Credit card safety for 2013

Ho, ho, d’oh! Getting the credit card bills after the holidays can be an unpleasant experience. It can quickly become even more unpleasant if you check your bills and find charges you didn’t make.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports losses that exceed $13-million from identity fraud for 2011, affecting over 17,000 people. It can happen to you.

If your information has been stolen, contact your bank or financial institution, credit card company and the local police as soon as possible. Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Contact the two national credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, to have them place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Prevention and Protection

Resolve to protect yourself from credit card fraud this New Year. Recognize that theft of your personal information can happen in many ways, including over the phone, Internet, regular mail and even face-to-face. Always think carefully before sharing any credit card information, including the expiry date and the last three digits on the signature panel.

Safeguard your personal identification number by shielding ATM and PIN pads, and don’t write your PIN on your card. If you don’t need to carry around certain credit cards on a regular basis, remove them from your purse or wallet and store them in a secure place.

Knowledge is your best defense. Know how your billing cycle works. Open your credit card bills and review them every month to make sure the charges are accurate. If you use online banking, check your statements and charges by logging into your bank account. This way, you can monitor your account well before the next billing cycle is completed.

Get a personal shredder, and diligently put any personal or financial documents through its jaws before disposal. Throwing these documents straight into the trash without shedding makes it way too easy for crooks to steal your data.

Industry Canada recommends checking your credit report once a year. If the information on your credit report is incorrect, contact the consumer affairs office in your province or territory. Be aware of companies that claim they can repair your credit score for a fee – they can’t do anything you can’t do yourself. For information on how to repair your credit score, visit www.ic.gc.ca/debt.

Cybershopping safety

A lot of credit card fraud occurs online. GetCyberSafe.ca has lots of great tips to keep you safe this New Year, including the following.

An unprofessional, poorly designed site with broken links is a giveaway that a website isn’t trustworthy. If you can’t find a mailing address or telephone number for the business, and if the policies on sales, returns and privacy are hard to find, do not give out your information.

Before making a purchase, look for the lock symbol or unbroken key in the bottom right corner of a website, or “https://” at the beginning of the website address. The “s” means “secure,” and is an indication that the site is encrypted.

If prices seem too good to be true, they probably are – shop from reputable retailers.

Keep your firewall on, and do not respond to pop-up messages or emails that ask for financial information. Do not use public Wi-Fi to shop online, and do not allow auto-fill for passwords and personal information, even if you are using your personal computer.

Finally, do not send cash to pay for online purchases, and consider designating one of your credit cards for online shopping. That makes it easier to track purchases and confirm the charges on your bill.

Happy shopping!

 

For more information, please contact:

Catherine Benesch

Communications/Media Program Coordinator, Canada Safety Council

(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)