Recognizing and Preventing Fraud

Recognizing and Preventing FraudOnly we as consumers can protect ourselves from fraudulent scams. Thousands of Canadians are victims of fraud each year, costing an estimated 10 billion dollars annually.

The impact of fraud can be significant and devastating: loss of retirement savings, homes and even businesses. While we’d all like to believe that fraud couldn’t happen to us, however, victims vary greatly in age and economic backgrounds. Fraudsters are relentless and savvy.

The best way to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Awareness and recognition of fraud
  • Discuss fraudulent scams with everyone in your life
  • Report fraud when it is suspected or occurs

From the Competition Bureau of Canada:

Thousands of Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life are defrauded each year. There is no typical fraud victim in Canada. Fraud targets Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life. Recognizing fraud is the first step to better protecting yourself.

Fraudsters are professional criminals that know what they are doing. Fraudsters rely on some basic techniques to be successful. These include:

  • Developing professional-looking marketing materials
  • Providing believable answers for your tough questions
  • Impersonating government agencies, legitimate businesses, websites, charities, and causes
  • Pretending to be your ordinary supplier
  • Hiding the true details in the fine print
  • Preying on areas of vulnerability, including those needing help with loans or finding employment
  • Asking for fees in advance of promised services
  • Threatening legal action to collect on alleged contracts
  • Falsely claiming affiliation with reliable sources, such as legitimate news sites to support their products or services
  • and exchanging victim lists with other fraudsters.

Think you’re fraud savvy? Take this quiz.

When it comes to fraud: recognize, reject and report.

Please share this article with your loved ones.

Protect Yourself From Email and Online Scams

Email Scams Protect YourselfEmail scams have gone far beyond the old “Nigerian Prince” requests to mail cheques and send money abroad. Scammers are using more sophisticated methods of impersonation for the purpose of stealing your personal information or money. (For information on protecting yourself from phone scams, please click here.)

Let’s review some terms.

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails which appear to be from reputable companies with the goal of baiting individuals to reveal personal information, such as Internet passwords, banking information and credit card details.

Spear-phising is even more sophisticated and targeted – often the email will contain details, such as the recipient’s name, mention a previous email conversation and may come from a trusted friend’s email address.

Here’s how it works:

An email with an attachment may appear from a known and even trusted contact. The attachment may look like a PDF file, but it’s actually an image with a link embedded that once clicked takes the user to a very legitimate appearing Google log-in (as example).

Once the recipient goes through the log in process (supposedly to open the attachment), that information is captured. The attacker now has full access to your email and, as example, Google account.

There are only two small cues that this is a scam.

  • On a high resolution computer screen, you may be able to detect that the PDF is not legitimate and actually an image.
  • Once the faked image is clicked taking the recipient to the fake log in page, the URL does not begin with “https://” and is rather: “data:text/html.”
Gmail phishing scam

Credit: Tom Scott

You can read more about this phishing technique here.

Once your email is compromised, this is what can happen:

  • They have total access to your email.
  • They can now send emails, posing as you.
  • They can find personal information, such as past conversations to send very personalized emails, posing as you.
  • They look for contacts who have sent you attachments in the past, and replicate them for phishing purposes.

Avoid online shopping scams

When shopping online, even on trusted retail websites such as Amazon, you may see an advertisement with a great deal. These might not be legitimate, and if clicked, take you away from the Amazon page.

The website may appear to be just like the Amazon website and/or payment page, but once a purchase is made, the scammers now have your money. If the purchase is not finalized (such as “we’re currently out of stock”), you may be contacted via email by the fake retailer to complete the purchase whereby they steal your money and other personal information.

If you’re shopping with Amazon or any online retailer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Trust your instincts, deals that appear too good to be true, often are.
  • Check the URL to be certain you’re still on the correct page.
  • If you’re shopping with an Amazon “affiliated retailer”, contact Amazon’s customer service to ensure legitimacy.

Social media scams

You may have seen or heard of friend’s Facebook profiles being duplicated for the purpose of gaining trust then scamming friends via Facebook, and be aware that this problem still exists; but note that many savvy users these days turn to social media for a fast response to their customer service inquiries.

In a scam known as “angler phishing” the response may be from a faked replica of the company you’re contacting. You’ll then be directed to log in and give personal information on what may appear to be a real website, but is not.

For businesses – a real life example

Business email addresses can also be compromised. Consider the details of professional email conversations and combine that with what can be learned online about employees or even business owners who are active social media users:

  • LinkedIn – work responsibilities and professional details, fellow employees and their start dates
  • Facebook – daily activities and travel plans

This information can be compiled by a scammer, (and it’s happened locally!), sent another employee from a work email address, such as the following example:

Hello Mark,

I know that you’re on vacation in Florida, but this invoice needs immediate payment. As you know I would normally complete the transaction myself, but it’s a large amount, so I thought it best to send to you. Please find the invoice and the payment details attached. It can be paid online similar to how you paid last week’s invoice to ACME Company.

