Identity theft. Credit card fraud. Fake lotteries, phoney work-at-home opportunities, fraudulent emails telling you to confirm your banking information. Spyware from Facebook “friends.” Malicious smartphone apps. Fraud continues to be a huge international money maker.
The Internet, social networking and smartphones seem to open new ways for criminals, who can be located anywhere, to steal. Fortunately, we can take precautions at home, in public places and online to make sure we don’t become victims of fraud.
In general, the best way to prevent fraud is by making sure your personal and financial information does not get into fraudsters’ hands. To protect yourself:
Don’t be embarrassed to report an incident to your local police. Fraud can happen to anyone. Then, start a written log containing details of when you noticed the fraud and the actions you took, including names of people you spoke to and dates of communications. Contact your financial institutions and any other companies where you have accounts that may be affected, such as your phone company or cable provider. Advise Canada’s two credit rating agencies, TransUnion and Equifax 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 email@example.com
If you want to learn more about fraud, you can visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website at itpaystoknow.gc.ca, where you’ll find information on identity fraud, debit card fraud, credit card fraud, email and phone fraud and real estate fraud. The Online Fraud page includes tips on how to prevent identity theft and fraud when using public wireless Internet access and social networking sites. If you are looking to rent or buy a home, you might be interested to learn more about spotting housing frauds and scams. Job seekers should watch out for employment fraud.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is an independent federal government organization that provides objective information about financial products and services to help Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances. We also ensure that federally regulated financial institutions respect the rights and interests of Canadian consumers. You can follow @FCACan on Twitter, subscribe to the FCACan YouTube Channel, or contact our Consumer Services Centre by calling toll-free 1-866-461-3222 (TTY: 613-947-7771 or 1-866-914-6097).