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Fraud Prevention

Preventing Fraud and Identity Theft

October 11, 2009

A growing phenomenon is identity theft, a process were a thief tries to glean as much personal or financial information as possible from unsuspecting individuals. With a name, date of birth, Social Insurance Number or a credit card number, a thief can run up thousand of dollars in fraudulent charges. The victim is left with a ruined credit history and the time-consuming and complicated task of regaining financial well-being.

On average it costs a victim $1,173 and 175 hours (that’s more than 21 - 8 hour days!) to get their credit report straightened out. Some of our members have been victims of identity theft or know of someone who has.

Below are some steps you can take to prevent identity theft:

  • Don’t give out personal information or account numbers to anyone until you have confirmed the identity of the person asking for it. You should also ask how the information will be used and whether it will be shared with anyone else.
  • Buyer beware! If the deal is too good to be true it probably is. Avoid high pressure sales pitches such as pre-pay, winning prize or foreign official (eg. Nigerian) scams where money must be sent first before receiving a prize
  • If you have several debit cards and credit cards, carry only those that you need. Generally, there is no need to carry your Social Insurance Card and Birth Certificate in your wallet. Leave these cards at home in a safe place or in a Christian Credit Union Safety Deposit Box.
  • Consider keeping your withdrawal limits low on your debit cards and reduce your limits on credit cards.
  • Photocopy the contents of your wallet or purse (front and back) and store the information in a safe place. If you happen to lose your wallet or your purse is stolen, you have quick access to phone and account numbers to cancel your cards.
  • In addition to signing your Christian Credit Union MemberCard®Debit Card and credit cards write "REFER PHOTO ID." You need to be prepared to show photo identification such as your Operator’s Licence every time you make a purchase.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. Try not to let waiters, sales clerks or gas-station attendants disappear from view with your credit card or debit card. Crooks can use a card reader to copy the information from your card’s magnetic strip, a process knowing as “skimming”
  • Memorize your Personal Information Number (“PIN”) – do not keep your number with your MemberCard®DebitCard. Never disclose your PIN to anyone and when selecting a PIN, never use obvious information.
  • Use your hand or body to shield your PIN when conducting transactions at the point-of-sale.
  • Invest in a shredder (less than $100) to shred any document which contains personal information. At minimum, tear documents into tiny pieces prior to discarding. Shred all junk mail credit card offers.
  • Check your credit card receipts and Credit Union statements to make sure the transactions belong to you and not to someone else.
  • Check your credit report so you’re aware of any charges or unusual activity. Credit information can be obtained once a year at no charge from Equifax at www.equifax.ca or 1-800-465-7166 or Trans Union Canada at www.tuc.ca or 1- 800-663-9980.
  • Guard your mail from theft. Promptly remove your mail from the mail box and notify Canada Post to hold your mail if you’re going to be away for some time.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover their tracks.
  • Consider leaving vital statistics such as birth dates out of obituaries in newspapers. Thieves have been known to use the information to create a false identity.
  • Impersonations of legitimate credit providers such as Visa or MasterCard or known financial institutions via emails appear to be on the rise. The fraud is known as "phishing." This scam involves a criminal attempting to obtain information such as the security digits of your credit card or internet-banking password by impersonating a financial institution employee. The email starts by indicating that your card has been compromised and the financial institution needs to verify information about you and your card. Once information is provided, the criminal then steals the victim’s identity to acquire new credit cards, redirect mail and open bank accounts in the victim’s name. If you receive a suspicious email, do not respond. Report the email to Phone Busters, Canada’s anti-fraud centre, at 1-888-495-8501 or log on to www.recol.ca. If you feel the email is legitimate, please call your credit provider directly to inquire if your card has been comprimised.


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