March is International Fraud Prevention Month.
Consumer fraud is a big as ever and in today’s fast paced lifestyle it is easy to let your guard down. Fraud can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Chances are you have received a few fraudulent emails, ambiguous phone calls, encountered fake online ads, questionable posts on social networking sites … or maybe someone has come knocking at your door?
Avoid becoming a victim!
Here are some best practices you can use to protect yourself:
*Brush up on common scams and warning signs – check out sites like Scambusters.org to educate and prepare yourself – here’s a recently released list of the top 10 scams for 2014: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/vancouver-police-release-top-ten-scams-2014-004619987.html
*Keep personal information confidential – never give away personal information over the phone, through email, or over the internet unless you initiated contact, know who you are dealing with, and know you are operating over a secured site
*Change your passwords and PINs at least twice a year – avoid being obvious, avoid using names, words, and dates meaningful to you, that someone could guess, and throw in a few numbers & symbols too!
*Order your credit report, at least once a year – check out more information about your credit report, how you can order it, and what you can do to protect it at http://www.consumer.equifax.ca/home/en_ca
*Shred unneeded documents containing sensitive information – that includes items like receipts, bank statements, old tax returns, and even junk mail containing your address, like credit card preapprovals
*Watch out for unusual transactions – be wary of unexpected or overly generous offers, and never agree to conduct financial transactions on behalf of someone else – remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Talk to your loved ones about fraud. Scammers will target anyone, regardless of their age or social status, however, experts warn that some groups, like seniors, children, and teens, are generally more vulnerable. Talk to your family members and friends about fraud and how to avoid it – come up with strategies that everyone in your household can follow. Finally, let your loved ones know they can talk about any problems they encounter – experts warn that many victims are too embarrassed to talk about what happened, and crooks may repeatedly target them following that initial success.
Check out these sites for more information and resources: