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As cybercrime continues to flourish, growing increasingly lucrative and prevalent every year, how can Canadian consumers protect themselves and their digital assets? Is the answer adding some form of cybersecurity protection enhancement to your home insurance or condo insurance policy?

According to 2018 data from Statistics Canada, 57% of Canadian internet users reported a cybersecurity incident. The majority of those incidents were in the form of fraudulent emails and messages (48%), followed by phishing attempts (18.7%), computer viruses (11.4%) and fraudulent payment card use (6.2%). Another 4.5% were asked to pay a ransom, and 2% had their identities stolen. Women were the victims in 68% of these incidents.

Additionally, data from Norton LifeLock’s annual Cyber Safety Insights report found one in every four (1.5 million) Canadian consumers were victims of identity theft in 2018, and over 9 million Canadians were victims of some form of cybercrime. Tally it up, and Canadians collectively report total losses due to cybercrime ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion a year.

Although basic coverage for identity theft and online fraud is widely available as part of a home insurance policy and has been for about a decade, condo dwellers and homeowners may not be aware of them.

How can I protect myself from identity theft?

With your home or condo insurance policy, most insurers will offer the option to add additional coverage for identity theft and legal expenses. Others may also provide coverage if you suffer a cyberattack on your computing and connected devices, are a victim of ransomware, or a data breach. However, not all insurance companies provide these levels of protection, plus you have to ask your insurance agent or broker to add it to your policy.

You can learn more about how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft online through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

How can I protect myself from credit card fraud?

Your best defence against credit card fraud is to make it difficult for a crook to rip you off. Safeguard your credit card number and its personal identification number (PIN) like you would cash. Don’t loan your credit card to anyone or share your account number over the phone or online unless you initiate the transaction with a company you know is reputable.

Credit card providers and other financial institutions will provide their customers with varying levels of credit and debit card fraud protection. However, take the time to explore your options thoroughly.

In the event you are a victim of credit card fraud; in many cases, your maximum liability cannot exceed $50 by law. Surf to the Financial Consumer Agency Services’ website for more information about your rights and protection against unauthorized credit and debit card transactions.

How can I protect myself from cybercrime?

Protecting oneself yourself from all types of cybercrime requires being committed to taking the necessary preventative measures. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides resources consumers can access.

If you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as well as to the two national credit bureaus in Canada: TransUnion Canada and Equifax Canada.

In the meantime, consider taking these steps:

  • Use strong passwords and change them at least annually
  • Install a firewall, antivirus, and antispyware software on your computer or laptop
  • Be smart using social media and don’t overshare
  • Back up all data on your computers and mobile phones regularly
  • Keep your computer and mobile phone operating systems up-to-date
  • Do not open emails or click on links in emails from sources or people you do not know
  • Periodically check all ofall your banking and credit card statements. Immediately report any entries you do not recognize to your bank or credit card provider
  • If you move, notify Canada Post, your bank, and credit card provider of your new residential mailing address
Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is the media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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