Ever had a sense of participating in the shared consciousness. This is how I refer to the fact that sometimes I get a slew of letters about one particular topic. It's sometimes what drives me to do a blog with a specific focus. A while back I got a slew of letters asking about the Save-10%-Rule. Most recently, I've had a barrage of request from people who are very concerned about fraud. If this has been on your mind, here are some I do.
- I periodically go through my paperwork and files and get rid of anything I no longer need. I don't just dump 'em. I shred 'em. This applies to financial statements, invoices, anything with personal information that someone could use to hurt me. Since "dumpster-diving" has become a favourite way for fraudsters to find information they can use to apply for loans or credit cards in your someone else's name, I bought myself a cross-shredder and make my financial stuff into confetti.
- I never write my PINs
down. Yeah, I'm old, but I can still commit a few number to memory. And I would'’t dream of sharing my PIN with anyone. When choosing a PIN don't make it too obvious: a phone number, address, birth date. And periodically I change my PINs. If you're having trouble remembering your multitude of PINs and passwords, take a page from my girlfriend: she carries a telephone book around with her and has her PINs and passwords concealed amongst all the other names and numbers.
- I never give out info on the phone. I've had people call me to "verify" stuff, and ask me for the information. I point out that I'm happy to verify what they already know, but I'm not telling them squat. Your bank will never call you at home requesting personal information. If someone does, rest assured that it is a scam and should be reported to both your bank and the Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or email@example.com.
- I've also received more than a few emails requesting personal information. I just hit delete. I know my bank would never send an e-mail requesting log-in information or for me to click on a link to your bank's log-in screen to enter information.
- If you're a sucker, you deserve to lose your money. Sounds harsh. Really? Have you ever got one of those emails promising you thousands of dollars if you take advantage of a new business opportunity, fabulous investment with amazing returns, or for your help is moving money from another country? Just how gullible are you?
- Work-from-home scams are another way some people are ambushed. With people looking for ways to make more money, the temptation to send money to someone with a promise of getting paid work you can do at home is sometimes too much to resist. One of the most successful lures you into becoming a "representative" or "collection agent" for a company. The fraudsters have you collect and deposit cheques into your bank account and then wire the cash to Head Office while keeping your commission for yourself. Sadly, the cheques turn out to be counterfeit and the bank comes after you for the cash because you are responsible for any deposits to your bank account.
- I'm also pretty careful when I shop online. I choose to use reputable retailers and I have a credit card with a very low balance that I use only for online purchases. I change this card every year or so. A credit card can actually help to protect you since if you have a dispute with a seller, you can ask your credit card company for a "chargeback" – read "don't pay this seller" -- if your purchase was not as advertised.