Protecting Yourself From Fraud

Posted on Monday 01 September 2014


It is one thing to pick the right career and have a good income, and it is another to protect this income from fraudsters. Unfortunately, Canadians lose millions of dollars in credit and debit card fraud every year. For example, 2013 saw $29.5 million in debit card fraud alone. However, it only takes a few simple precautions to reduce your risk of fraud.

This article will show you how to protect yourself from such fraudulent activities.

Protect Your Card Details

Be careful when using ATMs and PIN machines because this is where thieves tend to strike.

Remain Alert

When entering your PIN, shield it with your body and your other hand, taking note of anyone that seems to be standing too close to you. A thief may read your PIN over your shoulder as you enter it and then steal your card from you as you leave.

Even if you are careful about shielding your PIN code when you type it, you can undo all of that work by not keeping it sufficiently secret. Next thing you know, you're declaring bankruptcy because your money got stolen.

Here are some good ways to keep your PIN safe:

  • Don’t tell anyone your PIN.
  • Pick a unique PIN code that isn’t based on a birthday or commonly-used number sequence.
  • Memorize it instead of keeping it written on a note.

A surprising number of people stash their PIN in their wallets for easy reference. This is extremely risky. If a thief steals your wallet, they will then have both your card and your PIN, giving them full access to your funds. If this happens, banks may decide that you didn’t protect your card details adequately and refuse to refund your stolen money.

Your information can also be stolen at grocery stores or gift shops if an employee swipes your card through a fake card reader. A clerk can swipe twice, once in the actual payment device and once in a device that steals your card details. Whenever possible, do the transaction yourself. The last thing you want to see is someone using your ID to get an odsp payday loan or any other payday loan.

In any case, never allow your card to leave your sight. Or someone may just use it to start buying stocks in their own name while you get the debits.

Also, protect your personal information, such as your mother’s maiden name, birthday, childhood pet, and the street you grew up. Don’t let these details drop in casual conversation with strangers. Criminals can use stolen personal details to empty your bank accounts and take out credit cards and loans under your name.

If you suspect that your card information has been stolen:

  • Change your PIN immediately
  • Freeze your card
  • Contact your bank to check your recent transactions

In worst-case scenarios, cancel your card and order a new one.

Protecting Your Card Details Online

  1. Make sure that you only access your bank account from your private computer using a secured internet connection. Using public computers or a public internet connection makes it easier for thieves to steal your personal information. Once they have your information, they can hack your online banking accounts and credit card logins.
  2. Keep your computer’s security up to date to prevent spyware from stealing your bank details. Use unique and secure passwords for all of your online accounts, and memorize them instead of writing them down.
  3. Be wary of any emails containing links, especially emails purporting to be from your bank. Your bank will never ask you for sensitive information through email. Remember that fraudsters prey on panicked consumers. If an email asks for details or makes threats, disregard or report it.
  4. Criminals may attempt to steal your personal information and bank details through phishing scams. Phishing websites can look like the real thing, so instead of clicking on random links, enter your bank’s website address manually.

Check Your Financial Records Regularly

Reviewing your bank statements and credit reports are both excellent ways of preventing fraud.

Bank Statements

You can use your monthly bank statements to track your spending. Not only does this help you budget better, it also helps you keep an eye out for fraudulent activities on your account. Look for any transaction you can’t account for, especially large withdrawals. This could be a sign of fraud.

Credit Report

In addition to bank statements, your credit report is one of the most important tools you have to prevent fraud. Credit reports provide details on every source of credit you have. Equifax and TransUnion both provide reports for free. All you have to do is submit a form by post, and they will mail a report back to you.

Once you get a credit report, here’s what to look for.

  • Credit cards or bank loans you don’t know about. If you see any account you don’t remember opening; it’s a sign of fraud.
  • Missing transactions. If you make a credit card transaction and it doesn’t appear on your statement, your credit information may have been stolen by a fake card reader.

Report Fraud

If you notice fraud has been committed, contact the national credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit report. You should also contact your bank, credit card companies, and anyone you have a loan with for further advice.

Keep a close eye on your financial statements for the next few months to ensure no further fraudulent activity appears.

You can also report any suspected fraud to your local police department and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. In addition to protecting your finances, contacting the authorities helps bring fraudsters to justice.

After reporting the fraud, banks may refund the stolen money and remove the fraudster’s activity from your credit report.

There are many ways to protect yourself from fraud. The key to all of them is to act quickly.