There is a lot more fraud taking place than most people realize. It is a type of crime that can cover everything from passing bad cheques to identity theft. March is fraud prevention month. HRM Partners in Policing want to help people learn as much as they can about fraud-related crime because the best way to prevent fraud is to learn how to recognize it.
The four major types of fraud investigated by the RCMP/HRP Integrated Fraud Unit include:
• Payment card fraud
• Small business fraud
• Internet-related fraud
• Identity theft
Over the course of the month, HRM Partners in Policing will be examining each of those areas in greater detail to identify the tricks criminals are using, and the steps people can take to minimize their chances of becoming victims. Generally speaking, there are a few common themes that everyone should watch out for to protect themselves against fraud. At its very essence, fraud is simply a way for criminals to steal money. Here are some common situations using the examples listed above.
Payment card fraud often occurs when a debit card reader has been tampered with and has been modified to record the information contained within the card's magnetic strip. This allows the criminals to create a duplicate or "cloned" debit card, but in order to use it, they still need the Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access the funds. To achieve that, they quite often will have a hidden camera (in the ceiling, for example) close to where the card is being cloned, and when the user types in their PIN to make a purchase, the criminals have all the information they need. That is why it is critical to protect your PIN when you are making a purchase. Cover the keypad with one hand and enter your information with the other.
Small Business Fraud is one type that flies under the radar because most business owners are embarrassed to admit they've been scammed by someone they trusted. Often what happens is an individual with access to a company's funds (often person in a position of trust) will skim a bit off the top of the deposits coming in and then modify the books to cover their tracks. Owners need to pay close attention to those handling the cash and should consider external firms to conduct random audits.
Internet-related fraud covers a wide range of activities, but a quick example is as follows: receiving an e-mail message that appears to be from a legitimate organization like a bank, government agency, charity group or other not-for-profit organizations. In the body of the e-mail, the organization or agency asks for personal information like date of birth, social insurance number, mother's maiden name, banking information or passwords. This is all sensitive information, and in the wrong hands, it could be used to access your bank accounts or set up credit cards in your name. The way to protect yourself is simple. Never send anyone your password or other sensitive information. A legitimate organization would never ask for it.
Identity theft is what occurs when someone else steals your personal information and uses it to either rob you of your existing money or run up debts in your name. That is why it is critically important to protect key pieces of information like date-of-birth, mother's maiden name, PIN, and account passwords.
The examples and tips listed above are a few quick points all people should be aware of. Over the course of Fraud Prevention Month, HRM Partners in Policing will be exploring each of these themes in greater detail and will be posting additional information online.
RCMP in Nova Scotia:
www.facebook.com/rcmpns ; www.facebook.com/grcne
www.twitter.com/rcmpns ; www.twitter.com/grcne
Halifax Regional Police: