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How to protect yourself from fraud

Thousands of Canadians are victims of fraud every year. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, over 67,000 Canadians reported an incident of fraud in 2020.

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Recognizing fraud

A recent Statistics Canada report showed that over 40% of Canadians have experienced a cyber security incident since the COVID-19 pandemic started, with the most common types of fraud being phishing attacks, malware and hacked accounts.

There are many types of fraud and your first line of defence is being able to identify a scam as quickly as possible, so you can avoid being scammed. The following examples explain some of the most common types of fraud in Canada today.

Identity theft

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge for a criminal purpose. They may use your information to access your bank account; apply for a loan in your name, or even rent an apartment or car. Protecting your personal information is critical and there are many ways you can stay safe, such as adding Identity Theft insurance to your policy as another layer of protection and peace of mind.

Credit or debit card fraud

This type of fraud occurs when your credit or debit card are stolen. It can also occur when the card information is stolen. That information is then used to make purchases or withdraw money without your consent. There are simple steps you can follow to keep your credit card information safe from thieves.

Phishing

Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to obtain personal information by posing as a trustworthy organization. For example, an attacker may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts or insist that you transfer money.

Attackers often take advantage of current events and certain times of the year, such as natural disasters, epidemics, and major political changes and even famous charity events.

To stay safe, scrutinize the sender’s email address for legitimacy and be aware of generic greetings, signatures, poor spelling and grammar as these often are indicators of an attack. Emails including unexpected hyperlinks to websites with odd URL spelling and attachments you were not expecting are other signs of attack. Be equally aware of unsolicited phone calls and texts and do not disclose personal or financial information without verifying the communicator.

Insurance fraud

Some common examples of insurance fraud include the following:

  • Individuals who fabricate insurance claims
  • Auto repair shops who exaggerate the cost of claims
  • Medical clinics that ask claimants to sign blank accident benefit forms and invoice insurers for services never provided
  • Health care clinics that offer unnecessary treatments
  • Drivers who intentionally cause collisions

What to do if you suspect fraud

If you suspect you have been a victim of insurance fraud, or if you witness potential fraud, please contact us at [email protected].

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) issues fraud alerts to inform consumers about insurance scams. Fake policies and non-existent insurance companies can put you and your insured property at risk. If you suspect fraud, you can also contact the IBC TIPS Line at 1-877-IBC-TIPS or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

If you suspect another type of fraud, you should immediately contact your financial institutions. You should also notify the police. For more advice on what to do if you are a victim of fraud, check out the Victim of Fraud page from The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Helpful reminders

Follow the tips below to help you recognize and protect yourself from fraudsters:

  • Don’t be afraid to say no! Fraudsters often use high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel uncomfortable, simply walk away or hang up the phone.
  • Do your research.
    • Check to see that charities calling are registered with Canada Revenue Agency.
    • Verify a call from your credit card company by calling the number on the back.
    • Research companies by looking them up online.
  • Don’t give out personal information. If you receive an unsolicited call, hang up if they ask for the following information:
    • Your name
    • Your address
    • Your date of birth
    • Your social insurance number
    • Your banking or credit card information

Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website to explore more tips on how to protect yourself.