Ahh Hollywood…making financial frauds and scams look glamorous for decades. If only it were like that in real life. If only the thieves targeted the bad corporations and bad people and not us regular folk who are just trying to protect what we work hard for, but that is rarely the case.
Financial fraud isn’t an uncommon occurrence anymore. We live in a world filled with scam artists and hackers and they are getting smarter every day. Whether it is by email phishing scams, phone calls pretending to be the CRA or a breach of security with a company like Equifax, the need to be more protective and wary of requests for information is increasing.
Fraud can happen to anyone…trust me…I know. So here is how to protect yourself before it happens and what to do if it happens to you.
Stay up to date on the latest scams
Check out what scams are happening in Canada
If you don’t know what scams are out there you won’t see them coming
Watch for warning signs:
Bad spelling and grammar in emails or letters
Aggressive phone calls
Ask yourself if it is too good to be true?
Requesting payment for winning a prize
Keep your personal information CONFIDENTIAL
Did you know that if you share your PIN (even to your spouse on a joint account) you have forfeited fraud coverage on your bank account.
Financial Institutions call fraud committed by a family member friendly fraud and in order to be reimbursed you must press charges against that family member. This includes if you gave your kid your debit card to put gas in the car and they stop to make extra purchases you didn’t authorize.
CHANGE your passwords and PINs every few months
Typically if your card has been skimmed (an unauthorized copy made) the fraudsters will wait a couple of months before trying to access your accounts. Changing your PINs and passwords increases the likelihood they won’t be able to make a successful transaction
CHECK your credit reports
You can request your credit report for free once a year by mail:
Make sure that all your information is correct and that there are no unauthorized lending requests
SHRED don’t just throw away
If it contains any sensitive personal information you need to shred it.
Fraud can be committed with just your name, address and social insurance number
VERIFY all transactions
You have 30 days after receiving a statement to review your accounts for fraudulent activity, after that your credit card company or financial institution doesn’t have to reimburse you for fraud
Fraud happens when you turn a blind eye so open those statements or check your accounts online often to make sure nothing is happening that is fraudulent.
INFORM family and friends
If you know of a scam happening tell everyone. The more people know of what is occurring the less likely they will fall victim to it.
GATHER all information you can regarding the fraud
This includes all documents, receipts, emails and text messages pertaining to the incident.
REPORT the incident
To the Police
This ensures they are aware of scams currently occurring and who they are targeting. Keep track of your incident number and calls.
To Financial Institutions
This includes your personal institution, credit company, the institution where the money was sent or payment service provider
If the fraud took place via a website like Kijiji, Facebook, eBay, etc. you need to let them know as well
CONTACT the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
FLAG your accounts
Get your accounts flagged as being a recent victim of fraud. This includes bank accounts, credit cards and your credit bureau. This ensures that extra due diligence will be taken regarding new credit requests or account access.
Share the Experience…
The other piece of advice I can give you is not to be ashamed if you are a victim, this can happen to anyone. Like me for example; about 14 years ago I fell victim to a scam.
It was one of those too good to be true prize packages that I needed to pay a deposit for to receive. I was young and naïve and thought it was the greatest thing in the world. When I went to book my fabulous vacation the company mysteriously disappeared. I was so embarrassed; I felt so ridiculous and didn’t want to let anyone know. Eventually I decided I couldn’t hide the truth anymore and had to do something, warn other people.
I never got my money back but was able to report it and make people aware of it so that it didn’t happen to them as well. So don’t be afraid to talk about it.
You can’t go through life thinking that fraud will never happen to you because it can. So equip yourself with knowledge so you can #protectyourselfbeforeyouwreckyourself
Have every been a victim of fraud? How did you recover? Share it in the comment section below!
Want access to extra articles? Be the first to know of new blog posts? Sign up to be on my subscribers list. You will also gain access to the "subscriber's only" section.