Every year, Canadians lose millions of dollars to the activities of scammers using online, mail, door-to-door, and telephone schemes. Fraud can affect individuals and businesses alike and can have a very negative impact on your finances and your reputation.
Although fraud is ever-present, the good news is we can do things to minimize the risk, and learn ways of preventing it altogether.
Here are some ways you can start being safer.
Protect your passwords. Passwords aren't meant to be shared, either on purpose or through carelessness. Secure them using encryption or, if you've written them down, lock them away. Even better - don't write them down at all.
Protect your personal identity. Don't expect your recycling boxes or garbage bin to hide your personal information. Use a paper shredder or some other means to safely dispose of your personal data.
Familiarize yourself with fraud tactics. You may already be aware of how fraudsters work, but new methods show up all the time. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is an excellent resource on the latest frauds in Canada. They also provide a helpful list of ways to recognize a fraud attempt.
Use the built-in security features of your smartphone. Most people use their smartphones for just about everything. Remember, every smartphone has ways of securing access, and you should use them. And if you do lose your phone, you can do something about it. See our asterisk article, What To Do When Your Mobile Phone Is Lost or Stolen.
Use only approved programs and applications. Most Canadians are online every day. With the thousands of programs available, you can't personally check out every one of them. Only download programs and applications from trusted sources that inspect and verify that your downloads will be virus-free.
How ACU helps you bank safer
We have policies and practices in place to safeguard and maintain the accuracy and security of information we collect. ACU meets or exceeds all privacy standards established by industry guidelines, provincial legislation, the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and all other applicable laws.
Privacy standards. For all aspects of our services, from online to in-person, your privacy is protected. To learn more, see Safeguarding Your Personal Information.
Safe online forms. All forms on our website are encrypted, so no information can be intercepted as the form is transmitted to us.
Online banking security. When you use online banking, we activate security features that ensure you can conduct your banking in a safe and private online environment. See Internet Security for details.
Security alerts. If you bank online, you can set up alerts that notify you by email or text message when there is unauthorized access or activity on your accounts. This is an excellent way to make sure your account is safe and secure. To learn more, see Know When You’re At Risk: Get the Alert.
What to do if you become a victim of fraud, or are aware of a scam
Many scams may breach consumer protection laws (those enforced by the Competition Bureau, other government and law enforcement agencies), and may also breach the fraud provisions of the Criminal Code.
Fraud needs to be reported, even if they didn't scam you. The Competition Bureau of Canada outlines how to report frauds and scams.
If you are a victim of a scam or fraud, and have suffered property or monetary loss, contact the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222.
Report email and SMS spam. See Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation page, and check the link for the Spam Reporting Centre.