Thousands of people fall victim to various types of fraud every year. In most cases, victims aren’t even aware fraud has occurred until well after they have been exploited. In fact, recently a fraudulent charge was put through my credit card. It was an inconspicuous amount that likely could have gone unnoticed, paid for, and never reported.  Fortunately, I monitor my accounts regularly and caught it quickly. The experience reminded me to remain vigilant and I’m here to share my top 8 tips to help you protect yourself against fraud.

1. Brush up on the latest scams
The best way to protect yourself against fraud is to be aware of fraudster’s tactics and red flags. Frequent websites like Scambusters, the Federal Trade Commission’s Scam Alerts, and the US Government’s Common Scams and Frauds site. These sites will help you keep up with the latest scams and provide prevention tips.

2. Monitor your accounts closely
Make it a habit to regularly monitor your accounts and credit cards. If you are unsure of a transaction, contact your bank. They will be able to provide further information on it, and if it turns out to be fraudulent, you can file a report.

3. Be smart with Online transactions

  • Shop with credible merchants
  • Avoid using public hotspots when making online payments
  • Look for the “lock” icon on your browser – this symbol identifies secure transactions

4. Shred unneeded personal documents
Documents containing sensitive data should be shredded before being tossed. These documents include bank statements, old tax returns, and credit card pre-approvals with your address.

5. Never share your ABM PIN with anyone

  • Do not give your PIN to your spouse, children, or extended family members
  • If you think your PIN has been compromised, or your card is lost, contact your bank immediately to reset it
  • Make it a habit to cover your PIN at retailers and the ATM

6. Change your passwords and PINs regularly
Even if your accounts have not been compromised, experts recommend changing your passwords and PINs about every 6 months (twice a year). Just be sure to skip the obvious choices like “123456” or any of these Top 10 Common Passwords!

7. Check your credit report
Ordering your own credit report has no effect on your credit score. Check your credit report regularly to ensure there are no discrepancies. The Government of Canada has outlined the process for obtaining your credit report here.

8. Trust your gut
If something doesn’t feel right you to, trust your gut. Over recent years many people have fallen victim to scammers claiming to be with the CRA – demanding personal information, or the purchase of gift cards to pay off fake arrears.  Receiving a call from the “government” can be intimidating – scammers know this! But, if the person on the other end says or does things that feel like a scam, end the conversation. Then, contact the CRA yourself by searching their correct phone number online.

Have you fallen victim to fraud and have any word-to-the-wise tips to share? Comment below!