Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Freaked out by fraud

Manitobans worried about identity theft, credit-card, debit-card and online scams

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Manitobans are getting freaked out about fraud, according to the results of a new poll by TD Canada Trust.

The financial institution said an online survey last month of 922 Canadians found 89 per cent of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan (Prairie) respondents said they're worried they or someone they care about will become a victim of fraud.

Not only was that one of the highest concern rates in the country, it was eight percentage points higher than the national average of 81 per cent, TD said.


The types of fraud Prairie residents are fearing the most these days include identity theft (cited by 84 per cent of the respondents), credit card and debit card fraud (82 per cent), and online fraud (80 per cent).

TD Canada Trust's vice-president of account recovery and fraud management admitted he was a surprised at how widespread the concern is on the Prairies. And Scott Gamble attributed the heightened awareness to the growing use of things like debit cards, smart phones, mobile banking and online shopping. The rapidly expanding use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter also helps to spread the word about the problem.

"But I'm also happy to see that," Gamble, added, "because from my perspective, consumers are the first line of defence (against fraud). That (a high level of concern) shows a high level of awareness, and awareness is critical to people doing something about it."

Gamble said the survey shows Manitobans, and Canadians in general, are taking steps to better protect themselves from fraudsters.

For example, 56 per cent of the Prairie respondents said they shield their Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) at ATMs and retail point-of-sale terminals. And the same percentage said they only shop with online merchants they know and trust, and ensure the websites they visit have secure transaction systems before making an online purchase.

"But on the flip side, it also shows that almost half of the people are not (taking those precautions)," Gamble added.

As well, 85 per cent of the Prairie respondents admitted they don't change their PINs on a regular basis -- Gamble said they should be changing them at least two or three times a year.

Equally disconcerting is that 19 per cent also said the have allowed someone to borrow their debit or credit card, 11 per cent said they've shared their credit card or debit card PINs with others, and 15 per cent said they carry their PIN in their wallet.

"So if someone lifts your wallet, they've now got your PIN info and your card. That's just a green light (to commit fraud)," Gamble said.

"It really comes back to consumers being the first line of defence, and really being diligent about protecting themselves and their financial information."

Fighting fraud


Here are some tips for how to better protect yourself from some of the most commonly feared forms of fraud: credit card or debit card fraud, online fraud and identity theft :

Guard your cards

-- Know the location of your credit cards and debit card at all times.

-- Never lend your cards to anyone.

-- Never provide your credit card number to unsolicited telephone callers.

-- Monitor your bank account and credit card statements regularly and contact your financial institution immediately if you think you have been a victim of fraud.


Protect your PIN / passwords

-- Make your PINs and passwords easy to remember, but hard to figure out.

-- Don't carry your PIN or password in your wallet.

-- Use a different PIN or password for each card.

-- Change them regularly at least two or three times a year.

-- Never share them with anyone.


Protect your identity

-- Only shop with online merchants you know and trust.

-- Make sure the websites you visit have secure transaction systems before making a purchase.

-- Keep you mobile phone's security up to date.

-- Always use the password-security feature on your mobile phone. That way if it's lost or stolen, the information stored on it can't be accessed.

-- Only download apps from trusted sources and know what content those apps will have access to for safe mobile transactions.

-- Don't respond to an urgent text message purportedly sent by your financial institution. They would never communicate with their customers that way.

-- Don't post any information on a social media site that you wouldn't want others to know.



-- Source: TD Canada Trust

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 14, 2013 A16

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