Get ready to feel bummed out, y’all. Because you know an article on fraud prevention has to include those scary statistics.
But here’s the thing. They’re not meant to fear monger. There’s real cause for concern.
Want an idea of your exposure levels? We like Have I Been Pwned. Enter your email and see if your data has been exposed.
March is Fraud Prevention Month
One twelfth of our calendar year is dedicated to raising awareness about fraud and its many permutations.
This is an important cause, because many Canadians don’t know how common fraud really is, and what’s worse, many Canadians don’t know how to protect themselves.
Incidences of reported fraud include many different types, from credit card fraud to identity fraud, and now, even COVID-19 related fraud.
We ran a little poll at the beginning of the month, asking our Twitter followers which of four options was the most commonly reported type of fraud. The options were extortion, phishing, identity fraud, and personal information.
ID fraud and personal information tied with 38% of the vote, while phishing brought in 21.5%, leaving extortion with, actually, zero votes.
Do you know what the most common type of fraud is?
Y’all. It’s extortion.¹
This was a wee lesson to us all that our literacy in matters concerning fraud is not high enough. This makes sense, because fraud isn’t a problem until it happens to you. But trust us when we tell you, it’s better to get ahead of it.
Most Common Types of Fraud
There are infinite types of fraud out there, but generally speaking, fraud involves the use of information often obtained through deception to make money under false pretenses. Fraud can have very serious impacts on you and your financial health.
We’ll run through those few types of fraud that are more common, and give you tips on avoiding them.
Extortion most often happens via email. Generally, you’ll receive an email from someone that claims to already have control of your computer. They’ve been watching you, they’ll say, for a few weeks…. And have recorded you on your own webcam on, say, adult websites. They may even include passwords you use for other websites—or make it look like the email is coming from your own account—as proof. Pay them a few thousand dollars in Bitcoin, and they won’t release the videos or information they’ve captured.
Normally, these scams are fake. Generally, you can just ignore them (though if you’re unsure, contact Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre!). To keep these scams from happening:
- Ensure all of your passwords are unique, and change them once every six months or if you’re notified of a data breach.
- Put opaque tape, like electrician’s tape, or buy a cover to place over your webcam. While it’s unlikely someone is hacking your webcam, it is still possible.
- Set your social media accounts to private.
- Never, ever pay the fraudster.
Identity fraud is a scary one because it can have a lasting impact on your finances and credit score.
Identity fraud occurs after identity theft, where someone steals your personal information (and, for example, posts that info online). ID fraud occurs when, using that info, a bad guy pretends to be you. They might set up credit cards in your name, for example, to buy goods or services. But fraudsters don’t often pay back credit card bills—so your credit can take a serious, serious hit. It can take years and trips to court to prove that you were defrauded.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Ready to feel stressed out?
It’s entirely possible that a bad guy already has your name or credit card info.
Especially in the last year, we’ve all bought so many things online; and those little shops on Etsy or that trendy IG shop you bought from may not have adequate security. Think about it: if Lifelabs, in Canada, can suffer a serious data breach, so can www.barkybabydogs.com or wherever you made your last impulse purchase.
Is that a real website? Dunno. The point is, you should be acting now like you’ve already suffered a data breach and your information is already out there.
Help protect yourself against identity theft by being vigilant:
- Check your credit card statement every month for unfamiliar charges!!!
- Use strong passwords and change them no later than every six months
- If you’re not going to buy a product from a given website again, close your account to ensure your data is erased from their system.
- Set your social media accounts to private.
Help protect yourself from fraud by using the right tools to monitor if your information is being used by bad guys:
- Use Mogo’s credit score monitoring (soft checks, and totally free!) to watch for unexpected changes in your credit score²
- Use MogoProtect to be alerted to any hard credit checks in your name³
Mogo’s credit score monitoring doesn’t impact your credit score, because we only use soft checks; keeping an eye on your score for unexpected changes can alert you to fraudulent transactions on your card.
MogoProtect works by liaising with Equifax to monitor for hard credit inquiries, which can be an early sign of ID fraud, like a fraudster trying to take out a loan in your name. No thanks!!
With MogoProtect, we check daily for any hard inquiries and alert you if we find one. Then, we’ll guide you to help stop the fraudsters in their tracks.
Both of these services are free, and we offer them because we hate fraudsters and we really like you.
Protect Yourself And Your Credit!
Did you know that 34% of Canadians have fallen victim to fraud according to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada? 18% of those included credit card fraud.
Year over year, there’s been an increase in fraud reports in Canada. In 2019, there was a 10% increase over 2018.⁵ You can be sure that when 2020’s fraud numbers come out, we’ll have seen a spike due to COVID-19 related scams.
While we’re focussed on our Canadian users, we should note that y’all, it’s even worse in the States. A new report from GIACT entitled “U.S. Identity Theft: the Stark Reality”, concluded that,
“In the past two years, almost half (47%) of U.S. consumers surveyed experienced identity theft; well over one-third (37%) experienced application fraud (i.e., the unauthorized use of one’s identity to apply for an account), and over one-third (38%) of consumers experienced account takeover (i.e., unauthorized access to a consumer’s existing account).”⁶
😱 😱 😱
It’s too risky not to take measures to protect yourself. You should behave as though your information is already out there. That’s why making use of MogoProtect is a simple, free way to give yourself some peace of mind: if anything untoward is going on, we can help you detect it.
It can take years before a fraudster actually uses your information and the best way to combat this kind of literal dumb garbage is to be vigilant.
Listen. It’s spooky out there. We don’t like it. When it comes to fraudsters, we're down to throw hands.
But when it comes to you, we want to help. Sign up for MogoProtect (and credit score monitoring! It’s free, it’s cute, and it’ll help you keep your credit goals and security on track) and stay safe out there.
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1 “Frauds Surged across Canada in 2020 amid Pandemic.” Accessed March 15, 2021. https://www.wealthprofessional.ca/news/industry-news/frauds-surged-across-canada-in-2020-amid-pandemic/337595.
2 - Free credit score is provided by Equifax and is only available to MogoAccount holders that have passed identity verification. The Equifax credit score is based on Equifax’s proprietary model and may not be the same score used by third parties to assess your creditworthiness. The provision of this score to you is intended for your own educational use. Third parties will take into consideration other information in addition to a credit score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Equifax® is a registered trademark of Equifax Canada Co., used here under license.
3 - No one can prevent all identity fraud and Mogo does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. Currently, Mogo only monitors hard inquiries into the Equifax® Canada Co. credit bureau and will provide push and/or email notifications within 24 hours of the inquiry being reported. Refer to the MogoAccount Terms & Conditions for more information https://www.mogo.ca/terms-and-conditions.
4 - 34 per Cent of Canadians Have Fallen Victim to Fraud: Survey. https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/news/canada/2020-03-03-cpa-canada-fraud-survey. Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.
5 - “Fraud in Canada Continues to Climb: StatsCan.” Investment Executive, 29 Oct. 2020, https://www.investmentexecutive.com/news/industry-news/fraud-in-canada-continues-to-climb-statscan/.
6 - GIACT. [New Report] U.S. Identity Theft: The Stark Reality. Accessed March 9 2021. https://www.giact.com/aite-report-us-identity-theft-the-stark-reality/