Valley First

Don’t Be a Victim

Valley First expert shares tips to help you guard against fraud
March 13, 2014

Penticton, B.C.—Each year, thousands of Canadians are victims of fraud and identity theft and with National Fraud Prevention Month in full swing, Jaime Lord, senior investigator for corporate security at Valley First is sharing the importance of recognizing fraud, reporting it and stopping it.

“Instances of fraud are on the rise and it’s more important now than ever to learn how you can protect yourself,” explains Lord. “While fraud can happen to anyone, there are definitely steps that people can take to protect themselves. The best offence is a good defense, and fortunately, there are a number of ways you can proactively protect yourself against fraud and identity theft.”

Lord shares a few simple tips to keep in mind to help guard against fraud.

Protect your PIN
“Even though we hear about it all the time, it’s important to remind people to always protect their PIN,” says Lord. “This applies not only to when you’re using your debit or credit card, or logging in to any online accounts, but also in how you store your PIN. Never write your PIN down or share it with anyone. I know it can be a pain to memorize so many passwords but that’s really one of the most effective ways to prevent your PIN from being stolen.”

Phishing for information
“Beware of phishing emails, usually sent with an urgent request or link asking for personal or financial information,” says Lord. “Legitimate businesses or financial institutions will not ask for personal information this way. If you accidentally clicked on a link that you think may have compromised your computer, contact your service provider right away. This also goes hand in hand with making sure you protect your computer by activating your firewall, securing your Wi-Fi network and have sufficient anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware protection.”

Mobile alerts for when you’re on the go
“Signing up for mobile alerts for online banking can help you stay on top of your account activity,” says Lord. “If transactions or activities are occurring on your account like password changes or new bill payees being added, these notifications will alert you to potential fraud immediately.”

What you throw away can hurt you
One of the easiest ways that identity thieves can access your personal information is through the trash, particularly if you discard things like old credit card receipts, financial statements or even pre-approved credit card applications without tearing them up. “Shred everything –including any documents that contain any personal information,” says Lord. “Don’t forget to completely destroy the data before disposing of your old computers, hard drives or mobile device as simply deleting and reformatting hard drives are not enough. Items like CDs or DVDs should be physically destroyed before they’re thrown out.”

Lord adds, “We had a great turnout at our shredding event in Penticton last weekend. More than 100 people came and disposed of more than 6,200 pounds of paper, filling more than 40 big shredding bins. Additionally, we raised $1,300 and more than 150 pounds of food for Feed the Valley, so it was a great day and a fantastic partnership between Valley First, the Penticton RCMP, Downtown Penticton Association and Okanagan Paper Shredding.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 40 branches and 28 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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