/ Finance 101

How can I protect myself from financial fraud?

From January 2014 to December 2017, Canadians lost an estimated $405 million to fraudsters.1 Here are some tips you can use to avoid losing your money.
Financial fraud is a scary concept.  After all, you’ve worked hard for your money. Fortunately, many of the things you can do to protect yourself from financial fraud are relatively easy.  Here are some tips you can follow that will help keep you and your loved ones safe from financial fraud:
 

Be conscious of what’s in your wallet

It’s easy to throw important documents like your SIN card or birth certificate in your wallet so you have access to them any time. But if someone were to steal your wallet, they would also have access to all that information. You probably won’t need your SIN card in your day-to-day life, so it can be left safely at home. Replacing a credit card from a stolen wallet may be a hassle, but replacing a SIN card or birth certificate is much more difficult. 
 
Tip: Memorize your SIN number so you never have to bring it with you.
 

Be smart with your PIN 

There’s a reason there are mirrors surrounding the ATM and covers over pin pads! While it’s important to protect your physical card, it’s equally important to protect access to your money, especially through your PIN. A good place to start is to make sure you choose a PIN that you can remember but isn’t easy for others to guess. For example, if someone stole your wallet it would be pretty easy for them to guess your PIN if it’s your birthday. PINs like 1234 or 1111 also make life pretty easy for criminals.
 
Tip: If you haven’t yet, talk to your bank about upgrading your credit card to a CHIP card with a PIN. This will help lower the risk of someone using your card for fraudulent purchases.
 

Watch your statements

Take the time to read every statement you receive in the mail to make sure there aren’t any strange charges. You should also try to take note of when certain bills arrive so you are aware when or if they’re not coming. Did you know some thieves will re-direct your statements so you don’t receive them? This means you wouldn’t even know about strange charges, and therefore can’t dispute them.
 
Tip: Make note of when each statement or bill should be arriving in your calendar, and don’t hesitate to call if it hasn’t arrived.
 

Invest in a paper shredder

Whether it’s a bank statement, a credit card bill or just a regular piece of mail that has personal information, before you toss it, shred it.  These items usually contain all the information a criminal would need to steal your identity: your name, address, account numbers or maybe even your birthday.
 
Tip: Remember that once your trash goes out to the curb, it becomes public property, meaning anyone can rifle through it and take any information they find.
 
While financial fraud can be scary, with the right planning and precautions you can do a lot to protect yourself.
 
For more information on how you can prevent financial fraud or tips on what to do if you suspect financial fraud, visit the Government of Canada website here.
 
Resources
1. “Fraud Facts 2018—Recognize, Reject, Report Fraud” Government of Canada. Web. 14 January 2020. Available:  http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04334.html

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