Thanks, see you soon. Jean

How can you protect yourself?

Be aware! Watch for emails, even from trusted friends or family members that contain language such as: (From the RCMP)

  •  E-mail Money Transfer Alert: Please verify this payment information below…
  • It has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous efforts to protect your account and reduce instances of fraud…
  • Dear Online Account Holder, Access To Your Account Is Currently Unavailable…
  • Important Service Announcement from…, You have 1 unread Security Message!
  • We regret to inform you that we had to lock your bank account access. Call (telephone number) to restore your bank account.

Protecting yourself online!

  • Have a strong and unique password for all your online activities.
  • When possible, utilize a two-step authentication and/or add a recovery phone number or email address for verification purposes.

Never send money based on an online request. Let you friends and family know that you will never request money from them online without personal contact.

  • Keep your travel plans off of social media.
  • Be a savvy shopper. If a deal looks too good to be true, it often is.
  • Check out the legitimacy of websites before making a purchase. http://www.wikihow.com/Find-if-a-Website-Is-Legitimate
  • If you’re making an online purchase via Amazon or other online retailers, be sure you’re shopping on their legitimate website. Do a quick Google Search of the URL or company’s name. Look for online reviews or research the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website. http://www.bbb.org/search?ref=77
  • Before making an online purchase, check the website’s security status in the URL – look for https and a padlock symbol.
  • Business owners need to create a system for dealing with online payments, invoices and social media security.

Actions to take if you believe you’ve been sent a phishing email

(From the RCMP website)

If you receive one of these suspicious e-mails:
Report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the institution that it appears to be from.

If you received one of these suspicious e-mails and you unwittingly provided personal information or financial information, follow these steps:
Step 1 – Contact your bank/financial institution or credit card company
Step 2 – Contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports:
Equifax Canada Toll free: 1-800-465-7166
TransUnion Canada Toll free: 1-877-525-3823
Step 3 – Contact your local police
Step 4 – Always report phishing. If you have responded to one of these suspicious e-mails, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Please share this important information with everyone in your life, particularly those who are not savvy Internet users who may be more vulnerable.

Do This One Thing

Documenting your personal details - Insurance advice Gibb Insurance BrokersLikely there are “things” that you know you should do, but for a variety of reasons you haven’t done… yet… home maintenance to-do’s, maybe updating your will, getting an oil change… when we take the time to perform these pesky tasks, we feel better.

Here’s one thing we recommend adding to your to-do list: documenting and storing your personal details and financial information.

No one expects something bad to happen to them, but being prepared can save your loved ones considerable time and grief. What if you were unable to preform your normal day to day routine? Would your loved ones know who to contact for your insurance? Investments? Banking?

Here are some suggestions of what to include in your personal file:

  • Will (Power of Attorney, living will and funeral arrangements)
  • Personal medical information and history (doctor’s names and contact information, prescriptions, allergies, etc.)
  • All banking information (location, account numbers and passwords)
  • Insurance information (contact name and details, travel medical insurance and all policy numbers)
  • Investment details (contact name and details)
  • Mortgage, lease, credit card, line of credit and/or loan details
  • Vehicle information (copy of the ownership, insurance and loans)
  • Home inventory 
  • Copies of your passport, health card and driver’s license
  • If you have minor children, record all their information as well: doctor’s name, medical histories, insurance, investments, bank accounts, etc.

Further advice:

This information needs to be accessible to a spouse, a child, a trusted person or your lawyer in the event something unexpected happens to you. It should be stored in a secure location, such as a fire-proof safe, a safe deposit box or at a lawyer’s office which your trusted person can access.

The documentation can be stored electronically on a USB flash drive or on paper. Discuss with your trusted person the best format for them.

Your personal file should be updated anytime there is a change.

Documenting and sharing your personal details will make the lives of your loved ones easier in the event of a significant life change. Do it today and feel assured that your family is prepared and protected.

Tis the Season!

Don't Drink and Drive Gibb Insurance BrokersTis the season! Company parties, family get-together and meeting up with friends for some Christmas cheer are all the things we often enjoy most this time of year.

We hope that you make the most of these gatherings responsibly. There is no reason to drink and drive. Plan ahead and make arrangements for a safe way home.

Please don’t drink and drive.

It’s not worth risking your life, your livelihood, or worse because of drunk driving.

