OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 4, 2010) - March is fraud awareness month and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) would like to remind consumers to be vigilant in protecting themselves against fraud.
While there are several forms of fraud, what it means to the victim is a financial loss.
FCAC is warning Canadians to watch out for the three most common ways criminals can take personal information, such as bank and credit card information, and use it without the legitimate owner's authorization:
Fraudulent telemarketing by mail, e-mail or phone — criminals contact you under the guise of fake businesses and charities, then ask for your bank account number or credit card information to pay for something you will never receive, or to make a donation that only goes into their own pockets. The aim of these scams is to trigger an emotional reaction by alarming you and demanding an immediate response. Be wary of people pressuring you to give out more information than what is required. Take the pressure off and remember that you are not obligated to give an immediate answer to anyone if you have doubts or are not comfortable with a situation. Never give your banking or credit card numbers to anyone who phones you — use phone numbers you have verified and try to deal with organizations that you know.
Cloning or skimming your debit or credit card — sometimes, scam artists are very sophisticated and will find ways to bypass you completely and copy your debit or credit card information without your knowledge. Don't leave your banking cards and personal information unattended, never share your PIN or passwords and cover ATM and point-of-sale terminals with your hand when entering your PIN.
Identity theft —criminals can use your personal information without your knowledge to get a credit card or obtain a loan, even a mortgage, under your name — which could oblige you to pay it back. Shred bank and credit card statements as well as household bills, as these can be sources of personal information. Check your credit report to ensure no loans or credit cards have been opened in your name without your consent.
The key step to avoid fraud is to protect your personal information and your debit and credit cards. Many financial institutions will reimburse their customers for any losses if they can prove their loss was due to fraud. Before you reveal any personal information, find out why the person you are talking to needs it, how it will be used and if it will be shared. If you don't like the answer, don't give out the information.
To find more information about how to protect yourself from fraud and to learn what steps to take when fraudulent activity is detected, visit FCAC's website, moneytools.ca.
Using educational materials and interactive tools, FCAC provides consumers with objective information about financial products and services and informs them of their rights and responsibilities when dealing with banks and federally regulated trust, loan and insurance companies. Through its financial literacy program, FCAC also helps Canadians acquire the necessary knowledge and confidence to manage their personal finances. FCAC also makes sure that federally regulated financial institutions comply with legislation and agreements intended to protect consumers.
You can reach us through the FCAC Consumer Contact Centre by calling toll-free 1-866-461-3222 (TTY: 613-947-7771 or 1-866-914-6097) or by visiting our website: fcac.gc.ca.