make sure you’re using a backup from before your computer was hacked. Otherwise, you could accidentally reinstall malware or malicious apps.
  1. Freeze your credit. If your personal information is stolen, your credit and financial accounts are immediately at risk. Hackers can sell your information or use it to open up new lines of credit in your name. Initiate a credit freeze to restrict access to your credit report, by contacting one of the main credit agencies online or by phone.
  2. Check your credit report and financial statements. Once your passwords are changed, check for suspicious activity on your financial accounts. If your computer or phone is infected, sign into your bank and credit card accounts on a different device. 
  3. Warn your friends and family about the hack. Hackers could bait and scam others via your social media and email accounts. Your friends, acquaintances and family members are much more likely to fall for a scam or click on a corrupting link if they think they’re communicating with you. Contact them over the phone so they can be sure you’re you. 
  4. Tighten the security settings on all of your online accounts. Every personal service and account you use has customizable security settings. Go through available security features and choose the ones that will best protect your information.

How to proactively protect yourself? 

Not all hacks can’t be prevented, but you can take some defensive measures to proactively protect yourself. The most important strategy for minimizing your risk is good cyber hygiene – installing antivirus and anti-malware software, learning to recognize the signs of a phishing attack, avoiding clicking on links or downloading files from unsolicited emails or text messages and checking your accounts and credit report regularly for any unusual activity. 

Sign up for identity theft protection for peace of mind that your online safety is taken care of. 

Digesting all of the information above can be overwhelming. Dealing with fraud and identity theft is not only stressful, but it can take years to be resolved. That’s where Aura comes in. Aura’s all-in-one-place, easy to use app removes the burden off you by providing you with proactive credit, financial account and dark web monitoring, anti-virus software, a password manager, and 24/7 support in resolving any fraud or identity theft quickly and effectively.  Access your exclusive Aura offer – a two week free trial and a 25% discount – at

iPhone Tips and Tricks

During this Cyber-Seniors webinar, our teen tech mentors will discuss some useful tips and tricks for iPhone users, such as how to adjust brightness, font size and keyboard placement, how to access Apple Wallet, Apple Health and Siri, how to take screenshots and scan documents, and much more! If you enjoyed this video, please give it a like and subscribe to our channel for more helpful tech sessions!

Recorded on 06/27/2022