THE ART OF FRAUD – DON’T BECOME A VICTIM
Dear Valued Customer, We have recently reviewed your account activity and suspect that your account may have been accessed by a non-authorized third party. In order to reactivate the freeze on your account please click here so we may confirm your identity.
This is just one example of a myriad of typical mass marketing fraud emails that makes its way to thousands of inboxes every day in the hope that you will provide sensitive personal information to the fraudster on the other end. According to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC), mass marketing fraud impacted about 13,000 Canadians in 2013 with over 45,000 reported attempts and $53 million in reported losses. Contacting a potential victim by phone or fax, for instance by claiming a prize has been won, is the most common attempt at soliciting personal information. The highest dollar loss attempts are digital attempts involving solicitation through email and text messaging, mainly targeted individuals between ages 50 and 59. It only takes one or two pieces of information, such as a SIN, address or bank account details, for the fraudsters to get to work. They can open accounts, obtain credit, transfer balances, create passports, and even redirect your government benefits.
At Northland Wealth, we have heard stories from clients who have almost fallen victim to identity fraud. Some examples are newspapers supposedly contacting them about new subscriptions wanting to confirm details on what could be considered private information, strangers claiming family members have been in accidents requiring money to be sent immediately and emails asking for funds to be wired to a third party account to assist friends with purchases or other expenses. Northland Wealth is aware of how serious this threat is, which is why we have multiple preventative systems in place to protect and assist our clients against falling victim to these fraudsters.
In the wake of recent major security breaches, the public has started to focus on what information is openly available about them, how accessible it is and how to protect themselves from identity theft. It can be devastating to be a victim of identity fraud and it can take a considerable amount of time to recover from such an intrusion. There are steps that you can take to ensure you do not become the next victim. Firstly, think about who is contacting you and how. Your bank, for instance, will never contact you via email asking for information (unless you have a personal banker). Next, ask questions. What exactly are they asking for and why do they need it? Is this really the person they claim to be? Resistance and inconsistency are red flags and you can consult the internet and other public sources for verification. Lastly and most importantly, think about where you keep your personal information. Do you shred bank statements before recycling? Do you reveal sensitive information in text messages or emails? What are your postings on social media networks? Many security questions and answers asking for information like your mother’s maiden name may be left in a trail of social media posts. The moral of this story is that your information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, can be extremely valuable to an identity thief. Be vigilant, keep your guard up and when in doubt err on the side of caution. If you would like more information on identity fraud or theft, please give us a call.