What You Need to Know About Travel Scams

What You Need to Know About Travel Scams


Friday, March 8, 2024

Are you looking to get away from the long, cold, Canadian winter? Or maybe you are the adventurous type who wants to experience the different cultures from around the world. Without a doubt, this is a popular time of year to pack a suitcase and jet off to somewhere warm. Either way, you need to be aware and cautious while traveling the globe or even just traveling to a nearby city.  Scams targeting travelers and tourists are not uncommon. Being aware of common scams can help you avoid falling victim to them. Here are some travel and tourist scams to watch out for:

Fake Tickets & Tours

  • Scenario – Someone may approach you claiming to be a tour guide or ticket seller, offering you a great deal on tickets or tours.
  • Prevention – Purchase tickets and tours from reputable sources, such as official websites or authorized agents. Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Taxi Scams

  • Scenario – Unscrupulous taxi drivers may take longer routes to increase the fare, claim that their meter is broken, or insist on a fixed price that is much higher than the standard rate.
  • Prevention – Use reputable taxi services, agree on the fare before starting the journey, and ensure the meter is used (if applicable).

Pickpocketing & Distraction Techniques

  • Scenario – Thieves often work in crowded tourist areas, using various tactics to distract you while an accomplice steals your belongings.
  • Prevention – Stay vigilant in crowded places, secure your belongings, and be cautious of people creating distractions.

Fake Police Officers

  • ScenarioScammers may pose as police officers, asking to see your identification or accusing you of a fake crime to extort money.
  • Prevention – Ask for official documentation, and if in doubt offer to go to the nearest police station. Don’t hand over money on the spot.

ATM Skimming

  • Scenario – Criminals install skimming devices on ATMs to capture your card information and PIN.
  • Prevention – If possible, avoid using your card at all. If you must use an ATM, use ATMs in well-lit and secure areas, cover your PIN while entering it, and regularly monitor your bank statements for any unauthorized transactions. 

Overpriced Goods & Services

  • Scenario – Vendors may inflate prices for goods and services when they realize you’re a tourist.
  • Prevention – Do your research and have a good knowledge of typical prices for goods and services in the area and be prepared to haggle. Avoid establishments that seem overly pushy or dishonest.

Fake Wi-Fi Networks

  • Scenario – Cybercriminals may set up fake Wi-Fi networks in tourist areas to steal personal information from those who connect.
  • Prevention – If possible, avoid using ANY public Wi-Fi and if you must only use known, secure and reputable Wi-Fi networks, consider using a virtual private network (VPN), and avoid accessing sensitive information on public networks such as accessing online banking or shopping.

Closed Accommodation Scam

  • Scenario – Taxi drivers or locals may claim that your booked accommodation is closed or overbooked, and they may offer to take you to another, often more expensive option.
  • Prevention – Confirm the status of your accommodation directly with the hotel/hostel before accepting alternative accommodation.

These are just a small sample of the possible scams that any tourist can fall victim to. The best way to stay clear of these scams is to educate yourself – do some research on the area of the world you are traveling to and be diligent to safeguard yourself, your family, and your assets.

YNCU members, if you know, or think you have been a victim of internet scams, phishing or cyber-attacks or your banking information has been compromised, please contact our Service Excellence Centre at 1-800-413-YNCU (9628).

You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501.

Steps to start the new year on the right foot – Finance Edition

Steps to start the new year on the right foot – Finance Edition

Steps to start the new year on the right foot – Finance Edition

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The new year stands before us like a chapter in a book waiting to be written. And when it comes to our finances, starting the year off with knowledge and a plan can create a narrative of success and stability. It’s not just about setting goals; it’s about forging a path that weaves financial wisdom with actionable strategies. Here are some steps we recommend you take now, to start your 2024 finances on the right foot.

Tidying Up Transactions

Before you dive into the depths of budgeting and planning, take a moment to declutter your transaction history. Look back at your past expenditures and identify any habits that might have held you back. Were there impulse buys that gnawed away at your savings? Any subscriptions that turned out to be more frivolous than fruitful? A little fiscal housekeeping can offer invaluable insights and set a clear course for the months to come.

A Debt-Reduction Blueprint

Debt can often feel like an anchor, slowing down our financial progress. Craft a blueprint to pay down debt, focusing on high-interest rates first. Consider methods like the snowball or avalanche strategies but remember—there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The trick is to find a method that resonates with your lifestyle and stick to it like glue. See our blog about advice on getting out of debt.

Savings and Investments: Building Your Financial Future

Saving may seem like a marathon, but with the right mindset, each step can propel you forward. Begin by establishing an emergency fund—it’s the buffer between you and life’s surprises. Next, survey the investment landscape. Whether it’s stocks, bonds, or retirement plans, find avenues that align with your risk tolerance and timeline. Remember, the wisest investors aren’t those who strike gold on a lucky venture, but those who consistently contribute, come rain or shine.

Automated Financial Growth – Setting up automatic transfers removes the temptation to skimp on your savings goals and ensures that your future wealth grows without needing constant attention.

