How To Not Be a Victim Of Fraud This Tax Season: and our commitment to your security

March 2017 is fraud prevention month in Canada (and tax season is in full swing)! And that means it’s as good a time as ever to consider the impacts of identity theft and identity fraud, as well as how we keep the personal and financial information shared by our clients secure in transit.
The most common (and most damaging) forms of fraud are:
-Credit card fraud
-Loan fraud
-And real estate fraud
The costs of fraud are far more than just the money lost. You must also consider fighting your credit history reports, time taken to file police reports, the cost in time and dollars of cancelling or putting holds on accounts, and unexpected legal and additional security fees.
Identity theft: a rising trend
In Canada (as well as the US), the trends are rising in both the incidence of fraud and the monetary loss to victims. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), there’s been a consistent 10% rise year-over-year in identity theft and fraud, as well as a near 25% increase in the estimated dollars lost to victims.
Keep in mind that these numbers are only reported instances, and could represent as low as an estimated 5-10% of the actual numbers. This is clearly a very serious issue that is affecting at least tens of thousands of Canadians every year.
Stay safe from identity scams: some tips for keeping your personal info secure
1. The Canada Revenue Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, or other government agencies generally do not contact you via e-mail.  If you have set up online mail with the CRA, then you receive an email stating that there is a document for you in your “My Account” or your “My Business Account”, which you can then separately navigate to in order to access your electronic mail.
2. These agencies do not call you up randomly to discuss a balance owing on your account, let alone threaten to show up at your residence or place of business to seize your assets if they don’t receive immediate payment.  These agencies have a set protocol of steps to take before they get to the point of threatening to seize your assets.  You would have your Notice of Assessment / Reassessment, multiple reminders of your balance outstanding via a Statement of Account, and then an official letter indicating that your account is moving over to the collections division.
3. These agencies do not send you interact e-transfer request to deposit refunds.  If you have set up your direct deposit directly with the CRA, then you will receive your refund automatically.  The IRS generally will mail out refund cheques unless you have put your banking details on your return.
4. Watch for subscription traps where you think that you are getting a “free” trial or purchase of a product and all you have to do is simply pay the shipping and handling, when in fact you are signing up for a monthly subscription.  Read the fine print and the terms and conditions!
5. Watch for fake websites that look like the official one but aren’t, ransomware that will hold your data hostage until you pay a set fee, and other malware that can be downloaded onto your computer.  Ensure that your virus protection is active and up-to-date.
6. Beware of skimmers on bank machines or gas station pumps that can steal your banking and credit card information.
7. Beware of unusual or irregular email requests.  Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.  There are even emails out there that appear to be from “FedEx” with your delivery confirmation.  These are malicious!
Our commitment to keeping your data safe
Quon & Associates is well aware of the dangers that technology poses. The most important defense against these attacks is knowledge and precaution. That’s why we offer these helpful tips as well as a secure portal through which we send data.
The portal is provided through Thomson Reuters; a safe, successful, and well established firm in the field of information technology and digital storage in Canada. All data transferred is secured through 256-bit encryption. Data and documents on the portal are stored in secured datacentres and never leave the country or our privacy laws!
Storing your data at a secured centre is far safer than keeping it on an email account, which, as we’ve seen time and again, have proven to be vulnerable to attacks and mishaps.
Our firm takes your privacy and security seriously. Establishing the portal service is just one way we are committed to your privacy. If you are interested in setting up an account to access the portal, contact us and we will get you started!
Since it’s also tax season, you may be interested in: The Top 3 Canadian Tax Return Questions Answered
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