As we run around in the final hours before Christmas, the To Do list gets a little intimidating, and we might start to let our guard down when it comes to looking after things. I’m talking about not keeping an eye on your budget AND your personal information.
From online shopping to tapping to quickly sorting through texts and emails, we are plugged in to all the things all the time, and if we’re not vigilant, we’ll leave some cracks open for others to get in and get at our personal information.
I’ve been getting random text messages and calendar invites to my phone lately. Alarm bells are going off with each one. They’re not particularly clever, and more annoying than anything.
But there are more sophisticated ways of hacking that exist out there. All of these are easily avoided by remembering to be aware of phishing techniques and keeping in touch with your bank whenever you see something that’s offside. With a little common sense vigilance, we can all avoid a big hassle these holidays.
Spend some time refreshing your ninja fraud alert skills with these little reminders:
SMS + Phishing = Smishing. Put another way, these are the text messages sent to your cell phone using SMS in an attempt to trick you into providing your personal information. The message may include a link to what looks like a legitimate website address and asks you to enter several pieces of your personal financial information, such as your credit/debit card number, CVV code on the back of your credit card, your SIN, your e-mail address or other personal information.
Watch outs: Often, there are spelling and grammatical errors in the text message – not always a red flag for fraud, but it should alert you to watch for other signs. Hyperlinks in the message could also be a flag.
Voice + Phishing = Vishing. These are the automated telephone calls made to trick you into providing your personal information (i.e. credit/debit card number, your SIN, your e-mail address). They will be used to strengthen a phishing expedition.
Watch outs: Customers should not receive requests for personal information by unsolicited telephone calls.
If you suspect the call may not be from a legitimate financial institution, tell them you want to call them back through the toll-free number on the back of the card.
Phishing is the old school way of getting your personal information via authentic-looking e-mails appearing to come from legitimate companies in an effort to “fish” or “phish” for personal and financial information. The emails direct customers to click on links that re-direct them to fraudulent or spoofed websites. Once on the fraudulent site, the customer is asked to enter personal and/or financial information that is later used to commit fraud.
Watch outs: You should not be asked to reply to an email with personal information, login information such as usernames, passwords, PINs, Identification Plus security questions and answers, or account numbers because unencrypted e-mail is not secure.
If you receive an email claiming to be from a financial institution and you believe it to be fraudulent, do not respond and do not open or click on any links or open attachments contained within the email. If you are asked to contact a financial institution, you should find the contact information independently.
What To Do
To win against fraud, it takes both the customer and their bank to work together. Consumers should be aware of the safety measures financial institutions have to protect against fraud, and understand the difference between smishing scams and legitimate fraud alerts
Pay attention to your fraud alerts
TD has launched a new feature that sends its Canadian customers free* fraud alert text messages if there is suspicious activity detected on their TD Access Card for their personal banking accounts. Customers can reply to the alert with a simple Y or N to confirm whether they recognize the transaction and have TD unblock or block their card.
(Just don’t forget to make sure TD has your current mobile number to receive these alerts.)
TD will never ask customers to reply to a Fraud Alert text with any personal information or ask customers to click on any links in their reply.
Identify identity theft or credit or debit card fraud:
The TD MySpend app can help keep TD customers aware of all of their purchases and transactions on their TD personal banking and credit card accounts. Customers receive real-time notifications when making a purchase on their eligible accounts, which may enable them to recognize fraudulent purchases.
Minimize your risk
The information above is provided to help you protect yourself, but it’s not foolproof: it’s a fast paced and constantly changing world so make sure you are keeping up-to-date on and monitoring security features and preventative measures to minimize your risk of fraud.
* TD does not charge any fees for TD Fraud Alerts. However, standard wireless carrier message rates may apply.
This post is sponsored by TD Bank. All opinions are my own.