Criminals are increasingly using technology to target people. Cyber-crime happens when criminal activity happens through computers or the internet. There are different forms of cyber-crimes and online dangers. Below you will find each danger explained, along with some tips to help protect yourself.

Cyber-Bullying

Recently, cyber-bullying has become a common problem.

What is Cyber-Bullying?

Bullying is when someone repeatedly does or says something to hurt another person on purpose. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens on online platforms such as social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat) or through electronic communication devices (e.g. WhatsApp, text messages).

Visit Bullying and Cyberbullying.

When Should I Call The Police?

When threats, harassment, assault, theft and mischief are involved, the cyberbullying should be reported to the police. Contact us

In an emergency situation call 9-1-1.

Cyber-Bullying Resources

Text/Email Phishing and Spam

Protect your computer from the risk of phishing and spam.

Text/Email Phishing

Phishing scams work by tricking you into handing over your personal information and/or banking details to the scammers. The texts/emails you receive might look and sound like they're from legitimate institutions and may have an urgent message that requires your immediate action. When you click the links or respond to the message, the person who sent it gains access to sensitive information, such as contacts, accounts and/or passwords.

Tips:

  • Avoid opening texts or emails from senders you don't recognize.
  • Delete phishing texts or emails since they can carry viruses that can infect your device.
  • Avoid clicking on links in a text or email unless you know the source.
  • Avoid sending your personal information by text, email or through websites and social media.

Organizations like banks, governments, phone companies and other legitimate institutions will never ask you to send your personal information by text, email or through other online platforms like social media. If you're not sure, call the organization directly and ask them if they sent you something.

Spam Mail

Spam is unwanted junk email usually caused by visiting a website or giving out personal information. Unlike phishing, spam messages are not trying to find out personal information. Spam often contains get-rich-quick schemes or tries to sell you something, and may carry viruses.

Signs an Email is Spam

  • The email contains spelling and/or grammatical errors.
  • The email greeting is vague and refers to you as a valued customer. Most authentic institutions will address you by your first and last name if you are a regular customer.
  • The content is impersonal, asks for personal information, and/or sounds too good to be true.
  • The email address does not match the real company's website name (e.g. Peel Regional Police's email domain is @peelpolice.ca). If you see a domain name from a free email service provider, or if the email username has random letters and numbers added, it may be spam (e.g. out1ook_support10@hotmail.com may look authentic, but comes from a free provider and has random numbers).

Tips to Manage Spam

  • Avoid opening spam.
  • Don't reply to spam messages, even to unsubscribe.
  • Never click the links inside spam, including when you're told to click here or click to remove me from the mailing list.
  • Delete any suspicious emails.
  • Install trusted anti-virus software.
  • Don't trust everything you see. Be alert, ask yourself: how did they get my email address?

Identity Theft

Identity theft is when a person gets your personal information (e.g. name, date of birth, banking, credit card etc.) and uses it to make purchases, obtain funds, create social media accounts in your name and/or open up a bank account. Protect yourself by limiting where you share your personal data.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Be cautious when giving out personal information and on what platform you give it out on.
  • Be careful when posting on social media.
  • Be aware of frauds and scams online.
  • Keep your social insurance card, passport and birth certificate stored in a safe place.
  • Be cautious when performing online transactions by making sure the site is secure, has a privacy policy and the company is reputable.
  • Regularly check your monthly statements for any unapproved or missing transactions.
  • Review your Equifax and TransUnion Canada credit history every year to make sure no unauthorized accounts were made in your name.

What Should you do? – If you are a Victim

  • Contact your bank and credit card company.
  • Contact your local police department and file a report.
  • Contact Equifax Canada or TransUnions Canada and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Buying and Selling Online

If you are buying, selling or trading property online it is important to be aware of theft or fraud.

Safe Exchange Zones

You can use Peel Regional Polices' Buy and Sell Exchange Zones to safely transfer goods. These spaces allow citizens to perform exchanges arranged online.

There are a total of six parking spaces, two each at 11 Division, 12 Division and 22 Division. These spaces are aimed to increase public safety and reduce crime since many innocent people are becoming victims of robberies, thefts and fraud.

Tips for Safer Exchanges

  • Agree to meet in our Buy and Sell Exchange Zones or in a public place.
  • Meet during daylight hours.
  • Don't give out personal information on buy and sell websites (e.g. address, full name etc.).
  • Google the buyer or sellers name before meeting.
  • Ask about the history of the item you are purchasing.
  • If possible, meet the buyer in a busy or public location with another person.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you are going, who you are meeting and when they can expect you back in advance.

