Peter Boys, Boys Financial Services

Protect Yourself from Scams, Hacks and Identity Fraud

scams

A recent family holiday at Big White Ski Hill reminded me about the need to have a better handle on what’s in my wallet. I lost it on the ski hill and didn’t realize it until I stopped for a coffee in the afternoon. Needless to say, a feeling of panic stepped in! I retraced my steps to where we had lunch – no luck but one of the waitresses suggested I check with the lost and found at the concierge. To my surprise it had been turned in. I never did find out who they were, as I would have been more than happy to reward them!

The girls at the lost and found had called my home number and sent an e-mail to our home address from the information in the wallet, but as I was away from home, I never got either message. I was thankful to have recovered it as I would have been stuck in Kelowna with no way to fly home without photo ID.

I also realized I didn’t have a list of my credit cards and other documents in my wallet to assist in cancelling the cards. So now I have them all registered on a secure website, with one phone call to cancel them and reissue new ones. An easy lesson learned around something that could have been a big disaster!

With today’s phone scams and internet fraud we all need to be wary. If you “google” the latest scams, there are always new ones popping out of the woodwork to educate yourself about. The recent “Revenue Canada” phone calls have conned a lot of people into giving away large sums of money. In this scheme, the fraudsters tell the victim they owe back taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency. The caller may even threaten the person, saying they have an arrest warrant or that they’ve frozen their bank account, and they may even threaten to seize the person’s property unless they pay right away.

The scams get ever more sophisticated and the con artists are good at what they do, so always be wary when someone calls saying that you owe money that you have no recollection of. Another scam that has emerged is targeting people early in the morning when they are sleepy and potentially vulnerable. The caller claims to be from the victims’ bank and says a credit card was used without authorization the previous evening, and because of the early hour, the victim will often volunteer too much information. Again, hang up the phone and call your bank back with a number you obtain yourself.

As well, be wary when on-line. Don’t open links that you’re not sure of, as it’s easy for criminals to copy web pages from banks, CRA, etc. that can fool you into giving away your confidential information. Plus, do regular updates to your security software to prevent unwanted viruses from infecting your computer. Be cautious with e-mails. Scammers will use your friends or children’s names on e-mails. Always check the attached e-mail address to confirm that it’s really them.

These scammers are highly skilled and very persuasive. It is easy to get caught. Keep yourself informed of the latest scams and don’t be afraid to hang up the phone.
Image licensed through Shutterstock

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