Identity theft, bogus investment opportunities, and stolen credit card information: the list goes on and on. The Competition Bureau of Canada has named March as being Fraud Prevention Month. Examining this topic is a team of Brock University researchers: psychologist Angela Book; criminologist Voula Marinos; and information systems expert Teju Herath along with Paul Spiridi, head of the Niagara Regional Police Service, Central Fraud Unit.
Helpful Hints on How to Spot Fraud
- If someone is presenting you with a short cut to making money, beware – if it’s too good to be true, probably not true.
- If you are asked for your social insurance number, banking or other personal or sensitive information online do not give it out. Legitimate companies will not ask you for this type of information in an e-mail.
- If the person won’t take no for an answer be careful; persistence is a common trait of fraudsters.
- Spam e-mails detailing investment opportunities or tragic events such as family deaths or illness are red flags. Often these are fraud techniques, known as social engineering tactics, designed to play on an individual’s emotion and trusting tendencies.
- Pay attention to how you feel about interactions. If a situation seems suspicious, listen to your instincts
How to Prevent Fraud
- Be aware of phishing e-mails. Phishing is a common type of fraud that comes to our email where fraudsters seek sensitive information from you such as account numbers, user names and passwords.
- Ensure that your passwords are strong and not obvious, such as 1-2-3-4 or your address, etc.
- Check your credit history at least once a year and review your bank statements each month to look for unfamiliar charges.
- Think before you act: be extra careful when making decisions about sharing your personal information.
- Use the resources available to better understand, and be able to recognize, fraud. IF YOU DO BECOME A VICTIM OF FRAUD; Contact your bank and ask them to freeze the related accounts.
If you become a victim of fraud
- Contact your local police department to begin an investigation.
- Tell those around you what happened to raise awareness and prevent others from becoming victimized.
- Make sure you follow up and ensure any fraudulent entries are removed from your credit history
- Visit the Competition Bureau of Canada or the Canadian Anit-Fraud Center’s websites for support and more information, http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html
“Often you don’t realize you’ve given out the information to the wrong people – that’s how the whole fraud thing works “- Teju Herath