How to protect yourself online
This year marks another year for the annual education and awareness campaign that is Fraud Prevention Month. Kudos to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre for this annual campaign. #FPM2017
Really though, in my opinion, every day of every month is fraud prevention month.
Question the scummy scammer techniques
Criminals are sneaky. They will go to great lengths to misrepresent, falsify, or steal information. They want you to reveal your personal information or pay for items that are non-existent. The first rule of fraud is: be wary of fraudsters. Unfortunately they are everywhere.
Check out this recent example below sent to me, a text I found rather suspect:
- Why would Bell send me a reward via text?
- What is Bell Communications Partnerships?
- Why would they send me a text at 3:05 am?
- Why would they send me an Interact E-Transfer Refund?
- Why would they include a link to click, a call to action?
- What is this 418 area code anyhow? Does it even match the company that sent it?
- I could go on….and I’m still looking for an answer from Bell anyhow….
No thanks. Those are too many questions already for me.
Top prevention tips
Here are some of my top fraud prevention tips for any day of the month, things I try and avoid and practice.
- Don’t be lured into the promise of a prize. This includes rewards or refunds via telephone, email, text or online. If you see a link from Bell or any other company – question it – directly to the company. Almost every major business in Canada has an email address to confirm if the content was sent from them or not. In this case I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t disclose any personal information about your finances. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social insurance numbers and indirect information attached to your accounts such as a driver’s license number – to any business that can’t prove it is legitimate. If you cannot prove who you are talking to or writing to, stop. Stop ASAP. Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone either. Don’t be afraid to delete the email. Don’t be afraid to request more details so you can verify contact information.
- Shred and delete whenever in doubt. After you have completed your transactions, when in doubt, shred and/or delete contact information. Even long after you have completed transactions with trusty companies, shred and delete personal information such as bank statements, credit card bills, unwanted receipts, cheques, pre-approved credit applications and old tax returns (after seven years).
- Report it! Like a bully in the schoolyard you need to take away the criminals leverage. Scammers and fraudsters are depending on you to respond. If you don’t act, you don’t click, you don’t respond they are largely powerless. Even better, reporting these events are vital to anti-fraud efforts of companies and law enforcement agencies. Report as much as you can and as often as you can. Every effort you make helps pay it forward so someone else may not fall victim. I’m doing my part with this blogpost today. Please share it, tweet it and like it with others.
Smart online usage means taking some steps to avoid falling victim to criminals. I hope you can use my own case study to be wary yourself.
What anti-fraud tips do you have to share with others? Any case study you’d like to share or report? Happy to pay it forever to help others – Mark