(TORONTO, ON) – If Canadians did any home renovations this summer, they heard some scary news this week. Home Depot announced it was working with authorities and financial institutions in the US and Canada after reports began circulating that a hacker may have gained access to credit card information from customers of the home improvement retailer.
The breach was first reported by technology journalist Brian Krebs, who says there are signs that the attack could be from the same group of Russian and Ukrainian hackers who also targeted retail giant Target.
The Canadian Banking Association surveyed the major credit card companies and found that credit card fraud totals hit $436,135,000 last year. Here were some of the causes:
- Stolen cards (3.5%)
- Fraudulent Applications (2.5%)
- Counterfeit Domestic (11.3%)
- Counterfeit Cross Border (12.6%)
- Card Not Present (64.3%)
“Card Not Present” fraud is responsible for nearly two-thirds of all credit card fraud losses and it includes fraudulent e-commerce, telephone and mail purchases.
“The recent trends are alarming to say the least,” says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada. “The worst part is that people aren’t as likely to protect themselves against these crimes because they don’t see it happening.”
Despite Home Depot telling customers they will not be on the hook for fraudulent charges as a result of this breach, they urge Canadians to closely monitor their accounts for suspicious activity.
Consolidated Credit offers Canadian credit card users the following tips to help protect themselves against fraud:
- Keep it to yourself – Don’t share your credit card information or PIN with others, and always make sure to keep your PIN concealed when using a keypad.
- Keep your eye on it – When paying with a credit card, never let it out of your sight. Fraudsters may try to double-swipe your card, or copy its magnetic information by “skimming” it through a secondary card reader.
- Record your information – Write down your credit card number, card details, and whom to contact in case of loss or theft. Keep this information safe.
- Be careful with the statements – Check your statements for unusual activity, then shred them when you no longer need them.
- Be diligent online – Only make credit card purchases online through trusted sites. Look for a padlock icon or “https” at the beginning of URLs and other trusted security icons; this indicates that the website is secure.
- Trust but verify – Review your credit report on a regular basis; at least twice a year but monthly is better. Consider engaging a credit monitoring service to mitigate risk.
“Sometimes hackers hit large companies and there is very little we can do,” adds Schwartz. “But if we remain diligent on all the little things in our day-to-day lives, we can dramatically reduce the odds of being a target of credit card fraud.”
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:
Jacob MacDonald, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.
T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041