Fraud is one of the fastest growing criminal activities across the globe, and on Wednesday, a group of White Rock residents spent the morning learning how to protect themselves and their money.
Nearly 25 people turned up to the Fraud Awareness Workshop at the White Rock Community Centre, co-sponsored by White Rock Community Policing and White Rock RCMP.
Mike Veaudry, who has written two books about the subject, told attendees that fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated, organized and successful in obtaining sensitive information from North Americans.
Veaudry said that in North America, people who have been defrauded once are likely to be defrauded three more times in their life.
He explained that there is a network of fraudsters selling and trading data on the black market.
The most common method criminals use to obtain sensitive information, Veaudry said, is “phishing.”
Phishing is an attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as PIN numbers, social security numbers and banking information, by posing as a trustworthy entity through electronic communication, whether by phone or internet.
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One way people can protect themselves from phishing, Veaudry said, is to simply not answer the telephone.
Veaudry says he waits for all incoming calls, even if it’s his sister, to go to voice mail before responding. A concern, he said, is that criminals can now “spoof” their phone number to make it appear as if it’s someone else calling, whether that number belongs to a family member or the bank.
Veaudry also explained how people can protect themselves from email phishing attempts. Often, criminals will send an email disguised as one from a reputable source, whether that be a bank, business, or friend. He told the gathering that they should be extra cautious when receiving an email, especially if it includes attachments, and to never click emailed hyperlinks.
Fraudsters have now, increasingly, been taking their activity offline and into the real world, Veaudry said.
Veaudry explained that fraudsters are now targeting ATM’s with “shimmers.”
Shimmers, Veaudry said, are small pieces of plastic that can be inserted, by a criminal, into an ATM.
The shimmer continues to steal data off the card until it’s removed, using tweezers, by the criminal. Veaudry said some fraudsters have credit-card cloning machines at home, which can replicate debit cards.
He recommended that everyone start using two-stage authentication.
Two-stage authentication, he explained, prompts the bank to call or text the account holder’s phone with a code, which then needs to be entered before online transactions are approved.
Veaudry’s books, Fraud Awareness and Fraud: Don’t Be A Victim, are available on Amazon.