Thursday, January 28, 2010

Privacy Commissioner launches new Facebook probe

New complaint highlights dissatisfaction with privacy changes that the popular social networking site has been making in the wake of last summer's in-depth investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

OTTAWA, January 27, 2010 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - In response to a new public complaint, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is once again launching an investigation into Facebook, the social networking site whose privacy policies and practices were the subject of a comprehensive probe by her Office last summer.

The complaint focuses on a tool introduced by Facebook in mid-December 2009, which required users to review their privacy settings. The complainant alleges that the new default settings would have made his information more readily available than the settings he had previously put in place.

"The individual's complaint mirrors some of the concerns that our Office has heard and expressed to Facebook in recent months," said Elizabeth Denham, the Assistant Privacy Commissioner who spearheaded the original investigation and follow-up.

"Some Facebook users are disappointed by certain changes being made to the site - changes that were supposed to strengthen their privacy and the protection of their personal information."

In July 2009, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released findings of an in-depth examination of the privacy issues raised by the California-based site, which now claims 350 million users worldwide.

Key concerns highlighted in the report related to Facebook's transparency and clarity - specifically, the need to better explain how it handles the personal information in its care. The report also recommended that Facebook provide users with increased control over their personal information. In August, following intensive discussions, Facebook agreed to modify its site in ways that would address the Commissioner's concerns.

Since then, however, changes to the site's privacy information, settings and tools have sparked criticism from users who feel that personal information posted to the site is, in some instances, even more exposed now than before.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will investigate the complaint it has received, while continuing to follow up with Facebook as it introduces new changes to its site. The company committed last August to resolving within a year all of the concerns raised in the first investigation report.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Joint force operation leads to arrests for debit card fraud

TORONTO, January 22, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The continuing joint force partnership to combat credit debit and credit card frauds between the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) - Identity Crimes Unit and Durham Regional Police Major Crime - Fraud Unit (DRPS) has resulted in the arrest of seven males and two females for point-of-sale terminal "pin pad" tampering.

The investigation which began in the Parry Sound area in November 2009 identified a group of suspects who were responsible for numerous incidents of credit card terminal tampering across the Greater Toronto area and Ontario. The investigation determined these suspects were also responsible for the use of the fraudulent debit card data collected from the tampered "pin pads". The suspects targeted various retail establishments which conduct credit and debit card transactions without the knowledge of the various retailers.

On January 21, 2010 investigators from the OPP OCEB-Identity Crimes Unit and Durham Regional Police assisted by Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police and Canada Border Services executed nine search warrants across the Greater Toronto area. As a result of the warrants, investigators arrested nine persons and seized stolen point-of-sale terminal "pin pads", hundreds of forged debit cards encoded with stolen debit card data, computer equipment used to encode magnetic stripes and over $100,000 in cash.

Investigators have laid charges under the new Identity Theft legislation brought into Canadian law on January 8, 2010.

Police along with the banking industry continue to work together to detect and prevent these crimes, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars in losses each year in Canada.

Anyone with information in relation to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Doug Cousens of the OPP Identity Crimes Unit at 1-905-671-6883 or Detective Jeff Caplan of the DRPS Major Crime - Fraud Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5702.

Police caution the public to always be alert and aware when using their respective bank debit cards.

Anonymous information can be sent to Crime Stoppers where tipsters may be eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to Detect Online Scams

by Jonathan Strickland

"Hey buddy, come over here. Listen, keep this quiet. I've got a friend overseas who's trying to come here. He's filthy rich but he has to go through a lot of red tape on his side and ours. I was hoping you could help me out by spotting me a few thousand dollars so that we could grease the wheels a little. Don't worry -- once he's over here he'll repay your investment 100 times over. What do you say?"

If a random stranger approached you on the street and said something like that, you'd probably ignore him and keep walking. You might even report him to the local police. Who would trust someone they had never met with that much money? But an online scam very similar to the scenario above has fooled thousands of people into giving away millions of dollars to the scam artists. It seems that people who might be able to smell a rat in a real life encounter become more gullible while online... read more at

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Scammers plan to clear out your gift card balance


After the "season of giving" some of us can find ourselves
with a surplus of gift cards from stores where we can't or
don't want to shop.

The Internet provides the answer. Why not sell them -- usually
at a discount -- to someone who can use them?

Looks like a win-win situation -- until you encounter the gift
card scam artists.

Here's how they work: You offer your card on an auction or
classified ad site. A "buyer" asks for an electronic snapshot
of your balance as proof of its value.

They direct you to a bogus site, usually in the format of "My"
followed by the store name, followed by "" (e.g.
""), where they say you can get this

As soon as you key your card details in, the scammer has them
and will use or transfer the balance as quick as a flash.
That's it. You won't get your money back.

So, if you do have gift cards from Christmas -- or any other
time -- to sell, we recommend you use one of the sites
specially set up for these transactions (do a Google search
for "gift card exchange" -- but, remember, always double check
the credentials of any company you deal with). And recognize
even the legit exchanges often charge a hefty fee.

Or you could just "regift" them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Top Scams of 2009 and 2010


With a likely global toll of more than $1 billion lost to Internet and phone scammers in 2009, it's time to review our Top 10 scam predictions for the past year and throw forward our thinking on what's going to change in 2010.

Our predictions, (unscientifically) confirmed by the feedback we get from the hundreds of thousands of Scambusters subscribers and visitors, official surveys and the regular news reports we scan, once again came pretty close to the mark.

Identity theft and phishing remained the biggest source of scams in 2009, with, as we predicted, a stronger-than-ever showing from economy-related scams, which came in at Number 2.

Looking to the future, we expect many of the old patterns to repeat themselves, though often using new approaches to try to catch us out.

But there's also a growing threat that we've seen more and more evidence in 2009 -- from the "planting" of viruses and spyware -- and there's one newcomer to our list of Top 10 scams for 2010.

Let's take a closer