Hey, Con Artist …SCRAM!

Con Artist

(TORONTO, ON) – You can’t pull the wool toque over the eyes of a fraud-savvy Canadian. In the past few years, Canadians have improved their personal security against different types of financial fraud and, in turn, have become victims less often.

A new study on consumer fraud in Canada and around the world found –

  • In 2014, 21% reported being victims of credit/debit/prepaid card fraud in the past 5 years (compared to 25% who reported being victims in 2012)
  • By comparison, 41% of Americans stated they had been card fraud victims in the past 5 years

In an examination of risky behaviours, the study showed that Canadians have become more protective of their personal information in the last 3 years

  • In 2014, 12% had thrown documents containing personal financial information in the trash (compared to 18% who reported doing so in 2011)
  • In 2014, 12% shopped online using non-secured sites or on a public computer (compared to 24% in 2012)

However, some risky behaviours have not improved. Three percent admitted to responding to calls or emails asking for bank details, 12% left their smartphones unlocked when not in use, and 6% say they wrote down their PIN and carried it with them.

Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, is impressed by the results –

“Canadians are finally starting to protect themselves – and seeing results,” says Schwartz. “It’s exciting to see that behaviours are changing and criminals are having a harder time finding victims.”

Consolidated Credit offers the following tips to Canadians looking to avoid being fraud victims

  • Be skeptical – Before giving out your personal information to anyone, think about their intentions. Do they really need this information or could they conduct their business without it? How will your information be used? Is this company reputable? Being cautious in the beginning can prevent a problem in the end.
  • Be safe – Protect yourself by choosing complicated passwords that will be very difficult to crack. Using the name of a child or favorite sports team is just asking to be hacked. In addition, don’t slack off when it comes to password reminder questions. It’s easy for a criminal to find your mother’s maiden name so make personalized questions that only you can answer.
  • Be smart – Major retailers have sophisticated software security systems that protect your information when shopping online. However, small shops may not have the same level of security which will put you at greater risk. Always look for the “s” at the end of “https” in a website address to know it is secure. Shop smart now so you won’t be victimized later.
  • Check your credit report – A lot of fraud can go undetected. An easy way to keep tabs on your credit is to check your credit report at least once a year. Early detection of fraud can save hours of time and hassle later.
  • Destroy your hard drive – Putting an old computer on the curb for garbage pick-up is like leaving your wallet on the front lawn overnight and hoping no one steals anything. Before you throw it out, purchase a program that “wipes” your computer clean or physically destroys your hard drive. This will ensure your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Being vigilant about how you share your personal information will decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of fraud,” advises Schwartz. “Being skeptical, safe and smart is the best defense against dishonest con artists.”

About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.

For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:

Eric Spence, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 416-731-5588, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected]

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