Security: It's about you!
Becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft can be avoided. Protect yourself!
Check out these tips to help you keep your information safe.
Protect your identity
Identity theft occurs when your personal information (e.g., name, address, driver's license, date of birth, social insurance number, account information or family identifiers) is stolen and used illegally. That illegal activity often has financial implications as thieves use your information to open accounts, charge your credit cards and even take out loans in your name, among other things.
Keep yourself safer from identity theft by following some simple steps:
- Don't include your social insurance number or driver's license number on sensitive documents, unless you understand why they are needed and consent to it.
- Do not keep a hard copy of any ABM PINs or passwords.
- Get a safe deposit box to store your important documents.
- Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
- Review your credit report at least once a year.
- Always sign the back of your credit and debit cards.
This lowers the chance of others being able to use them.
- Cancel and destroy all unused cards and cheques.
- Report lost or stolen credit and debit cards right away.
- Shred all documents containing personal information before throwing them out.
- Drop your outgoing mail in an official postal mailbox.
- Shred or destroy any junk mail before you throw it away.
- Don’t leave incoming mail in areas where others can access it.
- Check your online financial accounts to watch for any transactions that may have been made fraudulently.
Keep your computer secure
Being online puts your computer at risk for information breaches. Hackers can potentially access your system without your knowledge and use your personal information for illegal activities.
Here are some tips that can help you to improve the overall security of your computer:
- Clear the web browser cache and cookies when using a public or shared computer.
- Do not share your Personal Verification Question answers with anyone.
- Only open emailed attachments from trusted sources after you have virus scanned them.
- Protect your computer from attack by using a personal firewall.
- Ensure your anti-virus and security patches are up to date.
- Never respond to spam e-mails; doing so confirms that your e-mail address is valid.
- Do not click on any links in unsolicited e-mail as this could inadvertently download a virus or spyware to your computer.
- Use a spam filter.
- Type the web address into your browser instead of following a link. If you use a website often, create a bookmark to access it.
- Be cautious of the e-mails you send as their content may be forwarded or copied.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using a public computer.
Beware of phishing and pharming
You may have been asked to give personal and/or financial information via the Internet by a company or organization that you don’t necessarily recognize as being legitimate. If you have, then you may have been targeted by a phishing or pharming scheme.
Phishing is the act of tricking you into giving out confidential information. With this information, fraudsters can access your online accounts to withdraw money, make purchases, or even open new accounts in your name.
Be wary of e-mails that ask for personal information and never provide your personal passwords, personal information numbers or login information for any personal account.
Remember, MCAP will never, under any circumstance, send any e-mail that:
- Asks you to provide, confirm or update personal records.
- Claims to have been sent from a third party address or link to a third party site on MCAP’s behalf and asking for personal or financial information.
- Contains no information about why you are receiving the e-mail from MCAP.
- Requires an urgent response.
Pharming occurs when you type in a web address and it redirects you to a fraudulent website without your knowledge or consent. The website will look similar to the legitimate site in hopes of capturing your confidential information. They often use the logo or other identifier of a reputable company without permission and request urgent action to provide, update or verify your information.
Protect your passwords
Your passwords are an incredibly important tool in maintaining the security of your personal and financial information. A strong password has at least 8 characters and is made up of letters AND numbers. You should always change your passwords on a regular basis. Additionally:
- Do not store your passwords in a computer file.
- Do not leave your computer unattended while connected to any sensitive, private information whether financial or otherwise.
- Do not tell your passwords to anyone.
- Do not keep a hard copy of your passwords.
- Do not use the same password more than once.
- Do not use personal or identifying information as your password, for example, birth date or social insurance number.
Confirm identity of individuals and organizations
The risk of falling victim to a scam is real. With clever telephone, internet and mail fraudsters posing as reps from legitimate organizations often making attractive offers, it can happen to anyone. Being certain with whom you are dealing is a key factor in protecting yourself.
And remember, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Here are some ways to confirm the identity of individuals and organizations:
- Do not provide personal and account information over the phone until you have confirmed the identity of the organization. If you receive a phone solicitation, call the organization back using a number you know to be legitimate.
- Only subscribe to Internet-based newsletters from organizations you trust. You can check the third party site certificate to verify authenticity of the website.
- If you see an advertisement for a loan or mortgage in a local newspaper, check out the source through the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus (Canada) or Better Business Bureau (United States).