Safer Online Dating

People of all ages use dating apps and websites. Popular online dating platforms include eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Tinder, and Grindr. Criminals have now found ways to con or harm users who use this form of dating.

Dating Scams

Many dating scams work by setting up fake dating profiles. The offender will try to keep you invested by continually sending you emails filled with talks of love and a desire to build a future with you. After they have sent you a few messages you will be asked to send money to help them out.

Warning Signs

  • Says they love you after a short period of time, despite never having met you.

  • Lives in a foreign country and wants financial assistance to come see you.

  • Asks for money and presents emergency or urgent reasons (e.g. family illness etc.) for needing it.

  • Wants you to make large money transfers to countries in Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe.

  • Makes promises of large sums of money you will receive if you pay taxes or a wiring fee.

Safety Tips for Online Messaging

  • Check website addresses carefully as criminals often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating sites.

  • Never send money or give credit card details to anyone you don't know and trust.

  • Limit the personal information you give out.

  • Make sure you only use reputable dating sites.

  • Beware of someone you've never met who wants you to wire money to a place outside of Canada.

Top Six Safety Tips for Meeting an Online Date

  1. Tell someone where you're going, who with and when you should be back home.

  2. Avoid giving out your address, and don't meet at your residence for the first time.

  3. Don't get in a stranger's vehicle; meet them at a public place (i.e. coffee shops, restaurants) and arrange for your own ride to and from the date.

  4. Stay sober and aware. If you do drink, never leave your drink unattended, not even with your date.

  5. Move beyond messaging through the website and/or app. Know the person's cell or home phone number, know the person's real full name (not just their first name or username), and talk to them by phone to arrange the date.

  6. Be aware that the person you're meeting may not be the person they said they were in their profile (known as “catfishing”).

Computer Safety Tips

Learn about the steps you can take to be safer against online threats.

Home Network Protection

  • Keep your browser updated.

  • Install trusted protection programs and keep them updated (i.e. anti-spyware, anti-virus software and firewalls).

  • Make sure all your WIFI networks are password protected.

  • During router setup, change the administrator password from its default.

Creating a Stronger Password

With the advancement of password-cracking software, hackers are now able to crack your password within a matter of seconds. To protect your account privacy and information, creating unique and secure passwords that are not easy to guess is the first line of defense. Make your passwords secure by following these password guidelines:

  • Make sure each password is different from others.
  • Never share your passwords with anyone.
  • Regularly change your passwords.
  • Try not to use words that could be found in the dictionary.
  • Try not to use alphabetic or number sequences – 1234, abcd.
  • Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Use short sentences or phrases as your password (e.g. the phrase “I get up at 6:15, but am sometimes late!” becomes the password Igua615,BasL8! In this example, the password can't be found as a word in any dictionary).

Back-Up Your Files

Backup your computer files to prevent permanent file and data loss from computer infections, damage and unexpected accidents. Computer back-ups are copies of your original files that allow you to recover them if damaged. Consider using an external hard drive or a Cloud storage solution to back-up your files regularly.

Social Media

There are many potential dangers you may face using social media and apps.

Helpful Tips

  • Change your settings to limit who sees your posts by restricting access to only your friends.
  • Don't post your full name, address, phone number or any kind of financial information online.
  • Assume anything you post could be seen or shared by others – if you're not comfortable sharing it, don't post it.
  • Before posting photos it is important to know that they can be downloaded, altered and edited by anyone.
  • Everything you post on the internet (text, images, and videos) can be captured by others and/or by search engines. Even once you delete it, your posts can still be available online.
  • Don't allow anyone to use or takeover your social media accounts to sell items like iPhones or access travel deals.

Internet Safety Committee

The Internet Safety Committee is made up of representatives from the community. It aims to monitor current and future internet related issues. The committee provides proactive strategies and education to teach people how to protect themselves online.

Cyber Academy

The Cyber Academy is a five night academy designed to inform parents and guardians on the risks of the internet. It covers topics including cyber-fraud, media addiction, child exploitation, social media and much more.

Participants must be 18 years of age and over. Proficiency in the English language is essential and some computer skills are beneficial.

We usually offer five sessions per year with each session running from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. These courses are held at the Emil V. Kolb Centre

Please contact Crime Prevention to register in one of the Cyber Academy sessions. 

Helpful Resources

There are various resources available to help you become safer online!

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