Don’t take the bait

By Andrew Rickard | March 10 2016 11:33AM

The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) has compiled a list of things consumers can do to protect themselves from scam emails and phone calls.

March is fraud prevention month, and the CBA is reminding consumers to be wary of phone calls or emails that attempt to gather their personal information or encourage them to install questionable software on their computers. These fraudulent emails or phone calls may seem to be legitimate, but the CBA says there signs to watch for.

Sense of urgency

First of all, the CBA suggests that people be careful when there is a sense of urgency, or if they threaten to close or limit access to accounts if you don't reply or provide information immediately.

While scam artists work hard to make their email messages appear authentic, spelling mistakes, poor grammar, or logos that don't look quite right may also be a giveaway. If the email begins with a general greeting such as "dear customer", that may be because they don't actually know who you are and have sent the same message to thousands of people in the hopes of hooking a few victims.

Don’t disclose personal information

Finally, criminals will often ask you to disclose personal information such as a credit card number, bank account number or your online banking password. "Your bank would never call you or send you an email asking for this information because they already have it," says the CBA.

In general, the CBA recommends that people never send personal or financial information by email or disclose it over the phone. If they do need to enter personal details on the Internet, they should make sure that the address bar starts with “https://” and is further secured with a closed padlock in the bottom right corner of the browser.

Check bank statements

"Make sure your home computer is protected with anti-spam, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software and you keep these up to date. Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity," concludes the CBA. "You should also check your credit report at least once a year through Equifax Canada or Transunion Canada."