Financial fraud is a growing problem worldwide. In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received almost 39,000 complaints of mass marketing fraud with reported losses of over $53 million in 2012. Another 17,000 claims related to identity fraud/identity theft, and cost victims more than $16 million. In many cases, victims are too embarrassed to report fraud or even tell their family and friends they’ve been scammed, making it easier for fraudsters to ensnare new victims.
What can you do to keep your money and your financial information safe? Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud, as well as what to do if you are scammed.
Tips to protect yourself:
Don’t share personal information freely.
Destroy documents with personal information.
Keep your wallet or purse safe.
Don’t carry ID you don’t need, such as your Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Lock your household mailbox if possible.
Check your credit report once a year (you can order it for free from the two credit reporting agencies).
Make sure websites are secure before transmitting personal information.
Delete emails that ask for personal information.
Keep computer firewalls and spyware filters up to date.
Keep your computer passwords in a safe place.
Be skeptical—if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Save paper bank records for at least a year in a safe place.
Steps to report fraud:
File a report with your local police.
Advise all financial institutions and other companies where you have accounts, such as your phone or cable provider, about the fraud.
Contact Canada’s two credit reporting agencies, and ask them to put a fraud alert on your file.
Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s national call centre at 1-888-495-8501 or by email at i...@antifraudcentre.ca.
Write down the steps you take as you report the fraud.
FCAC’s website has information on identity fraud, debit card fraud, credit card fraud, email and phone fraud and real estate fraud. Online Fraud includes tips on how to prevent identity theft and fraud when using public wireless Internet access and social networking sites. There are! also tips on spotting housing frauds and scams, employment fraud, investment fraud, payment scams and other kinds of financial fraud.