Monday, November 25, 2013

7 Tips to Protect Your Identity and Cards While on Vacation

7 Tips to Protect Your Identity and Cards While on Vacation

The time for people to escape out cool climate for warmer regions is now upon us.  Wherever you go, chances are that their standards for security regarding cards and accounts may not be great as those here at home.  The following are 7 tips that can help you protect your money while travelling abroad.

  1. Use credit, not debit.  Credit cards usually have zero liability policies which can protect you if they are copied or stolen.  Debit cards give direct access to your account, which you want to avoid in areas where identity theft is likely.
  2. Change PINs before your trip.  As you leave on your trip stop by the credit union and change your PINs on your debit and credit cards.  You can change them back upon returning, which blocks use of any possible stolen/copied cards after the PIN change date.  You can change your PIN in branch or at your credit union’s ATM.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New type of debit card skimming

Updated from September 2012.

Over 86% of Canadian adults have at least 1 debit card and about 74% have at least 1 credit card. Despite the convenience and popularity of these cards, there is a risk of fraud. It is important to protect your cards, just as you would cash or cheques. Some of the risks associated with debit/credit card fraud are the same as carrying around your account numbers, so protect your card information in your wallet, online and over the phone.

There is, however, another threat to card users that is unique - it's called "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic stripe and keypad information from point of sales terminals.   It is important to note that debit card fraud has been decreasing in Canada because of the conversion away from magnetic striped to chip cards, but skimming with magnetic stripe cards still occurs.  
Crooks are now trying to get around the CHIP protection by somehow replacing a store/restaurant/gas station’s debit keypad with their own version.  The criminal’s keypad makes you push your debit card in over half of the length of the card so that a scanner can copy the magnetic strip.  The keypad then records your PIN as you enter it.  To combat this keypad switch many retailers are putting locks or other types of protection on the keypads themselves.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Student Loans and Education Financing updated 2013

1.  What student loan options do I have?
There are 2 main government student loan options (National and Provincial) and there are Education Loans from Financial Institutions like Credit Unions and banks.

2.  Which is best for me?
 I would recommend starting with the Provincial and National student loan programs.  You apply for both on the same application.  With these government student loans you do not pay or accumulate interest while you are going to school, there are some payment relief programs in place after graduation, and the interest paid on government student loans is tax deductible.  There are also some scholarships or grants that may decrease what you owe for government student loans.

More information can be found at

3.  So why would I use a credit union or bank education loan?  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Business Emergency Planning

In the past I have posted articles about being personally prepared for an emergency, and my focus was specifically on 72 hour kits and evacuations, whether because of an emergency in your home or a more widespread emergency in the community.

As we have seen in this past couple of weeks, it is very important to be prepared personally, but it also important to have your business prepared for a disaster.

Developing The Plan
Here are some points to consider when developing your Emergency response Plan or Business Continuity Plan:
 - Identify the purpose of your business, who you serve and what you do for them.
 - Identify the critical services you must provide and the resources you need to provide them.
 - Identify the most probable disasters, such as fire, flood, snow storm, electricity outage, phone service outage, lack of staff (sick or can’t travel…).
 - Look at the impacts of the disasters on your business.  Many impacts can be grouped into a few categories: 
  • no reduction in resources, 
  • a reduction in resources, 
  • complete or almost complete lack of resources.
 - These impacts then determine what you can do:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Means Fraud Prevention Month

I posted the following article 4 years ago but it is a scam that keeps showing up, so I thought it would be worth posting again.

Two years ago I posted an article on our blog about how crooks are using classified ads and other websites to perpetrate a scam that can be called "Overpayment."  The scam artist says he will buy your $2,000 stereo from you based on the ad he has seen in the newspaper or online.  He sends a cheque for $4,000.  You, being the honest person you are, e-mail him saying that he overpaid.  The scam artist replies that it was his secretary's fault and says it would be easier if you just deposit the cheque and than mail a money order for the difference back to him, even offering $100 as a reward for your honesty.

You deposit his cheque, take out the $1,900 as a money order and mail it off.  A day or two later you find out that his cheque was fake and that it has bounced, while the money you sent from your account as a money order is very real.  This overpayment scam has grown and is being used all over the country, including targeting people in the Rocky Region.  It is generally best to meet the buyer/seller in person so you can see the goods or the money you will be getting.

A new version of the scam

There is a slightly modified version of this scam going around this past year.  It preys on people who are looking for work.  It goes like this: