The thief scammer is holding a mobile phone and credit card. The concept of Bank card fraud through a virus in the smartphone. a thug in a black Balaclava and a black hood.

Often we think of the demographic that gets hit with bots and scams online as seniors, but it can happen to anyone especially when you’re autistic. Many autistic people (myself included) are easily trusting and so more susceptible to falling prey to internet scams. It’s important to be able to figure out what’s real and what’s not. Here are some tricks if figured out.

The first thing we often think of when it comes to virtual scammers is often emails or calls from government agencies about us owing money or tax payments.  It is scary when you read or hear that you’re in trouble with the government but this type of scam is often pretty easy to figure out in Canada! If it’s actually from a government agency everything will either be in English with all the content in french following or will offer service in french. If there’s no French, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s not actually from the government. 

That brings us somewhere important DON’T SEND MONEY TO STRANGERS! Like in the previous example, often whatever is contacting you is trying to get your money. It may seem like the revenue agency is saying you owe money, but if that was the case you would have received a written letter explaining why and how much you owe. The same goes for phone and utility companies. These companies typically send written bills unless you directly sign up for online automatic payments. The same thing goes with accounts on social media. If you don’t know them, don’t send them money, regardless of what the reasoning might be. 

With the rise of social media so have the rise of scammers over social media. This typically presents with an account that seems like it belongs to a real person. This account will follow or send you a friend request, they will send you a message. Usually, these messages will have a link that they want you to click, they might say that you won a prize and need to put some kind of login information or a variety of other things. But their true goal is to get your information, by clicking the link the bot will gather things like your login details, location, and credit card information. The bots will use this information to try to hack your accounts. The best thing to do when you think it’s a fake account or you get one of those messages is to just block the account. If you do end up clicking a link, don’t panic, first change your social media passwords then report the account. 

A lot of avoiding online bots and scammers comes down to knowing what to look for and blocking/reporting. If you’re not sure if something you’re seeing is real, have someone else look at it. This could be a friend, parent, teacher, or sibling. They might see a small detail that you didn’t or have come across that scam before. Check out the article below to read about a study on ASD and online scams. 

https://www.uab.edu/news/research/item/10013-does-having-autism-make-you-more-vulnerable-to-cyber-phishing-attacks

Fern Johnson
Author: Fern Johnson

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