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March 1, 2023

March is Fraud Prevention Month: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reported 57,055 victims of fraud in 2022, with a total reported dollar loss of over $531 million. This number grew by over $75 million in just one year, proving that fraudulent efforts are becoming more lucrative as time goes on (source).

While there are many different types of fraudulent activities designed to redirect your hard-earned dollars into a scammer’s pockets, it is unfortunate to note that there has been an increase in “grandparent scams,” where seniors are asked for immediate payment to get a loved one out of trouble (source), or “romance scams,” where scammers earn your trust and make requests for money or otherwise (source). Other examples of fraud include telemarketing, text, or mail scams, ”phishing” emails or texts, or identity theft.

This is why, now more than ever, all Canadians need to be on the alert when it comes to their personal data and financial information.

10 Tips to Protect YOU Today

1. If you receive a suspicious call, ask questions. Ask for the business website address (URL), the company history, or request a call-back number. Legitimate organizations will willingly provide you with this information, and allow you the time you need to think about your purchase or donation, and make a decision at a later date.

2. Set and change passwords. Create a unique password for all financial and personal accounts. Change your passwords several times a year, and don’t share your password with anyone. (Or try a ”password manager” – which stores all your passwords for a small fee, and can be accessed on any device.)

3. Add a second or third secret question to your bank and credit card accounts. The default question is usually your mother’s maiden name – which can be pretty easy for a scammer to find.

4. Don’t click on that link. Never click on a suspicious looking link (that’s phishing!) or respond to emails asking you for financial information, to change a password, update your personal information, and more. Your bank would never request your personal information or a password change via email.

5. Triple check that a website is secure. Look at the web address (URL) to ensure it begins with https://(the extra ”s” stands for security, so this one should be easy to remember!).

6. Avoid easy checkout. Don’t let apps and websites store your credit card information for easy checkout. Be extra safe by typing it in every time you buy something online.

7. Watch out for contests. Winning a contest can be exciting, but if you can’t remember entering, and you’re being asked for money to pay for shipping, taxes, or another fee, be extra cautious. When you win a contest, you shouldn’t have to pay for your prize.

8. Be wary of free Wi-Fi. Unless a business offers a password-protected system, computer-savvy thieves can easily hack into free Wi-Fi systems to steal usernames and account passwords from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

9. Monitor your accounts. Be sure to check the activity of your bank and credit card accounts regularly – early detection is key if something is amiss.

10. Avoid sending cash or a money order. Cash is untraceable and can’t be cancelled like a credit card payment or cheque. Be wary if a business offers to send a courier to pick up the funds, as most reputable companies would be able to process other forms of payment.

If you think you’ve been a target of fraud, be sure to report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre immediately.

How We Take Care of You

Rest assured that both Serenia Life Head Office and our team of advisors abide by strict compliance guidelines to protect your personal information. In support of protecting our members’ personal data, our systems are upgraded regularly, and we continue to provide ongoing Cyber Security training for our staff.

And remember, we will never ever send you an email asking for personal information. Contact your advisor if you receive a suspicious email, and they’ll advise you of next steps.

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