Staying the Course: Regular Check-ins and Adjustments

Life has a knack for throwing curveballs, which is why regular financial check-ups are vital. Every few months, review your budget, savings, and investments. Are you hitting your marks? Do adjustments need to be made? These check-ins are the pit stops that keep your financial engine running smoothly throughout the race of the year.

Crafting a sound financial plan, alongside a budget, at the start of the year lays the groundwork for twelve months of progress. Remember, it’s not about leaps and bounds; often, the most enduring changes happen one step at a time. Dedication, discipline, and a dash of daring—that’s the recipe for a financially fruitful 2024. Stay the course, and soon enough, you’ll be penning a success story that spans far beyond this calendar year.

For general financial inquiries and how you can plan out your financial goals, talk with someone at your YNCU branch!

Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookInstagramX, formerly known as Twitter, , or LinkedIn for more honest money talk tips!

Phishing and Smishing

Phishing and Smishing

Phishing and Smishing

Think twice before you click, submit, pay, download, or reply! This type of phishing is not enjoyable.

Phishing describes fraudsters attempting to trick users into doing ‘the wrong thing’ – such as clicking a bad link that will download malware or direct them to a dodgy website.

Phishing can be conducted via text message, social media, or by phone, but the term ‘phishing’ is mainly used to describe attacks that arrive by email. Phishing emails can reach millions of users directly and hide amongst the huge number of benign emails that busy users receive. Attacks can install malware (such as ransomware), sabotage systems, or steal intellectual property and money. Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank, a credit card or utility company, or even an online payment website or app.

Smishing is a type of phishing scam where cyber criminals try to trick you by sending fraudulent SMS or text messages. They often pretend to be a real business (such as a bank or delivery company), a government department, or a person you know. During the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have even pretended to be from assistance programs, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), to target vulnerable Canadians. Smishing messages will often try to get you to click on a link, which may contain malware or lead to a spoofed website. If you click on the link, cybercriminals can then steal your data, your money, or even your identity.

The message could be from a scammer who might:

  • Say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t.
  • Claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t.
  • Say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t.
  • Include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake. Want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware.
  • Say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam.
  • Offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real.

Most phishing/smishing attacks create a sense of urgency in the message and encourage you to respond right away. They may send threats, like claiming they’ll close your account, or offer a time-sensitive reward, such as a prize for a contest you didn’t enter. But no text is ever that urgent — take your time when evaluating a potential smishing message.

Many phishing/smishing messages appear to be from a trustworthy and reliable source, like your bank or another business you know. Always be cautious, even if you think you recognize the business that the message is from.

To protect yourself from Phishing and Smishing use the SHADY? approach:

SECRET – Always keep your personal information secret, especially over email. Check with the sender by contacting them through another medium, like telephone, to confirm that they did in fact send you that email/text.

HOVER OVER A LINK BEFORE CLICKING IT – Hovering over a link lets you see where it points. Never click a link to any financial website, type in the address each time.

ATTACHMENTS SHOULD NOT BE CLICKED – Do not click on attachments if you are not expecting them. Even documents may contain a virus that can do damage to your device, track keystrokes, and compromise your information.

DIFFICULT PASSWORDS – Complex passwords help prevent people from hacking your accounts. Passwords should be strong, difficult to guess, and different for each system.

YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF WHENEVER YOU GET AN EMAIL/MESSAGE: Was I expecting this? If not proceed with caution or delete immediately.

? QUESTION – Always question electronic messages, especially if it is making promises or threatening action.

YNCU members, if you know, or think you have been a victim of phishing or smishing and your banking information has been compromised, please contact our Service Excellence Centre at 1-800-413-YNCU (9628).

You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501. Check out this video for more information on How The “SHADY?” Technique Can Help Prevent Phishing and Smishing

2023 in Review: Finance Edition

2023 in Review: Finance Edition

2023 in Review: Finance Edition

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

As we approach the end of 2023, let’s discuss what happened this year in the Canadian world of finance, what happened with our personal money management, and how we can improve our financial situation in 2024. It’s important to reflect on the year in all aspects of our lives, and how we can better plan for the future. In this blog, we will dive into the key highlights of the financial landscape in Canada for 2023 and provide some tips to help you plan your finances more effectively for 2024.

An Overview of the Financial Landscape in Canada in 2023

In 2023, Canada’s economy faced both challenges and opportunities. The global pandemic continued to impact various sectors, but there were also signs of recovery and growth. Here are some key highlights:

Investing in Technology: The finance industry embraced technology, with a surge in digital banking services, mobile payment platforms, and online investment options. Fintech startups flourished, providing innovative solutions for Canadians to manage their finances conveniently.

Real Estate Market Boom: The real estate market witnessed a significant surge in demand, leading to soaring housing prices in many parts of Canada. Low mortgage rates and increased immigration played a role in driving the market, but concerns about affordability and potential risks also emerged.

Inflation & Rising Interest Rates: In an era characterized by changing financial landscapes, the year 2023 proved to be no exception. It brought about increased interest rates and inflation in Canada, influencing everyone from young adults just starting their career to seasoned retirees which really limited people’s ability to save and invest.

Green Investments: Environmental sustainability gained traction, and the finance sector responded by promoting green investments. Sustainable funds and socially responsible investing became popular among Canadians looking to align their financial goals with their values.

