Major funds, to the tune of $655,000 were taken out of St. Catharines Hydro’s bank account after an employee with access to St. Catharines Hydro’s banking information reportedly fell for an email phishing scam on Dec. 13 which requested banking login information.
The employee entered the banking info and the funds were later removed from the account. The Niagara Regional Police are now investigating, The Hydro board of directors have had an emergency meeting and hired KPMG to conduct an investigation into the breakdown of processes that led the utility to become a victim of fraud.
Mayor Walter Sendzik, who sits on the board, said there is still an ongoing discussion as to whether or not the stolen funds are covered by insurance.
St. Catharines Hydro is owned by the City of St. Catharines and is a shareholder in Horizon Utilities Corporation, the electricity distribution company that serves customers in St. Catharines and Hamilton.
What is Phishing
When a party tries to get sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
How Can I protect Myself From Scams Online
The Insurance Bureau of Canada released its top 10 tips to protect against cyber fraud and online identity theft. Check them out below:
Be cautious about sharing your personal information online, including your insurance policy number and birth date.
Guard your financial information. If you shop, do insurance transactions or banking online, make sure you aren’t saving personal financial information, such as credit card numbers, that someone could easily take.
Change your login and passwords regularly, especially if you use a public computer. Make your passwords hard to decipher by using numbers and characters in addition to letters.
Ensure that a website is trustworthy before clicking on a link in an email. If you have any doubt that an email is from the institution that it says it’s from, contact the company to confirm that they sent the email. Criminals often use phishing, which uses an official-looking email to direct you to a website that looks legitimate, to steal personal information.
Install security software and anti-spyware programs on your computer. Activate your firewall and use anti-virus software. Only download programs from reputable websites that you know are trustworthy.
When making an insurance claim, regularly check the payments made by your insurance company on your behalf throughout the process. Keep an eye out for any unusual activity.
Be social media savvy. Set your social media profiles to the private setting and be careful what you post online.
Make sure your Wi-Fi network at home is protected. When using public “hot spots,” recognize that the data you share is vulnerable and do not conduct financial transactions, such as obtaining automobile or home insurance, on these networks.
Never give personal information over e-mail or phone to someone who has contacted you to ask for it, without authenticating their identity.
If you use credit cards or borrow money, it is a good idea to periodically order a credit check on yourself to ensure everything is in order.
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