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Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention for Students

Students worry about having their iPads, phones and laptops stolen, but the potential for identity theft, leading to compromised credit cards and personal finances, is even more alarming.

 

We Canadians are one of the world’s biggest users of debit cards, credit cards and ATMs. So, it’s no surprise that identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada. University students are prime targets for cyber criminals. Because students lack a lengthy transaction history, unusual activity in their finances is harder to pinpoint. Also, they may be more trusting and open to phishing and other online schemes.

 

Scammers use phishing schemes to steal personal and financial information. They employ a wide variety of high and low-tech ways to hack a student’s identity, access their bank accounts, open new accounts, make fraudulent purchases, even obtain passports or receive government benefits. Both parents and students should take steps to protect their personal and financial data.

  • Shoulder surfing

At the ATM, be wary of anyone looking over your shoulder to see your PIN number. Always shield your number while making a transaction.

  • Bogus credit card offers

These are used to target students who are new to credit and are a way to obtain detailed financial data, including bank info and more. If you have provided your child with a credit card, explain that they do not need another.

  • Online ticket fraud

Students are the perfect target for this scam that tricks buyers into buying fake tickets for sporting events and concerts. At the very least, students are out the cost of the event. In the worst-case scenario, criminals also use their credit card info for other fraudulent activities.

  • Public Wi-Fi

University campuses and nearby coffee houses are rife with public hotspots that cyber criminals use to steal personal information. Get a data plan that includes a mobile hotspot.

 

Keep up to date on finances

After a day of shopping using credit or debit cards, you should check all financial transactions to see if there is any unusual activity. If possible, adjust your online banking preferences so you receive alerts for all transactions.

 

Protect your identity

  • Never carry your SIN card with you.
  • If using a debit card for a transaction, you should insert or swipe the card rather than having a cashier do it.
  • Never reply to any email that requests personal or account information.

 

Protect your online payments

While INTERAC© services are among the most secure transactions, fraud does occur. E-transfers to send money to another person are gaining in popularity. Because this entails providing a security question to be answered by the person receiving the funds, hackers are there to intercept and scoop up the cash. One way to ensure your money stays safe is to have a question that does not relate to the answer and, certainly, one that can’t be easily be found online or in your computer. (Example: if you or your child are constantly posting photos of your beloved pet on social media, a security question with that pet’s name as the answer would be way too easy for cyber criminals to figure out.) Recently, hackers intercepted a Canadian’s Interac© transfer because the question the person used was “Who is my favourite Beatle?”[1] Of course, the criminals only needed to try four different answers to get the money!

 

University should be a time for learning and new experiences, not for identity theft!

 

ADT Canada, the most trusted name in security, wants to ensure that students and parents are fraud smart.

 

[1] CBC News

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