Shield Your Personal Information & Dodge Fraud

Posted: Apr 28 2016

It is estimated that fraud accounts for over half of all the cybercrime reported to police. Shopping and banking online are now everyday activities for many, but you must be mindful of the inherent risk in doing so. Remember, those seeking your personal information- fraudsters, are always at least two steps ahead of security and law enforcement, whether it be online, or on the ground. This means you need to take steps to guard your personal information and dodge fraud. 1. Don’t Share Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) - Your PIN should never be shared with anyone; not even kids, partners, or parents. For joint accounts, the other party can get a separate access card with their own PIN. Set small limits on withdrawal amounts if you are concerned about having your account emptied out. The same with your passwords – do not share them and protect yourself from prying eyes when entering them on any device. Carry your cards and digital passport in protected cases; fraudsters are now scanning your personal information in crowded areas.

2. Safeguard Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) - One piece of your ID that is highly sought-after by fraudsters is your SIN, a unique number provided by the Government of Canada to identify you as a taxpayer. Your employer needs it to report your deductions, the federal government needs it to process your tax refunds and payments, and your banker or broker may need it to report your investment income. For all other requests, ask why that information is required and refrain from providing your SIN. Do not carry your card with you, instead, keep it in a safe spot such as a home safe or in your safety deposit box.

3. Complete Online Transactions at Home - Protect your online business, shopping and banking by never using a public computer for transactions; you can never be sure what might be lurking inside them. Avoid using your personal devices in public areas with free Wi-Fi when it comes to conducting business transactions. Do your private transactions on a private secure network. Lock your phone and computer when not in use in case of loss or theft.

4. Check Twice Before Purchasing - People love a good deal, and fraudsters know this. Before you make a purchase check that the company exists, how long they have been in business, and their return policy. Once you are satisfied, reduce your risk by using a credit card with a very low limit or PayPal for purchase transactions. When buying online always check you’re connected to a secure site, by looking for a “s” in the https:// part of the web address. If a website seems a little odd exit the site and type the URL in yourself. There are some very good fake and fraudulent websites out there waiting for you to type in your personal information.

5. Check Statements - Detect fraud by keeping a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. If your statements don’t arrive on time, or if you detect mistakes, immediately contact your provider. Invest in a small shredder and use it for all paper that contains identifying information. Fraudsters go through garbage bins and use statements and envelopes with your name, address and account information to apply for credit in your name.

6. Get Your Credit Report - Check your credit rating regularly for incorrect information, which could indicate fraudulent activity. Follow up if you see anything unfamiliar following the information provided on both sites.

Vigilance is the best defence, but if you become a victim of a scam or fraud report it immediately to crime stoppers at www.antifraudcentre.ca or 1-888-495-8501. It can happen to anyone so don’t be embarrassed or afraid to tell someone, the amount of financial damage you may experience can be reduced by reporting it quickly.

Financial fraud can happen to anyone. Protect yourself, don’t be a victim – your best defense is awareness.

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