Protect yourself against online fraudsters

Protect yourself against online fraudsters

Swiss America wants to protect consumers from all types of fraud and not just gold fraud. Here is an article on how to protect yourself against online fraud. While doing things online may be convenient and cheaper, many consumers are becoming targets for spammers and frauds.

By Kim Covert
March 12, 2012 3:04 PM
Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA - Technology can be a wonderful tool, but one thing it doesn't do is differentiate between good guys and bad guys - so while technological advances make our lives easier, they also create new ways for con artists to do their dirty deeds.

A poll conducted for TD Canada Trust for Fraud Prevention Month found 84 per cent of respondents worry about becoming victims of online fraud, 77 per cent are concerned about malicious social media apps, and 72 per cent fret about ``phishing'' - where fraudsters attempt to find out personal and financial information by sending emails that look legitimate enough for people to respond to them with detailed answers.

``Banks and credit card companies have sophisticated security measures in place and work closely with law enforcement to protect their customers, but it is important to remember that you are the first line of defence,'' says Justin Hwang, associate vice-president, fraud management.

Another poll, conducted for Visa Canada, found 56 per cent of Canadians are concerned about identity theft - and that young people can be especially prone to that kind of fraud because of their propensity for over-sharing online.

In fact, 32 per cent of respondents aged 18-30 admitted to including information such as their email address, home address, birthday or phone number on social networking sites, ``information that could potentially be used fraudulently to perpetuate identity theft and other scams,'' says Visa Canada. They're also more likely to share their personal identification numbers and lend their credit and debit cards to others.

At the other end of the age spectrum, seniors are less free with their personal information, but they're also more reluctant to talk about their experiences with fraud, which also carries risks.

``This year's survey reveals that Canadians of all ages have bad habits that impede their ability to protect themselves against financial fraud,'' says Gord Jamieson, head of payment system risk for Visa Canada.

``Young adults need to better understand the risks associated with oversharing personal and financial data, while seniors need to better understand that talking about fraud with someone they trust can help protect them from becoming a victim, helping them learn about risks and how they can protect themselves.''

The Visa survey was conducted online by Ipsos Reid between Jan. 23 and 27, 2012, and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. It found that while seniors are the least likely to share personal information through social media, they are the most likely to send personal credit card information through the mail.

While the TD poll, conducted by Environics between Jan. 24 and 29, suggested that more people are taking precautions to protect their bank accounts - for example, lowering withdrawal limits at ATMs and changing their PIN numbers more often, Hwang says people are still engaging in risky behaviour - 14 per cent carry their PIN numbers in their wallets, 11 per cent have sent credit card numbers through email and 10 per cent have told someone their PIN number.

TD offers up some advice for protecting your personal information from ``online bandits'':

* ensure your computer security software and virus protection is up-to-date;

* subscribe to the highest level of privacy on social media accounts;

* use an automatic lock function with password protection whenever your mobile phone, tablet or computer starts up or times out;

* never text or email banking information;

* never download social media apps from unknown sources;

* never share email or social media site passwords.

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