Security: Be smart, be safe!
As technology evolves, criminals are getting more creative in finding ways to commit fraud and identity theft. But that doesn’t mean you have to become a victim! By being aware of the risks and taking steps to secure your personal information you can protect yourself.
Protect your Identity
Identity theft is when your personal information (such as your name, address, driver's license number, date of birth, Social Insurance number, Provincial health card, account information or employment information) is stolen and used by someone else. This kind of illegal activity usually has financial implications as thieves use your details to open accounts, shop with your credit cards or ABM cards, take out loans and even mortgages – often before you even know your identity has been stolen or your information compromised.
Help keep your information safe from fraudsters:
- Never give out your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to anyone other than your employer, your financial institution or official government document such as a tax return.
- Never give out your driver’s licence or health card number to anyone not authorized to have that information. If you’re unsure, check Provincial Ministry websites for details.
- Don’t keep written or electronic copies of user names, passwords or PINs.
- Take out a safe deposit box or purchase a lockable, fireproof safe for important documents.
- Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
- Review your credit report at least once a year.
- Always sign the back of your credit and debit cards. This lowers the chance of others being able to use them. Cancel and destroy all unused and expired cards and cheques.
- Report lost or stolen credit and debit cards to your financial institution right away.
- Shred all documents containing personal information. This includes anything that contains information on your bank, investments, credit card statements or tax information.
- Only use official postal boxes our outlets to send mail.
- Shred or destroying junk mail before you throw it away – better safe than sorry!
- If you are going to be away from home, always have a friend or neighbour collect your mail for you, or have a mail slot that goes directly into a locked box or door.
- Regularly check your financial accounts (including credit cards) online to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions. If a transaction does not look familiar, contact your financial institution immediately.
Protect Your PIN!
Whether you’re using your ABM or credit card at an ABM machine or retail location, always be sure to protect your PIN. Even with the added security of chip technology, someone could look over your shoulder and steal your PIN. Be aware of who is standing around you and make sure you block the keypad with your hand or body.
Be wary of white machines (no name ABM machines) and any card readers at retail locations. If you’re not convinced the machine is secure or you don’t know the store that you’re shopping in well, do not use your credit card or ABM card.
Keep Your Computer Secure
Online shopping, bill payments and other financial transactions are more and more commonly being done online. While financial institutions and most reputable retailers do everything they can to secure their sites to ensure your financial information is kept safe, it still pays to be careful when using a computer for these activities.
When using your personal or any public computer:
- Never email account information, ABM or credit card numbers, SIN, drivers licence or Provincial health card numbers, insurance policy numbers or investment information to anyone – that includes your financial institution, mortgage and insurance broker.
- Clear the web browser cache and cookies after using a public or shared computer so the next user can’t see where you’ve been.
- Do not share personal verification answers, passwords or user names with anyone, store on your computer, smart phone or tablet, or write them down.
- Only open email attachments from a trusted source after you have scanned them for viruses. If you do not recognize the address from where an email is coming, do not open it and delete it immediately.
- Protect your computer by using a firewall and ensure your anti-virus and security software is up to date.
- Never respond to spam (unknown sender) e-mails; doing so confirms that your e-mail address is valid and a hacker may try to use it to access other information about you.
- Never open any links from unsolicited e-mails – this is one way criminals download viruses or spyware to your computer.
- Use a spam filter.
- Type the web address into your browser instead of following a link. If you use a website often, create a bookmark to access it.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using a public computer.
Beware of Phishing and Pharming
If you have ever been emailed by a company (including financial institutions and brokerage firms) asking for personal and/or financial information, that email is likely a phishing or pharming scam.
“Phishing” emails attempt to trick you into giving out confidential information by appearing to be from a legitimate, trusted source such as a financial institution. With this information, fraudsters can access your online accounts to withdraw money, make purchases, open accounts and even take out loans or mortgages in your name.
“Pharming” occurs when you type in a web address that re-directs you to a fraudulent website without your knowledge or consent. The website will look like a legitimate site in hopes of fooling you into revealing confidential information. They often use logos of reputable companies without permission and frequently request “urgent” or “immediate action” to provide, update or verify your personal information.
Be wary of e-mails that ask for personal information. Never under any circumstance provide passwords, user names, PINs, account information or login information for any account in your name.
Our Promise to You
We take our part in the information security process very seriously. RMG Mortgages will never, under any circumstance, send any e-mail that:
- Asks you to provide, confirm or update personal records or account information.
- Claims to have been sent from a third party address or link to a third party site on RMG Mortgages’ or MCAP’s behalf and asking for personal or financial information.
RMG Mortgages will only ever email you if you have personally requested that we provide information to you via email or to share new product information. Should you decide you do not want email from us, simply contact us and we will remove your address from our list.
Using Online Passwords
Your passwords are an incredibly important tool in maintaining the security of your personal and financial information. Anytime you are setting up a new login or online account, be sure to use a strong password that is difficult to guess. A strong password has at least eight characters and is made up of letters and numbers. Change your passwords on a regular basis and never use birth dates, names of children or pets, or any other alpha or numeric combinations that would be easy for someone to guess.
Other Computer Security Tips
- Never leave your computer unattended. Always lock or turn your computer off if you are going to be away from it even for a few moments. It doesn’t take long for a professional to gain access to your unprotected information.
- Always keep smart phones and tablets secure
- Do not use the same password for more than one website and always use different PIN numbers for ABM and credit cards.
- Confirm the identity of all individuals and organizations before sharing any information – even if the name sounds legitimate.
Everyone is at risk of being targeted by fraud. Clever telephone, Internet and email fraudsters posing as representatives from legitimate organizations often make attractive offers to save you money, offer great services or prizes. Being certain you are dealing with a legitimate representative from a legitimate organization is a key factor in protecting yourself.
And remember, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Never provide any personal or account information over the phone until you have confirmed that the person you are speaking with is from a legitimate organization. When you receive a phone solicitation, call the organization back using a number you know to be legitimate.
Only subscribe to Internet-based newsletters from organizations you trust. You can check the third party site certificate to verify authenticity of the website.
Trusted Third Parties
A Trusted Third Party (TTP) is an entity that facilitates interactions between two parties who both trust the third party; The Third Party reviews all critical communications between the parties, based on the ease of creating fraudulent content. For example, a certificate authority (CA) would issue a digital identity certificate to one of the two parties, becoming the Trusted Third Party that certifies authenticity.
Do your Homework
If you see an advertisement for a loan or mortgage in a local newspaper from a company you don’t recognize and the rate looks too good to be true, you can check them out through the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus