Six tips to protect yourself against fraud.
Nobody likes to be taken advantage of—it makes us feel insecure, unsafe and even a little foolish. But fraud and financial scams remain a multibillion-dollar business in Canada, with new ways for people to try to bilk you out of your money popping up seemingly every day. So who can you trust? And how do you protect yourself? Follow the advice below to ensure you’re not a victim.
1. Carefully Consider Emails or Letters you Receive
You need to be more suspicious because fraudsters are banking on your trusting nature. They’ll send communications from someone you seem to know (there may be one letter difference in their email address that you don’t notice, for example) or from an institution you trust like your bank or the government.
• Step 1: Hover over an email address and read it thoroughly. Is this really the person or organization you think it is?
• Step 2: Read through the email thoroughly. What is it asking for? Is it trying to scare or intimidate you? Pull at your heartstrings?
• Step 3: If you have any doubts, go to the institution’s website (eg., your bank or the government) and call the phone number listed there to enquire about your file. Do not call the number that’s been given in a suspicious email or letter.
2. Don't Offer up Any Information. EVER!
Keep your personal details to yourself. This extends to friends and family members, as well as businesses. If anyone asks for identifiable information (your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, social insurance number, former addresses, account numbers, etc.), do not provide it. If you are actively calling an organization like your bank or the government, they will ask for some of this information to verify your identity. This is okay because you've initiated the call.
3. Trust your Gut
Trust your “spidey sense” or your gut. As Spider-Man would say, “my spidey senses are tingling.” We often second-guess ourselves and talk ourselves into believing people even when our intuition is advising us not to, so when your intuition, gut or spidey senses start tingling, pay attention to them.
4. Report Any Suspicious Activity
Report any suspicious activity, or if you've been a victim of fraud or identity theft, to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.
5. Check Your Bank Statements Monthly
Check your bank and credit product statements monthly to ensure that no suspicious activity is occurring.
6. Check Your Credit Report Annually
Protect yourself from frauds and scams by regularly monitoring your information and safeguarding it from others. Assume that if it sounds too good or scary to be true, it may very well be.