With almost daily stories in the news about security breaches and new online scams it might seem like it is almost impossible to protect yourself. Take heart – there are some ways to protect yourself that aren’t complicated, and won’t take up a lot of your time.

First, get to know the signs of different kinds of mass marketing and online scams. Ever heard of overpayment scams? What about romance fraud? Awareness is security, so gather as much information as you can from reports on the internet, in newspapers and on the news. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau of Canada, and the RCMP are also great information sources.

Second, follow these general tips:

  • Protect your PIN when you’re at an ATM or store by shielding the keypad.
  • Create strong passwords for your online and mobile banking accounts and don’t share them.
  • Change your PIN and online and mobile banking passwords often.
  • Memorize your PIN, passwords and access codes.
  • Use an up-to-date operating system, antivirus software, antimalware and internet firewall tools on your computer and mobile devices.
  • Make sure your web browser is current so you can block suspicious websites and pop-ups.
  • Be suspicious of calls, emails or mail-outs that offer international bonds, lottery tickets, free vacations or get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Don’t respond to promises that you’ll win a big prize for making a low-cost purchase.
  • Hang up the phone, delete emails or close your internet connection if you suspect shady activity.
  • Check out companies you don’t know before buying their products or services.
  • Ask callers for more information so you can check the legitimacy of their business.
  • Don’t give information about your finances, credit cards or bank accounts to any organization that can’t prove it is legitimate.
  • Shred any unwanted or old personal papers like bank statements, credit card bills, receipts, cheques, pre-approved credit applications and tax returns.
  • Check your bank statements every month and call Servus if you see anything out of the ordinary.
  • Check your credit report every year and let your credit card company know of any problems.

If you become a victim of fraud, immediately report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Want to learn more? Visit the Competition Bureau of Canada website, and especially their Little Black Book of Scams or get information on security more specifically tailored for our members on the www.servus.ca website.