Fraud Awareness – How to Protect Yourself
Written by: Zarrar Lodhi, VP of Risk Management
If you’ve ever been a victim of fraud, you know how scary it can be. Fraudsters are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and, unfortunately, no one is immune. However, the more you know about the different scams that fraudsters use to steal money or identities, the better you can protect yourself.
March is Fraud Prevention Month and we want to take this opportunity to help you recognize, reject and report fraud. The kind of fraud typically seen at major financial institutions involves money being stolen through a variety of channels. Individuals are often either tricked into giving money directly to scammers or their computers are compromised, and hackers gain access to personal information.
While fraud can occur to individuals at any age, seniors are often more lucrative targets because scammers believe they have more access to larger sums of money and are often less familiar with technology. Any time there’s an information gap, there’s the potential that the information gap can be exploited. This is particularly true when it comes to seniors and computer technology.
But whether you’re a senior or not, you may be a target of fraud at some point in your life. Here are some tips to protect yourself:
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is a lie or a scam.
- Knowledge is key – If you are aware of the scams and hacking techniques being used, you will be able to identify when you are being targeted and remove yourself from the situation. Find tips to recognize the latest frauds in the The Little Black Book of Scams published by the Competition Bureau of Canada.
- Beware of Recovery Scams – Victims of fraud are often targeted a second or third time with the promise of recovering money previously lost. Never send more money to recover money.
If you think you may have been a victim of fraud, you are encouraged to follow these steps:
- Gather all the information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
- Report the incident to your local law enforcement. This ensures the police of your jurisdiction is aware of what scams are targeting their residents and businesses. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).
- Report the incident to your financial institution and/or the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company or internet payment service provider).
- If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website as well. These details can be found under ‘report abuse’ or ‘report an ad.’
- Change any usernames, passwords and/or PINs that may have been compromised. Change all passwords stored in your computer, tablets or phone.
- Victims of identity fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
Of course, Westoba has many measures in place to help protect members from fraud. We discuss safe online banking practices that members are encouraged to use to keep their information and money safe. They include changing passwords frequently, setting up alerts for transactions and alerts for when your online accounts are being logged into.
As more and more Westoba members move to do their banking activities online, we make it a priority to ensure those spaces are safe and secure and that their private and personal information is protected. However, it must also be a priority for the members to ensure that their confidential information remains confidential and they take all necessary precautions to ensure their sensitive banking information is secure on their personal devices.