“If they only worked as hard at legitimate, honest work just think how well they would do!” Yes, we must be talking about fraud artists, also known as hucksters, tricksters, swindlers, conmen, confidence men, charlatans, cheats, connivers, deceivers, scammers, fraudsters, sleeveens and flimflammers.  Their terms of “endearment” are surpassed only by their variety of techniques in separating you from your hard earned money. Though we cannot totally safeguard from being victims of fraud there are many steps that we can take to fortify ourselves.  Scam artists want to obtain as much personal information as possible in order to make false credit card purchases, create fake cheques, obtain fraudulent loans and through other nefarious methods steal your money. If you can keep your personal information away from them you can minimize your chances of becoming a victim. Some basic protective measures would include:

-Do not give out personal information over the telephone, by mail or through the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.

-Do not disclose or share passwords and PINs. Do not write them down and carry them around with you. Make it difficult for them to be compromised by making a selection that is not easily guessed.  Shield your PIN when using automated teller machines.

-Carry only the identification and other personal information you need and keep other documents, such as your social insurance number, birth certificate and passport, in a safe place.

-Shred documents containing sensitive personal and financial data, such as account statements before throwing them out. This includes pre-addressed offers for credit cards. Basically, shred anything that contains your name and address and other information.

-Guard your mail and be alert for regular mail that you expect but mysteriously does not arrive. If you usually receive your credit card statement on the last week of the month there may be something amiss if it does not arrive this month.

-Regularly check account statements to ensure all transactions were actually authorized by you.

To conclude, be vigilant because the scammers certainly are.vigilant in seeking opportunities to steal your information and your money.