Protect Yourself Against Cyber Fraud and Online Identity Theft

20/03/2016 09:05

TORONTOMarch 17, 2016 /CNW/ - This Fraud Awareness Month, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) offers its Top 10 tips to protect against cyber fraud and online identity theft. 

"We all spend a lot of time on the internet, which has made everyday life more convenient. Now with the click of a button we can pay bills, check our bank account balances or connect with people through social media, which is why you must remain vigilant about what you share online and who sees it ", said Garry Robertson, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC.

In recent years, identity theft has increased across Canada. Thieves are scanning the internet looking for personal information that will allow them to assume another person's identity. Using stolen information a criminal could use your name to secure a credit card, take out a mortgage, or even commit insurance fraud.

"You may not realize you have been a victim until it is too late, costing you time and money to rectify the damage", added Robertson. "Consumers need to ensure they are protecting themselves online, which is why we urge you to read 'IBC's top 10 ways to protect yourselves against cyber fraud and online identity theft', and share these tips with your family and friends."

IBC's Top 10 Ways to Protect Against Cyber Fraud and Online Identity Theft are:

  1. Be cautious about sharing your personal information online, including your insurance policy number and birth date.
  2. Guard your financial information. If you shop, do insurance transactions or banking online, make sure you aren't saving personal financial information, such as credit card numbers, that someone could easily take.
  3. Change your login and passwords regularly, especially if you use a public computer. Make your passwords hard to decipher by using numbers and characters in addition to letters.
  4. Ensure that a website is trustworthy before clicking on a link in an email. If you have any doubt that an email is from the institution that it says it's from, contact the company to confirm that they sent the email. Criminals often use phishing, which uses an official-looking email to direct you to a website that looks legitimate, to steal personal information.
  5. Install security software and anti-spyware programs on your computer. Activate your firewall and use anti-virus software. Only download programs from reputable websites that you know are trustworthy.
  6. When making an insurance claim, regularly check the payments made by your insurance company on your behalf throughout the process.  Keep an eye out for any unusual activity.
  7. Be social media savvy. Set your social media profiles to the private setting and be careful what you post online.
  8. Make sure your Wi-Fi network at home is protected. When using public "hot spots," recognize that the data you share is vulnerable and do not conduct financial transactions, such as obtaining automobile or home insurance, on these networks.
  9. Never give personal information over e-mail or phone to someone who has contacted you to ask for it, without authenticating their identity. 
  10. If you use credit cards or borrow money, it is a good idea to periodically order a credit check on yourself to ensure everything is in order.