SURREY, BC--(Marketwired - March 01, 2017) - The month of March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, an annual education and awareness campaign dedicated to helping Canadians protect themselves from fraud. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported over 45,000 Canadian fraud victims in 2016, with losses totalling over $110 million. These numbers likely represent only a portion of the actual total, as fraud victims often feel too ashamed to report it.
A single fraud loss can devastate an individual, often leaving accumulated savings decimated and plans for retirement, children's education or home purchases in the balance. To mark Fraud Prevention Month, Coast Capital Savings is releasing their top ten list on avoiding financial fraud. Financial fraud can take many forms, from established methods such as cheque fraud, to burgeoning techniques that take advantage of the very latest forms of technology including wire transfer fraud and online romance scams.
"Coast Capital is passionate about helping Canadians achieve and protect their financial well-being," says Bruce Schouten, Chief Risk Officer, Coast Capital Savings. "A key component of that is being vigilant and able to recognize and protect against fraud. Financial institutions certainly can help detect and protect their members' accounts, but there is a level of personal responsibility when it comes to fraud prevention."
Schouten added: "Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and abusing technologies to their advantage. We all need to work to protect ourselves and our loved ones against these crimes."
Here are ten tips that can help you protect yourself from financial fraud:
- Don't share any personal or banking information. Any reputable organization, including your financial institution will never initiate a call, text, or email asking you to disclose personal information such as your account PIN or PAC (online access code).
- Keep your PIN…personal. You're the only person who needs to know your PIN: not your family, not your friends. Another good rule of thumb is not to write your PIN down anywhere. Commit it to memory and keep it in the vault.
- Check your statements regularly. Look for unauthorized transactions and transactions that are missing. They both can indicate a compromised card. Report any suspicious activity immediately to prevent more fraudulent transactions and to avoid being on the hook for charges you're not responsible for.
- Leave your social insurance card at home. It isn't necessary for day-to-day business and identity thieves can use it to obtain additional identification in your name.
- Treat your chequebook, debit card and credit cards like cash. Never leave them in your car or anywhere else easily accessible to potential thieves.
- Shred documents containing personal information. Bank statements, credit card bills, receipts, cheques, old tax returns or pre-approved credit applications need to be shredded before disposal.
- Protect your computer. Have active and up-to-date anti-virus software on every computer you use for online banking.
- Never click on pop-ups. They lead to viruses and scams that compromise your computer and expose your personal information.
- Say no to depositing cheques on behalf of other people or businesses. You're responsible for any transactions flowing through your account. You are likely just being helpful, but it puts you at risk of fraud.
- It actually IS too good to be true. Seems cliché, but this adage stands the test of time. Trust your gut, question the deals, offers and opportunities that sound just too good to be true. They likely are.
"Keeping these tips front of mind will lower your risk of becoming a victim of fraud," says Schouten. "If you believe you have identified or have been victimized by financial fraud, contact your financial institution immediately. Reporting fraud is a fundamental step in protecting yourself and reducing the future incidence of fraud for everyone."
Coast Capital Savings is Canada's largest credit union by membership. An Imagine Canada Caring Company, the credit union invested $5.6 million into local communities in 2016, focusing on empowering and engaging youth. Coast Capital is one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, and a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club. It has 52 branches serving its 532,000 members in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions of British Columbia. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. To learn more, visit coastcapitalsavings.com.