Fraud, Fraud Prevention, Cyber Crime, Scams

How to Protect Your Personal Information

This past March was Fraud Prevention Month across Canada; marking its 13th anniversary. Fraud Prevention Month was created by the Competition Bureau to help Canadians protect themselves against fraudulent activity, and to learn what they can do if they have been a victim of a crime. Through educational activities, events and helpful information shared through social media platforms, Canadians have been made aware of current scams and acts of fraud, and how to recognize one before it’s too late.

Although Fraud Prevention Month is over, fraud continues to be an issue for individuals and businesses across the country. With the number of scams taking place, both online and in person, it is important that all Canadian residents know how they can stay protected. Here are two tips on how you can protect yourself, your family and your business as we leave Fraud Prevention Month behind us.

Think Before You Toss

Every day we are inundated with mail; personal documents such as bank statements, receipts, financial applications, tax returns, passwords, loan updates and so forth. Since digital copies can be easily obtained, we tend to dispose of paper copies as it is one less thing to clutter up the house. What many people don’t realize, however, is that each piece of documentation contains personal information regarding accounts, recent purchases, passwords, etc. All it takes is one document falling into the wrong person’s hands, to expose an individual to a scam.

Are you supposed to hang onto every bank statement and document, to keep your information secure? Not at all! There are many ways that you can destroy documentation before disposing of it. One of the most popular methods is a paper shredder, as it can quickly destroy information and make it tough for someone to obtain your information. If you do not have a paper shredder, you can dispose of documents through a company who offers these services, hand shred the papers yourself, or burn them in a fireplace or wood furnace.

Check/ Update Accounts Frequently

In 2017, mobile apps and digital programs have exposed more and more people to online fraud. Compromised passwords, fraudulent emails, fake accounts, and unsolicited emails containing viruses, can leave us wondering how we can protect information online. First, ensure that all personal content that you publish online is information that you do not mind sharing with others. Secondly, unsubscribe from unwanted email lists and close accounts that you are not interested in, or do not need anymore. This can help prevent your credentials from being used by another user, and it will clean up your inbox. Finally, check in on all online accounts, specifically online banking, and reset your passwords every few months. If you use one password for every account, take some time to create new and unique passwords for each one. This will ensure that if one account becomes compromised, that every account will not be.

Scams can take place over the phone, online, or in person. It can be hard to decipher if something is a scam or not, but by asking questions and carefully examining documents and online offerings, you will be able to help prevent fraud from happening to you. A simple rule of thumb is as follows: Never provide personal or important information to anyone who initiated the inquiry. You don’t know who they are or whether they are going to use your information for legitimate purposes. Simply hang up or delete the email. 

For a full list on how you can protect yourself against different types of fraud, visit the Competition Bureau’s website, or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website. Contact us if you have any questions!