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On guard against fraud - Metro US

On guard against fraud

One of the least exciting purchases made by a Smart Cookie would have to be a paper shredder. However, it could also be said to be one of the smartest.

Sandra decided a shredder was a necessity after her mail went missing, her credit card was stolen and a note popped up in her apartment building elevator warning residents of identity theft. Thankfully, she didn’t have to deal with identity theft, but the thought of having someone steal her personal information and using it to commit fraud, potentially destroying her credit score and costing her time and money to correct the fraud and rebuild her financial picture, was enough for her (and the rest of us) to implement these Smart Cookie procedures.

It’s no secret that we like to price compare and purchase online, so if you’re purchasing an item online, make sure that the site is secure. The address should have the prefix “https” and show a padlock.

It’s advised that online passwords (or any password that protects financial information) be switched up every few months. But we think as long as you are selecting a tight password (translation, don’t use your birthday or your partner’s pet name), then you should be OK.

You should, however, use different passwords for your credit card and banking info. That way, for example, your banking info will be protected if for some reason someone had your credit card pin.

If you happen to be shopping in-store, shield the debit machine while entering your code. Yes, be that person! It’s better to protective than footloose and fancy free when it comes to your cards and your pin numbers.

Also, clean out your wallet so that only the personal information and credit cards you actually need and use regularly are kept with you. Otherwise, keep the important cards with the important numbers at home in a safe place.

At least once a year, it is also good idea to get a copy of your credit report. If you mail in your application you can receive your score for free. That way you can see if there have been any inaccuracies within the past year that you may have missed. Check out smartcookies.com for the application and more on obtaining your credit score.

And if you have bills mailed to you, keep track of when your bills and bank statements arrive (they should arrive around the same time every month). If they are late, check with the companies immediately to find out the reason for the delay. And never throw your documents into the recycle bin. Rip or shred the documents that contain personal information. If you don’t have a shredder then perhaps it’s time to add this to the ‘oh so boring but necessary’ shopping list.

For more money saving tips, tune in to the second season of the Smart Cookies on the W Network —Monday nights at 10:30 p.m. PST/EST.

If you have comments or questions, email us at smartcookies@metronews.ca.

– Tune in Monday nights at 10:30 p.m. EST/PST on the W Network and be sure to visit
www.smartcookies.com for more tips.

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