Understanding Your Finances in 2023

Now that we have looked at the broader financial landscape in 2023, let’s shift our focus to your personal finances. It’s essential to understand how your financial situation was impacted by these developments. Here are some steps to help you figure out what happened with your finances in 2023:

1. Review Your Income and Expenses: Start by analyzing your income sources and tracking your expenses throughout the year. Consider any changes in your employment, investments, or other sources of income. This will give you a clear picture of how much you earned and spent in 2023.

2. Assess Investment Performance: If you invested in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, review the performance of your portfolio. Did you achieve your financial goals? Identify any winners or losers and evaluate the overall return on investment.

3. Evaluate Debt and Savings: Examine your debt obligations, such as mortgages, loans, or credit card balances. Did you make progress in reducing your debts? Additionally, assess your savings and emergency funds. Were you able to set aside enough for unexpected expenses?

Better Planning for Your Finances in 2024

Armed with an understanding of your financial situation in 2023, it’s time to plan for the upcoming year. Here are some tips to help you better plan your finances for 2024:

Set Clear Financial Goals

Define your short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether it’s saving for a down payment, paying off debt, or planning for retirement, having specific goals can guide your financial decisions and motivate you to stay on track.

Create a Realistic Budget

Based on your income and expenses from 2023, create a budget that aligns with your financial goals. Include categories for savings, investments, and discretionary spending. Be mindful of any adjustments needed due to changing circumstances or lessons learned from the previous year.

Diversify Your Investments

Consider diversifying your investment portfolio to mitigate risks. Explore different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or even alternative investments. Seek professional advice if needed to ensure your investments align with your risk tolerance and financial goals.

Strategies to Keep Up with Increasing Expenses

  • Suspend or Reduce Savings Goals Temporarily: Consider suspending your savings goals temporarily. Chill, it’s okay! You’re not giving up on your dream home, trip to Tahiti, or your child’s college fund. It’s just a temporary pause to rebalance and regain control over your finances.
  • Prioritize Expenses: Foster the habit of budgeting. Make note of your ‘essential’ and ‘nice-to-have’ expenses. During trying times, it would be wise to focus more on needs rather than wants.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Don’t shoulder this burden alone. A financial advisor can provide valuable insights and personalized strategies suited to your income, lifestyle, and goals.

The finance world in Canada witnessed significant developments in 2023, impacting both the economy and individual finances. By reflecting on what happened with your finances in the past year and implementing better planning strategies for 2024, you can navigate the ever-changing financial landscape more effectively. Remember to set clear goals, create a realistic budget, and diversify your investments to achieve financial success. YNCU is here to help! Click here to book an appointment with one of our advisors, who can assist you with finding the right YNCU product for you to achieve your 2024 finance goals.

For all your general financial inquiries and how you can plan out your financial goals, talk with someone at your YNCU branch!

Are you under A.T.T.A.C.K?

Are you under A.T.T.A.C.K?

Are you under A.T.T.A.C.K?

Social manipulation, in the context of fraud, is the art of manipulating end users into providing personal or confidential information. Personal cyber-attacks come in many forms. Here are a few tips that can help you to spot them.

A – An Email

Phishing emails may look legitimate, but you should always question links, attachments, threads, or emails from someone unexpected.

T – Trick Websites

These are made to look like trusted websites but often have spelling or grammar errors or a slightly different URL. Farming the data from these trick websites allows criminals to gather personal details and record your keystrokes.

T -Text Messages

Social engineers will send you a text message about an urgent bill payment or some type of attractive offer. Also, beware of fake messages that appear to be from the government asking you to click a link to receive your rebate, return or payment. If you click these links on a mobile device message it could put your mobile phone at risk.

A – A Telephone Call

Fraudsters may call and say they are from Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Post or Microsoft, or maybe even your financial institution, and proceed to ask you to disclose personal information. Before going ahead with this, you need to ask yourself what valid reason would there be for you receiving the call and why would you provide those details if you didn’t initiate the call? If you still cannot determine the legitimacy of the caller, ask them to proceed via email because you cannot speak in depth at the moment.

C – Contest Winner

“Congratulations! You’ve won a big contest!” This message can come to you via email, text or phone. But did you even enter a contest? If not, it is more than likely an attempt by a fraudster to gather personal information from you. Do not fall for it!

K – Key Loggers

You’re browsing a familiar website and receive a pop-up of an offer that looks too good to be true! If you click the pop-up that social engineer may be trying to capture sensitive information.

When in doubt……..Hang up! Delete! Exit!

Social Engineering is on the rise. Watch for these signs of an attack and take these steps to protect yourself. Ask questions. Do not feel pressured into providing any information you may not be comfortable providing. Never share your ID, passwords, or any answers to your security questions. Use caution when entering sensitive information with websites that don’t begin with HTTPS or when something arrives that you were not expecting. Always remember to report anything suspicious.

YNCU members, if you know, or think you have been ATTACKED please contact our Service Excellence Centre at 1-800-413-YNCU (9628).

You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501. Check out this video for more information on protecting yourself against a cyber-attack.