Fraud can happen to anyone: Simple tips to protect yourself

Posted in Your rights

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With Fraud Prevention Month in full effect, we are excited to introduce a guest blogger this week to discuss what you can do to protect yourself against fraudulent activity. Our guest blogger, Jane Rooney was appointed Financial Literacy Leader in April 2014 under the instructions of the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Prior to this Governor-in-Council appointment, she was FCAC’S Director, Financial Literacy and Consumer Education, a role she held since 2008. Over her career Ms. Rooney has worked 20-plus years in the financial sector. Today, she shares her story on how she protected herself when there was suspicious activity on her credit card.


 

My vacation went from relaxing to stressful when the bank called to tell me that my credit card account had been frozen due to suspicious activity. Someone had booked flights and hotels online, in amounts far exceeding my usual spending habits. Thanks to my bank’s fraud detection software the criminal’s spending spree was stopped short.

After signing the affidavit confirming I hadn’t made those transactions, the charges were reversed and my new card was in the mail. What could’ve been a financial disaster was nothing more than an inconvenience. It also became a teachable moment at dinner when I told my kids what had happened. My story started a conversation about how to protect your personal information, such as your personal identification numbers (PINS).

Here are three easy tips that I shared with my family:

  1. Make PINs hard to guess, but easy to remember so that you don’t have to write them down. And never use a combination of numbers like your address, birthdate or telephone number.
  2. Change your PINs often.
  3. Never, ever share your PIN with anyone—even family or friends.

Why? Because most debit and credit card issuers provide protection to consumers if their card is stolen or lost, or if someone uses it to make unauthorized transactions.

In return, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves by keeping our PINs safe.

As we finished dinner, we arrived at a conclusion: you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your PINs.

Many people don’t realize that if you make your PIN obvious, like your birthday or phone number, or if you give your PIN to someone else, your financial institution may not cover your losses in case of fraud.

While my bank intervened to stop to the fraudulent activity, there are steps you can take if ever you find yourself a victim of fraud or financial abuse:

Also, keep careful notes of the steps you have taken, with whom you have spoken and when you spoke to them.

At the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), we want people to know what they can do to inform and protect themselves from fraud and financial abuse. We have a wealth of information and resources for consumers. Watch our video on understanding PIN protection to get started.

About Jane Rooney:

Jane Rooney was appointed Financial Literacy Leader in April 2014 under the instructions of the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).

Prior to this Governor-in-Council appointment she was FCAC’S Director, Financial Literacy and Consumer Education, a role she held since 2008. Over her career Ms. Rooney has worked 20-plus years in the financial sector.

As Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader, Ms. Rooney works to collaborate and coordinate activities with organizations from various sectors across the country and to implement the National Strategy for Financial Literacy—Count me in, Canada. Her leadership is supported by the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy which was created in 2014.

Ms. Rooney also established and chairs a federal government committee on financial literacy. She is Canada’s representative and National Coordinator for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) International Network on Financial Education (INFE). Ms. Rooney also sits on the INFE’s Advisory Board and co-chairs an expert sub-group on core competencies in financial literacy.