'Tis the season for friends, family and fraudsters
Seven simple strategies from Vancity to avoid holiday scammers
Holiday season is peak season for scam artists set on stealing your identity or hard earned cash, according to Vancity.
Fraudsters target the holiday season using a variety of schemes including email phishing messages that try to convince you to hand over your personal information or install malicious software or even donate to a fake charity – and, unfortunately, they don’t stop there.
Scam artists also employ shoulder surfing and telephone scams to get your identification or they create fake websites that offer deals on gift cards that you’ll never receive.
You can outsmart the scammers by being vigilant and one step ahead of their game. The best defence is to be aware of the tricks they’ll use and take steps to avoid becoming a victim including these seven simple strategies from Vancity:
- Be a scrooge with everything related to your identity.
- Don’t take a big purse shopping and limit the amount of bank cards, credit cards and identification you take with you.
- Be extremely cautious when shopping online
- Be mindful of bogus websites and go directly to the store’s website by typing its address into your web browser
- Buy gift cards directly from merchants or from an authorized sales merchant
- Be wary of filling out online forms that request personal information
- Remain vigilant, protect your PIN and ensure no one is shoulder surfing when you put it into an ATM or a payment device.
- Keep an eye out for those door-knocking fraudsters representing a fake charity or selling magazine subscriptions to raise money for a worthy cause or school trip that may not exist.
- Don’t leave gifts visible in your car with receipts that have personal information on them.
- Avoid broadcasting to your social media circles that you are about to fly off to your warm holiday vacation which also tells criminals that your snail mail – with your banking and personally identifying information – will be sitting in your mailbox untouched.
Fraud is a significant problem that Vancity takes very seriously. They work with industry partners, other financial institutions and law enforcement and coordinate efforts to catch and deter financial criminals.
“We advise our members to report a scam immediately if they suspect their personal information may be compromised – and to check their banking information so there are no surprises,” said Chief Risk Officer of Vancity Doris Orr.
Employees at the credit union are also trained as a critical first line of defence, to detect fraud and the various scams and they have monitoring and detection systems that identify fraudulent transactions – sometimes even before they’re completed.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in North America. Through its Each One, Teach One Program Vancity offers seminars on identity theft and fraud prevention where participants can learn about everyday scams and what they can do to protect their financial information.