Slow Down and Move Over

Move Over Ontario Law

Photo Credit: servicenl.gov.nl.ca

The “Move Over” Law requires vehicles to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road.

The OPP are reminding all drivers of this important law, and that reminder may come in the form of a hefty fine and demerit points. On a week-end blitz, the OPP recently fined more than 450 drivers for this offense and fines ranged $400 to $2,000 and 3 demerit points.

The Move Over law was created to help ensure safety for our emergency workers and requires all drivers to slow down and if possible move away from the stopped emergency vehicle, when safe to do so.

Please share the importance of the Move Over law with all the drivers in your life.

Drive safe!

Happy Victoria Day Week-end

Victoria Day week-end is known as the unofficial start of the Canadian summer!

In Windsor and Essex County we’re lucky to enough to have better than average weather than many parts of Canada, so our plans often involve being outdoors: camping, boating, hiking, barbecuing, bonfires and enjoying time with family and friends.

Whatever you plans involve, please do so safely and don’t drink and drive.

Happy Victoria Day Week-end Gibb Insurance

From our families here at Gibb Insurance Brokers to yours, have a safe and happy Victoria Day Week-end.

Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Be prepared for an emergency Windsor Essex OntarioNot many people like to envision what to do in case of an emergency or a disaster, but being prepared  could potentially save you time, money and even a life.

This week is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada and the theme this year is:

Plan.  Prepare.  Be Aware.

Are you prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours?

There’s a high tech way to easily stay informed and better prepared for emergency: The Plan & Protect mobile app, an industry first developed by Aviva Canada in partnership with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), a world-class centre for disaster prevention research and communications.

App features include:

  • Access vital information about what to do before, during and after emergencies, such as floods, earthquakes, wildfires, winter storms and severe wind.
  • Receive a personalized risk report specific to your location, and a customized list of items to include in your 72-hour emergency kit.
  • Securely store your home and car insurance information at your fingertips.
  • Preloaded content with all information accessible without an internet connection.

For the first 10,000 app downloads, Aviva Canada will donate $5 for each download to the Canadian Red Cross to help communities affected by disasters.

Want more information on emergency preparedness?

Please read the following and click the links for more detailed information.

Know the risks

  • Be aware of the conditions, such as severe weather, that may impact you.
  • Learn what to do before, during and after an emergency situation.

Make a plan

  • Create a family emergency plan to save time and make a real life situation less stressful.
  • Also consider creating a network of support for friends and family members who might have communication or transportation challenges.

Create an emergency kit

  • It’s recommended that you have supplied to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.
  • Consider basic necessities that you would require in case of a power outage or evacuation.

Be prepared, be safe! 

Important Railway Safety Reminders

spring safety tips for childrenRailway crossings in Windsor and Essex County are so common that they may even be a part of our daily drive that we don’t notice. With Rail Safety Week in Canada, this is a good reminder of railway crossings their importance and danger.

Every year, approximately 100 Canadians die or suffer serious injuries on railway tracks, and all these accidents are preventable.  With the warmth of the spring and children being more active outdoors, please review the following safety tips:

  • Only cross at designated areas
  • Pay attention to all the gates and signage at crossings
  • Never wear earphones while crossing tracks
  • Never use railway tracks as a shortcut – it’s private property, tresspassing and dangerous
  • Never get close to a train or try to ‘beat’ an approaching train

Please share with your children and friends these safety reminders. Be safe!

Lock It or Lose It

Tips to prevent theft from vehicles Windsor EssexLocal police authorities throughout Windsor and Essex County are reminding residents to ‘lock it, remove it, or lose it’.

With the warmer weather, thieves are on the prowl looking for easy targets to steal from: your unlocked vehicles.

Within the first week of April there were more than 25 vehicles entered in Amherstburg. In a rural area in Lakeshore, fifteen vehicles were broken into and in one case, a garage door opener was used to gain access into a garage and enter an unlocked vehicle inside.

Whether you live in a city, residential or rural area, please follow the following tips:

  • Always roll up the windows and make it a habit to lock the doors on all your vehicles
  • Don’t leave any valuables in the vehicle including loose change
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit- area
  • Park in the garage when possible
  • Don’t leave your vehicle unattended while running
  • Remind all members of your family the importance of not leaving valuables in vehicles and keeping doors locked

Be proactive about protecting your neighbourhood. Police are asking residents to report any suspicious activity, which may include:

  • Any suspicious person(s) walking up and down street or standing in one location for extended times
  • Vehicles driving up and down the street several times
  • Vehicles parked on road for extended periods of time with occupants in vehicle

If you see any suspicious behaviour, please call the Windsor – Essex Crime Stoppers at 519-258-8477.