Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/10/2015 (1971 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In 2012, Canadians lost nearly $300 million from credit card fraud, and that was not counting cards that were lost or stolen.
That’s because no matter how diligent you think you are, it does not mean you won’t be a victim of cyber-fraud.
Kelley Keehn, a bestselling author, speaker and personal finance expert, said Canadians have a lot to learn about protecting themselves against cyber-scams and online identity theft.
Keehn, who spoke in Winnipeg Wednesday night at a free event along with BNN’s Larry Berman as part of a cross-country tour called Investor’s Guide to Thriving, said incidents of identity threats and investment scams and fraud are only going to get worse.
She says it is more important than ever for people to be cautious about their personal information. That means changing online and banking passwords and refusing to give out your social insurance number and date of birth.
"My forensic accounting adviser says you should use four or five phoney birthdates on social media," she said. "Because there are hackers around the world patiently gathering bits of information, and they can build profiles to steal your information and create false identities."
Keehn is emphatic about not giving your social insurance number to anyone. While it’s typically requested in job applications, you are not obliged to give it until you actually get the job.
She said by all accounts, Canadian banks’ websites are very secure, but hackers have succeeded in getting into the Pentagon, and the Heartbleed virus got into the Canada Revenue Agency’s site and compromised 900 Canadians’ social insurance numbers.
"The thing is, these guys are very, very good," she said.
For example, when JP Morgan’s data were breached, clients’ banks accounts were not threatened, but the trouble came afterwards.
"They went after people with text messages and emails that asked them to change their password... and they were clients (of JP Morgan) and they really look like they were from the bank," she said. "It is very tough."
Among other things, Keehn says people should delink from your online banking savings accounts that are not part of their day-to-day banking needs to remove at least that much of your finances from the potential scammers.
Keehn’s advice on how to protect your family from identity theft and investment fraud includes researching products before you commit, asking questions and learning how to spot the red flags, finding your own professionals who you can trust and re-evaluating your situation each year.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.