LETHBRIDGE: The provincial government is telling Albertans to ramp up their awareness on fraud, ahead of a year that could see higher than usual scam rates.
With a predicted upswing in the oil industry this year, Alberta is expected to lead the province in sales - from the auto to the restaurant industry. That means residents could be at higher risk of identity theft, telephone scams, and internet phishing.
"The bad guys know where the money is, and that's where they're going to start targeting when they're looking for potential victims," said Wayne Woods, spokesperson for Alberta's Information and Privacy Commission out of Edmonton. "So we in Alberta - if we're going to be in an upswing position in the next couple of years - we need to be wary of what we're investing in and making sure that we're doing due diligence," he told Country 95 News.
Organizers of a local initiative to protect Lethbridge residents agree that when times are good, fraudsters zero in on Alberta.
"We do find that a lot of the criminals are living in a different province but target Alberta because there is a lot of spends and a lot of money transactions," said Christy Woods, a constable with the regional police economic crime unit.
Her number one tip is to regularly check your bank and credit card statements.
"I think if you look at them at least daily weekly, you're going to get on top of any activity prior to it getting out of control," she said. "When you see a spend that isn't yours you can contact your bank or credit card company immediately."
Wayne Woods takes it a step further, saying Albertans need to be more strict when it comes to protecting their personal information.
"Whether you're at a retail store, buying things online or even a social networking site, be really, really careful about what information you're putting on there and limit it to bare necessities," he said.
Woods said you should never give out your social insurance number, driver's license number and keep any personal information you publicize on sites like Facebook to a minimum.