Best Practices to Prevent ID Theft and Fraud
Sir Richard Branson disclosed recently that a person posing as him had called a successful business man and friend for help. The con man said he only managed to make a satellite call after unsuccessful attempts to get hold of his UK bank due to Hurricane Irma. He was in urgent need of funds to mobilize relief efforts in the British Virgin Islands where his well-known small island is located. His friend graciously wired the fraudster $2M.
Although you may not fall for a request to wire $2M in funds, there are a number of scams that you should be on alert to avoid.
Here are a few of the top scams to be aware of:
Canada Revenue Agency – have you received or heard of stories of threatening phone calls and demands for information over the phone?
Online Dating – this is big business in Canada. A fraudster fakes an identity and tricks someone via dating sites into a phony romantic relationship for financial gain.
Online Purchase – Counterfeit goods, merchandise that never show up, fake websites, and free trial traps are everywhere.
Wire Fraud – “Spear phishing” – an Edmonton University sent $11.8M to a bank in Montreal, and subsequently most of it was redirected overseas. As the Maclean’s article reported, “The email didn’t just seem innocent, it also seemed familiar to the accounts payable employee at MacEwan University.” The logos were the same in the email requesting a banking information change.
Given all the highly publicized data breaches, here are some best practices to put into place to protect yourself:
- Review your credit report from Equifax and Transunion. It’s free! It should be the first place to start reviewing for suspicious activity, and a chance to clean up dormant accounts that should have been closed years ago.
- Don’t reply quickly to any email, text or phone requests. Spammers count on you to quickly respond without checking them out. Pick up the phone and call the company directly to confirm.
- Use minimum of six digits/characters for passwords. Don’t use birthdates, phone numbers or combinations of names, initials, common phrases. “Winter123” is not recommended!
- Shred unwanted personal information such as bank statements, credit card bills, tax returns.
- Memorize your SIN and be sure not to carry it around in your wallet.
- If you feel uncomfortable, just hang up the phone, delete the email or shut down your Internet connection.