With the increasing popularity of smartphones, tablets and social media sites, many Canadians are concerned that they may become a victim of fraud. Fraudsters have sophisticated ways of stealing or tricking consumers into revealing personal information through these online channels.
According to the 2012 TD Canada Trust Fraud Prevention Month poll, although fewer Canadians overall are concerned about becoming a victim of fraud compared to last year (72% versus 79% in 2011).
- 84% are worried about emerging types of fraud such as online fraud, such as when a fraudster gathers some of your banking information (like account details and passwords), and uses the information to perform online banking.
- 74% are concerned about malicious social media apps designed to steal your personal information, or send out malicious messages or computer viruses to your contacts without your consent.
- 72% are concerned about phishing and the use of fraudulent emails and websites which are used to trick consumers into providing personal information, which is then used to commit a fraud.
- 61% are concerned about fraudulent or malicious cell phone apps disguised as games or apps from credible brands designed to steal information from smart phones or send out expensive text messages without the users’ consent.
“As technology continues to evolve, so too are the tricks fraudsters use to try and steal your personal information,” says Justin Hwang, Associate Vice President, Fraud Management, TD Canada Trust. “Banks and credit card companies have sophisticated security measures in place and work closely with law enforcement to protect their customers, but it is important to remember that you are the first line of defence.”
The good news is Canadians are taking actions to protect themselves from these ‘online bandits’, including:
- Ensuring their computer’s security software and virus/malware protection is up-to-date (86%)
- Subscribing to the highest level of privacy on their social media accounts (73%)
- Using an automatic lock function with a password-protection feature whenever their mobile phone, tablet, computer starts-up or times-out (54%)
- Never texting or emailing banking information (46%)
- Never downloading social media apps from unknown sources (45%)
- Never sharing email or social media site passwords (45%)
Hwang says an emerging type of fraud consumers should watch out for is malicious smartphone and social media apps that are designed to steal personal information, which is then used to commit fraud.
“It’s encouraging to see so many Canadians are taking steps to protect themselves from fraud, but remember that fraudsters can lurk in unsuspecting places – including social media sites and even in mobile phone app stores – so it’s important you remain vigilant,” he says. “Always be cautious when downloading apps for your cell phone, tablet or computer. Try to stay with apps from well-known and trusted brands. For example, mobile banking apps from major financial institutions, like the TD Canada Trust mobile app, maintain a high level of security and integrity so are safe and secure to use.”
The poll revealed Canadians are more concerned about some traditional forms of fraud – including debit card fraud (87% versus 81% in 2011) and identity theft (91% versus 86% in 2011) – but more people are taking precautions to protect themselves. Compared to last year, more Canadians now rely solely on ATMs that belong to their bank (65% versus 58%), have spoken to their bank about reducing their withdrawal limit (30% versus 25%) and change their PINs every couple of months (19% versus 12%).
But Hwang says some Canadians are still engaging in risky behaviour that can make them vulnerable: 14% admit they have carried their debit card or credit card PIN in their wallet, 11% have sent their credit card number through email, and 10% have told someone their PIN.
“Most fraud can be avoided if you are proactive and follow a few basic tips, like shielding your PIN when making a transaction, safeguarding your personal information online and offline, and monitoring your bank account activity for anything unusual,” he says. “If you think that you may have been a victim of fraud, contact your financial institution immediately.”
In support of Fraud Prevention Month, TD Canada Trust has developed a new quiz to help Canadians determine how fraud-savvy they are and learn what they can do to help protect themselves:
3RD Annual TD Canada Trust Fraud Prevention Quiz
Has social media and email made you an “over-sharer”?
- True or False: If your bank needs to contact you, they may email you and ask you for your account information – False: Your bank will never contact you by email asking for account information. If you have been emailed for this information then you have likely been “phished.” Phishing refers to an online scam that seeks out personal financial information from people who believe they are sharing their information with a legitimate website or organization.
- True or False: The anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer is sufficient to protect your personal information – False: Anti-virus and internet security software only helps protect your personal information if the software is up-to-date, and if it has the latest firewall installed. Fraudsters are always developing new ways to obtain your personal information online. For example, if malicious software gets uploaded onto your device it can track what you do online, tap into your personal information and even create spam that comes under the identity of a friend. Always be cautious when downloading apps.
- True or False: There are simple clues to figure out whether or not a website is safe – True: To see if a site is secure, check the lower corner of your browser window or to the right of the address bar, for a padlock. Any time you’re on a screen to send personal information, make sure the padlock is closed or the key is intact. This indicates that security technology will scramble your personal information as it’s being transmitted. As well, the secure website address will begin with “https://”.
- True or False: Sending an e-mail money transfer gives you the same security as online banking – True: One of the biggest misconceptions about e-Transfers is that they are not secure. In reality, e-Transfers offer the same level of security and confidentiality as any online banking transaction. The e-mail notification of the transfer doesn’t include the money or any banking information, only a notification of the pending transfer. In order for the recipient to collect the money, they must log into their own online banking service and correctly answer a security question.
- True or False: It’s not as important to be vigilant about transactions in brick and mortar stores because most fraudsters have moved online and found new ways to get personal information – False: It’s ALWAYS important to protect your personal information, on or offline. Financial institutions continually upgrade the sophisticated security measures they have in place to protect customers from fraud (e.g. CHIP technology on cards), but you should also do what you can to protect yourself by knowing where your cards are at all times and shielding the keypad when you enter your PIN.