For years, you’ve been told to protect your credit cards or debit cards and protect your PIN. It’s still good advice to keep your personal code your own, and your card firmly in your possession. Financial institutions are less likely to guarantee your funds if you share your PIN or card freely, even with family members.
The good news is that debit and credit card fraud is down, and much of that can be attributed to new technology, like chip technology, which makes cards even more difficult to ‘skim’ to steal information. That’s why Canadian financial institutions and credit card companies migrated to chip technology well before the U.S. did, because of its enchanced anti-fraud security. Many debit and credit cards have ‘flash’ technology as well, including your Encompass Credit Union debit and/or credit cards. Flash technology, or the tap-and-go payment, also has extra built in features to prevent scammers from taking the information off the card from a distance.
The bad news is that fraudsters know that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and that means they’re trying new ways to steal your money. Instead of skimming information from a person’s debit card magnetic strip, there’s been an increase in electronic funds transfer, or ‘e-transfer’ fraud. E-transfers are a safe and quick way to transfer funds between people (under government regulated and financial institution specific limits) through email or even mobile phones. A simple e-transfer through your banking app or online banking, and bam, you’ve sent your rent to your landlord or purchased something from Kijiji, or even sent money to yourself from one account to another at a different financial insititution.
The potential for fraud exists when fake e-transfer notices are emailed to you, making it look like you’ve accepted an e-transfer for thousands of dollars, asking you to click on the link to see more details. Automatically, you should be concerned. Wait, I didn’t accept anything, I better check. Don’t do it. When you click those links it starts a process that may install malicious software onto your computer in an attempt to steal your identity information, or perhaps access information on your computer that may help them crack passwords to get into your online banking. Perhaps the link takes you to a fake, but realistic looking website where it asks you to punch in your banking information. Don’t do it. Never click on links in emails that you don’t know. If you’re concerned about the validity of an apparently ‘accepted’ e-transfer, instead of clicking on the link, log into your online banking normally and check your balance. If there’s no strange account activity, it’s not real.
The best way to protect yourself from fraudulent banking transactions through online or mobile banking is to sign up for alerts. Different financial institutions call them different things, but essentially, most have ways for you to be notified if someone else logs into your online banking. You can get alerts that send you a text message when someone has logged into your account. Alerts can let you know that a new e-transfer ‘payee’ has been set up, or a new bill payee has been added to your account. Those three are the most important! If you log into your account or set up a new e-transfer recipient, then alerts are a great way for you to know what’s happening in real time, and then you can contact your financial institution immediately. For your Encompass accounts, log into your online banking on a computer, or on your Go Mobile device and set up alerts. It’s super easy and should help you feel more confident that you’re on top of this!
Technology is rapidly changing and so are the ways fraudsters try and steal from you. If you use the convenience of online or mobile/app banking keep up-to-date with your alerts, as new ones are being developed all the time. You know how that Gecko encourages you to spend a few minutes to save hundreds in car insurance? Instead, spend a few minutes to set up your alerts through your online banking and it could literally save you thousands of dollars, and give you peace of mind.