Gracie Carroll - 3 Types of "Ishing" Scams To Be Aware of During The Holidays

Christmas is just days away, and whether you’re in the festive spirit or not, this is a busy time of year for everyone. We’re shopping, we’re planning, we’re socializing on overload, and, unfortunately, our distractions make it a prime time for scammers to try and take advantage of us.

You might be thinking, “Yeah, right! Who would do that to people during the holidays?”, but, sadly, it’s a reality of the world we live in and I’m here to share some important tips on three major “ishing” scams that we should all be aware of (especially at this time of year) to avoid card fraud or identity theft.

Even just the other day I was visiting a website when my computer instantly received a virus warning and I was promoted to call a ‘apple’ – they provided a number and everything – to ‘protect my computer, as well as my financial banking information’. I did everything I could to get around their pop up warnings and closed the website tab as soon as I could. And guess what? My computer is still running fine! Thankfully, my banking information is still safe too.

Even this scam had me worried for a few minutes, and questioning whether I should really make the call, or not. Sometimes scams aren’t as easy to spot as you might think, so if you’re ready to brush up on what you need to know to avoid scams, here I’m sharing 3 types of “ishing” to be aware of during the holiday season and tips to protect yourself against fraud from my friends at TD Canada Trust.


1. Smishing

Gracie Carroll - 3 Types of "Ishing" Scams To Be Aware of During The Holidays

What: “Smishing” refers to text messages that are sent to your cell phone using SMS (Short Message Service) technology in an attempt to trick you into providing your personal information. The message may include a link to what looks like a legitimate website address and asks you to enter several pieces of your personal financial information, such as your credit/debit card number, CVV code on the back of your credit card, your SIN, your e-mail address or other personal information.

What Outs: In these texts, often there are spelling and grammatical errors in the text message. This is not always a red flag for fraud, but it should alert you to watch for other signs. Hyperlinks in the message should also be a flag.

Test Your Knowledge: Can you detect a fraudulent text message? Take a look at the image above for a prime example and note the overuse of exclamation marks, improper grammar, and the request to click on a website link.


2. Phishing:

Gracie Carroll - 3 Types of "Ishing" Scams To Be Aware of During The Holidays

What: Phishing refers to authentic-looking emails that appear to come from legitimate companies in an effort to “fish” or “phish” for personal and financial information. The emails direct customers to click on links that re-direct them to a fraudulent or “spoofed” websites. Once on the fraudulent site, the customer is asked to enter personal and/or financial information that is later use to commit fraud.

What Outs: When it comes to email, you should not be asked to reply to an email with personal information, login information such as usernames, passwords, PINS, identification PLUS security questions and answers, or account number because unencrypted e-mail is not secure. If you receive an email claiming to be from a financial institution and you believe it to be fraudulent, do not respond and not open or click on any links or open attachments contained within the email. If you are asked to contact a financial institution, you should find the contact information independently.

Test Your Knowledge: Can you detect “phishing” aka a fraudulent email? Take a look at the image above to be sure. You can see in the image above that the email asks you to click on a link to an unsecure website.


3. Vishing

Gracie Carroll - 3 Types of "Ishing" Scams To Be Aware of During The Holidays

What: Vishing is telephone communications made to trick you into providing your personal information (i.e. credit/debit card number, your sin, your e-mail address). They will be used to strengthen a phishing expedition.

Watch Outs: Know that as a customer you should not receive requests for personal information by unsolicited telephone calls. If you suspect the call may not be from a legitimate/financial institution, tell them you want to call them back through the toll-free number on the back of the card.

Test Your Knowledge: Can you detect a fraudulent call? Is it an unsolicited phone call? Are they asking you for personal information over the phone? If the answer is yes, hang up!


How To Protect Yourself Against Fraud

Even if you are concerned that you’ve been targeted by “ishing”, it’s important to remember that it takes both you (the customer) and your bank to work together to win against fraud. Don’t be afraid to contact your bank immediately, so long as you’re sourcing the contact information separately and safely. Here are a few more tips for how to protect yourself against fraud.

  • Pay attention to your fraud alerts
    • Fraud alerts are a way to instantly send customers text messages notifying them if suspicious activity is detected with debit or credit card accounts.
    • Banks are now using text messaging more and more to communicate with their customers – this may become a more common method of interaction with your financial institution. Be alert of “smishing” scams even if you are accustomed to receiving legitimate texts from your bank.
    • TD has launched a new feature that sends a free[1] fraud alert text message if there is suspicious activity detected on the customer’s TD Access Card for their personal banking accounts. Canadian customers can respond to the text with “Y” or “N” to confirm if they recognize the transaction and have TD unblock their card.
    • TD will never asking customers to reply to a Fraud Alert text with any personal information or ask customers to click on any links in their reply. Just don’t forget to make sure TD has your current mobile number to receive these alerts
      1 TD does not charge any fees for TD Fraud Alerts. However, standard wireless carrier message  rates may apply.
  • Suspicious of identity theft? Contact your bank right away
  • There are many ways you can identify theft:
    • Your bank statement, online activity or passbook shows transactions that you don’t recognize.
    • A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not complete.
    • If you add a note to your credit profile with a consumer reporting agent to be notified before credit is extended, such companies may not notify you if credit is extended.
  • Suspect that you are a victim of card fraud? Contact your bank right away
    • Criminals can steal your actual credit card or obtain your card number, which they can use to produce counterfeit cards or get credit cards issues to them by making false applications using your identity.
    • If you suspect that either your credit or debit card has been compromised, notify your bank right away. You may also wish to contact other organizations such as law enforcement and credit reporting agencies. Discuss steps to take to minimize the damage and prevent any further fraudulent activity.
  • Minimize your risk
    • The information above is provided to help you protect yourself, but it’s not foolproof: it’s a fast paced and constantly changing world so make sure you are keeping up-to-date on and monitoring security features and preventative measures to minimize your risk of fraud.


      I hope this information helps you stay safe, and protect this holiday season! As millennials, some of this information may seem obvious, but, please consider sharing this information with friends and family who may be younger or older than you. Kids you are new to using debit or credit cards may not be aware of “ishing” scams, while seniors may not have the awareness needed when it comes to using their tech products.

      For more tips and information, please visit



      *Please note that this post has been brought to you in partnership with TD Canada Trust*

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