Fraud is a fearsome word in the payments industry. When it hits, card data is compromised, funds get stolen and identities disappear. And after a breach, it can cost millions of dollars to get a company back on the right track.
But living in fear might be a thing of the past. The Federal Trade Commission and Canadian consumer protection agencies joined forces to launch the fifth annual Fraud Prevention Month in March. It is an international effort to raise public awareness and put a lid on spurious actions that lead to data theft and financial loss. The initiative's focus is to reveal the dangers of fraud, while educating the public on how to recognize it, report it and stop it.
Representatives from the FTC, Canada's Competition Bureau, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police launched this year's program in Ottawa, stating that strong cross-border partnerships are crucial in fighting the global troubles of fraud.
"People operating frauds are increasingly using international borders to try and escape the consequences of their actions," said C. Steven Baker, Director of the FTC's Midwest Region. "The [United States] and Canada are leading the world in showing that we can work together and protect consumers on both sides of the border." Canada has also seen its share of scams and financial treachery.
"Statistics showing 1 million adult Canadians have fallen victim to mass marketing fraud highlight the need for more consumer education and vigilance," said Sheridan Scott, Commissioner of Competition for the Competition Bureau.
The FTC is distributing information about cross-border online fraud at www.onguardonline.gov, an educational site designed to help computer users be safe while using the Internet.
The site, available in English and Spanish, has information about common scams and tips for avoiding them, as well as instructions on reporting fraud. Topics include foreign money offers and foreign check overpayment schemes.
The Competition Bureau is distributing fliers on fraud prevention throughout the month, printed in English and French.
Educational activities for adults are being implemented across Canada. "We want consumers and businesses to understand the importance of recognizing the signs of mass marketing fraud," Scott said. "Whether it be fraud by telephone, mail or Internet, we are all at risk."
Canadians under 30 are the most susceptible to being hoodwinked, according to a study released by the Competition Bureau. Fraud Prevention Forum members from Atlantic Canada and the Halifax Partners Against Fraud hosted Fraud Off! on March 6, 2008, to attract and inform a younger crowd.
"Studies show that young Canadians are more likely to be victimized by fraud, especially fraud related to e-commerce," said Dermot Jardine, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Bureau. "This is why events such as Fraud Off! are so important."
For more information on fraud prevention in the United States, visit www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm or call 877-382-4357. For more information in Canada, visit www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 888-495-8501.
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