Keeping your financial information safe

Note: this post was sponsored by Capital One, but all views and opinions are my own.

A recent study by Capital One Canada revealed that the vast majority of Canadians have become more proactive in mitigating fraud and identity theft. In fact, 93% of Canadians are taking steps to protect themselves – a substantial increase from the 53% who reported taking action in 2018.

I used to be one of the people who didn’t think fraud could happen to me. But I’ve had my credit card information compromised before, and not only is it scary to think of how many ways they could have gotten that information. It also made me wonder how many people don’t notice fraudulent transactions on their credit card bills because they aren’t monitoring it, or they don’t have a service in place to monitor it for them. Some of the fraudulent charges I’ve found on my account seem so legitimate and innocent (like a Netflix subscription) that if I wasn’t looking carefully, I might have just passed right by it.

As a Capital One Mastercard customer, I really appreciate the fact that my account is being monitored 24/7, and that I have a way of monitoring my credit score for free with Credit Keeper.

I also get emails every time a red flag comes up on my account – like when I got double charged for a purchase on a work trip, when I tried putting a deposit on a vacation trip through a weird website or when a few irregular purchases were put through my account – all were flagged by Capital One for me to review. Even though I monitor my account closely, it’s comforting to know that there are other measures in place in case I miss something.

Another statistic I found interesting from the Capital One Canada study was that nearly 4 in 10 Canadians have either been a victim of or know someone who has been affected by fraud or identity theft. That’s insane! And proves why it’s so important to keep your credit card and PIN numbers private, and always be on guard when it comes to unsolicited or unusual phone calls, text messages or emails, which may be phishing scams (fraudulent attempts to steal sensitive information). This happened to me at work recently – I can usually tell when scam emails come my way, but this one was SO realistic that I almost fell for it. But one line at the end of the e-mail felt off, so I called IT who confirmed it was a phishing attempt.

Tips to help you prevent fraud

Aside from the obvious precautions of keeping your credit card and PIN numbers private, here are a few useful ways to help prevent fraud:

  • Let your bank and Canada Post know of any address changes.
  • Keep an eye on your mailbox and empty it frequently. If you go on vacation, have a friend collect your mail or request that it be held at the post office. (When I was living in Germany for a year, I had my neighbour collect my mail every couple of days – and good thing I did, because while I was gone, there was a break-in to my community mailbox. Luckily, my neighbour had just gotten my mail, so nothing of mine got stolen.) Or better yet – go paperless and avoid leaving a paper trail with your personal information.
  • Sign up for account alerts with your bank to help stay on top of transactions. Choose a credit card that has smart features built right into it, like two-way fraud alerts, and ensure you’ve given your financial institution permission to contact you if there’s suspicious activity.
  • Make sure to get your free credit report from major credit reporting agencies once a year and look out for any accounts you didn’t open. I pull my credit reports annually around my birthday, so I don’t forget to do it. 🙂

Capital One has set up a pretty good resource to learn more about fraud prevention that you can check out, and you can also read their press release on Fraud Prevention Month for additional information and statistics.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.

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